Nestled in the middle of the vast Atlantic Ocean, the Azores archipelago is a collection of nine breathtaking islands that form an oasis of natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and unparalleled tranquility. Often referred to as Europe's best-kept secret, the Azores offer a unique blend of stunning landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and warm hospitality.
In this article, we will delve into the wonders of the Azores, exploring the islands' unique features, attractions, and the magic that makes this destination an unforgettable experience for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure. In addition, we're going to present a tour we've designed, which covers four islands in the Azores and promises to show you the greatest treasures the island has to offer.
The Azores owe their existence to a complex geological history, as the islands emerged from the depths of the Atlantic due to volcanic activity. Each island boasts dramatic landscapes characterized by lush greenery, towering cliffs, and mesmerizing crater lakes. Pico, the tallest peak in Portugal, is a striking example, with its volcanic cone dominating the skyline. Visitors can explore the island's caves, hot springs, and other geological wonders that showcase the archipelago's fascinating origins.
Diverse Flora and Fauna
The Azores are a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a unique blend of endemic and migratory species. The islands are home to diverse flora, including rare plants such as the Azorean heather and laurel forests that have earned UNESCO World Heritage status. Birdwatchers will delight in the opportunity to spot species like the Azores bullfinch and Cory's shearwater. Meanwhile, the surrounding seas are rich with marine life, making the Azores a prime destination for whale watching and dolphin encounters.
Thermal Springs and Geothermal Pools
The archipelago's volcanic activity doesn't just shape the landscapes; it also creates natural thermal springs and geothermal pools that provide a therapeutic and relaxing experience for visitors. The town of Furnas on São Miguel Island is famous for its hot springs, where locals and tourists alike enjoy a soothing dip in the warm waters. The thermal pools not only offer a rejuvenating experience but also showcase the symbiotic relationship between the Azoreans and their geothermal-rich environment.
Vibrant Culture and Heritage
Despite its remote location, the Azores boast a rich cultural heritage shaped by centuries of seafaring traditions and influences from Portugal. Visitors can explore charming villages with cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and ornate churches. Festivals and events, such as the Holy Ghost Festivals, showcase the vibrant Azorean culture with traditional music, dance, and religious processions. The locals, known for their warmth and friendliness, welcome visitors with open arms, creating an authentic and immersive cultural experience.
As awareness of environmental conservation grows, the Azores have become a beacon of sustainable tourism. The islands prioritize eco-friendly practices, encouraging responsible tourism that preserves the archipelago's natural beauty. Visitors can participate in various eco-friendly activities, such as guided hiking tours, birdwatching excursions, and whale watching trips that emphasize respect for the delicate ecosystems.
What you can expect about the tour
São Miguel Island is the best-known and most visited island in the Azores archipelago, but there's so much more to see!
On this fascinating 11-day tour, we'll show you four Azorean islands that are well worth exploring: São Miguel, Pico, Faial and Terceira.
You'll start by discovering the charms of the island of São Miguel, where you'll visit emblematic sites such as Furnas and Sete Cidades, as well as enjoy experiences such as whale watching or hiking in Salto do Prego.
Next up is Pico, the second largest island in the archipelago and home to Portugal's highest mountain. Here you'll have the opportunity to take a jeep tour of the island, which will show you Pico's main attractions.
Next you'll head to Faial, considered to be the Azorean island where you can feel the power of nature the most. You'll embark on a full-day trail that will take you to discover the history and culture of this picturesque place.
Finally, you'll visit one of the most beautiful islands in the Azores, Terceira. For three days, venture out to explore the island's treasures with the help of certified tour guides.
Come and discover the best the Azores have to offer and connect with nature in a unique way that will surely stay with you forever.
Discover the Itinerary
Day 1 - Say hi to the Azores!
When you land at Ponta Delgada Airport, a transfer will take you to your 4-star hotel, where you will stay for 3 nights.
Check-in at the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day strolling around the city and dining in a local restaurant.
Day 2 - Watch the natural spectacle of Furnas
Today is the day to visit the fantastic Furnas region!
