If you plan to voyage across the Atlantic to explore some of the world’s least-visited islands, you might as well see as many as possible! Portugalonline.com’s Ultimate Azores Experience package delivers the best of the Atlantic’s most verdant, volcanic and historic archipelago over two full weeks. Starting on Flores, the westernmost point in Europe, and journeying to San Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico – with optional summer excursions to São Jorge and Corvo – you will experience the remarkable variety of towns, cultures, landscapes, cuisines and natural attractions the Azores has to offer.
Landing on Flores make you feel as though you have dropped into the Garden of Eden. Generally considered the most beautiful of the Azorean isles, Flores’ landscape is spectacular, featuring craggy cliffs, a multitude of lakes and craters, high waterfalls, small pastures bordered by miles of hydrangea hedges and stunning vistas of every imaginable shade of green. Your driver will meet you at the airport and whisk you to your hotel in Santa Cruz.
Day 2 - Flores: Tour the Natural Beauty
Today you will experience a succession of gorgeous natural views, each more spectacular than the last. Your private English-speaking driver/guide will spend a Full-day showing you the lush landscapes of Flores, including unforgettable views at the scenic lookouts of Ribeira da Cruz, Fajazinha, Ponta da Faja and Caveira. On the journey, you will see many of the lakes and waterfalls that made Flores famous. Don’t miss the Rocha dos Bordoes, a lava formation creating oddly high vertical flutes on your way back to the hotel. Enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure, taking a short trek through the hills or getting to know Santa Cruz and its local culture and cuisine.
Day 3 - Flores: Enjoy Free Time or Visit Corvo
Enjoy a full day to explore Flores at your leisure. Many visitors head back to the hills for a hike or picnic in the countryside. Others take a day to bask in the sun with a good book and a glass of wine. In the summer months, lots of people take the chance to voyage to the tiny nearby island of Corvo (for an additional charge) to observe one of the Portugal’s most unique cultures, hear the unique dialect spoken by its 468 residents, visit the 16th century church or spot one of the Azore’s famous windmill.
Day 4 - Flores to Faial: Stroll Historical Horta
Board your flight to the island of Faial and disembark at one of the most strategic ports in history. The capital Horta has served as a hub for centuries of sailors - from explorers to pirates to whalers to today’s trans-Atlantic yachtsmen. Despite its formidable 16th century fortress, both the Spanish and England’s Sir Walter Raleigh attacked Horta. During the pre-wireless days, Horta was a strategic relay point for the trans-Atlantic cable communications. Today it is a traveler’s paradise of maritime legacy and a perfect place to enjoy whale watching, water sports or gazing at the sea.
Day 5 - Faial: Visit the Capelinhos Volcano
Today you will get face-to-face with the island’s volcanic origins on a half day tour. Your private English-speaking guide will drive you through the mountains over the Valley of Flamengos, on to Caldeira, the highest point on the island, and north to Capelinhos, the site of the most recent volcanic eruption in the Azores. The 1957-58 offshore event added two square kilometers to the island! The extensive ash fields and earthquake aftershocks caused so much damage that many islanders emigrated to North America. Enjoy a free afternoon to do as you please.
Day 6 - Voyage to Pico Island
Wake refreshed and ready for a short ferry ride to picturesque Pico. Dock in Madalena and meet your guide for a full day tour of the second largest island in the archipelago. You won’t miss the perfectly cone-shaped namesake volcano, Pico (pronounced “peak”) that serves as a backdrop for views across the island. Lava rock from ancient eruptions forms the walls of many homes and borders vineyards that grow the grapes for the local wine, Verdelho. Before returning to Horta by ferry, don’t miss the whaling museum which details the historic transition of Pico from a whaling station to a renown place to see whales in the wild.
Day 7 - Faial: Enjoy Free Time or Visit São Jorge
Take today for whatever form of activity or relaxation you like. In Horta, you can enjoy beach time, a visit to volcanic formations or a stroll along the fortress. Many visitors like to take a day trip to São Jorge Island (for an additional charge). The island boasts some of the best surfing in Portugal as well as many other water sports and outdoor adventures.
