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City Breaks in MADEIRA


Funchal  is the capital of the Madeira Islands of Portugal.  Funchal is also the largest city on the islands and with its neighbouring boroughs reach over 150,000 inhabitants. It was founded by Jo?o Gon?alves Zarco in 1421 and was elevated to city status by King Manuel I in 1508.

Today Funchal is a modern city, located in a unique area; the natural geological features form an "amphitheatre" surrounding the city, which begins at the harbour and rises almost 1200 metres high on gentle slopes. This provides a natural shelter and was what attracted the first settlers.  Madeira's capital for more than five centuries, Funchal is said to have been named as such because of the abundance of fennel (funcho- in portuguese) that was growing there.


The island of Madeira is  known for its exotic flowers, sub-tropical, tropical fruits and New Year's Eve celebrations with a spectacular fireworks show, considered the biggest in the world.

Traditional pastries in Madeira usually contain local ingredients, one of the most common being mel de cana, literally sugarcane honey - molasses. The traditional cake of Madeira is called 'Bolo de mel', which translates as (Sugarcane) 'Honey Cake' and according to custom is never cut with a knife but broken into pieces by hand. It is a rich and heavy cake. Visitors to the island will see plentiful examples of handicraft on sale in shops.

The island of Madeira is wet in the northwest but dry in the southeast. In the 16th century the Portuguese started building levadas to carry water to the agricultural regions. The most recent was made in the 1940s. Madeira is very mountainous, and building the levadas was often difficult. Many are cut into the sides of mountains, and it was also necessary to dig 25 miles of tunnels.

Today the levadas not only supply water to the southern parts of the island but provide hydro-electric power. There are over 1350 miles of levadas and they provide a remarkable network of walking paths.

Top picks for MADEIRA...

Top rated hotels
Savoy in MADEIRA Hotel Savoy


5 star rating
Pestana Carlton Madeira in MADEIRA Hotel Pestana Carlton Madeira


5 star rating
CS Madeira Resort and Sea Spa in MADEIRA Hotel CS Madeira Resort and Sea Spa


5 star rating
Girassol in MADEIRA Hotel Girassol


4 star rating
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