Family Madeira

Because its shores are washed by the same Gulf Stream that eventually makes its way up to the British Isles, Madeira enjoys a wonderful sub-tropical climate that makes it an ideal outdoor luxury holiday destination all year round.

The island may lack sandy beaches, but it makes up for it with spectacular scenery and there are all kinds of outdoor pursuits on offer for your family holiday in Madeira, from mountain biking, paragliding and big-game fishing to the hundreds of miles of scenic hiking trails based on ancient irrigation channels that criss-cross the mountain slopes.

One activity you won't find anywhere else in the world is the carro de cesto. This involves a hair-raising descent from the small town of Monte (reached by cable-car) in a sort of wicker toboggan. Controlled by two 'drivers' who run alongside, this three-mile joyride through the steep streets lasts about 20 minutes. Another fun activity for families is a trip on a replica of Christopher Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria (Columbus once lived on the neighbouring island of Porto Santo).

Other activities include a boat trip to see the 600-metre tall sea cliffs of Cabo Girào, the second highest in the world (the highest are in Hawaii) and whale and dolphin-watching trips. Sperm whales (like Moby Dick), fin whales (the second largest species after the blue whale) and pilot whales can all be seen in the waters around Madeira.

The attractions of Funchal, Madeira's attractive and largely pedestrianised capital, include colourful markets selling everything from fresh fish to local crafts, and tours of the wine lodges where Madeira's most famous export is made. On New Year's Eve, the city also hosts the largest fireworks display in the world.

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Family Fun with Original Travel

Planning a successful family holiday takes a similar amount of organisation and fortitude as a small scale military operation. But fear not, our team of specialists (many of whom are parents themselves) are here to take the stress out of the planning process so those toddler tantrums and teenage meltdowns are kept to a minimum.

From our carefully curated Sharky & George fun packs, which keep children entertained on those long journeys, to knowing the most family-friendly hotels and holding client focus groups, we pride ourselves on making sure that you have the best family holiday imaginable because there's no more important time together.

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Harriet is our 'Family Madeira ' expert and as a seasoned traveller has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

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