Madeira, the largest island of the archipelago of the same name, is a year-round tourist destination, known for subtropical weather, amazing hikes excellent hotels and gourmet food. Take a cable car up the mountain to the botanical gardens filled with tropical flowers and then choose the exhilarating wicker toboggan down. Spend an afternoon surfing or whale watching and an evening enjoying traditional music played on local instruments.
The Azores, another archipelago, consists of 9 volcanic islands with Pico containing the highest point in Portugal. All islands have dramatic landscapes and friendly fishing villages. With a Gulf Stream moderated climate, the weather here is much like San Francisco.
Because the islands were settled in widely separated times, there is much variety in the culture, dialect and cuisine of each island. Fifty percent of Portuguese cheese is produced in the Azores and 27 species of whales visit regularly, making this an excellent centre for whale watching.
The main island, São Miguel, is known for its many steaming geysers and hot bubbling springs that produce the therapeutic mud featured in its health resort.