Best Shore Excursions In Madeira For Families


Madeira is a port we have been fortunate to call into many times onboard P&O cruise ships.  It was also the port of call we most looked forward to during our recent family cruise around the Canaries and Mediterranean.  Anyone who has visited the Portuguese island of Madeira will understand why.  The Garden Island, as it is known, is simply stunning with lush green mountains and gardens/parks filled with sub-tropical plants and flowers.  The island also has lots of attractions to offer for families with kids of all ages.  Below you will find a summary of the best shore excursions in Madeira for families.

Everything you Need to Know about the Best Shore Excursions to Choose in Madeira Cruise Port

best shore excursions in Madeira for families
P&O Cruises Ventura, sailing out of Funchal Harbour in Madeira, Photo Credit: Cruising with kids

AD We have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy and privacy policy for more details.

There are plenty of things to do in Madiera when you ship docks including the renowned Reid’s, frequented by Churchill. So you can even enjoy a traditional high tea experience at a hotel or explore the many excursions such as Madeira wine tasting or cable cars. Take a look at these top shore excursions in Madeira cruise port.

How to get in to Madeira Town From your Cruise Ship

Photo Credit: Cruising with kids

The journey from your cruise ship into the port of Madeira is picturesque, there are splendid view’s of the city and the lush hills that surround it. It takes about 15 to 20-minutes to walk in to the town depending on the ship’s location along the quay. It is easy to explore the town of Madeira but it is slightly uphill and the pavement, while charming, may pose challenges for wheelchair users or people less able to walk due to its uneven surface.

You can get a taxi from the dock to the town center are priced at around Euro 7.50 per taxi. Alternatively there is a shuttle bus service to the city center is available.This may be complimentary, depending on the cruise line.

Enjoy A Scenic Cable car Ride up to Monte

best shore excursions in Madeira for families

This half day excursion starts with a short drive to the Funchal cable car station.  Where you will board a cable car, (similar to a ski lift) for the 12,000 foot long, 15 minute ride which rises over 1,800 feet to the peak of Monte.

The views from the cable car are breathtaking.  Our boys loved ‘flying’ over Madeira and excitedly pointed out the mountains, colourful gardens and banana plantations. The images show the enclosed cable cars and Funchal Harbour from Monte, known for being one of the most spectacular in the world.  It is a very busy port, often with four cruise ships in dock at any one time.

Take an Exhilarating Toboggan Ride Down a Hillside in a Wicker Basket

best shore excursions in Madeira for families
Image copyright Photo Credit- Travel Loving Family, Cruising with kids

In complete contrast to a relaxing slow ride up to Monte, the two-mile ride down the hillside is thrilling!  The toboggan drivers you see below are known as “Carreiros”. They dress in their traditional white outfits, a straw hat and most importantly, rubber soled boots to run behind the wicker basket, pushing and steering along the windy roads, using their boots as brakes!

Enjoy views over Madeira from 6,000ft

best shore excursions in Madeira for families
P&O Cruises Ventura from the highest view point in Madeira, Photo Credit: Cruising with Kids

Many of the shore excursions offered in Madeira include a stop at the viewpoint, Pico dos Barcelos.  From here you can see Funchal bay and city, with the Desert Islands in the background.

Visit the famous Blandy’s wine lodge

best shore excursions in Madeira for families. 
Photo Credit: Cruising with Kids

Ok so this attraction isn’t perhaps suitable for the kids!  However, it would be rude to visit Madeira without trying its famous wine and sometimes, (just sometimes!) us parents should have a say in which attractions to visit.  Many of the cruise shore excursions in Madeira include a short stop and wine tasting at Blandy’s Wine Lodge, which is a great place to pick up some souvenir bottles of Madeira wine.

Whale and dolphin watching

best shore excursions in Madeira for families
Photo Credit: Cruising with Kids

Madeira is a popular place to take a boat trip or a high-speed RIB ride as 20 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) have been spotted in these waters.  For families it is the perfect opportunity to (hopefully!) get up close to pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, Atlantic spotted dolphins and common dolphins that are commonly seen showing off their acrobatic moves.  If you are really lucky you may even spot the Risso’s dolphins, beaked whales and killer whales that occasionally visit the Atlantic ocean surrounding Madeira.

For further information check out – How to make the most of a cruise ship call into Madeira

Pin for later 


  • admin

    Donna and Sarah ( Cruising For All ) Sarah Christie and Donna Vallance are experienced travel writers and cruise enthusiasts specializing in cruising. They are passionate about exploring new destinations and have dedicated themselves to sharing their knowledge and insights with fellow travellers. They provide valuable information, tips, and recommendations for all cruisers. They strive to make cruising accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their interests, budgets, or accessibility needs. Their articles and reviews are well-researched, comprehensive, and written to help readers make informed decisions and have unforgettable cruise adventures.

    View all posts

1 thought on “Best Shore Excursions In Madeira For Families”

  1. I agree with your recommendations. However, when we have visited Madeira, we have found it very easy to visit attractions under our own steam. E.g. A walk along the seafront to the bottom of the cable car is very pleasant and the fare on the cable car is better than those charged onboard. Take the second cable car to the botanical gardens for even more stunning views and to see the birds in the aviaries as well as the beautiful gardens. You can take the tobogan back down from the first lift instead of returning via the cable car if you wish. Another good touring option is the hop on hop off bus tour which leaves regularly from the Funchal Promenade.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.