Madeira is an archipelago situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 500 kilometers from the closest land, in this case the continent of Africa. It’s about a thousand or so miles south from Portugal. Why mention Portugal, not Spain or France or some other European nation? Like another Atlantic Ocean archipelago, the Azores, Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal. Thanks to early 15th century explorations of sea captains under Prince Henry the Navigator, Portugal extended its reach far away from its continental home.
Known now for Madeira wine and beautiful gardens, Madeira’s first residents survived and thrived on the growing and export of sugar cane and beets to Europe. Despite its relatively short history, there are plenty of sights for the visitor of historical interest. Added to this are beautiful beaches (though with dark sand), modern and luxurious resorts, many opportunities for sports for the active tourist, and a lovely climate. Madeira boasts a million or more visitors a year and its capital Funchal’s harbor is a popular port of call for many cruise lines.
So what can you do in Funchal should your cruise itinerary include this city?