Madeira Main

Madeira08_main_03.jpg

Steep green mountains dropping into valleys terraced with vineyards and dotted with small villages and hiking paths - that's one face of Madeira. Another is the cosmopolitan capital of Funchal, where Portuguese culture has given rise to a cuisine drawing on the fruits of both land and sea - just right paired with the famed sherrylike Madeira wines.

The island's sublime subtropical climate - average highs range from the mid-60s to mid-70s year-round - has long made the island a favorite winter getaway for Europeans. Fashionable resort hotels continue a tradition dating back to the days when this was a way station for Britons returning home from India and Africa. And while Funchal's popularity has come with a price - concrete high-rises dominate the Funchal coast - the countryside remains a scenic wonder of mountain hamlets and seaside villages accented by colorful fishing boats.