Madeira is an island with a tropical climate whose proximity to Europe makes it an ideal choice for a vacation. However, we can not deny that one of the biggest concerns for adults traveling with children are the activities they can or can not do upon arrival.
Upon arrival in Madeira you will realize that this destination is carefully designed for the fun of travelers. From the varied catalog available, here is a list of fun suggestions that I recommend you analyze according to the particular tastes of your family and, of course, the age of the children you will be traveling with.
1. Watch whales and dolphins on a whale and dolphin watching tour
If you are wondering what is the best alternative to see dolphins in Madeira, the answer that many will give you is the same: book a catamaran cruise with whale watching to observe the marine life of the Madeira archipelago.
This type of experience is highly recommended for those visiting Madeira with the family, because you will be able to see dolphins, fin whales, sperm whales and other cetaceans up close, while admiring the mountainous landscape and cliffs. In addition, you can enjoy a snorkeling stop.
Another ideal option is to book a diving experience at the Madeira Aquarium, as you will be able to dive in the largest tank of the aquarium and dive among moray eels, rays and sharks. Besides, it is a very safe activity, since you will go with an expert monitor and you will have a previous experience of baptism of water. Of course, the minimum age is 10 years old.
- Duration: This type of tour usually takes from 2 and a half to 3 hours.
- Schedule: You will find morning and afternoon tours.
- Price range: From 30 € per adult ticket.
2. Enjoy Madeira's nature with a trekking route
Make the most of your vacation by hiking through the green mountains of the island. To do so, book a hiking tour in Madeira. This is an activity that thrills children, as they have the opportunity to walk through gigantic green spaces, many of which resemble ancient enchanted forests.
Here are a series of outstanding routes to do with the youngest members of the family:
- Um Caminho para Todos A short route that offers wonderful views of the famous Casas Das Queimadas, charming traditional Madeiran buildings.
- Levada do Alecrim This route starts in the area of Rabacal and is highly recommended to do with children, because, in addition to being accessible, you will be able to see numerous endemic species of the island, including flora and fauna. At the end of the trail, the reward is the beautiful Dona Beja waterfall and lagoon.
- Vereda dos Balcones A short trail in the heart of Madeira, ideal for families and from where you can get panoramic views of some of the highest mountains: Pico do Areeiro and Pico do Gato.
- Levada de Furado This is one of the most famous hiking trails in Madeira. It is ideal to do with the family, as the trail starts next to the Trout Park, where children can spend time trying to find trout of different sizes.
- Duration: 7-9 hours.
- Schedule: Early in the morning.
- Price range: From 42 € the adult ticket.
3. Venture out on a 4x4 vehicle tour of Madeira
And if you think that a hiking tour can be a bit tiring and you are going with adventurous children, I recommend you to book a 4x4 tour in Madeira, where you will explore the landscape of the island while living a great and intrepid adventure. They will love it!
This experience lasts approximately 4 hours in which you will discover various places of interest such as Boca dos Namorados, the Valley of the Nuns or Cabo Girao, along with a professional guide. These excursions include the transfer to and from Funchal or Caniço, as well as the accompaniment of a professional guide and insurance.
There is also the option of taking the excursion in a 4x4 vehicle through the north of Madeira and the Porto Moniz Pools, whose landscape will dazzle you.
- Duration: From 4 h.
- Schedule: Early in the morning.
- Price range: From 74 € the adult ticket.
4. Enjoy a traditional carriage ride in Funchal
One of the traditional ways to go down the Monte mountain in Funchal is aboard giant basket carts or also called wicker sledges. The ride is fun, exciting and full of adrenaline, which is why children love the experience.
The Basket Cart is one of Madeira's most famous attractions that makes use of the activity of the drivers, called carreiros, to make the spinning movements, slow down and brake using their own boots as a tool.
The clothing of the carreiros do Monte has remained the same since its implementation in the 17th century. They all wear a white suit composed of shirt and pants, a straw hat and their strong boots. You can book the trips at the stands that you can find in the central streets of Funchal.
Useful information about Funchal
- Duration: The descent down the hill from Monte only takes 10 minutes to complete.
- Timetable: The Carrerios offer the service from Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.
- Price range: From 25 € per passenger. Groups of up to three people pay about €45.
5. Climb to the top of Funchal by cable car.
If you want to experience Madeira from the heights, but paragliding is not your thing, the best option is to take the Funchal cable car. Besides being a cheaper alternative, it is suitable for families of all kinds.
The structure has 39 cabins of 8 seats each and rises about 560 meters in the air. The complete tour lasts on average about 20 minutes, during which you will travel more than 3,000 meters in distance. From the heights it is possible to enjoy the city from a perspective in which the houses and labyrinthine streets of Funchal look like living architectural models.
Upon reaching the top, I recommend that parents take advantage of the trip to visit the Monte Palace Tropical Garden where you will find a large collection of exotic plants and flowers from different continents, as well as amazing creatures such as black swans, peacocks, chickens and koi fish.
- Duration: I recommend spending at least 3 hours visiting the Garden.
- Hours: Open to the public from 9 am. The last trip back to Funchal leaves at 5:45 pm.
- Price range: Adults must pay about 13 € to take the cable car, while children from 7 to 14 must pay about 7 €. Children under 4 years old enter free of charge.
- Address: The cable car station is located in the heart of Madeira at Av. do Mar e das Comunidades Madeirense.
