The Ultimate Guide to a Madeira Family Holiday: Fun for Kids of All Ages (with images)

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Embarking on a Madeira family holiday promises an unforgettable adventure that caters to both young and old alike. Nestled in the Atlantic, Madeira is a gem known for its lush landscapes, stunning beaches, and a climate that’s pleasant year-round. This island paradise provides a perfect backdrop for families seeking a blend of relaxation and exploration. From kayaking along the coastline, wandering through vibrant botanical gardens, to enjoying picnics beside scenic waterfalls, Madeira offers a variety of activities that are sure to delight every member of the family.

As we dive further into the guide, we’ll explore the charming city of Funchal, where playgrounds meet historical sites, creating a fun and educational setting for kids. Nature and outdoor activities abound, from hiking trails leading to breathtaking viewpoints like Pico do Arieiro and Ponta de Sao Lourenco, to exciting rides on the cable car. The guide will also highlight Madeira’s unique transport experiences, such as its famous water park, offering a splash of fun. Additionally, we don’t forget about the importance of savoring local cuisines at family-friendly dining spots and resting at the day’s end in accommodations that welcome families with open arms. Whether it’s finding the perfect spot for a family photo at one of Madeira’s iconic lighthouses or planning your adventure with our essential tips and tricks, this guide is your ticket to a memorable Madeira family holiday.

Exploring Funchal with Kids: Top Madeira Family Holiday Attractions

Santa Maria de Colombo Boat Trip

santa maria de Columbo boat trip, Maderia

Embark on an exciting adventure with the Santa Maria de Colombo boat trip, a perfect family outing to explore the harbor and coastline of Funchal. This replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship offers a unique voyage, allowing children and adults alike to imagine the thrill of discovering new lands. The trip provides a scenic view of the sea and is an ideal way to spot local marine life, including dolphins.

Cristiano Ronaldo Museum – CR7

Cristiano Ronaldo Statue in Madeira

For sports enthusiasts, especially young soccer fans, a visit to the Cristiano Ronaldo Museum, also known as CR7, is a must. This museum celebrates the achievements of Madeira’s global soccer star, Cristiano Ronaldo. Exhibits include his trophies, awards, and memorabilia, which are sure to inspire and excite children and adults alike.

Funchal Cable Car and Monte Palace Botanical Gardens

Cable car Funchal
botanical gardens Funchal

Take a ride on the Funchal Cable Car to reach the beautiful Monte Palace Botanical Gardens. This journey offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the lush landscape of Madeira. Once at the top, families can stroll through the vibrant botanical gardens, exploring the diverse flora and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.

Madeira Theme Park Adventure

The Madeira Theme Park, located in Santana, provides a fun-filled day for the whole family. This park is dedicated to the culture and traditions of Madeira, featuring attractions like the Village of Traditional Houses of Santana and the Quintinha, where kids can interact with farm animals. The park also offers a variety of rides and educational exhibits, making it a comprehensive cultural and recreational experience for visitors of all ages.

Nature and Outdoor Activities for Families

Ponta de São Lourenço Hike and Picnic

PontadeSaoLourencoHike

Families visiting Madeira will find the Ponta de São Lourenço hike an enriching experience. This easy trail, suitable for all ages, offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the island’s unique volcanic landscape. The hike takes about 2-3 hours, making it an ideal morning or afternoon family activity. Along the way, the diverse flora and fauna provide great learning opportunities for children. At the end of the hike, families can enjoy a picnic while taking in the breathtaking scenery, creating a perfect moment to relax and bond.

Beach Time at Machico and Praia Formosa

Machico beach madeira
Machico Beach, Madeira

Madeira boasts several beautiful beaches, with Machico and Praia Formosa standing out as family favourites. Machico features a long, sandy beach with a scenic harbor, ideal for sandcastle building and leisurely strolls. Praia Formosa, known for its striking black sand and dramatic cliffs, offers excellent swimming conditions and ample space for sunbathing and beach games. Both locations provide a great mix of relaxation and fun by the sea, and great memories for all!

