Discover four of the beautiful islands of the Azores on our new fly-drive tour, perfect for first-time visitors keen to explore at their own pace and get under the skin of the Azores’ unique volcanic history and geology. This carefully-designed route takes in spurting geysers, winding coastal roads and extinct volcano calderas cradling impressive emerald crater lakes. Bathe in a natural hot water swimming pool, taste traditional Azorean food and wine, and set off in search of whales and dolphins by boat—the Azores are among the best places in the world to go whale watching year-round.
Hotel accommodation is included throughout and all inter-island transfers (internal flights and ferry transfers) are arranged for you to make your discovery of Sao Miguel, Terceira, Pico and Faial as easy as possible.
Fly to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island (via Lisbon) and pick up your hire car. Drive to the Hotel Sao Miguel Park and check in for three nights. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, exploring the streets and harbour of the Azores’ capital.
After breakfast, drive to Sao Miguel’s most iconic natural wonder—the Sete Cidades Massif. This region is home to a central volcanic crater and lake-filled caldera, surrounded by a variety of volcanic cones, deposits of pumice, lava domes and maars.
This afternoon travel to the south west of the island to discover the with its thermal springs and spa in Ferraria. Return to Ponta Delgada and explore the Grutado Carvao, the longest lava tunnel in Sao Miguel, measuring some 1912 metres. The cave’s age is between 5000 and 12000 years old, and is classified as a Regional Natural Monument. (B)
Drive to the village of Lagoa and visit the OVGA (Volcanology Centre), the science centre for applied research and scientific dissemination in the field of volcanology, seismology and geothermal energy. Learn about the Azores' volcanic history before visiting an actual volcano at Furnas, a village with two ancient calderas, and the beautiful Lagoadas Furnas lake. Enjoy a traditional meal called "cozido" - cooked using the underground vapours of the volcano.
Visit the fumerols and try the hot springs in the centre of the village, or enjoy a stroll through the botanical garden of Terra Nostra with its large natural warm water swimming pool. On the way back to Ponta Delgada, drive to the top of the mountain of Lagoado Fogo. As the island’ central volcano, this viewpoint offers incredible panoramas. Stop for a swim at Caldeira Velha, a natural tepid water swimming pool. (B)
After breakfast, drive to the airport and drop off your car before boarding the flight to Terceira. On arrival collect your new hire car and drive to the Hotel Praia Marina. Check in for 2 nights.
Begin this afternoon with a drive to Angrado Heroismo. This beautiful town, home to historic cobbled streets has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a great view of Monte Brasil across the harbour. Drive to Monte Brasil and marvel at the extinct volcano that emerged naturally from the sea and joined the city of Angrado Heroísmo. (B)
Drive to Serrado Cume, a viewpoint looking across the beautiful natural landscape, locally known as the Patchwork Quilt. Never far from evidence of the Azores’ volcanic heritage, visit the Algardo Carvao, an ancient lava tube located in the centre of the island. Considered a geological Nature Reserve, the cave is at an altitude of about 550 metres above sea level, and the interior is home to an array of majestic stalactites and stalagmites, and a pool of crystal clear water.
Visit the Natal Cave, an extensive geologic formation composed by fluid lavas solidified that formed several tunnels, ramifications and stalactites. (B)
Today, discover the sights of Pico island. What it lacks in size—Pico is one of the smallest islands in the Archipelago—it certainly makes up for in natural beauty. Geologically the youngest island in the Azores, Pico’s active volcano is the highest point in the country, reaching an altitude of 2351 metres.
Visit Grutadas Torres in Criacao Velha. At 5 kilometres long, this ancient cave is one of the archipelago#s longest and boasts enormous stalactites, lava stalagmites, altiers and lava balls.
Drive to Santa Luzia for an impressive view across the island and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Currais. The Currais walls built by hand with volcanic stone to protect the thousands of vineyards scattered across Pico from the wind. Enjoy a stop at Adega da Buraca for wine tasting and sample other local products. (B)
This morning, drop off your car at the harbour before boarding the ferry to Faial Island. Collect a hire car on arrival and drive to the Hotel Canal. Check in for 2 nights.
Visit the Cabeco Gordo Cauldron, which marks the highest point of the island at 1043 metres above sea level and offers awe-inspiring views of Faial and the ocean. (B)