Madeira is becoming an increasingly popular destination, and even during the pandemic quite a few people choose to go to this Portuguese island. We get a lot of questions from you just about traveling to Madeira, and more and more questions are about traveling with a child. Would we recommend Madeira as a family destination with young children?
Right at the outset, we must point out that we were in Madeira without children. So why are we writing about a family trip to Madeira with a child? Because we get a lot of questions about whether we recommend going there with children and whether we would choose to go there ourselves now with toddlers?
The answer is very simple, although in the form of a question: why shouldn’t we go there with our children? :) But that’s us… for us there are no destinations where we would not go with our children. If even now we would not decide on a direction it is only because it is not the right time (leaving aside the pandemic, of course). It’s just that sometimes it’s worth waiting a few years to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.
Better questions are: what is the best age for a child to travel to Madeira, or what to do with a toddler while there? Because we assume you don’t want to sit in a hotel? And while there are no clear-cut answers to these questions, as much depends on your requirements and travel style, we hasten to provide you with information to help you make a good decision.
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What age are the children?
From the perspective of our trip to Madeira, and our experience so far when it comes to traveling with a child, in our opinion, it’s best to go to Madeira with an infant or toddler who will walk a few kilometers on their own two feet. We will not give the exact age fork, because every child develops differently and it is you who know your children best :)
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Nevertheless, Madeira is all about nature, trekking trails and you have to get ready to walk, a lot of walking. The options are two: either we carry the baby in a sling, a carrier or he has to walk on his own, because there is not much to count on on the routes available for families with strollers (during our entire stay, we did not see a baby stroller on any route).
In the first option, we go with a small child who is carried most of the time, or in a stroller (roughly up to 1 – 1.5 years). If there is no problem with carrying in a sling, carrier then the trip can really be successful :) As parents you will go on the trail with your toddler, see the levadas, visit the capital city, the whole island is open to you :) The only problem may be finding changing tables or feeding chairs (if you need them at all). During our stay in Madeira, no such amenities caught our eye.
And this is probably where the question arises, is there any point in taking a stroller to Madeira? Yes, it is – in cities and towns it is possible to ride a stroller, sometimes it is strongly uphill or downhill, but in general you will find roads and sidewalks on which the passage of a stroller will not be a torture. On top of that, you can always put a sleeping toddler or change him in the stroller. So a cart for cities, restaurants, stores, some viewpoints – as much as possible, for the trail – better not to try.
With an older one, let’s say so from the age of 4-5, you will walk a few routes, as long as a few kilometers on your feet is not a problem for your kid. It is worth remembering, however, that on the routes in Madeira there are no hostels, souvenir stands, etc. familiar to us from the Polish mountains, so you need to take provisions for the road.
You also need to prepare well in terms of appropriate clothing. Although temperatures are rather constant, it’s good to have a sweatshirt or jacket with you just in case.
Attractions for children in Madeira
Madeira is not an island full of attractions for children. One looks in vain here for typical attractions like children’s museums, theme parks or even fancy and creative playgrounds. Instead, there are plenty of options for spending time among nature and beautiful views.
// We also recommend our post What to see in Madeira?
So if you do not need typical “children’s” attractions then you will not experience boredom.
With children you can set off on one of the many trekking routes. The choice is quite large, so you should easily find something for your strength and ability. However, it is worth taking into account that some routes are dangerous, and so, for example, the top route in our opinion on the São Lourenço peninsula can be dangerous for children, especially if you hit a strong wind (and that is not difficult here). Safer are the routes along the levadas, although even here it can sometimes be quite narrow, and in places there are barriers and chains. Nevertheless, the trails are beautiful, at times it feels like walking through a magical garden, especially in the laurel forests.
And if not trekking then maybe the sea? In general, our children do not know the concept of “the water is too cold” and the Atlantic does not scare them ;) However, there is no fooling – the water is cold, there are nice beaches (even sandy), there are pools, but there is nothing to set yourself up for all-day beachcombing. The black sand beaches may be an attraction instead.
Instead, there are many places in Madeira that will appeal to slightly older children. Starting with the glass terrace at Cabo Girão, riding numerous telefericoes (sometimes full of adrenaline), sledding in Funchal, and ending with the CR7 Museum, which is dedicated to the famous Madeira-born soccer player.
What else is worth knowing?
Madeira is a super destination when it comes to climate. The island of eternal spring is recommended at any time of the year. So if you want to escape the Polish frosts with your children, but aren’t interested in typical exotic destinations, consider the Portuguese island as a good destination.
It is already an interesting experience to land at the Madeira airport, which is considered one of the more dangerous airports. You can read more about the landing in a dedicated post about Funchal airport. We encourage you to drive to the vicinity of the airport and watch the planes approaching to land – so far we do not know whether the perspective from the plane or from outside is more interesting :)
Madeira is considered a rather safe destination. We didn’t have any emergency situations, we didn’t feel unsafe at any time. Residents are open, eager to help. The only dangerous situations are those on the road, when you have to negotiate serpentines or drive right over an embankment.
And while we’re on the subject of roads. The best way to travel around Madeira is by rental car. Then we have full independence, which is so important when traveling with children.
The roads are not crowded, it is safe, only those serpentines ;) If you need it, it is worth taking something for motion sickness.
Remember that Madeira is not the end of the world :) Stores are very well stocked, in the larger stores you will get everything you need for your child.
Madeira will prove to be a good destination for families who enjoy active, outdoor activities. There are many scenic routes and stunning viewpoints, and some of them don’t require much walking.
However, it is important to know that Madeira is not for everyone. We don’t care about discouraging someone or urging them to go at all costs, because you can be very disappointed. If trekking is not for you, preferring relaxation, sunbathing and warm water, such experiences are hard to come by here.
We hope that with the above tips we have helped you decide if Madeira is the right destination for you.
We also recommend you our other posts about Madeira, including: