Funchal gets a ringside seat on Madeira’s south coast. Set on a hillside, this colourful capital city divvies up the old and new. You’ve got modern shopping malls and a cosmopolitan marina happily sharing space with the cobbled streets and traditional restaurants. And it’s all overseen by a cable car that serves up impressive views.
Canico de Baixo
Mile-long Canico de Baixo makes its home on Madeira’s south coast. The lower section of the town stretches out over a short shelf of volcanic cliff, just above the shoreline. It’s dotted with fancy villas and luxe hotels that are geared up for package holidays. Trundle up the steep hill, and you’ll find yourself in the old town of Canico. This cobbled cluster of streets centres around a pocket-sized square and an 18th-century church. Meander inland a little more to get to a few of the island’s famous levada walking trails.
As resorts go, this one’s a bit of a charmer. Set on Madeira’s east coast, Santa Cruz is a small, colourful place where whitewashed churches relax between the green hills and the Atlantic Ocean. There’s a real laidback vibe, but the island’s livelier capital, Funchal, is only 15 minutes' drive away.