If you are looking for a vacation that is scenic and serene, in a spot for your whole family to enjoy, then Madeira is the place to be. It has scenery to die for, and you will find things to do for all of your family no matter the age.
Here are 9 activities to do in Madeira for the whole family:
- Open Top Bus Tours
- Wicker Basket
- Cable Car
- Aqua Park Madeira
- Explore Old Town Funchal
- Farmer’s Market
- Visit the Gardens
- Boat Rides
These are just a few of the things that you can do. There is still so much more the city has to offer. All you need is an open mind, a sense of exploration and time to check out every nook and cranny of Madeira to uncover the wonderful delights of this city.
9 Activities in Madeira for the Whole Family
Let’s look at these activities one by one to see what they have to offer and if it is something that will interest your family.
Open Top Bus Tours
Just like the name suggests. This is a hop-on and hop-off bus tour. In this type of tour, the bus takes you to different landmarks, and you can get off if you want to explore that location more, or you can stay on the bus and get off somewhere else.
You also have the option of sitting on the bus until you come back to the first stop and just do the bus tour that way. It’s a fun ride, and you get to see the city on top of the bus.
NOTE: This is a great way to see the city, especially if you have elderly members in your family or toddlers and little children.
This is a “must-do” when in Madeira. It’s a fun way to get down the mountains in Madeira.
Basically, it is a toboggan, or sled, made of wicker, and there are two men pulling and pushing the sledge to make it go, and it goes down the hill fast. Each wicker basket can hold up to 3 people.
It is so much fun. And family members of all ages will enjoy this immensely.
The only drawback is that, if you drive, then you will have to take a cab back to the top to get your car. Or, you can take the cable car up, which is way more fun.
Another fun experience with a breathtaking view of the city. Especially if you have a whole cable car just for you and your family.
Just sitting there and taking in the views is fun, but the kids will enjoy seeing other cars passing by and seeing how high they are. On the flip side, this is not for the faint of heart or even those with a fear of heights.
You can do the cable car ride back and forth, and it’s a good half an hour to forty minutes back and forth. Ride the cable car up the mountain then take another one to go see the Botanical Gardens, or you can just go see the Tropical Gardens next to the Cable Car station.
Aqua Park Madeira
Another place for kids to enjoy. This is a small water park that you can take your kids to for some fun. It isn’t anything crazy but has enough for kids of all ages to enjoy.
The park has a lazy river, a fast river, 4 slides and also a pool for little kids among a few other things.
So, it may not be the wildest water park the kids have seen, but it will be a good time killer and a good way to let the little ones burn off some energy.
Explore Old Town Funchal
I mean, you are in a town with small streets, quaint restaurants, and stores. It is a sight to see and, odds are, very different from what the family is used to.
Just make sure that you try and eat somewhere local, because the restaurants on the streets know when you are a tourist and charge you the price of a tourist if you know what I mean.
This is a great thing to do with all members of the Family. Just walking around and taking in the town.
Known as Mercado dos Lavradores, the farmer’s market is the place to be, especially on a Friday when it will be hustling and bustling with all the fruit, vegetable, and fish vendors.
The flowers are mostly sold by women dressed in the traditional florist garb, and you’ll get to see lots of exotic flowers you might not have seen before. If you’re staying a few days, be sure to grab some to bring back to your room.
Among all the varying and vibrant colors of all the fruits and veggies, expect to see (and taste) things you’ve never had before.
Make sure the kids try some of the more exotic fruits. Again, because it’s a tourist location, the prices will be on the higher side.
NOTE: Keep in mind the farmer’s market is closed on Sundays and other public holidays.
Visit the Gardens
There are quite a few gardens that are a must-see on your things-to-do list. I have mentioned three here that I think will inspire you, but feel free to go to others as well if you have the time and if you and your family enjoy these kinds of outings.
- Monto Palace Tropical Garden: Located next to the cable car station, this is one of the most visited gardens in Madeira. It is a sight to behold with a mansion and waterfalls. The arrangements of all the different features and flora in the garden will give you almost a fairytale-like vibe.
- Madeira Botanical Gardens: These gardens are also located close to the cable car station; these gardens have flowers from all around the world for your viewing. Another great garden to see with all its features and styles of gardens. The kids will love running around, and you will love enjoying the sights and smells of the garden.
- Santa Luzia Gardens: This is a nice little garden for the little ones to enjoy. There is an old steam engine and also playgrounds for the children. So, if you are looking for something solely for the kids, then this is it.
Boat Rides and Ocean Life Watching
If you have the time to do just one more thing, then do this! Madeira is known to have quite a few different types of whales and dolphins in their waters. So, no matter the season, you will see something for sure.
If your kids are into ocean life, then this will be a sight for them to remember their trip. And let’s face it, us adults love whale or dolphin watching as well.
You will get to see bottlenose and spotted dolphins year-round, while in the summertime, if you are lucky you will get to see the rare pilot whales, sperm whales, and Bryde’s whales.
Either way, do the boat ride, and everyone will love it.
There are quite a few museums in Madeira. Some are must-see and others you can go to if you have the time. Either way it is fun for the whole family.
Toy Museum: The Toy Museum is located near the farmer’s market. It displays antique toys that belonged to José Manuel Borges Pereira, and other pieces from private collections.
According to the information on the Madeira tourism website, there are about 20,000 toys, from late 19th century up to modern times. The most popular collections include toy soldiers, dolls, miniatures, cars, and games.
Volcanic Caves in Sao Vincent: This is an amazing place to visit. The reason I put it under museums is that it has a museum dedicated to show you the formation of the caves and of Madeira. These caves were formed by volcanic eruption some thousand years ago.
You can do a guided tour of the place and get a lot of historical information about the formation, maintenance and etc. A must-see in my opinion, for all ages.
- CR7 Museum: This, in my opinion, is the kind of museum you visit only if you are a football or soccer fan. The museum is dedicated to Cristiano Ronaldo and everything to do with him and his football/soccer career.
Other museums that might interest your family include: Whale Museum, Museum of Electricity, Municipal Natural History Museum and Aquarium, Military Museum, and the Madeira Story Centre. You can pick and choose which ones you want to visit based on you and your family’s interests.
Is Madeira Suitable for Families?
Overall, if you like being in a relaxed environment, where you rely on natural elements to be your main source of entertainment, then yes. Madeira is a fun, quaint little island to visit.
It has a little bit of everything for everyone. It isn’t like visiting New York, London, or even Tanzania, but it has its own charm, and you will be surprised by how much entertainment Mother Nature can provide you.
One thing to keep in mind is that Madeira is not a cheap tourist location. Be ready to pay a premium for everything and budget accordingly.
If you like cheaper destinations, check out this article.