Natural Pools at Porto Moniz

Natural Pools Porto Moniz

One of Madeira’s most unique natural attractions is the natural pools at Porto Moniz, formed by volcanic rock. These pools are filled with clear seawater, providing a safe and exhilarating swimming experience for families. The area around the pools features dramatic cliffs and stunning ocean views, making it a picturesque spot for spending the day. Facilities such as changing rooms, a children’s pool, and a playground make it especially convenient for families with young children.

Whale and Dolphin Watching: A Magical Experience

whale dolphin watching madeira

For an unforgettable adventure, families can embark on a whale and dolphin watching tour. Madeira’s waters are home to diverse marine life, including bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales, and pilot whales. These tours not only offer the chance to witness these majestic animals in their natural habitat but also provide educational insights, making it a fascinating experience for both kids and adults. Whether departing from Funchal, Calheta, or Porto Santo, each location offers its unique vantage point and opportunities to explore the rich aquatic life of Madeira.

Cultural Insights and Learning

Visit to the Whale Museum

The Whale Museum in Funchal offers a deep dive into the marine life of Madeira. It provides visitors with interactive exhibits and informative displays that explore the history and biology of whales. The museum is an educational hub where one can learn about the different whale and dolphin species found around Madeira, as well as the island’s historical whaling industry. Highlights include a life-size model of a sperm whale, giving visitors a real sense of the scale of these magnificent creatures.

Discovering Funchal’s Old Town

A stroll through Funchal’s historic Old Town is like stepping back in time. This area is renowned for its charming cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and traditional Portuguese architecture. Families can explore the local culture and history while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. The Old Town is also home to the Mercado dos Lavradores, a lively market where visitors can taste a variety of fresh local produce and find traditional handiwork perfect for souvenirs.

Madeira’s Unique Transport Experiences

Toboggan Ride from Monte to Funchal

tobagganride funchal

One of Madeira’s most exhilarating attractions is the traditional toboggan ride that starts from Monte and winds its way down to Funchal. These unique wicker sledges, which are steered by two men dressed in white uniforms and straw boaters, offer families a thrilling descent down the steep, winding streets. Originating in the early 19th century as a quick means of transportation for locals, these toboggans have now become a beloved tourist experience, combining historical charm with exciting speeds reaching up to 30 kilometers per hour.

Exploring by Tukxi Eco Tours

For those looking to explore Madeira in an eco-friendly manner, the Tukxi Eco Tours present a perfect option. These three-wheeled electric vehicles are not only quiet and sustainable but also allow access to some of the narrower streets and steep inclines that characterize the island. Tukxi tours provide a unique perspective of Madeira’s landscapes and cultural spots, offering an intimate exploration of Funchal’s historical and scenic beauty. The high mobility standards of these vehicles ensure that visitors can enjoy panoramic views and delve into the local history and culture in comfort.

Achadas de Cruz Cable Car Adventure

Achadas de Cruz Cable Car

The Achadas da Cruz cable car offers another distinct and memorable transport experience in Madeira. This journey begins at the Calhau Snack Bar and descends a dramatic 500 meters down to the coastal parish of Fajá da Quebrada Nova. Known for its affordability, with tickets costing just three Euros, the cable car operates from 8 AM to 6 PM daily, providing stunning views of Madeira’s rugged cliffs and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Visitors can choose to explore the traditional village at the base or simply enjoy the landscape from the viewpoint next to the parking lot at the cliff top. Those who wish to extend their adventure can take the two-kilometer hiking trail back up to the cliff-top, experiencing nearly 500 meters of incline through picturesque surroundings.

Scenic Views and Nature’s Marvels

Sunset at Cabo Girão Skywalk

Amazing panoramic view of madeira island with mountains, city, houses, agro, ocean and boat. View from the observation deck Cabo Girão Skywalk
Amazing panoramic view of Madeira Island – view from the observation deck at Cabo Girão Skywalk

The Cabo Girão Skywalk, perched atop one of Europe’s highest cliffs, offers a mesmerizing sunset experience. Visitors standing on the transparent glass platform can watch as the sun dips below the horizon of the Atlantic Ocean, casting vibrant hues across the sky and the vast sea. This stunning natural spectacle is enhanced by the panoramic views of the surrounding cliffs and the coastal towns below, making it an unforgettable moment for families and photographers alike.

