Explore a mid Atlantic European outpost; the Azores archipelago rises from the violent meeting of three continental plates and is warmed by the passing Gulf Stream. You’ll walk amongst dormant volcanoes, along beaches of basalt and follow paths green and wild, encountering locals and the islands’ dappled cows. Experience this journey with Ramblers Walking Holidays.
Ponta Delgada is our base for the western end of São Miguel, where we have a superb walk above the famous crater lakes, the green and the blue, and visit the pretty seaside village of Mosteiros. We also have time to explore the charming Portuguese colonial style capital of Ponta Delgada itself, with its many gardens, narrow streets and harbourside esplanade.
We fly to São Jorge, for some fabulous walks to enjoy fine views from the island’s mountainous spine, to descend to secret “fajas”, coastal farmland hidden below the island’s rugged cliffs, and maybe stroll through the gardens of Rosais.
We sail to Pico for delightful walks on the slopes of Pico mountain, the highest in Portugal (the summit is an above-grade optional excursion for fit walkers), and also by the coast, through the island’s unique volcanic vineyards. One day is spent exploring the nearby island of Faial, a short ferry crossing away. Whale watching is another option from Pico or Faial.
Flying back to São Miguel, this time we stay in the unique volcanic spa town of Furnas, a superb base in the unspoiled eastern end of the island. Our hotel is located in exotic subtropical gardens. After a walk here we can relax in the hot volcanic springs.
This most enjoyable and leisurely tour allows time to walk and savour these beautiful and utterly peaceful islands.
We fly directly to Ponta Delgada Airport on the island of São Miguel and a short transfer takes us to our first hotel. This is situated close to the historic part of Ponta Delgada with the harbour front a short walk away.
Our introductory walk on São Miguel takes us to the top of an enormous caldeira (an extinct volcano) with superb views of the blue and green lakes. Later we descend on paths and roads to the harbour town of Mosteiros and return by local bus to our hotel. There may be time to explore Ponta Delgada at the end of the day.
10km, 200m Ascent / 730m Descent, 4 hours
Today will be at the top of the grade but a sense of achievement will be felt when you reach the serene Lagoa do Fogo! The first hour is a gentle ascent through pine forests with tree ferns and swathes of ginger lily, we take our time, as it is a very pleasant and beautiful walk. Along the walk we will encounter different terrains from woodland and moorland with many fine views. The lake is again found in the cone of an extinct volcano and is a quiet, often misty, but memorable place to visit. On our descent we will follow a flowing levada of which the Portuguese are famous for.
13.2km, 760 Ascent / 720m Descent, 4.5 hours
After breakfast it is back to Ponta Delgada Airport for a short domestic flight to Sao Jorge. Upon arrival we will transfer to our hotel and later we can explore the small town. In the afternoon there is a short walk to the top of the adjacent hill to look down on the town and its harbour. Not surprisingly, this hill is also an extinct volcanic cone.
In the past today has been quoted as one of the best walks of the holiday as we head from Piquinho Da Urze to Faja Des Cubres. The walk begins with short visit to a church engulfed by lava and then our coach takes us up to nearly 700m. The well-defined path, steep in parts, descends through an enormous, impressive green valley past fields hedged with blue hydrangeas and scattered with contented cattle. We will have several stops to admire the views as we descend towards the sea. After lunch by another small church the walk follows an undulating coastal path.
12km, 700m Descent then 100m undulating, 5.5 hours
A walk on the central ridge of Sao Jorge is the plan today. The walk today takes us along crushed lava tracks that cross grassy mountains to the ‘Peak of Hope’, a superb walk! On clear days, distant views of neighbouring islands such as Graciosa, Terceira, Pico and Faial will keep us company. We descend on very gentle pathways to a bar above the rocky harbour of Ouvidor.
14km, 450m Ascent / 700m Descent, 5 hours
This cliff top and coastal walk from Faja Dos Vimes to Faja De S. Joao starts at the only coffee plantation in Europe and ends at a bar. This delightful but tough walk is something a little different. The area is well known for its vines, fruit and vegetables but it is not all farmland. Our route will take us across three streams with an exciting section, picking our way across boulders and smaller rocks adds a new experience to the tour.
10km, 600m Ascent/Descent, 5 hours
We wave goodbye to Sao Jorge as we leave the harbour during our ferry journey taking us to the third island on our exploration. The first thing you will notice about Pico is its very distinct mountain. On arrival into Pico harbour we will transfer to our hotel. After settling in to the hotel Caravelas in Madelana we can arrange transport to Calhau and walk back to town along the coast path, through the volcanic landscape past windmills and vineyards and black, black rock for about 6 miles.
