Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Discover the stunning beauty of two islands in the Azores during this weeklong tour. First, touch down on the largest island in the archipelago, São Miguel. With a rental car, you’ll hike and kayak among shimmering crater lakes, soak in hot springs, and explore the Furnas Valley’s geothermal landscapes. Finish on Terceira Island, where you’ll stay in the UNESCO-listed city of Angra do Heroísmo, check out colorful temples, and bathe in pristine rock pools.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in São Miguel, Pick Up Rental Car & Explore Ponta Delgada

Check out the centuries-old architecture around Ponta Delgada

Welcome to São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores archipelago! This cluster of nine volcanic islands sits 870 miles (1,400 km) west of Lisbon and is known for its geothermal landscapes and waters teeming with marine life. Touch down at the airport in Ponta Delgada, where you’ll pick up your rental car. After settling at your hotel, head out to explore Ponta Delgada independently.

Cultural highlights include the São Sebastião Church, the 16th-century Nossa Senhora da Esperança Convent, and the fascinating Carlos Machado Museum. You can also visit the famous Azorean pineapple plantations outside the city center or tour the Gruta do Carvão Cave, a lava tube that’s 5,413 feet (1,650 m) in length.

Day 2: Drive the West Side of São Miguel

Take a hike in Sete Cidades or get in the water with a kayak or canoe

Take the day to explore the western side of São Miguel. Drive the coastal route, which includes access to São Miguel’s region of lagoons. You’ll find Sete Cidades, which translates to “seven cities” but refers to a series of natural landmarks. The sites include sparkling blue-green lakes like EmpadadasSantiago, and Twin Lakes.

Sete Cidades is a favorite place for hikers, and the Cumeeiras Trail runs along a crater rim, making it one of the most scenic walks on the island. The Sete Cidades can also be experienced by kayak or canoe for a different landscape perspective. Don’t miss the Ponta da Ferraria, a warm pool in the middle of volcanic rocks formed from a mix of hot springs and seawater.

Day 3: Road Trip to São Miguel’s Central Region

Start your day trip with a stop to see panoramic views of Lagoa do Fogo

Today your guide will introduce you to the central area of São Miguel, located between the two biggest cities on the island: Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande. Heading north via a mountain road, your first stop will be at a panoramic viewpoint that overlooks the staggering Lagoa do Fogo. Farther down the road, you’ll find the Caldeira Velha, a geothermal phenomenon with balmy pools where you may want to go for a dip.

At Ribeira Grande, wander the Jardim do Paraíso (Paradise Garden) before continuing to Areais de Santa Bárbara, one of the island’s most stunning stretches of shoreline. Then drive through the tea plantations of Gorreana and Porto Formoso. Along the way, admire the scenery from show-stopping viewpoints like Ponta do Cintrão and Santa Iria.

If time allows, continue to the south coast, where you can stop at spectacular beaches like Pópulo and Baixa d’Areia, or head to the Caloura area, a small bay surrounded by high cliffs where you can swim. Wildlife fans should book an optional whale watching tour, where you’ll spot one (or more) of the 20 different species of whales in the Azores and pods of dolphins.

Day 4: Tour the Furnas Valley

Experience geothermal landscapes in the Furnas Valley

Discover the geothermal wonders of São Miguel today at Furnas Valley, home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in the Azores. Highlights include the village of Furnas, famed for its hot springs and fumaroles (volcanic vents), and the Terra Nostra Garden, where you can plunge into its steamy pools.

Be sure to visit the Furnas Lagoon, where you can try a cozido das Furnas. This particular stew is slow-cooked by thermal heat in a pan placed underground. Afterward, visit the Lagoa do Congro, an isolated lagoon surrounded by lush vegetation. If you still have some energy, continue to the lesser-visited eastern side of São Miguel.

The east is home to the crashing waterfalls of Ribeira dos Caldeirões Park, where you can take a thrilling canyoning trip. Next, skirt the eastern coast, stopping at viewpoints like Ponta da Madrugada and Ponta do Sossego. To immerse yourself in nature, visit the Pico da Vara in the center of Laurissilva. This rare subtropical forest is only found in a few archipelagos in the northern Atlantic.

Day 5: Fly to Terceira Island, Pick Up Rental Car & Explore Angra do Heroísmo

Stay in a UNESCO-listed city called Angra

This morning, drive to the Ponta Delgada airport to drop off your car and fly to the island of Terceira. Once you land at Lajes airport, pick up your rental car and head to your hotel in Angra do Heroísmo (Angra for short). This UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in the late 15th century. During its storied past, it was the seat of the Bishop of the Azores and became the capital of Portugal during the civil war of 1828-1834.

Angra stands out thanks to its mix of unspoiled nature and captivating history. This is evident in its colonial-style buildings, picturesque streets, and Monte Brasil Hill, which overlooks the city. Angra also has some excellent swimming places nearby, where you can bathe in crystal clear waters. Spend the afternoon exploring the area at your own speed, ending with a leisurely meal.

Day 6: Tour Terceira Island

Bathe in Terceira’s natural rock pools

Today you’ll have the opportunity to explore the island of Terceira at your own pace. Consider starting with the volcanic chamber of Algar do Carvão or the Serra do Cume viewpoint, which offers sweeping views over the island. Pack your swimsuit if you want to swim in the Biscoitos, rock pools created from volcanic basalt that cooled into a series of swimming holes and ridges along the coast.

Look out for Terceira’s various impérios as you traverse the island. These small, colorful temples and shrines devoted to the Holy Spirit are scattered around. While primarily used around Easter time, they’re a feast for the eyes at any time of year, thanks to their impressive structures and vibrant colors, which stand out against Terceira’s landscape.

Day 7: Depart Terceira Island

Spend your last few hours walking around town

Enjoy your last day in the Azores with final sightseeing, shopping, or a last swim. At the appointed time, drive to the airport, return your rental car, and catch the flight to your next destination. Safe travels!

More Great Azores Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to the Azores? Check out these other Azores itineraries, explore different ways to spend a week in the Azores, or learn about the best time to visit the Azores.

source: https://www.kimkim.com/

By Lala