A balmy subtropical paradise of rugged coastlines, deep ravines and tumbling waterfalls, this autonomous Portuguese island is swarming with unruly natural splendour. Swim in the rock pools hidden in lavishly green backcountry and enjoy a tranquil stroll among exotic birds and flora. With its grey-and-white cobblestone pavements, 18th century mansions and neatly trimmed parks the bustling little capital Funchal is a glory of old-fashioned elegance by the sea.
The 1956 Moby Dick movie was filmed in Madeira. Star, Gregory Peck, got seasick so often they had to finish in a studio!
To get the feel of the whole 35-mile long island, take a scenic drive along its skirting precipitous cliffs. Hop on a cable-car up to the jagged peaks. Or enjoy a catamaran sail onto the warm crystalline waters of the Atlantic. Spot the whales and dolphins at play before you head back for phenomenal fresh seafood and a generous sample of sweet syrupy Madeira wine.