The draw of the Azores is the unique and remote landscapes that these nine tiny islands set adrift in the Atlantic promises.
Our Grand Tour takes in the main sights of popular São Miguel island as well as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Terceira, but also delves deeper into the archipelago, exploring some of the lesser-visited, but no less extraordinary sites, including the secluded islands of Flores, Pico and Faial - each home to it own array of unique natural attractions.
Faial, for example, is home to some of the most remarkable volcanic vistas of all the islands, while Pico is famous for its unexpectedly thriving wine region. Beautiful Flores, in the west, is the most secluded island of the lot and promises an Eden-like-interior of tumbling waterfalls, green-carpeted cliffs and twinkling lagoons.
Arrive into Ponta Delgada and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. The restaurants in Ponta Delgada offer an excellent introduction to Azorean cuisine - try grilled limpets with Molho Alfonso sauce or a desert made from São Miguel pineapples.
One of the main highlight of any trip to the Azores is a visit Sete Cidades to stand on the rim of these stunning volcanic crater lakes. Separated by a thin slice of land, one lake glows turquoise green while the other is a deep blue. On this half day trip travel along mountain roads to Vista do Rei Belvedere for one of the most magnificent panoramic spots in Azores and also visit a pineapple plantation. (B)
Today, fly to the remote island of Flores and enjoy stunning views over what Portuguese explorers called the island of flowers. With just 4,000 residents, its easy to enjoy the beautiful blooms and the islands spectacular scenery with hardly anyone else about. Transfer to the hotel and the rest of the day is free. (B)
Set of on a full day tour of Flores, with a stop at Ribeira da Cruz belvedere and visits to Lomba, Funda and Rasa lakes. Pass many beautiful waterfalls, have the opportunity to walk to Poço da Alagoinha, and visit Rocha dos Bordões, a lava solidification that created impressive vertical fluting. On the return to Santa Cruz stop at the Caveira belvedere to admire the view of this town. (B,L)
Today, it's back into the air for more sweeping panoramas over the islands during the flight to Faial. This island was once popular with pirates but is now a favoured stopping off spot for cross-Atlantic yachts and people looking to lunch. Faial a great spot to try windsurfing, kayaking or any other form of splashing around in water. Check into the hotel and enjoy free time to explore. (B)
Take in the best of Faial with a tour of the Valley of Flamengos and Caldeira - the highest point of the island. Continue north to Capelinhos to walk across the remains of the last volcanic eruption in the Azores and to visit the fascinating Volcano Interpretation Centre. Much of the land here was formed by the 1957 eruption and the ashen coloured dirt hides not only craters and volcanic cones but also the remains of a lighthouse which now houses the museum. (B,L)
Today, enjoy a day trip to Pico, starting with a ferry ride to the main town of Madalena. See the Whale Musuem and natural swimming pools at S. Roque, and travel the scenic mountain road to Lake Capitão. Further stops include Mistérios de São João, São Mateus, and Criação Velha - home to the UNESCO World Heritage vineyards of Pico. Afterwards take the ferry back to Faial. (B,L)
Enjoy a day to explore Faial at leisure. Spend some time meandering through charming Horta or consider joining an optional whale watching tour. The waters off the Azores are a sanctuary of marine life and sharks, bottle nose dolphins, sperm and even blue and orca whales can all be spotted. (B)
Today, fly to Terceira and check into Hotel Azoris Angra Garden. The hotel is set at the heart of the island's historical capital, Angra do Heroísmo. This is one of the oldest settlements in the Azores. The cobbled streets, whitewashed facades and terra cotta tiled roofs are picture perfect and recognised by it UNESCO. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this pretty town. (B)
Today, enjoy a full-day tour around Terceira, visiting some of the hidden sites of the island. Follow coastal roads offering stunning panoramas, see natural swimming pools, and visit the wine making village of Biscoitos. For lunch, sample the delicious local dish, Alcatra - mouth-watering beef slow-cooked in a clay pot for 12 hours. One of the many highlights of today is a visit to the ancient Algar do Carvao lava vent - a 900 metre deep volcanic chimney. (B,L)
Enjoy a free day to take in the grandeur of Angra do Heroísmo. Start at the Museu de Angra do Heroísmo, which details the island's role as a stopping off point for Portugal’s keenest explorers and deposed princes and kings. The 16th-century Se Cathedral is an essential stop, while cobbled Rua de Se ranks as the best place to try Dona Amelia cake made with honey, cinnamon, a dash of cider and a tot of port. (B)
Todya's flight is back to São Miguel for a final three night stay at Hotel Talisman, in the centre of historic Ponta Delgada. Enjoy modern facilities set inside a period Portuguese building with spectacular views across the mountains and ocean found from the hotel's rooftop pool. (B)
Today has been left free to explore Ponta Delgada in greater depth or to venture out a bit further afield to one of the island's many attractions. Speak with your Regent Azores specialist for more information about optional exursions available to add to this holiday. (B)
Enjoy a full day trip to Furnas, stopping at the village of Vila Franca do Campo en-route for a view of Ilheu Da Vila, the remains of an old volcano crater. See Furnas valley, driving past the lake to the area of geothermal activity where caldeiras bubble and smoke. Watch locals dig up huge pots of cozido nas caldeiras, which will be served as today's lunch. Take a relaxing swim in the natural hot water pool at the botanical gardens before making a stop at a tea plantation on the return to Ponta Delgada. (B,L)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to the UK. (B)