10 days/ 9 nights. Visit four of the most intriguing and scenic islands the Azores have to offer. See breathtaking crater lakes in the old volcanoes of Sao Miguel; explore the city of Angra do Heroismo in Terceira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; visit the quaint port of Horta, Faial; and stand below the awesome Pico Mountain on the Island of Pico. Enjoy the striking volcanic scenery, rich flora and fauna, and the peaceful way of life these islands are known for. Gain insight into the culture, history, and geography of these mystical islands. Our agents will make sure that you are well taken care of once you arrive. Remove the stress from travel and leave all the planning and details to us!
"We had a wonderful 11 days in the Azores on April following the tour you arranged for us. We have relived the trip several times with our memories and photographs. The islands are very beautiful, each with their own character, both scenically and culturally. The hotels were beyond our expectation; the local cuisine in cafes and small restaurants caused some increase to our girths. But perhaps the most enjoyable part of the trip was the personal interaction with our guides who gave us an insight into the local history, culture, family life, and even politics as they tirelessly answered our endless questions."
- John Jones, Australia
Day 1 - Terceira
Transfer service from Terceira airport (aka Lajes) to Angra do Heroismo, about 24 kilometers away. 3 nights at a Hotel (4 stars). Terceira translates as "third", the third island to be discovered in the Azores archipelago. Its also the third largest in size. Walk the streets of Angra do Heroismo and you will feel transported back in time. This museum quality city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's snug harbor is protected by a volcanic cone which made Angra a major staging point for European ships bringing back the wealth of their New World colonies during the 16th to 18th centuries. In Angra, ships formed convoys to Europe as protection from pirates. Climb the hill behind the pretty public gardens for a grand view of the city and the volcanic cone of Monte Brasil.
Day 2 - Terceira
Your driver/guide will meet you in the hotel lobby for a full day tour of the island. Depart by the south coast to Praia da Vitoria via Porto Judeu, a small fishing village. Then stop at Sao Sebastiao and its 15th parish church. Nearby is an "imperio", a small chapel that is characteristic of the towns in the Azores. The Imperios are central to the religious festivals of the Holy Ghost (Espirito Santo) popular throughout the Azores. These festivals are of medieval origin but are now seldom seen in mainland Europe. Terceira boasts the most colorful imperio. Praia da Vitoria is a charming town with a main square and a pedestrian shopping street. Time for lunch (not included) in Praia. 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 the harbor of Praia in the distance. Then to Algar do Carvao, a huge lava tube about 300 feet long with stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is open June 1 through September 30. Continue to Biscoitos on the north coast to see the natural lava swimming pools. Return to your hotel by way of the typical villages of Altares, Doze Ribeiras and Sao Mateus.
Day 3 - Terceira
Day at leisure in Angra. Angra is a wonderful city to explore on foot. Take a taxi to Monte Brasil for a panoramic view of the city and follow walking trails past several old fortresses and a castle.
Day 4 - Terceira - Faial
Arrival transfer service from the airport to hotel. Spend 3 nights at a Hotel (4 stars) in Horta with daily buffet breakfast included. Since their discovery in the 14th century, the Azores Islands have played an important role as a staging and victualing point for ships crossing the Atlantic, an enviable location for nations with New World colonies. Many conflicts between colonizing nations (Portugal, Spain, England) took place near Horta. Today now peaceful Horta is famous for its yacht harbor, a haven for trans-Atlantic yachts and sailboats. Visiting crews paint the harbor walls with names and pictures of their vessels.
Day 5 - Faial
Your driver/guide will meet you in the lobby for your half-day island tour. Depart the hotel on the mountain road overlooking the Valley of Flamengos, toward Caldeira, the highest point on the island. Continue north to Capelinhos, site of the last volcanic eruption in the Azores. This 1957-58 event added 2 square km to the island. Earthquakes and ash destroyed much of the west side of the island prompting many islanders to emigrate to North America. The elements are slowly eroding the ash. There is a nearby museum detailing the eruption.
Day 6 - Faial/ Pico/ Faial
Transfer from the Hotel to the harbor for a 30 minute ferry trip to Pico. Pronounced "Peak" by Azoreans, the translation is exactly that. Meet your driver at the ferry dock in Madelena on Pico for a full day tour of the second largest island in the Azores. The island is dominated by the great bulk of Pico mountain. Islanders make good use of the black volcanic rocks to build houses and walls in a distinctive fashion. Pico was an important whaling station and there is a museum showing how islanders took to the seas in open boats in pursuit of the leviathans. Fortunately, tourists are now the only ones who go to sea to see the many species of whales in the islands. An unusual feature of Pico is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of acres of vineyards encircled by small, black volcanic rock walls to protect them from the salt winds and to collect extra heat. No lunch included. Return to Madelena in the afternoon for the ferry trip back to Horta and transfer back to the hotel.
Day 7 - Faial - S. Miguel
Transfer service from your hotel to the airport for the short flight to Sao Miguel, the largest and most geographically diverse of the islands. Upon arrival in Ponta Delgada, you will be transferred to your hotel (4 stars) for the next 3 nights with daily buffet breakfast. Ponta Delgada is the largest city as well as the capital of the Azores. Urban sprawl is beginning to set in but the historic central part of the city is still charming. The hotel is well located for walks through the old section. Balance of the day at leisure.
Day 8 - S. Miguel
Your driver/guide will pick you up at your hotel for your full day trip to Furnas. Just outside of Ponta Delgada, the rural life of Sao Miguel dominates. Depart along the south road passing the village of Lagoa for a viewpoint at Caloura. Continue to Vila Franca, once the capital. Upon arrival in the Furnas area, visit the lake and hot springs, and see the holes in the ground where meals are cooked by underground steam. Pots full of various meats, sausages, potatoes, and vegetables are steamed for 7 hours to produce "Cozidos nas Caldeiras" (Caldera Stew). Continue to the charming town of Furnas for a lunch stop (lunch not included). Visit the beautiful botanical gardens established in the 18th century (entry fee not included) with the opportunity to swim in the hot springs swimming pool. Cross the island to the north coast, stopping for a fine view of both the south and north coasts from an interior highland. On the way, you will visit a tea plantation, the only one in Europe. Return to your hotel about 5:30pm.
Day 9 - S. Miguel
After meeting your driver/guide in the hotel lobby, head west to one of the most awesome natural sights in the world, the twin caldeira lakes of Sete Cidades for a full day tour with brunch included. The view from "Vista do Rei" (King's View) high on the crater's rim is stunning. Far below, next to the lakes, is the pretty village of Sete Cidades (Seven Cities, named for a mythical kingdom). Descend into the caldeira to visit the town, continuing the tour, stop at a pineapple plantation. The Azores are not warm enough to grow pineapples in the open but they thrive in the greenhouses with careful cultivation methods. Continue to the Fire Lake, the highest crater lake located in the center of the island, stop at Caldeira Velha, Ribeira Grande and return to Ponta Delgada. Rerturn to the hotel.
Day 10 - Departure
Check out in the late morning. The hotel will store your baggage for you. Day free for last minute shopping and sightseeing in Ponta Delgada before your transfer to the airport. An optional half-day morning tour to Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake) with a stop at a ceramics factory in the town of Lagoa is available.