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Azores Holidays

Azores Holidays

Azores Holidays

We booked this cycling trip to provide an additional week following the Exodus ‘Walking in the Azores’. That holiday visits four islands but not Terceira. So, by booking both trips we were able to visit five of the nine islands. It’s easy to get between islands by ferry or plane. There is a lot to see on Terceira so it’s a good place to visit. Angra is super, the volcanic cave is really good and I developed a keenness for photographing the colourful ‘imperios’ of the Holy Spirit which can be found in most villages. They look like (but aren’t) brightly coloured little chapels. The cycle route takes you round the island over three days with inland rides on the other two – five days in total. You can see quite a lot. When you go inland off the coastal roads it can be quite steep. This is especially the case with the first day of cycling (Day 2) which is probably the toughest, especially if you’re getting used to the bikes. These are mountain bikes with 2 x 10/11 gears. We’re used to hybrids and 3 x 8 so these took a bit of getting used to and we found we needed to walk up some of the hills. Having recently done two ‘moderate Exodus’ cycle trips, I reckon it is one is at least ‘moderate’ with some tougher bits where it’s absolutely fine to walk. One of the nice things about Terceira is that outside the towns there isn’t lots of traffic. We adjusted our route on Days 2 and 5 (the inland days) to suit our interests and were given good ideas from Tiago who supplies the bikes. Day 3 was our best day. There is a choice of routes. I did the route down to the edge of the coast and my wife stuck more to the roads. There were great views of the islands of Soa Jorge and Graciosa and we had lunch at the café attached to the cheese factory. The highlights of Day 4 were cycling through a herd of cows that was being moved between fields, cycling through the US airbase (mostly mothballed) and arriving at the religious monument that looks down on Praia. Praia is lovely. My wife relaxed on Day 5 in Praia and I cycled in the morning to the mountain with the wind turbines, for a great view both ways. We were lucky, there was a summer festival while we were there and we enjoyed a local food area, bull running and marching bands. It rained on Day 6. I completed the route and could see that it is pretty nice through some fishing villages and past interesting volcanic hills. We then added an extra day in Angra. So there are five interesting days of cycling – especially if you’re used to mountain bikes, are good at steep hills or don’t mind walking occasionally. If you’re not so sure then e-bikes are available and one of us would have preferred that! Being self-guided, the dates are flexible and so it’s easy to combine this with another trip or your own island-hopping plan. We booked late and at relatively short notice but rooms were available by upgrading our accommodation. The other islands we visited were very interesting and had different attractions – see the walking tour for ideas. Tip: one of the delightful things about the Azores is the blue hydrangeas. Our week in Terceira was in early August and we found that the hydrangeas were getting past their best at lower elevations.

Nigel Turner Walking in the Azores

The Azores are beautiful, especially if you go when the hydrangeas are looking good. This trip is a great way of seeing four islands but, since you stay in only two hotels, you’re not repacking all the time. The accommodation was very good. A smart hotel in Ponta Delgada and a good enough hotel in Horta with each room having a balcony with amazing views of the harbour, Pico island and the sunrise. The breakfasts were pretty good and provided plenty of food before the walks. Both towns have plenty of interest and the nautical side of Horta is great. There were seven of us in the group plus our Sao Miguel guide (Tony) and our four islands guide (Filipe) both of whom were very good. We all got on well. If you’re fit and mobile, and strong enough going uphill and especially downhill, the walks are good exercise and not overly challenging. There’s plenty to see and photograph along the way and each walk is slightly different from the next. The group meals are the lunches with our guides having organised three picnics and three terrific restaurant lunches – local food in Sao Miguel and Pico and very good tuna in Peter’s Café on Faial. In the evenings we generally split into two or three smaller groups. Tip: it really pays off booking restaurants in advance. As The Azores are quite some way away, we decided to stay two weeks and so followed this trip with the self-guided ‘Cycling in the Azores’ on Terciera. So we ended up seeing five of the nine islands.

Nigel Turner Walking in the Azores

The weather wasn’t very kind to us but we did get out walking on all the days.
Bruno our guide was very good. His knowledge of the islands was excellent and he made every effort to tailor the walks to the group. He also adapted the program when we were unable to visit Sao Jorge because of the earthquake.
Loved the botanical gardens and Lagoa do Fogo (although it was difficult to sit by the lake for very long because of the biting wind). I found the islands we visited very interesting.
I didn’t go whale watching in Horta, instead went to the whaling museum (Porto Pim Whaling) and did the circular walk on the hill (Monte da Guia) behind it. Both were excellent alternatives.
The food was very good and the hotels and various restaurants. The accommodation in Ponta Delgada was very good and an excellent location.

Liz Atkinson Walking in the Azores

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