Madeira, Portugal

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Cruising to Madeira (Funchal)

Fancy visiting an island that boasts whale watching as a daily activity? Somewhere with charismatic coastline, gorgeous beaches, and bustling towns? We have the answer - welcome to Madeira, Portugal. 

Upon landing in Funchal, you may possibly question what you have heard about the supposed differences between the cultures of Madeira and Portugal. Terracotta roofed buildings with whitewashed walls aren't hard to come by on the mainland, but look closer, and you'll find this a highly invigorating place that is actually very individual and distinctive. 

Locals, who are blessed with an all-round summer climate, have a different way of life here. Festivals also take place at different times because of the weather; special events such as the Madeira Flower Festival in April/May are worth timing your visit for, along with the annual Carnival in February/March.

The island has an interesting history, settlers having arrived in the 15th century. Chief exports from this time were wheat and sugar cane, and it wasn't until the 17th century that the world-famous Madeira wine came about. For those interested in this aspect of the region's economic history, be sure to visit one of the many museums or wineries. Blandy's Wine Lodge is an especially popular option.

Then there are spectacular landscapes to explore - rugged mountains fringed with a soapy shore line, and commanding flora of all shapes, sizes, and colours. You will behold sights that wouldn't look out of place in the Lord of the Rings. 

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