The first stop will be Vila Franca do Campo, the first capital of São Miguel, located on the south coast, where you can taste a famous local sweet - Queijada da Vila, a historic recipe of the town. When you reach the Furnas valley, near the stunning Furnas Lagoon, you will see some volcanic phenomena, known as fumaroles; in addition, you will also see how the famous Cozido das Furnas is made, a gastronomic delight of the Azores. The tour is followed by a visit to the Terra Nostra garden (optional) before lunch, where you will have the chance to try a rejuvenating thermal bath.
On the way to the mountains, you'll stop to see the amazing view over the Furnas valley from Pico de Ferro.
On the north coast, more precisely in Ribeira Grande, you will visit the Gorreana tea plantation and factory, where you will taste two types of tea - black and green.
The last stop will be at the Santa Iria viewpoint, where you will have a breathtaking view of the north coast of the island.
Day 3 - Discover the beauty of the Sete Cidades
After breakfast, you will visit Lagoa do Fogo and Sete Cidades.
The tour gets off to a good start for sweet lovers, as you will visit the traditional pineapple plantation, an organic crop grown in greenhouses, and taste the famous pineapple liqueur.
The journey continues along the west coast of the island, where you can enjoy the view from the Pico de Carvão viewpoint. Surrounded by enormous vegetation, you'll find the viewpoint of the Sete Cidades volcanic complex at Vista do Rei. From here you can see the twin lakes and their iconic blue and green colors.
Once in the crater, there is the incredible Lago de Santiago to see. A stop will be made in the picturesque village of Sete Cidades, where lunch will be served in a regional restaurant. In the afternoon, the tour will travel along the coast until it reaches Capelas, an old whaling village, stopping at the viewpoint of Pedras Negras to see the north coast of the island.
Continuing along the north coast, you will stop to visit the town of Ribeira Grande and its historic center. Afterwards, Caldeira Velha, a nature reserve, is the place to go for a swim (if you so wish), where you can enjoy the warm water of a waterfall.
The last stop is the fantastic Lagoa do Fogo, where you'll have time to enjoy the fantastic views. On the way back to Ponta Delgada, descending via Pico da Barrosa, you will once again have the supreme view over the newest and narrowest part of the island.
Day 4 - Whale watching or hiking in Salto do Prego?
On this fourth day on the island of São Miguel, you can choose which of these activities you prefer:
During this trip, you will have the opportunity to see some of the 28 species of cetaceans that have already been identified in the waters of the Azores. You'll be in the company of whales and dolphins during the three-hour boat trip, where you may also see turtles, birds and other marine species.
Salto do Prego/Sanguinho Hiking
On this walk, which starts in the parish of Faial da Terra, you will walk along a beautiful stream that will guide you through this charming village with its sensational orchards. You'll continue walking through the forest, over wooden bridges and along stone roads, until you reach the magical Salto do Prego waterfall - where you'll take a break to rest, enjoy a picnic and take a refreshing dip in the waterfall.
On your way back, you'll pass through the old abandoned village of Sanguinho, which is gradually regaining its charm and liveliness.
Afterward, you'll make a brief stop at the Pico dos Bodes viewpoint, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim in Povoação / Ribeira Quente, or take a cozy dip in the Furnas thermal springs, or use the rest of the time to stroll around.
Day 5 - Day to flight to Faial
The day has come to discover another island in the Azores archipelago: Faial Island!
After checking out of your hotel in Ponta Delgada, a transfer will take you to the airport to catch your flight to Faial.
When you arrive at Horta airport, a transfer will be waiting to take you to your hotel, where you will stay for 3 nights.
After checking in, you can start exploring the island.
Day 6 - Explore the picturesque island of Faial
On the sixth day of your tour you will visit the island of Faial, separated from the island of Pico by a narrow arm of the sea 8 kilometers wide.
After breakfast at the hotel, a transfer will take you to the starting point of the tour.
On this day trip you'll go beyond the beaches of Faial Island and discover its history and culture. You'll enjoy intimate visits to the island's places of interest, such as the Capelinhos Volcano and the Caldeira do Faial Nature Reserve, along with stops for swimming, strolling, and lunch.
