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Discover the best of four Azores unspoilt islands; Sao Miguel, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial. This gentle walking holiday explores the beautiful and varied landscapes; crater lakes, extinct volcanoes, vineyards, thermal springs and craggy coastlines.
Explore Tour Leader
10 nights comfortable hotel
3 nights premium hotel
Leisurely and Moderate
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Ponta Delgada, Located on the harbour of Sao Miguel, the Azores largest island, Ponta Delgada is a charming historic city with narrow cobbled streets and some interesting buildings worth a visit, such as the Municipal city hall with its reflecting pool in the city centre of Baixa.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Ponta Delgada at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive at João Paulo II Airport in Ponta Delgada (PDL) which is around ten minutes' drive from the hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to take a stroll along the harbour front promenade past the 16th Century fort to the marina or visit the Convent and Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Esperança with its unique quadrangular tower.
Hotel Neat Avenida (or similar)
Basing ourselves at Ponta Delgada, the island's capital, we spend our first 3 days exploring Sao Miguel - the largest of the islands we visit. We use a mixture of local and private buses to transfer us to and from our walks.
For our first day walking we drive to the west side of the island for a beautiful walk within and around the iconic Sete Cidades volcanic crater. The 500-metre/1640 feet deep, three-mile long volcanic crater contains two lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul, one blue and one green.
The trail starts at Vista do Rei viewpoint, heading along the crater ridge until the parking lot of Várzea. Throughout the walk, there are views of the Sete Cidades lakes to the right and views over the coastline of Sao Miguel Island and the sea to the left.
Today's leisurely 5 kilometre/3.1 miles walk is expected to take around two hours with 270 metres/890 feet of ascent and descent. The last section of the trail before the village is quite inclined and can be slippery.
We make a stop at Gorreana, Europe's oldest and only remaining tea factory and continue to Lagoa das Furnas where we take a walk around the shores of the lake, stopping to see the natural ovens (cavities in the rock). In the huge hollow of Furnas Valley, diverse volcanic activity has also created thermal springs and boiling mud pools. For lunch today we'll enjoy a traditional Cozido cooked in the volcanic fumeroles.
We also have time to visit the botanical gardens of Terra Nostra, planted over 200 years ago which has an outdoor thermal pool in which you may like to take a dip. Back on the bus we continue to a viewpoint to Lagoa de Fogo, the island's highest crater lake, where we will stop to take photos before continuing back to Ponta Delgada.
Today's leisurely 4 kilometre/2.5 miles walk is expected to take around one-and-a-half hours with 50 metres/ 170 feet of ascent and descent.
Today is left free to explore more of the island on and off shore. You may wish to do one of the many walks around the island, options include the 5 kilometre/3.1 miles circular Serra Devassa trail or the more challenging 8 kilometre/5 miles Salto do Cabrito trail to the waterfall on the north coast. Another option is to take a whale searching trip.
Today we take a short flight to the island of Sao Jorge. This curiously elongated island is some 56 kilometre/34.8 miles long, but only 8 kilometre/5 miles wide, having been created by a series of linear volcanic eruptions. The island remained almost isolated for many centuries, due to the lack of shelter offered to ships. After transferring to our hotel, we are free to wander the streets of the small maritime community of Velas, where we are based. Alternatively, we can take an optional walk to the old whale watching tower, Miradouro do Morro das Velas, which is positioned on a volcanic crater from where we can enjoy views down on to Velas town (2 hours).
Hotel Sao Jorge Garden (or similar)
We spend two full days walking on Sao Jorge, a place of precipitous cliffs, narrow valleys and tiny coves. On our first day, we'll head from Velas to the north side of the island. A stunning walk starting from the 700 metre/2300 feet high ridge of Sao Jorge leads us through the beautiful gorge of the Caldeira de Cima and down to the coast. From here we follow the rocky coastline passing the Caldeira de Santo Cristo Lake walking to Faja dos Cubres. Fajas are the small plains at the foot of the steep coastal cliffs which are dotted with traditional hamlets and fertile orchards.
