14 days, 13 nights - Visit the beautiful and spectacular Asores Islands with this leisurely tour of Sao Miguel, Terceira, Faial, Pico, and Flores. Start at the westernmost point in Europe, the Island of Flores, and continue through the islands to Faial, Terceira, and Sao Miguel, and visit Pico by way of a ferry from Faial. In mid-summer Sao Jorge can be accessed by ferry from Faial and Corvo by ferry from Flores. Also included in this package are accomodations, breakfast buffet daily, roundtrip airport-hotel trandfers, and sightseeing.
Day 1 - Flores
Generally considered the most beautiful island of the Azores, Flores is only 10 ½ miles long and 7 ¾ miles at its widest. The island is spectacular, with 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. Meet your driver, carrying a sign with your name, in the arrivals area. Transfer service from Flores airport in Santa Cruz to the Hotel .
Day 2 - Flores
Half day tour of Flores. Departure is 9:00am. Meet driver at hotel reception. Private car with English speaking driver/guide. Depart your hotel and stop at Ribeira da Cruz belvedere. Visit several lakes before stopping at Fajazinha belvedere. There are many beautiful waterfalls between Fajazinha to Ponta da Faja Grande. Visit Rocha dos Bordoes, a lava solidification creating very high vertical fluting known as columnar jointing. Stop at the Caveira belvedere before returning to your hotel. Balance of the day at leisure.
Day 3 - Flores
In the summer months, it may be possible to visit the island of Corvo by ferry (not included in the package).
Day 4 - Flores /Faial
Transfer service from the hotel to the airport for the short flight to Faial. You will be advised locally of the pick up time. Upon arrival in Faial, look for your driver (with sign) in the arrivals area for your transfer to Hotel. You will be given your ferry tickets and advised of which ferry to take to Pico for your tour. Horta was once the strategic relay point for early trans-Atlantic cable communications between the U.S. and Europe. Modern technology now bypasses the old cable network. 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. The town’s Santa Cruz fortress (now a Pousada) was attacked by the Spanish in 1583 and, a few years later, Horta was razed by England’s Sir Walter Raleigh. 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
Half day tour of Faial. Departure at 9:00am. Meet driver at hotel reception. (Private car with English speaking driver/guide). 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
Full day tour to Pico Island (ferry from Horta and private car). Transfer from the Hotel to the harbor for a 30 minutes trip to Pico. Meet your driver at the ferry dock in Madalena 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 around the island. 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. A local fortified wine, Verdelho, is once again being produced from these local grapes. Return to Madalena in the afternoon for the ferry trip back to Horta and transfer to the Hotel.
Day 7 - Faial
Day at leisure in Horta, Faial. During the summer months (June-September), it is possible to visit Sao Jorge Island on a day trip by ferry from Horta.
Day 8 - Faial/Terceira
Transfer service from the hotel to Horta airport. You will be advised locally of the pick up time. Upon arrival in Terceira, look for your driver (with sign) in the arrivals area. Transfer to Hotel. Terceira translates as “third”, the third island to be discovered in the Azores archipelago. It’s also the third largest in size. Walk the streets of Angra do Heroismo, founded in the 16th century, 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. There is a U.S. airbase at Lajes, sharing the runways with commercial flights.
Day 9 - Terceira
Full day tour of Terceira. Departure at 9:00am. Meet driver at hotel reception. Private car with English speaking driver/guide. 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. Imperio 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 and to visit the wine museum. Return to your hotel by way of the typical villages of Altares, Doze Ribeiras, and Sao Mateus.
Day 10 - 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 11 - Terceira/Sao Miguel
Terceira to Sao Miguel Island. Departure transfer service from the hotel to the airport for the flight to Sao Miguel, the largest and most geographically diverse of the islands. You will be advised locally of the pick up time. Upon arrival in Ponta Delgada, look for your driver (with sign) in the arrivals area. Transfer service to your hotel. 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 12 - Sao Miguel
Full day tour to Furnas. Departure at 9:00am. Meet driver at hotel reception. Private car with English speaking driver/guide. 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 13 - Sao Miguel
Half day tour to Sete Cidades. Departure at 9:00am. Meet driver at hotel reception. Private car with English speaking driver/guide. After meeting your driver/guide in the hotel lobby, head west to one of the most awesome sights in the Azores, the twin caldeira lakes of Sete Cidades. 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. Before returning to Ponta Delgada, 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. The pineapples are small but very sweet. You will find them in restaurants, shops and at the airport. Afternoon free in Ponta Delgada.
Day 14 - Sao Miguel
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. You will be advised locally of the pick up time. Time to say farewell to these lovely islands!