At the end of the tour, you'll have a transfer to take you back to your hotel.
Day 7 - Discover the Pico island on a jeep tour
Ready to explore the fascinating island of Pico?
After breakfast, you'll take a ferry to Pico for a jeep tour of the island's main attractions!
During the tour, you'll discover stunning natural landscapes and have the opportunity to visit the largest underground cave of volcanic origin.
You'll leave Madalena do Pico in the morning and make your first stop at Lagoas do Pico, followed by an exciting nature trail.
You'll then have lunch at a regional restaurant to sample the local delicacies.
After lunch, you'll go on a jeep trail on the central plateau of Pico Island and then take a guided tour of the Gruta das Torres.
In the late afternoon, you'll return to Madalena do Pico and then take the ferry back to Faial.
Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Faial
Day 8 - Welcome to Terceira
After having breakfast and checking out of your hotel in Faial, a transfer will take you to the airport to catch a plane to Terceira island.
When you land, a transfer will be waiting to take you to your hotel, where you will stay for 3 nights.
Day 9 - Take a full-day tour to Terceira Island
Get ready for a full day with a full-day excursion to the island of Terceira.
After breakfast, a transfer will take you to the meeting point to start the tour.
The first stop will be at Pico das Cruzinhas to admire the beautiful city of Angra do Heroísmo and observe the British artillery. You'll then pass through the historic city center towards the east coast of the island, where you'll stop by the Touro Monument.
You'll then stop at the Serretinha viewpoint to see and take photos of the majestic Ilhéu das Cabras, a volcanic rock that emerged from the seabed due to an underwater volcanic eruption. Next, you'll stop in the village of São Sebastião, where you'll visit one of the oldest churches on the island and the famous Empire of the Divine Holy Spirit.
In the morning, you'll climb Serra do Cume to marvel at the famous view of the "Manta de Retalhos", followed by a stop at the Serra do Facho viewpoint to contemplate the view of the city of Praia da Vitória. Lunch will be at a regional restaurant.
In the afternoon, you will visit Algar do Carvão (optional), a volcanic chimney 90 metres deep. You will also visit Furnas do Enxofre to observe the secondary activity of a dormant volcano. Heading towards the north of the island, you'll stop in the parish of Biscoitos to visit the island's most popular volcanic pools and the Raminho viewpoint.
You'll finish with a visit to Lagoa das Patas, where you can walk around a beautiful lake surrounded by hydrangeas, camellias and azaleas, and tasting the cheeses and yogurts produced on Terceira Island.
At the end, a transfer will take you back to your hotel.
Day 10 - Visit the Baías de Agualva, an icon of Terceira
On this day you'll get to know the Baías de Agualva, one of Terceira Island's main geotourism icons.
After breakfast at the hotel, a transfer will take you to the meeting point to start this tour, which will begin in the vicinity of Pico dos Loiros, in the parish of Agualva.
You'll start by walking down the trail to the Gruta da Lagoa and continue towards Fajãzinha to admire the view over the beach.
After a brief stop, you'll start climbing up the hillside, surrounded by the coastal heather of the Azores, until you reach the Fajãzinha viewpoint.
Continuing the walk, you'll find a phenomenon of prismatic disjunction in the rocks and walls of old vineyard corrals until you reach Baía das Pombas, an ideal spot for birdwatching, particularly the species that nest in the Azores.
At the end of the trail, you'll pass a small coastal lagoon in the rocks. The rest of the trail continues between pastures and cliffs with beech, heather and incense vegetation.
At the end of the tour, a transfer will take you to your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day walking around the island or relaxing at the hotel.
Day 11 - See you one day, Azores!
The last day is here!
Right after breakfast and checking out of the hotel, a transfer will take you to the airport to catch a plane back home.
We wish you a safe journey and look forward to welcoming you back to our magnificent country!
Are you excited about this itinerary? Find out more about the tour here and book now to experience the best the Azores have to offer!