Dramatic landscapes. Delicious wine. Warm weather. Need we say more?
Some 400 miles off the northwest coast of Africa, four islands in the Atlantic Ocean make up the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira. Dramatic landscapes, temperate weather, rich culture, and—perhaps most importantly—excellent wine draw travelers to this region year after year from across the globe. From sunning on the beaches to wine-tasting to exploring the subtropical forests, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Madeira.
Thanks to its mild climate, Madeira is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the region’s laurel forest, called the Laurisilva, is the largest surviving forest of its kind. Nature lovers from all over visit to see the vibrant green vegetation and the local wildlife, such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon.
Madeira is perhaps best known for its storied winemaking process. Centuries ago, this local winemaking method was discovered when casks of wine returned to the islands after an ocean voyage in the heat of a ship’s hold. Today, vintners still use a process that involves heating the wine, which results in a distinctly robust flavor—wines from Madeira often remain good to drink well after opening a bottle.
If you’re looking to get your fix of nightlife and culture while island-hopping, don’t miss a visit to Madeira’s capital city, Funchal. The city’s constantly evolving, with new restaurants, bars, and even a hotel from soccer star (and Madeira native) Cristiano Ronaldo. Funchal is an especially popular destination for New Year’s Eve revelers thanks to its massive fireworks display, which in 2006 nabbed the record for biggest fireworks show in the world.
Watch this video to experience the beauty of this special corner of the world and get a taste of what to do in Madeira.