Today's moderate 10 kilometre/6.2 miles walk is expected to take around four with (295 metres/970 feet) of ascent and (960 metres/3150 feet) of descent.
Our second day is left free for optional walks, and your tour leader will advise on the various possibilities. Views of the surrounding islands are excellent from Pico da Esperanca ridge walk (1,053 metre/3455 feet) in the centre of the island, while a walk along the fajas on the south coast of the island offers a contrast in scenery from the north.
Today's moderate optional is around 20 kilometre/12.4 miles ridge walk is expected to take around five hours with 420 metres/1380 feet of ascent and 1,230 metres/4036 feet of descent.
This, morning we take a boat to Pico and transfer to our accommodation at Madalena. The island covers some (42 kilometre/26 miles) by (16 kilometre/10 miles) and is dominated by its volcano, Pico Alto, reaching up to 2350 metre/7710 feet. For those interested in the history of the island, there are many small fishing ports, several with reminders of the old whaling industry once so vital to the island.
The rest of the day is free to explore this small fishing port, or perhaps visit the Grota do Torres Lava Tunnel. There is also the opportunity to take a whale-watching trip (optional) from Lajes to spot sperm whales as well as several species of dolphins.
Hotel Caravelas (or similar)
This morning we transfer to Porto do Calhau in the village of Candelaria from where we walk a linear route through the UNESCO World Heritage landscape to arrive back in Madalena town. The trail take us along the coast passing by tide wells before heading into vineyards to be surrounded by a network of volcanic stone walls (currais) that protect the various grape vines, with views to Mount Pico in one direction and the island of Faial out in the distance in the other. En-route we visit the Pico Wine Cooperative that many of the vineyards are part of to learn a bit more about the wine making process and enjoy a wine tasting.
Weather dependant and for those wanting more of a challenge an alternative today is to make the ascent of Pico, a very strenuous six-seven hour climb (with 1020 metre/3350 feet ascent and descent). Those interested in walking can ask your Tour Leader to arrange it for you, from where there are fine views across the straits to Faial, while behind the peak of the volcano rises into the clouds. There are dozens of small volcanic cones on the slopes of Pico Alto and some caves created by past lava and magnificent vistas of neighbouring islands.
Today's leisurely 8 kilometre/5 miles walk is expected to take around 3 hours along a flat route.
Today we walk along the south coast of the island. The walking trail of Misterios do Sul do Pico starts in the Forest Reserve and passes by the lava landmarks of Misterio de Sao Joao and the Misterio da Silveira from the historical volcanic eruptions of 1718 and 1720, respectively. The word misterios, which translates as mysteries, is due to the lack of knowledge and fear that these natural phenomena caused to the Azorean population.
Along the route will see the red Ponta Rasa windmill, built in 1949 and pass the villages of Silveira and Sao Joao, home to the Cheese Museum where you can purchase some local delicacies from the shop, including the emblematic Sao Joao cheese, which dates back to 1948 and is the brand image of Pico Island.
Today's leisurely 8.5 kilometre/5.2 miles linear walk is expected to take around 3 hours with 80 meters/262 feet of ascent and descent.
This morning, we cross by ferry to the charming island of Faial, where the harbour is often full of yachts, half way through their transatlantic crossing. The remainder of the day is free to stroll the streets and harbour of Horta. There is a circular walk from the hotel on the Monte da Guia headland which provides views over town, the tour leader will provide directions.
Our accommodation for the last three nights at the Azoris Faial Garden Hotel is a relaxing way to end this walking holiday. Set within an extensive landscaped garden with coastal views and an inviting outdoor swimming pool.
Today's leisurely optional 4.5 kilometre/2.7 miles walk is expected to take around two hours with 160 meters/525 feet of ascent and descent.
