The capital of Madeira, Funchal, with its verdant mountainous backdrop, has wonderful architecture in the old town, where you can walk in the local market or the artistic Rua de Santa Maria with its painted doors and sculptures. Enjoy Madeira cake and wine and see the dolphins and whales all in one place!
Madeira has a year round mild, subtropical climate, with lowest temperatures in January at about 15°C, rising to about 23° in August. The warmest period is August and September. June to November is the peak season for holidaymakers. The water temperature is more than 20°. In February it's Funchal Carnival time, with colourful processions. In April/May the sugar cane harvest is celebrated with presentations and food tastings. Assumption Day is on 15th August with the procession to "Nossa Senhora do Monte" Church, celebrating Madeira's patron saint. At the end of August there's the Wine Festival with wine-tastings and demonstrations.
Portuguese with a strong Madeira dialect and English are widely spoken on the island. The cost of living in Funchal and Madeira is much lower than in London and the UK. A cheap meal costs about 7EUR. There's free wifi in major cities and some towns.
From Santa Catarina Airport take the Aerobus to the centre at about 8EUR return or 5€ for a single ticket. The local public bus is about 3€ one-way, taking a little longer. Taxis have meters, with surcharges at night and weekends, and for luggage. Accommodation-wise, 3 and 4 star hotels can cost about 26€ and 62€ per night respectively. For getting around in Madeira, 7 day bus tickets are available at around 22€. Many visitors rent a car. It's worth noting that roads can be steep and winding, and petrol stations are hard to find outside Funchal.