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      our holidays > Walking Holidays > Portugal & its Islands > The Azores - the Archipelago Experience

The Azores - the Archipelago Experience

Azores - Europe's westernmost frontier
 
This Holiday in a nutshell
  • self-guided, four-centre walk
  • stay on three different islands, with option to explore a fourth
  • whale-watching excursion included
  • unique volcanic landscapes
  • hire car included

The Azores, some 800 miles west of mainland Portugal, remain one of Europe’s most impressive and least-discovered outposts. This extraordinary archipelago has historically formed a vital link between the Old and New Worlds, with a distinctive history and culture. The fusion of vivid green landscapes (the result of the humid climate) and dramatic volcanic scenery lends them a unique feel, and culturally, too, the mix is fascinating – striking Baroque churches built by the pioneers, bustling ports, great religious festivals.

On this two-week holiday, you visit São Jorge, Faial, Pico and São Miguel, on all of which walking is by far the best way to discover their volcanic landscapes and lush vegetation. You will see pockets of ancient laurisilva (laurel forests), tropical plants, hydrangeas and cedars, and to fully show you the great scenic variety, we suggest walks in different corners of the islands, all accessed using your hire car in the case of São Miguel, or taxis on the other islands.

No two walks are the same, thus showing you the archipelago's full scenic variety, from glittering lakes to stark lunar landscapes, and from green volcanic cones to the rugged coastline.
     

After landing on the main island São Miguel, the holiday really begins when you fly north-west to the most picturesque island, São Jorge, characterised by its fajãs – fertile plains by the sea framed by steep slopes and planted with crops and fruit trees – and by the chain of mountains that runs the entire length of the island. Further west still, Faial may be one of the smallest islands, but is one of the best known because its harbour, Horta, has traditionally been a port of call for ships crossing the Atlantic.

Beyond the handsome port is an equally beautiful island, with windmills, a varied coastline and hedges of blue hydrangeas. So different are the east and west sides, however, that they could be two different islands. Its neighbour, Pico, earns its name from its distinctive mountain whose summit, at 2,351 metres, is one of the highest in the Atlantic. Beneath it are densely wooded lava flows and groves of cedar and laurel. Finally, you return to São Miguel, the largest and most varied of the islands, making it a great place to spend a few days exploring its crater lakes, hot springs and mist-shrouded peaks.

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Portugal
 Average Temperatures & Rainfall
  J F M A M J J A S O N D
°C 16 16 16 17 19 21 23 25 24 21 18 17
mm 135 110 106 72 56 39 32 41 84 114 133 124

The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

The Azores' location in the Atlantic makes for changeable weather, characterised by wet winters and bright, temperate summers. June and July are the best months for flowers.