Discover four of the nine beautiful Azorean islands on our 11-day tailor-made tour, visiting Sao Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico. Volcanic in heritage, the Azores are a great destination for outdoor adventure and exploration: watch as dazzling geysers erupt from steaming fields, stop for a soak in mineral hot spring pools and hike around the rim of extinct volcano craters. This comprehensive itinerary is perfect for first-time visitors to the Azores, and return visitors keen to see more than just the main island of Sao Miguel.
You’ll tour the picturesque cities and towns on each island, travel out to remote countryside areas, see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, freshwater lakes cradled in ancient volcanic calderas, majestic waterfalls and truly magnificent scenery. Set off in search of whales and dolphins by boat—the Azores are among the best places in the world to spot migratory whales year-round. Sample traditional Azorean food and wine, as you travel, combining island exploration and activities with plenty of free time to relax or explore at leisure.
Start your trip on the island of Sao Miguel at the capital city, Ponta Delgada. You'll stay for four nights at the Hotel Vila Nova or similar, which is just a few minutes’ walk from the marina and the waterfront. The food and restaurants in Ponta Delgada are the best place for an introduction to Azorean cuisine - try grilled limpets with Molho Alfonso sauce, or a desert made from Sao Miguel pineapples. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
One of the main highlight of any trip to Sao Miguel is to stand on the lakeshores of Sete Cidades. These are the biggest pair of volcanic crater lakes in the Azores, although it’s their colour that attracts visitors from keen hikers to BBC film crews. Separated by a thin slice of land, one lake glowing turquoise green while the other is a deep blue.
You’ll also have the opportunity to travel across the mountain roads and visit one of Sao Miguel’s famous pineapple plantations at the Vista do Rei Belvedere. Enjoy a free afternoon to explore or relax at your leisure. (B)
Today enjoy a trip to Furnas, stopping at the village of Vila Franca do Campo en route. Two volcanic calderas dominate the landscape around Furnas, one of which now holds an emerald lake in the its crater. Arrive in Furnas valley and enjoy the view of the Azorean lake. Take a swim in the hot natural water pool at the botanical gardens before making a stop at the tea plantation at Santa Iria on the return. (B,L)
Enjoy a free day to explore the streets and harbour of the Azores’ capital, Ponta Delgada, at your leisure, or travel out to discover more of Sao Miguel’s stunning countryside. Sao Miguel is known as the green island, Ilha Verde, thanks to it’s supremely fertile volcanic soil ensuring that valleys and pastures are carpeted in greenery year-round.
Sao Miguel is also the most cosmopolitan of the islands, and Ponta Delgada boasts the busiest and most lively harbour in the archipelago. The town is the largest in the Azores, but even so remains a modest size, allowing it to retain its charm and history. (B)
Today enjoy a full-day jeep tour around Terceira with a local driver/guide, visiting some of the hidden sites of the island. Follow coastal roads offering stunning ocean panoramas, head inland to discover the volcanic heart of Terceira, stop at local pastures and experience milking a cow or learn how Azorean wine is made in the village of Biscoitos.
For lunch, head to the island’s best traditional Azorean restaurant and sample the delicious local dish, ‘Alcatra’ - a rump cooked for 12 hours to intensify all flavours and textures. Today also take the opportunity to visit the ancient Algar do Carvão lava vent—a 900 metre deep volcanic chimney that reaches deep into the earth, marking the path that lava once rook to reach the earth’s surface . (B)
Today take the short trip by ferry across to your fourth island, Pico, and keep your eyes peeled on the water for whales. The warm waters surrounding the Azores are famously home to a wide variety of species of whale and cetacean year round, including bottlenose dolphin, sperm and pilot whales, and also sit on the migratory routes of blue whales.
On this island you have a chance to learn more about the role whaling, and more recently whale watching, has played in the life of the Azores at Pico’s whale museum. Your tour will take you up the slopes of Mont Pico, the 7,700ft retired stratovolcano that dominates the island. Here you can sample wine at the famous UNESCO heritage wine vineyards that grow in the volcanic soil, and trace tidal pools crafted by the volcano along the Misterios de Sao Joao. Return to Faial. (B)
After breakfast, enjoy a jeep tour of Faial and enjoy the natural beauty of one of the Azores’ most scenic islands. Take in the Valley of Flamengos, a fertile valley home to many native species of flora, before moving on to Caldeira - the highest point of the island boasting great views across the stratovolcano caldera. Continue north to Capelinhos Volcano and see the remains of the last volcanic eruption in the Azores, which took place in in 1957. (B)