Day 8 - Faial to Terceira: Go Back in Time in Angra
Fly to Terceira, the third Azorean island to be discovered, the archipelago’s third largest island and, therefore, unsurprisingly, has a name that translates as “third.” On the streets of the 16th century UNESCO World Heritage village of Angra do Heroísmo, you will swear you time traveled back to the Age of Discovery. Angra is a snug harbor protected by a volcanic cone that made the port a major staging point for European explorers on the way to the New World from the 16th to 18th centuries. In fact, ships laden with riches often moved in convoys from Terceira to Europe to ward off pirate attacks. You can climb the hill behind the pretty public gardens for a grand view of the city and the volcanic cone of Monte Brasil to complete your day.
Day 9 - Terceira: Tour Fishing Villages and Volcanic Wonders
Depart by the south coast to Praia da Vitoria via Porto Judeu, a small fishing village on your full day, private guided tour of the island. Make a stop at São Sebastiao to see its 15th parish church and the Azores’s most colorful “Imperio,” a small chapel that is central to the religious festivals of the Holy Ghost (Espirito Santo) popular throughout the archipelago. Take time for lunch in Praia da Vitoria, a charming town with a main square and a pedestrian shopping street. Take the mountain road up to Serra do Cume for a view of the rolling, multi-hued green fields, bordered by stone walls and hydrangeas and a glimpse of Praia harbor in the distance. Move on to Algar do Carvao, a huge lava tube about 300 feet long covered in stalactites and stalagmites open only in summer. Continue to Biscoitos on the north coast to see the natural lava swimming pools and to visit the wine museum. Return to your hotel by way of the classic villages of Altares, Doze Ribeiras and São Mateus.
Day 10 - Terceira: Free Time on Terceira
You’ll have today to uncover more of the unique attractions of Terceira. Angra is a wonderful city to explore on foot. Or take a taxi to Monte Brasil for a panoramic view of the city and follow walking trails past several old fortresses and a castle. Or taste local seafood and wine as you soak in the island atmosphere.
Day 11 -Terceira to São Miguel: On Foot in Ponta Delgada
Today you will enter the Azores of the 21st Century. Flying into the largest island of São Miguel, you will get glimpses of its geographical diversity and you will see the expanse of Ponta Delgada, the archipelago’s capital and largest city. But as you settle into your hotel in the old section of town, you will appreciate its charming historical center and marvel at the town’s intersection of old and new. Take the afternoon and evening to get acquainted with Ponta Delgada’s food, drinks and culture.
Meet your private driver/guide and head beyond the homes of Ponta Delgada for a full day tour of São Miguel’s interior. The rural life of São Miguel dominates as you take the south road passing the village of Lagoa, a viewpoint at Caloura and the former capital of Vila Franca. Upon arrival in the Furnas area, the volcanic attractions take top billing: Don’t miss the lake, the hot springs and the holes in the ground where local specialty “Cozido nas Caldeiras” (Caldera Stew) is cooked for seven hours by underground volcanic steam. Continue to the charming town of Furnas for a lunch stop. Stroll the historic botanical gardens (additional charge) planted in the 18th century and take the opportunity to swim in the hot springs swimming pool. The Furnas hot springs and mineral waters were a popular and fashionable 19th century spa resort for Europeans that are now being revitalized. Cross the island to the north coast, stopping for a fine view of both the south and north coasts and visit Europe’s only tea plantation on the way. Return to your hotel for an evening of dining and relaxation in town.
Day 13 - São Miguel: Marvel at Sete Cidades
Some say it is wise to save the best for last. We think you’ll agree. On your final full day you’ll take a full-day guided tour the famed view of Sete Cidades. The view of the twin blue and green caldera lakes from Vista do Rei on the crater’s rim is nothing short of spectacular. After catching your breath, you’ll travel to the tiny town of Sete Cidades down in the crater along the lake. On the way back to Ponta Delgada, be sure to stop at a plantation and taste one of São Miguel’s small, sweet pineapples – they’re the only ones grown in Europe. Absorb the glow of your last Azorean sunset before heading to dine on local specialties in town. Brunch included.
Day 14 - Enjoy your Free time
Today you can walk around downtown, experience a little of the local life, visit the two botanical gardens and the Museum ( check schedules before planning these visits), the marina and some nice traditional meals and pastries. An optional morning tour to Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake for an additional charge) with a stop at a nearby ceramics factory is popular with many visitors Bid a fond farewell to these storied isles – as centuries of travelers to the Azores have done before you. Please contact us for rate.
Day 15 - São Miguel: Departure
Wake one final morning in the salty Azorean air. Check out at your leisure, store your bags at the hotel, and spend your last hours on São Miguel doing some last minute shopping, strolling and sightseeing.
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