With hillsides steeped in sugar cane plantations and flowers, the city of Funchal slopes down into one of the prettiest harbours in the world. With all round good weather, wonderful food as well as great sports and golf, the island of Madeira is one of the best European winter sun destinations, and the capital Funchal is an upmarket, lively place to stay.
Madeira has a mild, subtropical climate all year round. January doesn't see it much lower than 15°C, and in August/September the warmest months, it's around 23°C. Peak season is June to November, when the water temperature often reaches more than 20 degrees. For fun, try February for the Carnival in Funchal. In April-May, there's the sugar cane harvest, and on 15th August, there's the Assumption Day procession to "Nossa Senhora do Monte". There's also a wine festival at the end of August.
Portuguese, the native language, is often spoken with a strong dialect, and English is also widely spoken. The cost of living in Funchal and throughout Madeira as a whole, is much lower than in London and the UK. An inexpensive meal will cost about 7 EUROS, and be of a good quality.
Airport Santa Catarina' is the main airport, and to get to Funchal from here take the Aerobus, which is 8 EUR return or one-way, 5 EUR. The public bus is 3 EUR one way, and 7 day tickets are available for buses for about 22 EUROS. Taxis are metered, and there is a surcharge for weekends, nights and luggage. A 3 star hotel costs around 26 EUR per night, and a 4 star about 62 EUR per night. Car hire is popular because the island is hilly and pretty, but note that roads are steep and winding, and that outside Funchal petrol stations are rare. However, free Wifi exists in Funchal and some towns.