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Machico

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Belonging to Portugal and lying in the Atlantic more than 550 miles west off the coast of Morocco, the archipelago of Madeira is not exactly a place one stumbles upon while traveling. But visitors soon realize it is a destination worth planning for, and the town of Machico is its shining star.

Along with the island's largest city, Funchal, Machico quickly became a full-fledged town shortly after the discovery of the island in the early 15th century. In fact, it was the first place where explorers landed and as such, is the historical heart of the island. Sights include Franciscan chapels, defensive forts, and the original fire beacon to warn of intruders. There are also beautiful vistas, modern beach clubs, world-class diving spots, and the town itself, with its welcoming locals.

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