8.3km, 120m Ascent/Descent, 2.5 hours
Today is a ‘free day’. In the past clients have chosen to take to the narrow lanes of Pico on rented cycles, watched wales from a local boat, hired a guide to ascend Pico itself, or just relaxed by the pool. Additionally, your leader may well offer a walk of the old vineyards of Lajido. This is a short circular walk offering great views of not only the coast but Pico Summit. Along the route there are opportunities to visit a traditional wine cellar and distillery with time to relax at the end of the walk at a nice café for a refreshing drink.
6km, 130m Ascent/Descent, 3.5 hours
Today takes in Santa Cruz and Lajes through two waterside villages finishing up in Lajes famous for its whaling museum. Lajes was the first settlement on Pico to go on to became the most important town in the Azores for whaling. An industry no longer continued in the islands.
11km, 360m Ascent / 370m Descent, 4 hours
Your leader takes you back to the sea today as we take the local ferry for a day trip to the island of Faial. There is a good choice of walks and activities to do on Faial and your leader will make the best choice based on the weather. This could include visiting the engulfed lighthouse at the point where the last major eruption in the Azores took place just fifty years ago. Or maybe take a short walk through Horta and Lomba to the Botanic gardens or take a taxi to the Caldeira Rim for a circular walk and a picnic. There is so much to choose from!
Our final inter-island flight of the holiday will whisk us from Pico Airport back to Ponta Delgada where we will transfer by road (watching out for the tea estates on the route) to the dramatic village of Furnas with its very local volcanic activity. Spend the afternoon exploring the extensive botanical gardens of the Hotel Terra Nostra and possibly enjoy the delights of the geothermal outdoor pool.
We start with a tour of Furnas town and see just how close we are to geothermal activity. Our main walk will take us up to Furnas Lake which is largely level, but there will be some short sharp ascents and descents. At the lake, if we judge the time correctly, we can see the local cooks removing the packaged meals from the hot springs. Circular walk round the lake will bring us back to our lovely Art Deco hotel.
9.2km, 350m Ascent/Descent, 4 hours
Our final walk in the Azores is from Ribiera Quente to Povoacao. A coastal walk with some long ascents through lush vegetation and some corresponding descents, mainly through farmland. This walk will give us one last chance to stretch our legs. There will be beautiful coastal views from the high cliffs. Our route finishes at the very attractive town of Povoacao with a beach, harbour and e squares waiting for exploration at the end of our walking holiday.
9km, 500m Ascent/Descent, 3.5 hours
It is time to bid farewell to these extraordinary group of islands as we transfer back to Ponta Delgada Airport by coach, ready to fly back to the UK.
See where this holiday travels to.
The hotel is well located in the village of Madalena only 100 meters from the harbour front and with views to Faial Island. The hotel is well equipped with a bar, 24 hour front desk, elevator and gym. You can unwind in the games room, or the seasonal outdoor swimming pool. Rooms come with air conditioning, satellite TV, telephone and internet via ADSL (which can be patchy), en-suite bathroom, hairdryer and mini bar. Breakfasts are taken in the Madalena room that has panoramic views.
We stay in the three star Hotel Sao Jorge, that has great views across the island, the ocean and to Pico mountain, the highest point of the islands. It is near the harbour and within easy walking distance of the town of Velas, with its restaurants, ferry port and other amenities. The hotel has an outdoor saltwater swimming pool (not always in use) that you can cool off in after a day of hiking the trails. Or you can relax on the terrace that overlooks the grounds or take a drink in the bar and lounge. Extensive buffet breakfasts are served every morning. The hotel has no restaurant and so dinners are taken in nearby local restaurants. All rooms have a bathroom (bath & shower), TV, telephone, balcony with ocean view and air conditioning. There is complimentary Wi-Fi at reception.
We stay in the well reviewed and award winning Hotel Terra Nostra, a sleek and stylish modern hotel located in the Terra Nostra Botanical Park and surrounding verdant gardens. The hotel's interior design is influenced by Art Deco style, with combined contemporary elements as well, creating comfort and exclusivity perfectly integrated with the lush Terra Nostra Garden (which you have free unlimited access to). The garden even has its own geothermal pool. The spacious hotel also has a reading room, games room, gift shop and indoor heated pool. All rooms have air conditioning, phone, flat screen TV, mini-bar and hair dryer. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the entire hotel. A buffet breakfast is served every day.
Our First Centre on Sao Miguel with 102 rooms this is one of the larger hotels on this holiday but its location is brilliant. A walk along the promenade and harbour front of less than 5 minutes will have you at the centre of Ponta Delgada. Perfect for a wander into town in the evenings.