Funchal, Portugal

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Cruising to Funchal, Madeira

Where island and city life meet

Sitting on the tropical island of Madeira, enclosed by a semi-circle of towering on one side and the shimmering Atlantic Ocean on the other, Funchal is not your typical city. Its complicated history has seen it develop from humble beginnings as a network of rural plantations, through the hectic Middle Ages when Madeira became a pirate-infested shipping hub, to its modern day status as one of the most desirable holiday destinations in Europe.

In terms of natural beauty, Funchal is unmatched by any other city on the continent, with the unique topography and climate enabling brightly-coloured flowers to bloom all year round. The city has long been associated with its floral offerings, and a great way to experience this is by heading to one of its many stunning public gardens - such as the Jardins Do Palheiro or the Madeira Botanical Gardens.

There's also lots to discover along the coastline, where dolphin watching excursions are offered throughout the year, while those who want to get the adrenaline pumping can have a go at paragliding, surfing and a range of other exciting activities. Further inland, the hills that surround the city are blanketed with woodland, where visitors can follow walking trails or simply relax while enjoying a picnic and overlooking the coast.

History and art lovers will find plenty of museums and galleries to explore when they fancy taking a break from the sunshine, with the Madeira Story Centre being one of the top places to go to learn about the island's past. The Contemporary Art Museum and the Sacred Art Museum, meanwhile, are among Portugal's top galleries.

When it comes to finding a bite to eat, you'll quickly notice that Funchal boasts a cosmopolitan culinary scene, with restaurants serving up a range of global cuisines. However, you might want to seek out some of the local delicacies, which make excellent use of the rich waters that surround the island. Seafood dishes like swordfish with fried banana, as well as a range of cod-based recipes are among the most typical offerings, and if you're looking for something high-class then head straight to the Michelin-starred Il Gallo d'Or restaurant.

Funchal, Madeira

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