Eira do Serrado and the Majestic Nuns Valley

Eira do Serrado, a viewpoint situated at an elevation of 1,095 meters, provides a breathtaking overlook of the Nuns Valley (Curral das Freiras). This location offers a panoramic vista that encapsulates the beauty of lush vegetation and dramatic cliffs encircling the quaint village. The viewpoint is accessible via a scenic footpath that promises an engaging walk through nature, leading visitors directly to the heart of this picturesque valley.

Safari Tour: An Unforgettable Journey

Embarking on a safari tour in Madeira is a thrilling way to explore the island’s diverse landscapes. This adventure takes families through lush forests, along volcanic peaks, and near the rugged coastal areas, offering a chance to spot native wildlife and learn about the local ecosystem. The tour is not only a journey through the natural beauty of Madeira but also an educational experience that brings visitors closer to understanding the unique environmental aspects of the island.

Family-Friendly Dining in Madeira

Madeira, an island celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, also boasts a vibrant dining scene that caters to families with children of all ages. From the heart of Funchal to secluded coves, the island offers a variety of dining experiences that combine delicious cuisine with stunning views and engaging atmospheres. Below are some top picks for family-friendly dining in Madeira that promise to make your holiday meals memorable.

Atlantic Restaurant’s Sea View

Perched within the luxurious confines of the Savoy Palace hotel, the Atlantic Restaurant offers more than just a meal; it presents an experience. With its unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean, families can enjoy a feast for the senses as they delve into a menu that blends international flair with local Madeiran specialties. The restaurant’s commitment to fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients stands as a testament to the island’s rich culinary heritage. Whether you’re seated indoors or on the outdoor terrace, the panoramic ocean vistas provide a breathtaking backdrop to every meal, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a memorable dining experience.

Il Basilico for Italian Cuisine

Nestled in Funchal, Madeira’s bustling capital, Il Basilico stands out as a haven for Italian cuisine lovers. This popular restaurant welcomes families with its cozy and inviting ambiance, making everyone feel at home. The menu is a testament to classic Italian cooking, featuring wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta dishes, and a selection of seafood that captures the essence of Italy. For those looking to pair their meal with a local touch, Il Basilico also offers a range of Madeiran wines. Additionally, the sunny deck terrace provides an ideal setting for ‘à la carte’ dinners, allowing families to dine under the Madeiran sky throughout the year. The presence of Italian chef Cristiano Cutietta, hailing from Florence, ensures that each dish carries the authentic flavors of Tuscan cuisine, making it a culinary journey worth experiencing.

Fajã dos Padres: Dining by the Sea

For families in search of a truly unique dining experience, Fajã dos Padres offers an unparalleled setting. This secluded cove, accessible only by cable car or boat, is a hidden gem on the southern coast of Madeira. Here, guests can dine just steps from the sea, surrounded by the natural beauty of the island. The menu at Fajã dos Padres features an array of fresh seafood and traditional Madeiran dishes, all prepared with locally sourced ingredients. The serene atmosphere, coupled with the stunning ocean views, makes this restaurant a must-visit for families looking to enjoy a peaceful and picturesque meal. Whether you’re arriving by a scenic cable car ride or an adventurous boat trip, the journey to Fajã dos Padres is part of the unforgettable experience that awaits.

In summary, Madeira’s family-friendly dining options are as diverse as the island’s landscapes. From the authentic Italian flavors at Il Basilico to the stunning sea views at the Atlantic Restaurant and the unique beachside ambiance of Fajã dos Padres, families can enjoy a variety of culinary experiences that cater to all tastes and preferences. Each restaurant not only offers a menu that celebrates Madeira’s rich culinary heritage but also provides settings that enhance the overall dining experience, making every meal a memorable part of your Madeira family holiday.

Kid-Friendly Hotels and Stays

For families planning their Madeira family holiday, finding the perfect accommodation that caters to both adults and children is crucial. Madeira boasts several kid-friendly hotels and stays, ensuring that every family member has a memorable and comfortable experience. Among the top suggestions for family accommodations are Porto Mare, Quinta do Furão, and Hotel Moniz Sol, each offering unique amenities and experiences tailored to families.

