Best for: a full overview of the Azores
This route is mapped out in our most popular island hopping holiday in the Azores
. Take two weeks to enjoy this itinerary without rushing. It starts on the biggest island, São Miguel, before moving on to focus on lesser-visited islands like Flores and São Jorge.
“I really like São Miguel
because it’s the most diverse of the islands,” says Vicky. “It’s got massive volcanic landscapes that you can walk around, with craters and lakes and waterfalls. It’s more immersive than the other islands.”
“The São Miguel crater walk at Furnas is also fab,” she adds. “It’s a famous one – the pictures are used everywhere because it has really amazing colours, and you get views all across the island as you walk down past the water into the crater at the bottom.”
After three days of exploring, take an 80-minute direct propellor plane flight to Flores
– way over in the western island group of the Azores. Many of the visitors here are hikers and canyoning connoisseurs out to explore boulder-strewn forests and waterfalls. The island is known for its abundant flowers – hence the name. While on Flores, you might get the chance to take a boat over to neighbouring Corvo, the smallest and most northerly island in the Azores.
– a one-hour flight away (sometimes via Horta on Faial) – is popular with cyclists and hikers. Coastal paths and quiet roads lead between harbour towns, volcanic rock pools, hilltop viewpoints and green patchwork fields. “The volcanoes are extinct so it’s quite fertile,” says Vicky. “They make the most out of the land.”
is a long, lanky island created from an old volcano chain. You’ll get there by a 6.5-hour ferry ride or 30-minute flight from Terceira. This strange, inhospitable landscape is home to tiny seaside towns and rural hamlets tucked between a craggy coastline, and the ridges and gorges of volcanic calderas and lakes like the Caldeira de Cima.
, just a two-hour ferry journey from São Jorge, is a livelier finale. This central island was at the centre of the local whaling industry in the 19th and 20th centuries; these days, you’ll see more yachts than blubber-laden tall ships. Faial is easy to travel around, so tours will use public buses or a minibus to explore the caldera walks, whaling museum and grey-gold beaches. Travel in midsummer (late July-early August) to catch the bright blue hydrangeas blooming all over the island.