AZORES SEARCHING FOR ATLANTIS
8 days, 7 nights visiting São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Pico four of Azores’ most interesting islands. Terceira boasts the historic and exquisite town of Angra do Heroismo. Faial was an important staging port for ships traveling between the Americas and Europe and is now a stopover for modern yachts and sailing vessels. Pico, dominated by its great volcanic cone, is ideal for a day’s exploration of its unusual landscape and small villages and Sao Miguel is the most geographically diverse and arguably the most scenic.
|Day 1 – São Miguel Island|
Arrival at Ponta Delgada capital of São Miguel Island,the largest and most geographically diverse of the islands. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be transferred to your hotel located near the historic central part of the city that has kept its still charming narrow streets and quaint plazas with baroque churches and rich convents.
Balance of the day at leisure.
|Day 2 – São Miguel|
Before returning to Ponta Delgada, stop at a pineapple plantation. The Azores are not warm enough to grow pineapples in the open but they thrive in the greenhouses .Morning guided tour to Sete Cidades (Seven Cities, named for the mythical Atlantis kingdom) to admire one of the most awesome natural sights in the world, the twin caldeira lakes of Sete Cidades. Far below, next to the lakes, is the pretty village of Sete Cidades. Descend into the caldeira to visit the town.
Afternoon at leisure to discover on your own the old town namely the convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança where the most venerated Santo Cristo image is on display.
|Day 3 – São Miguel / Furnas Valley|
Your driver/guide will pick you up at your hotel for your full day trip to Furnas Valley. Depart along the south road passing the village of Lagoa for a viewpoint at Caloura. Continue to Vila Franca, once the capital. Upon arrival in the Furnas area, visit the lake, hot springs and the holes in the ground where meals are cooked by underground steam. Pots full of various meats, sausages, potatoes and vegetables are steamed for 7 hours to produce “Cozidos nas Caldeiras” (Caldera Stew). Continue to the charming town of Furnas for a lunch stop (typical cozido lunch needs to be ordered in advance). Visit the beautiful botanical gardens begun in the 18th century with the opportunity to swim in the hot springs swimming pool. Cross the island to the north coast, stopping for a fine view of both the south and north coasts from an interior highland. On the way, you will visit a tea plantation, the only one in Europe. Return to your hotel in Ponta Delgada.
|Day 4 – São Miguel to Terceira|
Transfer service from your hotel to Ponta Delgada airpott and after a short flight you will arrive at Terceira airport – Terceira translates as “third”, the third island to be discovered in the Azores archipelago..
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel in Angra do Heroísmo.
In the afternoon guided walk through the streets of Angra do Heroismo and you will feel transported back in time. This museum quality city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s snug harbor is protected by a volcanic cone which made Angra a major staging point for European ships bringing back the wealth of their New World colonies during the 16th to 18th centuries. In Angra, ships formed convoys to Europe as protection from pirates.
Visit the Cathedral and climb the hill behind the pretty public gardens for a grand view of the city and the volcanic cone of Monte Brasil.
|Day 5 – Full day tour of Terceira|
Your driver/guide will meet you in the hotel lobby for a full day tour of the island. Depart by the south coast to Praia da Vitoria via Porto Judeu, a small fishing village. Then stop at São Sebastião and its 15th parish church. Nearby is an “imperio”, a small chapel that is characteristic of the towns in the Azores. Imperio are central to the religious festivals of the Holy Ghost (Espirito Santo) popular throughout the Azores.
Praia da Vitoria is a charming town with a main square and a pedestrian shopping street. Time for lunch. Take the mountain road up to Serra do Cume for a view of the rolling, multi-hued green fields, bordered by stone walls and hydrangeas and the harbor of Praia in the distance. Then to Algar do Carvao, a huge lava tube about 300 feet long with stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is open June 1 through September 30. Continue to Biscoitos on the north coast to see the natural lava swimming pools and to visit the wine museum. Return to your hotel by way of the typical villages of Altares, Doze Ribeiras and São Mateus.
|Day 6 – Terceira to Faial Island|
Since their discovery in the 14th century, the Azores Islands have played an important role as a staging and victualing point for ships crossing the Atlantic, an enviable location for nations with New World colonies.Today now-peaceful Horta is famous for its yacht harbor, a haven for trans-Atlantic yachts and sailboats. Visiting crews paint the harbor walls with names and pictures of their vessels.
You will be transfered to Terceira airport to take the plane that will fly you to Faial. Arrival transfer service from the airport to hotel.
In the afternoon your driver/guide will meet you in the lobby for your half-day island tour. Depart the hotel on the mountain road overlooking the Valley of Flamengos, toward Caldeira, the highest point on the island. Continue north to Capelinhos, site of the last volcanic eruption in the Azores. This 1957-58 event added 2 square km to the island. Earthquakes and ash destroyed much of the west side of the island prompting many islanders to immigrate to North America. The elements are slowly eroding the ash. There is a nearby museum detailing the eruption.
|Day 7 – Full day tour to Pico Island||(by ferry to Horta)|
Transfer from the Hotel to the harbor for a 30 minutes ferry trip to Pico. The translation is “Peak” . Meet your driver at the ferry dock in Madelena on Pico for a full day tour of the second largest island in the Azores. The island is dominated by the great bulk of Pico mountain. Islanders make good use of the black volcanic rocks to build houses and walls in a distinctive fashion. Pico was an important whaling station and there is a museum showing how islanders took to the seas in open boats in pursuit of the leviathans. Fortunately, tourists are now the only ones who go to sea to see the many species of whales in the islands. An unusual feature of Pico is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of acres of vineyards encircled by small, black volcanic rock walls to protect them from the salt winds and to collect extra heat. No lunch included. Return to Madelena in the afternoon for the ferry trip back to Horta and transfer back to the hotel.
|Day8 – Faial|
Check out and transfer to Faial airport.