Madeira is a port I have been fortunate to call into many times when working onboard P&O cruise ships. It was also the port of call I was most looking 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.
P&O Cruises Ventura, sailing out of Funchal Harbour in Madeira
P&O Cruises Ventura from the highest view point in Madeira
Five of the best shore excursions in Madeira for families
1. A scenic cable car ride up to Monte
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. My boys loved ‘flying’ over Madeira and excitedly pointed out the mountains, colourful gardens and banana plantations.
The images below 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.
2. An exhilarating toboggan ride down a hillside in a wicker basket
In complete contract 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!
3. Enjoy views over Madeira from 6,000ft
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 Desertas Islands in the background.
4. Visit the famous Blandy’s wine lodge
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.
5. Whale and dolphin watching
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
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