All the islands of the Azores rise steeply from the sea. They lie atop as many as 1,766 volcanoes, nine of which are still active today. Millions of years ago, they were formed as pieces of earth's crust moved powerfully against each other. Today, this volcanic origin is clearly visible everywhere in the landscape.
In the Azores, charming coastal towns, impressive landscapes and extinct volcanoes alternate. Discover the power of nature and be surprised by the spectacular landscapes of the various islands.
This 10-day experience trip is a real dream if you love mountainous landscapes, hot springs, steep cliffs, rugged cliffs, countless waterfalls, craters, volcanic lakes, forests and impressive valleys.
Day 1: São Miguel
Finally, it's time to enjoy a well-earned holiday! You'll leave by rental car for São Miguel, the most beautiful island in the Azores, where you'll stay three nights at a Caractère hotel of your choice.
Day 2: São Miguel
Explore the west of the island. Visit the Sete Cidades massif which offers breathtaking views of the mountains, freshwater lakes of two different colours and the sea (São Miguel's best view). You can kayak on or hike around the lakes. Continue to Ponta da Ferraria, the westernmost point of São Miguel and one of the most remarkable places in the world. In the fresh sea, you can enjoy a wave pool and hot spring at the same time. The natural pool is located in a cove among black-grey volcanic rock. You will not only see traces of volcanic activity, you will also feel it. Heat is still escaping from the earth from crevices in the rocks. Gruta do Carvão is the longest lava tunnel on the island of São Miguel, stretching over 2km. The cave is between 5,000 and 12,000 years old and is classified as a natural monument. You can still see the remains of the various lava flows that have flowed through the cave.
Day 3: São Miguel
Explore the east of the island: Lagoa - Furnas - Lagoa do Fogo - Caldera Velha. Visit the town of Lagoa, which originated on the edge of a lagoon. Around fertile Lagoa are several pineapple and banana plantations as well as tea plantations. Visit the Gorreana tea plantation, the oldest tea plantation in all of Europe. Continue to Furnas, a picturesque town with a special location. In fact, the town is located on top of an active volcano. Volcanic Furnas is also known for its many hot springs. Especially in the centre you will find several places where the earth is still bubbling. Enjoy thermal baths with different temperatures in the middle of a tropical garden. Lagoa das Furnas is the area around the Furnas volcano and is beautifully green. Hike through the forests, wander the crater rim or descend to the lake itself. While hiking, visit the viewpoints Miradouro da Barrossa and Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo, from where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Lagoa do Fogo lake. Afterwards head to Caldera Velha nature reserve, where you can swim to a hot waterfall via a basin filled with water from a natural hot spring.
Day 4: São Miguel - Terceira
Return your rental car at Ponta Delgada airport and fly from São Miguel to Terceira, where you will stay for two nights. Terceira is the well-kept secret of the Azores. Four hundred square kilometres of untouched nature, interspersed with a beautiful historical capital and lovely farming villages. You will not only find a huge amount of natural beauty, but there is also a lot preserved culturally. Visit the capital Angra do Héroismo, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its imposing mansions, cobbled streets and elegant white facades with colourful balconies, this town is like a picture book. Also visit Monte Brasil, an extinct volcano that joined the town of Angro do Heroismo and is now a protected natural park.
Day 5 : Terceira
Caldeira Guilherme Moniz is the largest crater in the Azores and is located in the centre of the island of Terceira. The crater has a diameter of 15 kilometres and is covered with beautiful vegetation which creates a unique panoramic view. Inside is Algar do Carvão, an underground cave system nearly 100 metres deep. A journey to the centre of the earth. Other beautiful places for volcano lovers are Furnas do Enxofre, Furna d'Água and Furna do Cabrito and the caves Gruta dos Balcões, Gruta das Agulhas and Gruta do Natal. In the coastal town of Biscoitos, on Terceira, several natural pools have been created among the lava rocks. Shielded from the surf, the sun heats the black rocks and iron-rich water there. Or go to Porto Martins in the summer months. A charming farming village where wine and olives are grown. This is another place where you can have a swim in a natural pool with crystal-clear water. If you are in the western part of the island, there is no way to avoid it. You can see the Serra de Santa Bárbara towering above it everywhere. This is, in fact, Terceira's highest point, at 1,021 metres. On this inactive volcanic peak, you'll be treated to picturesque views.
Day 6: : Terceira - Pico
You'll drop off your rental car, catch a flight from Terceira to Pico and pick up your new rental car. You'll drive towards Pico, where you'll stay for two nights. Geologically, Pico is the youngest island and its active volcano with its steep slopes is the highest point in the Azores and Portugal at 2351m. Pico is the best place to spot whales. The village of Lajes do Pico, at the foot of the Pico volcano has been named one of the 10 best places in the world to see whales and dolphins in the wild.
Day 7: Pico
The longest lava tunnel in the Azores is the 5,150m-long Gruta das torres near Criacao Velha. This tunnel and others where glowing lava used to flow through are full of stalactites, stalagmites, lava balls and long deep corridors. You can walk about 450 metres into the Gruta das Torres under guidance. An extraordinary experience. The crater lakes Lagoa do Capitano and Lagoa do Paul are also well worth a visit. Drive past Criação Velha and Santa Luzia for impressive views over a vast area with a remarkable pattern of linear walls, called "currais", built by hand with volcanic rock to protect the thousands of vineyards from the wind and sea water.
Day 8: Pico - Faial
Return your rental car in Pico and take the boat to Faial, the 'blue island' of the Azores. Pick up rental car on Faial. Volcanic craters, lava rocks and natural pools make the landscape unique and impressive. You can spot whales and dolphins in the ocean. Faial's highest mountain is Cabeço Gordo (1043 metres). The heart of the island is the enormous crater Caldeira. This crater is two kilometres wide and 500 metres deep and has been declared a nature reserve. This beautiful nature reserve is home to very rare flowers and plants. An ideal location for spectacular hikes!
Day 9: Faial
Located in the west of the island, the 'Vulcão dos Capelinhos' volcano is a beautiful setting for hiking along its ridges or to the rim of the crater, which is 2,000 m wide and 500 m deep. Climb the lighthouse Farol da Punta dos Capelinhos and enjoy panoramic views of the imposing landscape afterwards. There are also several natural pools on Faial. You will come across one if you drive south from the Vulcão dos Capelinhos along the west coast: Varadoura. Between the black basalt and lava rocks here are basins, where ocean water flows in and out. Varadoura is one of the island's more famous spots. Hot springs heat the ocean water here. A visit to Marina da Horta marina on Faial is a must because of the cheerful yachts that dock here and the large open-air exhibition of drawings made by all the sailors who visited it.
Day 10: Going home
It's time to say goodbye to the breathtaking Azores. You'll hand in your rental car at Faial airport, fly to São Miguel and take a connecting flight home. Craving for more? Extend your stay by contacting us.
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