Enter an untouched paradise on an adventure through the Azores, the archipelago gems of Portugal. Explore the entire rim of the Sete Cidades Caldera. Spend 2 nights in a lava stone house overlooking the Atlantic. Indulge in a traditional Cozido das Furnas meal, which is cooked by the heat of the volcanic earth. Admire an exclusive viewpoint of Furnas Lake during lunch at the Terra Nostra Tea House. Sample local dairy goods at a family-owned cheese shop. Descend into Algar do Carvao, an ancient lava tube known as the “Cavern of Coal,” with an expert guide. From thermal pools and lush craters to local farms and volcanic cuisine, delve into the culture of Portuguese island life.
- Itinerary Type : Standard
- Activity Level : 3
- Number of Days:10
- Number of Meals:13
- Hotels:The Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico, Ponta Delgada (Sao Miguel, Azores), The Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico, Ponta Delgada (Sao Miguel, Azores), Aldeia da Fonte Nature Resort (Pico, Azores), Hotel Cruzeiro (Terceira, Azores)
- Experiences:Traverse the entire rim of the Sete Cidades caldera and gaze upon the twin lakes from Lagoa do Canario viewpoint.
Delight in an exclusive visit to the Terra Nostra Tea House for lunch.
Spend 2 nights in the eco-friendly lava stone houses of Aldeia da Fonte.
- Must Sees:Discover Pico’s volcanic vineyards and sample its exclusive wines.
Descend into Algar do Carvao, an ancient lava tube, with a local expert.
Admire views of Pico Volcano, the highest point in Portugal.
- Culinaries:Experience a truly unique Cozido das Furnas lunch in Furnas valley.
Sample cheeses and get an inside look into production at a family-owned cheese factory.
Visit a local bakery that makes queijadas, a pastry made with egg yolks.
Itinerary (9 days)
São Miguel, Açores, Portugal - Tour Begins
This is the Azores. A set of islands virtually untouched by urban development. Your adventure begins on São Miguel, the largest of the nine volcanic islands. Sit along the seaside promenade and breathe in the mild air of the Atlantic. Get to know Ponta Delgada, the capital city of the Azores, on a brief walking tour of the area. Celebrate the beginning of your journey with a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Leave the main road behind and embrace an off-road adventure on the “Green Island.” Traverse the dirt roads and pass by dairy farms before pausing at the highest point of the island, taking in the all-encompassing natural beauty at your feet. Venture to Sete Cidades, the striking blue and green mirror lakes, where you’ll navigate the rim of the entire crater. As you circle these bodies of water, gaze down upon the dazzling blue lake (reflecting the sky) and the adjacent green lake (reflecting the earth). Take a short hike to emerge at the peak of the island and take in the astounding viewpoint of Lagoa do Canario, the island’s most recognized landscape. Return to Ponta Delgada with free time to relax in a local café or meander through the streets. Or, continue your exploration with an optional tour…perhaps you’ll choose to swim with a pod of dolphins or embark on an intimate whale watching excursion.
On your way to the dynamic volcano complex of Furnas, get a glimpse of Portugal’s sweet side at a family run queijadas (pastry) bakery. Trading the warm aroma that wafts through the air of the bakery for the encompassing scent of floral splendor, wander through the organic paradise of Terra Nostra Botanical Garden on a guided tour. Immerse yourself into a heated pool of rejuvenation in the natural thermal waters of the Furnas valley. Watch as your lunch is raised out of the heat of the volcanic earth and served as a traditional Cozido das Furnas meal. As you dig into your food, admire an exclusive viewpoint of Furnas Lake from the Terra Nostra Tea House. Continue on to the pastures of Porto Formosa, home to one of the only European tea plantations. Enjoy an evening of leisure in São Miguel.
São Miguel - Terceira
Wish São Miguel goodbye and say hello to the colorful island of Terceira. Stand along the edge of the crater at Serra do Cume viewpoint and take in the island’s patchwork of infinite green. Continue your journey and swap the grassy fields for sandy shores at Praia Victoria, or “Beach of Victory.” Get to know Angra do Heroismo as you walk the streets this afternoon with a guide. Recently restored in traditional style, admire the white facades and colorful trims of the iconic buildings in this UNESCO World Heritage site. Get a taste of Azorean culture during dinner at a local restaurant where you’re invited to try alcatra, the savory meat stew Terceira is known for.
Enjoy a free morning to choose how you experience Terceira. Maybe you’ll decide on an optional tour, embarking on an adventurous hiking trek along two volcanoes at Misterios Negros Nature Reserve. Next we gather and head underground to experience the ethereal Algar do Carvao, the “Cavern of Coal,” with an expert guide. Feel the quiet stillness around you as you descend into this ancient lava tube, gazing up at the looming stalactites hanging above you. Then, it’s your choice! Choose to swim* in the natural volcanic pools of Biscoitos -OR- hike along lava fields and vineyards. Enjoy leisure time in Angra afterwards or entice your taste buds on an optional Portuguese wine and tapas experience.
Terceira - Faial - Pico
Say bom dia (good morning) to Faial, the “Blue Island” of the Azores. With hydrangeas as far as the eye can see and stunning coastlines, discover the remarkable beauty of this island. Peek into the daily life of dairy production when you drop by the family-owned Morro cheese factory, where you’ll sample the fruits of their production. Encounter the volcanic vitality of Faial when you take in the collapsed Caldeira and the ash hills of the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center. Your exploration continues as you embark on a ferry ride to Pico, the nearby island known for its lava fields and vineyards. Make a stop at Lagoa do Capitao, your eyes following along the landscape to spy Sao Jorge Island in the distance. Settle in amongst the lava stone houses of Aldeia da Fonte. Here, overlooking the sea, the sounds of rolling waves will serenade you to sleep for the next two nights. Enjoy dinner at this innovative cliff-side abode, stroll through the luxurious gardens, and let the incomparable view of the Atlantic wash over you.
