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Outdoor adventure holiday inspiration: Springtime on the Azores

The Azores are nine small volcanic islands set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

On one hand an oasis of tranquility, a heaven for nature and outdoor enthusiasts with its volcanic landscapes, glistening lakes, green-lined calderas, and whales to spot, the Azores also boasts unique vineyards, picturesque villages, and UNESCO sites that are worth a visit.

Viewpoint on Sao Miguel, Azores, view rugged green coastline over blue ocean

While most travelers only visit the largest island of São Miguel, you will find it very rewarding to visit at least also one or two neighboring islands to experience the authentic charm of the Azores. Our 8-day itinerary springtime itinerary therefore includes three of the stunning islands: São Miguel, Pico, and Terceira. Enjoy the journey!


Day 1 - Explore Ponta Delgada

You will arrive at Ponta Delgada, the capital of the main island of the Azores, São Miguel. It is the largest and most popular island of the archipelago and has lots to offer, from friendly villages and awe-inspiring coastal roads to a lush nature with an incredibly diverse landscape. You'll find forests, crater lakes, volcanoes, and hot springs all on just 750km2. The next three days are filled with the discovery of the natural beauties of the island.


Day 2 - a day trip to the maginifcent Sete Cidades lake

Make a day trip to Lagoa das Sete Cidades, a beautiful freshwater lake located in a vast volcanic crater. It consists of two lakes surrounded by green mountains. Thanks to the difference in depth, one lake is greener and the other bluer hence their names - Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. You can explore the hiking trails around the lakes to witness the breathtaking natural beauty of this spot. Also, you can go paddle boarding (SUP) to indulge in the views from the water.

Probably the most spectacular picture from Lagoa das Sete Cidades is taken from the viewpoint of Boca do Inferno which you can reach with a short walk over a small walking path from the parking lot of Lagoa do Canário.

View over the Sete Cidades Lake, Sao Miguel, Azores, blue and green volcanic crater lakes  under a blue sky

You can reach the lakes easily with a car (or private tour) from Ponta Delgado, so we suggest you stay in the capital for the night.

Tip!

If you plan your trip to the Azores in the month of May you might want to combine it with the religious celebration: Festes do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres. During the festival, the streets of Ponta Delgada fill with music, flowers, and markets. The main event is a procession through the city, where people follow the statue of Jesus Christ. In 2023 the festival will take place between May 12th and May 19th and the procession will take place on the 14th of May, Lord’s Sunday!


Day 3 - Canyoning Adventure in the Ribeira dos Caldeirões Nature Park

Waterfall from a green cliffs, canyoning in the Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Nature Park, Azores

Parque da Ribeira dos Caldeirões is located in the northeast part of the island, which is only a 45 minutes drive from Ponta Delgada. The park - a protected area located along the course of the Guilherme river - is characterized by abundant flora and a Laurissilva forest, which you find only in a few areas in Europe, one of which is the Azores. It is a humid, subtropical forest with surprising vegetation due to its shapes and sizes, among which the immense tree ferns. Apart from amazing flora, it has crystal water pools and many rock formations. Therefore, it is a perfect spot to go canyoning!

Rappeling, jumping in the water, and taking waterslides are all included in this fantastic adventure sport! There are various canyoning tours in Ribeira Park. For every level, including families, you can find one. Try it out!

Afterward, you can head to the village of Furnas where you can stay for the night. The village itself has a calm and charming atmosphere and it is nestled in a geothermal area with lots of natural beauty to discover.

Day 4 - the lakes of Fogo and Furnas

In Furnas, you feel the volcanic origin of the island and there are many ways to experience it! You can start with a hike at Lagoa do Fogo, a crater lake that is hidden in a dense forest. The mountain road to the top is fantastic, and the vegetation changes continuously. The lake is surrounded by small beaches, and you'll find several hiking trails, near the lake.

crater lake surrounded by dense green forest, Lagoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel, Azores

In Furnas, you feel the volcanic origin of the island and there are many ways to experience it! You can start with a hike at Lagoa do Fogo, a crater lake that is hidden in a dense forest. The mountain road to the top is fantastic, and the vegetation changes continuously. The lake is surrounded by small beaches, and you'll find several hiking trails, near the lake.

Hot spring with yellow water, Terra Nostra baths, Furnas, Sao Miguel, Azores

Next, you can have a picnic at Lagoa das Furnas - a fantastic yellow-green colored lake - from where you can enjoy the scenic surroundings. In the afternoon you can take a well-deserved rest in the hot springs of Caldeiras das Furnas. Although these sulfurous geysers don't smell pleasant, they are spectacular.



Day 5 - discover the UNESO vinyards on Pico Island

Today you head back to Ponta Delgado to take a domestic flight from São Miguel to Pico Island (just a 50-minute flight), the youngest island of the Azores archipelago.

