Each of the nine Portuguese islands that make up the Azores has its own distinct character, but they all boast astounding natural beauty. We say that you should set off for Sao Miguel, the largest and most popular of the islands, to take in its crater-lake landscapes and soak up the balmy year-round weather. But why visit just one? We'll take you to explore four of the best Azores Islands on our new 10-day exclusive group tour.
This small group tour introduces you to Sao Miguel Island, Terceira Island, tiny Faial and Pico Island. The islands of the archipelago are volcanic in origin, creating dramatic vistas from rugged peaks and deep blue lakes that reflect the sky, cradled in extinct calderas. On your travels through national parks, see dazzling fumaroles, bubbling mineral hot springs and extinct volcano craters. Stop to bathe in a natural hot water pools and in the evenings, tuck into traditional Azorean food and wine.
But this tour takes you even further than just the islands. Take to the seas with a local guide and go in search of whales and dolphins by boat; sperm, minke and pilot whales frequent the warm waters surrounding the Azores.
Fly to Ponta Delgada, the capital of Sao Miguel Island (via Lisbon) and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Spend the rest of the day at leisure. In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner and folklore concert in a traditional, local restaurant. Overnight at the 4-star Hotel Royal Garden. (D)
This morning head south towards the valley of Furnas. En-route stop at the view point at Pisão at Água de Pau village, which overlooks the sea and the small village of Caloura, before continuing to Vila Franca Do Campo, the first capital of the island. Because of its thermal springs, Furnas Valley is considered one of the biggest hydropolis in the world. Visit the Furnas lagoon nearby and taste the traditional Cozido. Using the volcanic heat, the Azoreans cook meat and vegetables in a large pot buried in the ground for several hours. After lunch visit the botanical garden, see the many geysers and mineral water springs and perhaps bathe in a natural hot water swimming pool (remember to bring your bathing costume and towel!). Visit a tea plantation for a tasting and see the old machinery used for processing the tea. Travelling via the mountain road reach Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake), a lake in the interior of a crater of an extinct volcano and the highest point above sea level on Sao Miguel Island. Transfer back to Ponta Delgada and overnight at Hotel Royal Garden. (B,L)
Today explore the valley of Sete Cidades, the most popular national park in the islands, composed of two lakes in the centre of a volcanic crater measuring about three miles across. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the lake shore or relax over a coffee in a local café. Stop for a buffet lunch at a typical Azorean restaurant and in the afternoon visit the Ethnographical Museum in Capelas, before continuing to Faja de Baixo to visit a plantation, which grows pineapples in hothouses. Transfer back to Ponta Delgada and overnight at Hotel Royal Garden. (B,L)
Transfer to the airport for an internal flight to Terceira Island. On arrival embark on a full day tour of Terceira, also known as Lilac Island, beginning with a stop at the Serra Do Cume viewpoint and then in Praia Victoria for a short panoramic walk. After lunch continue towards Angra do Heoismo, nominated by UNESCO as a World Heritage town. En-route visit the "Algar do Carvao" cave and the natural swimming pools of black volcanic rock in Boscoitos. In the evening check-in at Hotel do Caracol in Angra do Heroismo. (B,L)
This morning enjoy a walking tour of Angra do Heroísmo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the main church of Se Catedral and the City Museum before a stroll through the shopping district and botanical garden. End the tour tasting some delicious local calorie-laden pastries. (B)
This morning transfer to the airport for the short flight to Pico Island, also known as the Grey Island and the second largest island in the Azores Archipelago. Transfer to the Hotel Caravelas in the tiny capital of Madalena. In the afternoon a short drive will bring you to the picturesque fishing village of Lajes do Pico. After a talk on the marine conservation and history of whale watching, set out for the open seas in the anticipation of seeing dolphins at play and, or course, those magnificent creatures of the deep, whales. (B)
Today travel north to the village of Cachorro, where wine production has been the main economic activity since 1852. The wine museum, housed in a former vineyard depicts the importance of wine production to the island’s development. Due to the strong sea breezes protecting walls of volcanic rock had to be painstakingly constructed around the precious vines. Here, taste different local drinks such as verdelho, blackberry liquor or honey rum. Continue to Sao Roque village and stop at the old whale factory before heading towards Lajes village to visit the Whaler’s Museum. After lunch return to Madalena along the south coast and stop at the Wine Museum. Overnight at Hotel Caravelas. (B,L)
After breakfast make the short walk to the ferry terminal for the 30 minute trip across to Faial. Check in to the Hotel Faial Resort before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant - Genuino, named after the owner’s yacht in which he sailed around the world. This restaurant is in an ideal location overlooking the sea and prides itself on only using local produce and wines. (B,L)
Awake in Horta and start a full day tour of Faial, also known as the Blue Island. Faial was the last location of major volcanic activity in the Azores, when Capelinhos erupted in 1957, adding 1km of land to the island. This area, resembling the surface of the moon, is in stark contrast to the hydrangea-lined lanes of the rest of the island. After lunch, pass by Caldeira, the highest point on the island, and on the way to Horta stop in the Espalamaca for a view over Horta. Overnight at Faial Resort Hotel. (B,L)
After breakfast transfer to Faial airport for your flight back to the UK. (B)
10 day tour, from £1895 per person
(Single person supplement + £425)
- Return flights with Tap Portugal from London Heathrow to Ponta Delgada and from Horta via Lisbon
- All airport taxes & security charges
- Accommodation in 4-star hotels
- Meals as specified (B= Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All transfers and transportation
- Sightseeing tours with English speaking guide
- Tips and gratuities
- Meals other than specified
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