Make magical memories on your perfect family holiday to Madeira
The four-hour flight from the UK will be worth every second as you land on the idyllic island, boasting comfortable temperatures in the 20s during the summer months.
For families who prefer the buzz of city life, look no further than the island’s capital Funchal. You’ll find narrow, cobbled streets lined with inexpensive restaurants, an array of beaches and several museums. Further along the south coast sits the charming town of Santa Cruz, which is perfect if you’re looking for a slower pace without sacrificing your choice of family activities. A stone’s throw from Madeira’s largest black sand beach, the rugged hills of Canical are another fantastic base for a more relaxed family break, where you’ll find plenty of beach action, nature trails and scenic walks.
Best family friendly beaches
If you’re staying in the capital, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to getting your feet wet, from public saltwater pool complexes with direct access to the sea to natural volcanic pools and pebbled bays. Along the west coast of the city you’ll find Praia Formosa. Consisting of four black sand and pebbled Blue Flag beaches, the whole clan can stay busy with skate parks, play areas, and exciting watersports.
Over in Santa Cruz, Palmeiras Beach offers a thriving lido scene and small pebble beach with excellent facilities. The Blue Flag complex boasts a large saltwater pool specifically designed for children, floating platforms in the sea and plenty of sunloungers for the grown-ups. Just 10 minutes’ drive from Canical sits the golden, man-made beach of Machico which hosts all manner of watersports from pedalos to jet skis, beach volleyball, swimming pools and family-friendly restaurants lining the promenade.
Best family activities in Madeira
Madeira is bursting with breathtaking nature trails and hikes. Many are suitable for the whole family and easily accessed from the coast, where you’ll also find whale and dolphin spotting trips. In the capital, take a cable car into the mountains for panoramic views over the city – at the top, explore the tropical gardens and church of Monte. Then hop into a traditional, wicker toboggan for a unique descent. The Whale Museum also makes for an interesting afternoon out of the Madeiran sun.
If you prefer keeping your holiday wet and wild, head to Aquaparque just outside Santa Cruz. Offering a range of thrilling slides and water rides, little ones can splash around in the toddler-friendly zone.
Other popular holidays in Madeira
Canico de Baixo, another popular resort, offers stunning, hilly landscapes and plenty of indulgent accommodations. Back on Portugal’s mainland, the Algarve is also brimming with family-friendly resorts along its idyllic coastline. If you’re still looking for inspiration, take a look at our Madeira travel guide and some of our favourite hotels listed below.
While the little ones enjoy the hotel-run kids' club and Olympic-sized swimming pool, parents can take advantage of the on-site spa featuring Turkish baths and an array of indulgent treatments. The international buffet restaurant caters for even the fussiest of diners and evening entertainment comes in the form of live music and traditional Madeiran nights with local cuisine and dancers. If you want to explore Funchal, a free 20-minute shuttle bus runs from the hotel daily.
Tropical gardens wrap around this seafront hotel, which is home to three infinity and a kids-only pool, moments from one of Funchal's most popular lido complexes. While the kids enjoy the Aquatica kids' club, parents can unwind with a thalassotherapy bath in the luxurious spa or join one of 20 weekly classes from Pilates to Latin dance. Four themed restaurants cater for the whole family from lazy breakfasts of pastries and made-to-order omelettes to freshly-made pizzas, sushi and local cuisine come nightfall.
Set on the rugged clifftops along Funchal's coastline, this 5* retreat is minutes from Praia Formosa Beach, the largest public beach on the island offering diverse watersports along its volcanic sands. Tropical gardens and manicured lawns emphasise a children's pool and large saltwater number with views out to sea and plenty of space to run wild. Fill up on stacks of pancakes at breakfast before jumping on the free shuttle bus into the city centre for a fun-filled day exploring the historic capital.