The airport is just 8 kilometers away from the town of Madalena, one of the largest towns on the island of Pico. Madalena will be your destination for the rest of the day and the night.

Little red house in vineyard on black volcanic soil, vineyard on Pico island, Azores

Apart from being a lovely town, Madalena has an impressive landscape of vineyards, which were recognized in 2004 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The vineyards consist of small rectangles of land, called by the locals "lajidos" which are protected from the wind and sea by lava rocks. The dry warm climate and minerals of the lava soil, have ensured the growing success of the production of Verdelho wine. You can make a wine tasting of this fruity, dry white wine in various places in Madalena. In the first week of September, the people of Pico celebrate the Festa das Vindimas (the wine harvest festival) with food, music, and some century-old traditions.


Day 6 - Conquering Pico Mountain

dolphins jumping in the water in front of volcano, dolphins  in the water  at Pico Mountain, Pico Island, Azores

Today you explore the impressive point from which this island got its name: Mount Pico. This immense volcanic cone dominates the landscape on the island. With a height of 2,351 meters, Pico is the highest peak of the Azores. It's top is often covered in clouds and in winter it has sometimes even a snowy peak. There is a challenging but rewarding hike to the top; here you can walk around the crater - which has a diameter of 700 meters - and enjoy the views.

Tip!

If you are in for another outdoor adventure, stop on your way at the Gruta das Torres, one of the largest lava tunnels in the world. The five-kilometer-long cave is covered with different types of lava rock formations.


Day 7 - Escape to Terceira Island

Today we are hopping on to the third island of the Azores archipelago: Terceira Island. The best way to go from Pico to Terceira is taking a short (35 minutes) direct flight! We suggest staying in the town of Angra or Praia da Vitória on the eastern coast.

Did you know?

The name Terceira (which means ‘third’) recalls the order in which the Portuguese sailors discovered the archipelago of the Azores, before Tereceira, Santa Maria, and São Miguel were uncovered.

Terceira is the second most populated island of the Azores and offers plenty of off-the-beaten-path things to do as well as hiking activities. About two thousand years ago, the central part of the island was flooded by lava that erupted from the Algar do Carvão. Today you find here the largest heather patch on the Azores! For this reason, Terceira is also sometimes called the Lilac Island and still, the lilac color is used on the facades of the house, especially in the city of Angra do Heroísmo.


evening scene on a cobbled street flanked with historic buildings, evening scene in the streets of Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, Azores

The city of Angra was founded in the 15th century, but it is still in excellent condition! For that, the historic center was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. The authentic buildings, picturesque squares, and narrow streets with white houses and churches make Angra do Heroismo a real attraction.

In June the city of Angra is celebrating several days Sanjoaninas, honoring St. John’s Day (St. John is in Portuguese São João). It is a perfect occasion to immerse in local traditions, culture, and gastronomy with parades, traditional dances, and music, and on every corner, you find food/drink stalls with local delicacies to try.


This year (2023), you can witness the festivities of Sanjoaninas from 22 June to 2nd July!


Day 8 - outdoor adventures on Tercceira

There are as many as 24 different species of whales and dolphins in the waters around the Azores, so the chances of seeing them are high. From Praia da Vitória on the island of Terceira, you can get on an excursion to get a glimpse of these wonderful animals. There is even the possibility to swim with dolphins.

After your excursion, you can relax on the beach of Praia da Vitória, the largest on the island. Next to sunbathing you can also practice (wind) surfing, bodyboarding, water skiing, sailing, or kayaking, so enough outdoor fun for the whole day.

Hortensias on a green island under blue skies, landscape on Terceira, Azores

Here finishes the island hopping tour on the Azores; from Terceira, you can fly back to Ponta Delgado or get a direct flight to Portugal's mainland. the Azores are an authentic holiday destination with awe-inspiring natural landscapes, authentic villages, and great outdoors!

When to go?

So you may wonder, when is the best time to go to the Azores? Springtime is a great moment to visit the Azores. In March it might still be rainy, but from April to June you will find pleasant temperatures and few crowds. Summers (July - August) are dry and sunny and are high season in the Azores with more visitors around.

How to get there?

The Azores are situated 1,400 kilometers off the coast of Portugal and has good flight connections with the main cities of Portugal, Lisbon and Porto which can be reached daily from the main European cities. Azores Airlines operates (mostly all) flights between the different islands. Flights are short (often no longer than 50 minutes) but can sometimes be expensive, so book them in time.

The ferry is an economical way to travel between the islands, but in most cases, the journey takes a long time, and the ferries don’t travel every day. So some planning is required!

Renting a car at the airport is one of the best ways to explore and get around the islands. The islands are small and there is little traffic, and much of their natural sights are only accessible by car.


Contact us for a quote on the above itinerary or scoop through our small adventure weeks and family adventures to the Azores.

Picnic area on a green island, Sao Miguel, Azores

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