Portugal Walking Tour

Hiking in the Azores

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New Itinerary for 2018!
Like the Hawaiian islands, the Azores are volcanic in origin, formed when the peaks of an underwater mountain chain pushed themselves above the ocean waves millions of years ago. Săo Miguel, the largest of the Azores, is also known as the Ilha Verde (Green Island), thanks to the fertile landscape left behind by its long-dormant volcanoes. A magnificent network of hiking trails links its natural wonders: dramatic seacoasts, cascading waterfalls, forested valleys, and tropical gardens. Our farewell celebration kicks off with footwork of another sort—a dressage demonstration of high-stepping Lusitano horses!

Where are the Azores?
The Azores are an archipelago of nine islands in the North Atlantic, two-thirds of the way between Boston and Lisbon. São Miguel is the largest in the group, approximately 40 miles long and 10 miles wide. Its mild climate is influenced by the Gulf Stream, with an average (day/night) temperature of 61º F in spring, 70º F during the summer, 64º F during fall, and 57º F in the winter.
  • Highlights
  • Itinerary
  • Trip Feedback
  • What's Included
  • The ultimate off-the-beaten-path European walking vacation
  • Dramatic hiking routes through exotic forests and volcanic terrain
  • Hawaii-like landscapes combined with European culture
  • Hot springs, cinder cones, and crater lakes
  • Colorful Saints’ Days festivals and processions
  • Europe’s only tea plantation
  • 200-year-old botanical park at Hotel Terra Nostra
  • Traditional cozido feast cooked in a volcanic steam vent
  • Dressage demonstration of dancing Lusitano horses
  • The closest point in Europe, just a 4-1/2 hour flight from Boston

Day 1: Morning van transfer from Ponta Delgada Airport to our four-star hotel at Praia Agua de Alto for a two-night stay on the island’s south coast. Visit the Volcanology Observatory for an introduction to the Azores origins, followed by a warm-up walk through the vineyards to Caloura harbor and a unique Modernist museum. An al fresco welcome dinner overlooking the harbor features the catch of the day.

Day 2: A trail hike in the mountainous interior leads past high dairy pastures, Japanese cedar forests, and 19th century aqueducts en route to the Janela do Inferno (“Window of Hell”), a spring emanating from a high vertical rock face. Afterwards, take a ferry boat to the islet of Vila Franca, where the mouth of a submerged volcano forms a lagoon perfect for swimming, or relax with an ocean dip back at our hotel.

Day 3: Transfer inland to the village of Furnas, set in a luxuriant green valley of geysers and steam vents. Two-night stay at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, an Art Deco resort built around a botanical park dating from the 18th century. Hike from our hotel to the Lagoa das Furnas crater lake, then ascend through a moss-covered forest to the Miradouro (overlook) of Pico do Ferro. Continue through meadows blanketing the caldera’s cinder cones, lava domes, and pumice layers, then return lakeside past the ruins of an ancient estate. End back in Furnas with a soak at the village hot springs or in our hotel’s mineral-rich thermal pond!

Day 4: Today’s hike begins in the former whaling port of Faial da Terra, then follows a mountain stream to a hidden waterfall pool deep in the forest. Alternatively drive via the Salto do Cavalo (“Horse’s Leap”) ridge for a challenging trail leading to Pico de Vara, the highest point on the island (3640’). Our traditional cozido dinner is a feast slow-cooked in a volcanic fumarole (steam vent) at Furnas Lake.

Day 5: Transfer to the Santa Barbara Eco-Resort on the island’s north shore, stopping for a hike to the secluded beach of Praia da Viola. The trail traces the rugged coastline past cascades, old gristmills, vegetable gardens and vineyards, and isolated cobble and sandy beaches. We'll picnic at a coastal miradouro, then continue to natural ocean pools for a refreshing dip. Afterwards tour the tobacco factory museum in Maia or stop for a cuppa at Chá Gorreana, the only tea plantation in Europe!

Day 6: Our grand finale leads to the caldera of Sete Cidades for a hike along its volcanic rim, with views of twin green and blue lakes to one side and the Atlantic to the other. Picnic overlooking the Lagoa Azul, with an optional afternoon hike through the island’s highest concentration of volcanic lakes and cones at Serra Devassa. End in the capital city of Ponta Delgada, where our stylish hotel fronts the marina. Farewell dinner celebration at the Quinta Pico da Cruz, followed by a dressage demonstration of their purebred Lusitano horses.

Day 7: Free morning to visit Ponta Delgada’s marketplace, gardens, Museu Carlos Machado (fine art, natural history, and a historic convent), or the recently restored Sahar Hassamian Synagogue. Those who prefer hiking can shuttle to a coastal miradouro to follow an ancient donkey trail down to the sea, the only access to the tiny settlements of Rocha da Cascalho and Rocha da Relva. Late afternoon transfer to Ponta Delgada airport for return flights.

“There is a uniquely Portuguese word that best describes how we felt after our trip. 'Saudade' translates to an extreme, intense longing to return.”
– R.M., Massachusetts

“Now that I'm home, it seems that a place like the Azores could not really exist. I was in walker's paradise and photographer's heaven!”
– C.R., Minnesota

“What a hidden treasure in the middle of the Atlantic! The accommodations all were fabulous—a wonderful way to end the day.”
– B.L., Virginia

“Fantastic! Săo Miguel is full of natural beauty and wonderful hiking trails. The perfect way to learn about a new place, new people, and exercise too! My favorite vacation by far!”
– C.D., New Jersey

  • 6 nights accommodations in four-star resorts and hotels (double occupancy, private bath)
  • 5 dinners with wine, 3 picnics, and all breakfasts
  • Detailed maps and background information
  • Two experienced, multilingual Portuguese guides
  • Daily guided hikes and walks of 4 to 9 miles
  • Support van to carry luggage and snacks
  • Lusitano dressage demonstration
  • Tea plantation tour
  • Transfers to and from Ponta Delgada Airport at specified times
  • Gratuities for all accommodations and group meals
  • Comprehensive tour preparation information and training tips
  • Easy Rider T-shirt
  • Airfare is not included.
2018 Dates
Jun 23 - Jun 29

Price: $3195 for
7 day/6 night guided walking tour.

Single supplement: $600.


Arrive/Depart
Ponta Delgada Airport. Azores Airlines flies direct from Boston and Delta direct from JFK.

Activity Level: Hilly to mountainous paths and trails; options of 4 to 9 miles per day.