5 reasons why Madeira is a perfect family-friendly holiday destination
At around 4 hours from the UK, Madeira is an excellent alternative destination to the Canary Islands, which take the same amount of time to get to. To all you football fans, you probably know Madeira as being the home of Cristiano Ronaldo, but it is much more than that. Let us show you 5 reasons why Madeira should be next on your family's travel list.
Dolphins & Whales
Being situated in the North Atlantic, Madeira is on the migratory route for many of the world's biggest living creatures. You'll be lucky enough to spot sperm whales all year round in the waters off Madeira. Weighing up to 40 tonnes and growing up to 16 meters in length, these giants of the sea must be seen. Madeira is also home to the lesser seen Atlantic spotted dolphin. If you're luck enough to find these dolphins then you'll be in with a treat as they love to put on a show and leap from the water.
Depending on what time of year you visit Madeira, you'll may also be able to spot humpback whales and the curious Bryde’s whales. Madeira has a number of excellent whale spotting tours that you can join but make sure you book in advance to guarantee your spot on the boat. And of course, don't forget your binoculars.
Funchal is famous for its makeshift road toboggans made from wicker baskets. Captained by straw-boatered guides, they will whisk you down the streets of the island for an experience you'll never forget. A 10 minute, high octane ride will transport you 2km downhill to Livramento and with only your guides rubber-soled shoes for breaks, you'll reach speeds of up to 50km.
Each toboggan fits 2 people and costs 30 Euros a trip. Whilst this is not the cheapest experience, you must do it.
The volcanic islands of Madeira do of course have beaches. Whilst they don't match the sheer number that you'll find on mainland Portugal, the views of the volcanic landscape make them some of the best in the world.
Located on Porto Santo, you'll find one of the best beaches on the islands - Porto Santo Beach. People come from far and wide to experience the fine golden sand, which is often touted for it's therapeutic properties. You'll also find a diving centre, wellness centre and gold course nearby so plenty for all the family.
If you're dying for a dip as soon as you arrive at Funchal airport, then grab a 5 minute taxi to Praia de Machico in Machico. This sheltered beach is perfect for families with lots of restaurants and whale and dolphin watching tours.
Funchal Cable Car
If you want to experience incredible views of Funchal then hop aboard the Funchal cable car from Monte. A 20 minute ride will give you unrivalled, panoramic views of the green hills and banana plantations.
With one way prices starting from 11 Euros for adults and 5.50 Euros for over 7's (kids under 7 ride free), it's an affordable way to get a great view of the island.
Take a Hike (literally)
The best way to experience the Madeiran islands is to put on a good pair of shoes and take a hike. There are walks for all abilities in Madeira depending on where you are based. You can head up into the mountains, through the dense forests or along the coastlines, but no matter which you choose you'll be rewarded with amazing views.
Levada hikes are super popular in Madeira. A levada is an irrigation channel or aqueduct specific and can make for a great flat hike for families with younger children.