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Destination I Do
Friday, September 4, 2020

Toasting Madeira’s Magic

Words by Stacey Marcus

Historical Coastal Getaways


Photo courtesy of Belmond Management Limited

Madeira is flowering with curiosities. How is it that this subtropical nirvana brimming with botanical beauty and natural wonders has not been on the radar of honeymoon couples ripe for romance? This autonomous region of Portugal is a hidden gem deep in the Atlantic Ocean 440 miles off the coast of Africa.

The mountains, sea and valleys offer an endless array of al fresco activities including watching the sunrise from Maderia’s third-highest peak, Pico de Arieiro, delighting in the flora and fauna of the archipelago, hanging out with dolphins and whales on a pontoon boat or canyoning down a waterfall. Did we mention the sumptuous seafood, tropical fruits and yes, the sweet and sultry Madeira wine?

Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw and members of the royal family knew where to unwind when visiting the islands. Belmond Reid’s Palace is perfectly perched on a cliffside overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Funchal Harbour. Any one of the 158 rooms, including 47 suites, boast stunning views of the island-dotted with red roofs and curvy, mountain roads.

Enjoy afternoon tea on the terrace, a guided tour of the majestic gardens, scrumptious dining or a Madeira wine tasting. Sprawl out on an embroidered bedspread or sit on the sundeck and see the cruise ships dock at Funchal. The service at Belmond Reid’s Palace is top-notch with niceties like being served pineapple skewers while you lounge in the sun.

Be sure to pack good walking and/or hiking shoes for discovering the islands. Breathtaking walks include Levada walks, strolling through Madeira Botanical Garden with over 2,000 plants and meandering around the exotic Monte Palace Tropical Garden. A city tour through Funchal is a fabulous way to see the city’s architecture, enjoy the cable car, take a ride in a wicker toboggan or sample poncha, the signature island drink. A wine tasting will reveal why George Washington celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence with the vintage.

You can easily fly to Madeira with a stopover in Lisbon or Porto from New York, Boston and Miami. This summer, TAP Air Portugal launched flights from Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Be sure to check for promotions like enjoying up to five nights in Lisbon or Porto en route to Funchal for no additional airfare.

A honeymoon in Maderia will showcase how the rich soil makes everything grow in this paradise, including affection.

This article first appeared in Destination I Do's Fall/Winter 2019 issue which you view here.

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