Enjoy a seven-night stay on the island of Sao Miguel, the largest of the nine Azores islands and home to the capital. Ponta Delgada is the largest city in the Azores and is the perfect base for touring the beautiful surrounding hills, lakes and volcanic craters. This holiday includes three excursions: visits to the iconic blue and green crater lakes at Sete Cidades, an exploration of the geothermal Furnas valley and a half-day whale watching boat trip. Choose from a variety of hotels located in Ponta Delgada. Speak to an Azores Travel Specialist for more suggestions and to tailor-make your trip.
Transfer to the Hotel Vila Nova and check in for seven nights.
Today is free for you to explore Ponta Delgada at your leisure. Despite being the main town and port on the island, Ponta Delgada has wonderfully preserved its historic beauty. Every turn of its narrow, cobbled streets brings in to view delightful buildings, cafes and shops, interspersed with some fascinating examples of brutalist architecture. Evidence of the recent economic woes are visible in abandoned building projects – both halted restoration of the old and construction of the new. Nevertheless, Ponta Delgada is an extremely pleasant town to cover on foot. There are no big stores and virtually no international chains, so linger over an espresso in one of the many cafes around the Praça Gonçalo Velho Square and watch local life pass by. If you tire of walking, perhaps choose to take a horse-drawn carriage ride or catch the Lagarta Tourist Train that travels along the city's cobbled streets. (B)
After breakfast take a drive into the mountains, making a stop at the viewpoint at Caloura. Continue on to Vila Franca which was the island's very first capital in the fifteenth century. Admire the historical architecture before travelling to the beautiful Furnas valley, where the lake at the centre of the volcanic crater with its volcanic hot springs is awe-inspiring. You’ll also see the holes where meals are cooked underground by natural, hot vapours. After lunch, visit the botanical gardens where you can swim in a natural hot water pool before heading north for a tour of a tea plantation with plenty of photo stops en-route. (B,L)
After breakfast sail out to the open sea to search for sperm whales and dolphins. The sperm whale, or cachalot, is the largest of the toothed whales and the largest toothed predator, and is a native of the Azores. This magnificent creature puts its head out of the water for a full eight minutes between dives, giving a great opportunity for everyone aboard to take some fantastic photos. Take this half day tour in either the morning or the afternoon. (B)
Start the morning by exploring a pineapple plantation at Faja de Baixo, where the pineapples are grown in hot houses. Afterwards, your journey continues to the valley of Sete Cidades. One of the seven natural wonders of Portugal, Sete Cidades is an extinct volcano crater which showcases two magnificent green and blue lakes. According to local legend, the lakes were formed from the tears of a shepherd and a princess who shared a forbidden love. After lunch at a local restaurant, continue on to Lagoa do Fogo– the dramatic ‘fire lake’ and admire the fantastic view of the island at an altitude of 900 metres (B,L)