6. Visit the Madeira Aquarium in Porto Moniz
A day trip to the northern part of Madeira is essential to get to know the island and its natural wonders. In this part you will also find one of the best attractions to enjoy with the family: the Madeira Aquarium. It is an impressive and charming tour in equal proportions that takes the group of travelers through gigantic pools where you can appreciate the marine biodiversity of the archipelago of Madeira. The aquarium is home to at least 90 different marine species living in 12 large display tanks.
To reach this area of the island, it is best to hire an organized excursion from Funchal. Those aimed at exploring the western part of the island usually include a visit to the lava pools of Porto Moniz and also to the aquarium.
Another option is to rent a vehicle in the city of Funchal and travel northwest. Unfortunately, there are no direct public transport lines between the two destinations.
- Duration: You can walk it in about 1 hour.
- Hours: Open to the public from 10 am to 6 pm.
- Price range: The adult ticket is around 8 € per participant, while children from 5 to 17 years old pay about 4 € approximately.
- Address: At the fort of São João Baptista in Porto Moniz.
7. Spend a fun afternoon at the Madeira Water Park
What child doesn't enjoy a fun afternoon among pools and slides? Despite its small size, Madeira Island has its own water park, with the Portuguese name Aquaparque Madeira.
The park is located in the town of Santa Cruz, in the coastal area of Gaula, 1 hour and 30 minutes from Funchal. If you stay in the latter you should take bus 77 and 113 or rent a vehicle to go more comfortably.
- Duration: As long as you want.
- Hours: Open to the public from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. In August the hours are extended until 7 pm.
- Price range: Adults pay about 10 € and children 7 €, approximately. Children under 4 years old have free access to the facilities accompanied by an adult.
- Address: The park is located at Rua Ribeira da Boaventura 9100-138, Bairro de Santa Cruz.
8. Explore the best beaches for kids in Madeira
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to see, do and enjoy in Madeira. In addition, any trip should include in its itinerary a visit to know and enjoy the ocean waters surrounding the island. Full of natural and artificial beaches, I recommend taking into account those that are more suitable to visit with children. In this list I tell you my favorites.
- Doca do Cavacas natural swimming pool in Funchal.
- Prainha Caniçal Beach.
- Seixal Beach and Spa.
- Machico Beach.
- Calheta Beach.
If you decide to embark on this adventure, I recommend checking out the fun Madeira jeep safaris, an excursion that takes travelers through numerous highlights. Many local companies offer tours adapted with places of interest for children where they can swim in complete safety.
In addition, you will be accompanied by an expert guide at every step of the adventure.
- Duration: Madeira Jeep Safaris usually take about 6 to 8 hours to complete. I recommend reserving a day for this experience.
- Schedule: Tours depart from Funchal between 8 and 9 hours in the morning.
- Price range: From 50 € to 60 € approximately.
9. Stroll through the park of Santa Catarina
No matter what time of year you visit Madeira, a tour of Santa Catarina Park becomes one of the best things to do with the family. Located in the heart of Funchal, the park covers some 36,000 square meters and offers stunning views of the bay.
Head to this area of the city for activities such as a family picnic, cycling, feeding the ducks or enjoying the children's play area.
If any family members wish to join in, Acro Yoga classes are offered every Friday afternoon at Santa Catarina. This practice combines the principles of yoga with acrobatic techniques encouraging connection and play between participants.
- Hours: Open to the public Monday through Friday from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- Price range: Free for all audiences.
- Address: The Park is located in the heart of Funchal, at Av. Sá Carneiro 3.
10. Get to know Cabo Girao on the Madeira Green Train
Visit the Câmara de Lobos from Funchal aboard the Madeira Green Train, a small and charming transport with capacity for approximately 20 passengers. It offers tourists a tour of the hills and a simple and scenic way to climb to the top of Cabo Girao.
At Cabo Girao you will find thehighest cliffin Europe and a lookout point with a glass platform. Due to its location and design, the views from the top of the mountain are, to say the least, breathtaking. Câmara de Lobos is a charming fishing village that I recommend you to visit during your vacations, even if you are going to Madeira for 7 days or less. It is only 11 minutes drive from the center of Funchal, so it is easy to organize a short trip.
The Madeira Green Train has good reviews on the web environment. When arranging your visit just keep in mind that the tours depart punctually several times a day at the following times: the first at 11.30 am; the second at 1.30 pm; the third at 3.00 pm and the last at 4.30 pm.
- Duration: Reserve 2 to 3 hours for this experience. The train ride to the top of the cliff takes 1 hour to complete.
- Schedule: Tours start at 11:30 am until 4:30 pm.
- Price range: Approximately 8 € for an adult ticket and 5 € for children between 3 and 10 years old.
- Address: To make the trip to Cabo Girao you must take the train at Rua do Marquês in the historic center of Funchal.
11. Live the pirate experience on boat tour in Funchal
On your next trip to Madeira you can enjoy an adventure at sea aboard a dangerous pirate ship. This activity is considered one of the most exciting activities that children and adults can do during their vacations.
The pirate ship adventure in Madeira takes travelers aboard the Santa Maria de Colombo, a modern replica of one of the ships that the intrepid navigator used during the voyage that would take him to America and that was shipwrecked near the island of Hispaniola.
To fully enjoy the island of Madeira means taking excursions by land and by sea. Because of this, boat trips in Madeira are extremely popular and one of the most demanded experiences by travelers. You will find them in different formats and different styles.
- Duration: The boat tour lasts about 3 hours and you must be at the meeting point at least 20 minutes to board.
- Schedule: This adventure is offered at different times.
- Price range: Adults pay approximately 30 € per participant and children around 18 €.