Azoris Faial Garden (or similar)
Today we explore the Ilha Azul, taking a tour of the island by private bus. We head to the stunning Caldeira often shrouded in cloud, where we view the lush green-carpeted crater and walking along its edge. The views over the island are particularly impressive in summer, when the wild blue hydrangeas that form many of the hedges are in flower. We then continue to the western end of the island to visit the Capelinhos volcano, now extinct, where we can walk around or visit the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre. Later we return to Horta, an attractive little town with some good restaurants.
Today's leisurely 7 kilometre/4.4 miles Calderia trail is expected to take around two-and-a-half hours with 280 metres/920 feet of ascent and descent.
Heading to the north of the island, today's trail begins and ends at Praia do Norte Parish, descending to Faja da Praia do Norte, a faja (headland) formed by lava from the eruption of the Cabeco do Fogo volcano.
Heading towards the sea we follow the road passing by several fountains until starting the descent along the dirt road path through cultivated fields and along the cliff path through laurel forest woodland to reach Praia do Norte beach, a prime surfing spot. Continuing along the coast passing by an area for the protection of endemic plants there is a picnic spot for lunch. Walk through the centre of Praia do Norte, passing by the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Penha de Franca, built in 1787. From the town the trail follows the road until ascending the cliff path to reach again the road and back to the waiting bus.
Today's moderate 5 kilometre/3.1 miles walk is expected to take around two with 265 metres/870 feet of ascent and descent.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Horta.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Horta at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Horta Airport (HOR) which is around fifteen minutes' drive from the hotel.
Total distance : 82 kilometres
Overall, spring, early summer and autumn are ideal times for a trip to Portugal - though the weather varies enormously from region to region. The northern high plains has both extremes, stiflingly hot in summer, bitterly cold and swept by freezing winds in winter. The Atlantic coast, in contrast, has a tendency to damp and mist, and a relatively brief, humid summer. The Mediterranean south is warm virtually all year round. The islands have very different weather patterns due to their positioning and can have sudden rain falls throughout the year so waterproofs are recommended even in the summer.
2 Pin Round
Pico Island - Half day whale watching €65pp Sao Jorge - Ridge Walk Pico de Esperanza €20/25pp shared taxi Pico - Gruta das Torres lava cave €8 entrance fee Faial - Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre €10 entrance fee All taxi costs are based on a minimum of 4 people sharing. Taxis need to be paid in cash. All other excursions can be paid by cash or card
July and August are the warmest months, though the islands are freshened by cooling sea breezes. Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. It can become cool, especially at night, so bring warmer layers. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier, a warmer fleece is recommended as a mid layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. -Breathable wind and waterproof jacket (you may also wish to bring waterproof trousers) -T-shirts -Long sleeved tops -Sunhat -Long trousers -Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them) -Swimwear and towel -Midlayer Fleece/pullover -Socks (liner and thicker pair) -Insulated jacket
Walking boots with ankle support are essential and bring comfortable trainers or sandals for relaxing. Plastic sandals are useful if swimming off laval rocks. We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.
Bring one main piece of luggage and a 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, water and picnic lunch. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water.
-Sunglasses -Sun cream -Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb) -Camera -Walking poles (if you usually use them) -Personal toiletries -Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials. -Insect repellent -Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone) -Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore -Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches)
Bus, Ferry, Flight, Public Bus, Taxi
The accommodation on the Azores are usually of a pretty good standard and in some locations with swimming pool. Please note that for the 16/06/2024 & 04/08/2024 departures, you will be staying for the first three nights at the Hotel Marina Atlantico located in Ponta Delgada city centre as well.
Please ensure that we are fully aware of any dietary requirements in order for us to best accommodate and advise. If you have a gluten free diet it may be advised to bring some snacks with you. These are small islands with only one supermarket in close proximity and it is not always possible to find gluten free bread in each location.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Portugal: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. The Azores: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory but Tetanus is usually recommended as a precaution. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.