- Madeira Family holidays
What do you most associate with Madeira? For many Britons the name is mainly a kind of cake, while for some it might be more associated with the fortified wine that comes from the island. In fact, the cake is named after the wine, and the wine is named after the island itself, so cheap family holidays on Madeira Island are a great chance to visit the birthplace of some of our favourite food and drink. It's technically part of Portugal, but you'll find it south and west of the mainland in the North Atlantic Ocean, and only about 250 miles north of the Canaries, which are of course another much-loved family holiday destination.
A time for wine
While Madeira cake is a British creation only inspired by the island's name, the fortified wine originated on the island itself and is probably its single greatest global export. The origins of the distinctive flavour go back to the days of maritime trade and exploration, when wine would be kept in storage aboard ships for the entire duration of a voyage. On returning to Madeira, it was discovered that the flavour of the wine had matured, and modern recipes are designed to reproduce the kind of flavours that would have developed during ocean voyages.
One of the best locations for a cheap family package holiday on Madeira is Calheta. While many island holidays take you to a natural beach, bay or cove, at Calheta the harbour has been built from scratch by piling symmetrical walls into the water. The result is a U-shape with a central opening out to sea, and not one beach but two sections of sand facing each other across from each side of the U. It's unusual to see, and even more unusual to swim in the harbour waters, as you can look across the moored boats and see another beach with bathers at the other side.
Head south for the sun
The Algarve is one of mainland Portugal's most desirable holiday hotspots, but family holidays on Madeira Island benefit even further from being located some distance to the south. As you get closer to the equator, temperatures tend to rise and the changes between the seasons become less marked. As such, heading to this island territory of Portugal, rather than mainland Europe, is a fantastic way to get the best of the weather without travelling quite as far as the Canaries 250 miles to the south.
Why Madeira Island is so great for families
The people of Madeira adore children and go to great lengths to ensure that younger visitors are looked after just as well as grown-ups. Family holidays on Madeira Island offer the chance to explore beautiful beaches, sample the famous local cuisine, including the island's namesake wine, and visit popular family-friendly attractions, such as the harbour of Calheta. This, coupled with Madeira Island's laid-back feel, means that exhausted families can settle into a relaxed pace of life in this glorious part of Portugal.