Craggy cliffs and flowering trees that burst up from the fertile volcanic soil greet visitors to Portugal's colorful island of Madeira, which actually sits off the Moroccan coast. At the island's center, the Pico Ruivo peak towers 6,100 feet above sea level; below, rocky ravines cut through lush green countryside jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean to create an edge-of-the-world effect. This rugged beauty combined with tropical weather and a laid-back local attitude make Madeira a destination in and of itself, but most visitors typically tie in a visit to the mystical isle with a trip to the cosmopolitan capital of Lisbon. In fact, a visit to quiet, tree-laden Madeira is the perfect antidote to a few days spent wandering Portugal's effortlessly cool capital.

Quick and Easy: By Air

Getting to Madeira from the mainland by air is cheaper and easier than you would expect, especially if you fly on Portugal’s national carrier, TAP Portugal. There are several daily direct flights from the Lisbon airport, and you can expect to pay between $70 and $150. In you’re coming from Europe, Ryanair offers budget-friendly flights to this Portuguese getaway. From Lisbon, the flight takes just under two hours, and planes touch down at the Madeira airport just east of the capital, Funchal. You will need to take a taxi from the airport into the center of town. This will take around 20 minutes and cost around $30 (expect to pay more on Sundays or after dark). Alternatively, there is an airport bus that leaves from just outside the terminal. Buses run as needed and are timed to meet incoming and outgoing flights. The 45-minute ride will take you to the center of Funchal, and it costs around $5. There’s no central bus station, but you can let the driver know where you need to be dropped off; if it’s on the route, he will stop to let you off. This will likely be your first introduction to the relaxed hospitality that makes Madeira so popular with visitors.

Not So Easy: By Boat

Sadly, the ferry between the mainland and Madeira stopped running in 2012 because of a port tax dispute. Since then, there have been no public ferries that run between Lisbon and Madeira, so unless you charter a private boat or travel as part of a tour there is no way to reach the island by water. It is, however possible to travel by public ferry between Madeira and Porto Santo, the only other inhabited island in the archipelago, which is about 25 miles northeast of Madeira. The Port of Funchal is also the destination of many cruise liners, boats and yachts.

On the Island

Once you're on the island, don't expect nightclubs or high-rise hotels. Endless nightlife and hipster glitz are what Lisbon is for, but Madeira boasts natural beauty to enjoy. Madeira is known for its daytime activities, including excellent deep sea fishing, incredible walking paths through its public parks, and gardens teeming with bougainvillea, orchids, jacaranda and banana trees. It's also possible to take an easy walking route to Pico Ruivo, or explore the ‌levadas‌, mini-canals that are unique to the island. After your adventures, enjoy locally produced wines in quaint seaside restaurants or check into one of Funchal's quiet hotels with incredible sweeping views. One of the best is the Castanheiro Boutique Hotel in the heart of Funchal, a beautiful hotel built inside three historic buildings. Madeira’s sister-island The Azores offers a more Mediterranean climate and less tourism for an easy day excursion at only 4 hours round trip. Azores Airlines offers flights from Funchal (FNC) to Ponta Delgada (PDL).