Walk along the surreal landscape of grapes that grow between plots of rocky stone walls as you explore Pico vineyards (UNESCO). In the center of the vineyard, climb the bright red windmill and take in a new perspective of the stretching fields, lava rocks, and vines. Introduce yourself to the history of this island’s vineyards at the Pico Wine Museum. Next, taste these exclusive wines of limited production at a wine collaborative. Then, it’s your choice! In Lajes, choose to visit the whaling museum highlighting the historical ties of the industry to the culture of the islands -OR- take advantage of free time in town to explore the area independently.
Pico - São Miguel
Depart Pico for São Miguel and enjoy some time at leisure. Whether you want to relax on the sandy shores, wander the streets of the capital city, or get one last taste of Portuguese pastries, spend the day however you please. Tonight, toast to the end of your Azorean adventure with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
São Miguel - Tour Ends
Say adeus (goodbye) to the Azores as you depart this Atlantic archipelago.
Off Road Sete Cidades Experience
Navigate the rim of Sete Cidades, a civil parish on the island of Sao Miguel as you discover its massive caldera and dazzling twin lakes. According to Azorean legend, the lakes’ brilliant colors of green and blue were formed from the tears of a lovesick shepherd and princess engaged in a forbidden affair.
Lagoa do Canario Viewpoint
Sao Miguel is best admired from Lagoa do Canario, its most recognized landscape and the peak of the island. Overlooking the adjacent Sete Cidades, a short hike to this viewpoint allows you to see the area’s best nature and its stunning surrounding lakes.
Furnas Valley is a civil parish whose name originates from the Portuguese word for caverns. One of the earliest references to Furnas came from the harvesting of the trees in the valley in order to assist the construction of many of the homes destroyed by the 1522 earthquake and landslides in Vila Franca do Campo. After being deforested and isolated, the English Consul-General constructed a home in 1855, which eventually started renting out rooms to summer tourists.
Terra Nostra Botanical Garden
These botanical gardens are over two hundred years old, dating back to 1780 when the U.S. Consul General to the Azores built his home here. Successive owners have since developed the park, planting layer upon layer of iconic trees and shrubbery from all over the planet. Today the park is a romantic vision of ponds, winding paths, flowers, centuries-old exotic trees and silence. Two streams converge in the park and there is a pond of warm thermal water that is used as a swimming pool. There are vast, hidden, luxurious gardens in which the colors of the flowers are mixed with the bright green of the Japanese cedars and araucarias. There is an abundance of leafy vegetation from cold and tropical countries, with some species that are hard to find even in their native lands.
Natural Thermal Pools
The natural thermal pools of Furnas Valley serve as a relaxing way to enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty. The mineral rich waters heated by the powerful heat of the nearby active volcanic complexes are celebrated for their ability to soothe the skin and help weary travelers unwind.
Serra do Cume
One of the most iconic lookout points in the Azores is the Serra do Cume in Terceira. Once part of a larger mountain range, the site offers panorama views. To the north and east, azure waters from the bay Praia da Vitória can be seen on the horizon. Look west to see the island’s highest point, Serra de Santa Barbara. Dominating most of your sight, though will be the boundless patchwork of idyllic pastures.
Angra do Heroismo
During the pioneering Age of Discovery, this UNESCO World Heritage site served as the major port of call between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Today, the vestige of trade and commerce on the waterfront can still be seen with its maritime forts, manors and city squares.
Algar do Carvao
One of the few places in the world where you can actually explore and descend into the depths of a volcano. Known as the “Cavern of Coal,” this ancient lava tube formed about 3,200 years ago and contains stunning stalagmites and stalactites, an underground lake and otherworldly grottos.
Choices on Tour
Take a dip in the volcanic pools of Biscoitos, a cluster of natural pools delineated by the hardened black lava rocks from ancient volcanic eruptions -OR- hike along lava fields and vineyards. The lush, undulating hills and small vineyards found in Terceira are true natural treasures. Biscoitos lies along the north coast on the island of Terceira. In Lajes, choose to visit the Whaler’s Museum. For centuries, whaling played a major role in Lajes’ economy. While it was outlawed in 1984, the long-lasting legacy of this industry has been preserved with this fascinating museum which highlights the historical ties of the industry to the culture of the islands -OR- if you prefer to explore independently, take advantage of free time in town. The parish Lajes is most known as the location of a Portuguese Air Force Base, but it’s also home to fertile plains with several farms.
Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center
Partially buried under volcanic sands, the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center is an immersive experience that allows visitors to discover the inner-workings of the Capelinhos Volcano. Learn about this geological wonder and be amazed by Mother Nature’s power.
Volcanic Stone House Stay
Pico Wine Museum
Found in a Carmelite convent, this winery and museum offers oenophiles a chance to trace the rich history of wine in the Azores. Tour the old distillery and learn how Pico’s vinho became famous across the seas with Russian royalty.
The village of Madalena in Pico, Azores is home to a wine collaborative that employs over 230 locals. Each member is dedicated to producing original varietals and maintaining the unique viniculture of this idyllic island.