Hotel Suggestions: Porto Mare, Quinta do Furão, and Hotel Moniz Sol

  1. Porto Mare:
    • Location: Central and convenient, offering easy access to Madeira’s attractions including the beach.
    • Amenities: Features multiple swimming pools, including kid-specific options, and a variety of on-site restaurants catering to different tastes.
    • Family-Friendly Highlights: Extensive gardens for exploration, kids’ club for entertainment, and spacious family rooms.
  2. Quinta do Furão:
    • Location: Set on a cliff top at Achada do Gramacho in Santana, providing stunning views of the northeast coast and surrounding mountains.
    • Amenities: Offers free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, wellness facilities including a sauna and massage room, and a games room. The hotel’s restaurant serves a selection of typical Madeiran dishes and international cuisine.
    • Family-Friendly Highlights: The hotel is near the picturesque town of Santana, known for its thatched houses. Rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, a minibar, and tea and coffee making facilities, ensuring comfort for the whole family. The property also includes a vineyard and organic gardens, offering educational walks for families.
  3. Quinta da Casa Blanca:
    • Location: Member of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, nestled amidst lush sub-tropical gardens near the center of Funchal and away from the bustle of the city,
    • Amenities: Outdoor swimming options (adults & kids), a spa for relaxation, and a restaurant with kid-friendly meal options.
    • Family-Friendly Highlights: Close enough to the city to be accessible.

Each of these hotels goes beyond just providing a place to sleep, offering experiences and facilities that cater to the needs of families. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, these accommodations ensure that your Madeira family holiday is filled with cherished memories.

Planning Your Madeira Adventure: Tips and Tricks

Embarking on a Madeira family holiday requires thoughtful planning to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for all. From selecting the best time to visit to understanding travel insurance needs and navigating the island by car, here are essential tips and tricks to consider.

Best Time to Visit

The allure of Madeira lies in its year-round mild climate, making it a versatile destination for families. However, timing can significantly influence your holiday experience. If you prefer sunny and dry weather, June through September offers the most favorable conditions. For those keen on hiking and outdoor activities, April and May present cooler temperatures ideal for exploration. To avoid crowds, consider visiting outside of peak summer months and major holidays. Each season in Madeira brings its unique charm, from vibrant flower displays in spring to the mystical atmosphere of the Fanal Forest in autumn.

The weather in Portugal – best times to visit

Car Rental and Navigation Tips

Exploring Madeira by car grants you the freedom to discover the island’s stunning landscapes and hidden gems at your own pace. When renting a car, book in advance to secure the best deals and consider full coverage insurance for added protection. Madeira’s roads can be steep and narrow, so choose a vehicle that suits the terrain and your family’s needs. Compact cars are ideal for navigating tight city streets and parking spaces, especially in Funchal.

Familiarise yourself with local driving laws and consider using a navigation app to guide you through Madeira’s winding roads and scenic routes. Remember, driving in Madeira requires confidence, especially on mountainous roads with hairpin bends. Take your time, enjoy the journey, and embrace the beauty of Madeira from behind the wheel.

Conclusion

As families consider their next holiday destination, Madeira stands out as a beacon of diversity, offering activities and experiences that cater to a range of interests and ages. The suggestions and insights shared here aim to inspire and guide families toward creating unforgettable memories together. Whether through the eyes of a child marveling at Madeira’s natural pools or an adult enjoying a moment of tranquility at a sunset viewpoint, Madeira promises a journey of discovery and joy for all.



Check out my post on Quinta Da Casa Branca – tracing my family

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4 Responses

  1. How beautiful?? This hasn’t been on my radar for a family trip, but your post is making me reconsider that. It’s completely stunning. Appreciate your insight for kid-friendly activities. Definitely bookmarking this one!

  2. We are in process of planning a trip to Portugal – and Madeira has just been added to the trip! Great ideas and information that will certainly come in useful…soon! Just bookmarked your site as well and will be referring to it often. Thanks!

  3. These are some cool recs! I think exploring Funchal’s historic old town and the Ponta de São Lourenço hike are things I wouldn’t miss.

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