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The Azores are a small group of autonomous Portuguese islands in the Atlantic Ocean about midway between North America and Europe. We’ve put together this itinerary to help you plan your trip, so you can spend your travel time wisely!
The Essential Azores Itinerary:
Day 1: Flight from U.S. to Ponta Delgada (PDL), São Miguel Island. Overnight in Ponta Delgada.
Day 2: Faial and Pico: Overnight in Horta, Faial island.
Day 3: Discovery of Beaches, Fajãs, Caves, Waterfalls and Lagoons: Overnight in Calheta, São Jorge island.
Day 4: São Miguel Island: Overnight in Flores, Faial island.
Day 5: Corvo Island: Overnight in Câmara de Lobos, Corvo island.
Day 6: São Jorge Island Again! Overnight in Horta (the capital of Faial).
Day 7: You’re Departing the Azores and Asking for a Refund! Overnight in Ponta Delgada.
Day 1: Flight to Ponta Delgada (PDL) Arrival and Accommodation in Ponta Delgada (São Miguel Island)
This itinerary starts with your arrival. You will have a beautiful view on the approach into Ponta Delgada (PDL). It is important that you fly into the airport in São Miguel (which is also known as the “green island”). The other islands are not connected by regular flights from the U.S. If you arrive at Flores airport on Faial Island, you need to catch a ferry from there to São Miguel. It’s an easy day trip, but not very convenient if you are arriving on Faial.
Alternative Arrival: You can also fly into Ponta Delgada and then catch a ferry to the other islands. This is the most popular way people travel to the Azores, since it has shorter travel times between islands. However, if you have more than a week to spend in the Azores and can be flexible with your schedule, flying directly into São Miguel Island is more cost-efficient. You’ll save money on both the airfare and ferries between islands. According to the airline, American Airline, a round trip from New York to Ponta Delgada is $1,200. If you fly into São Miguel (PDL), and go straight to Fajãs on the island of Pico, the round trip ticket will only be $500. It will still be cheaper than if you fly into Ponta Delgada and go directly to Câmara de Lobos, Corvo Island.
For Flight Information: http://www.aerosur.com
Day 2: Faial and Pico (Overnight in Horta, Baixa, São Miguel Island)
After the first day of travel, you will have a short ferry ride from Ponta Delgada (PDL) to Horta. It’s located on an islet called Fajãs (pronounced “Fah-Jaaz”). It only takes about 20 minutes to get there. From there, take a taxi or bus to your lodging in Baixa. The bus is the best way to get around on this island. Tourists usually rent a car or go by taxi, and if you are renting a car don’t forget to bring your international driver’s license. It’s also the most expensive way to travel.
The capital, Horta, is a small town and there are not much to do in it. Most people take advantage of the marvels of nature that surround this island. About a 1-mile hike away from the town is Calheta Beach. According to the locals, it’s one of the best beaches in Europe (or at least Portugal). Nearby are several waterfalls, caves and other natural wonders that you can hike to on foot. The next morning, you’ll take a bus up the 3,000-foot high island of Pico.
Day 3: Discovery of Beaches, Fajãs, Caves and Waterfalls (Overnight in Calheta, Faial Island)
There are several trails that link the town center to isolated beaches. You can take any of them to get there. The easiest route is by walking along the waterfront, which takes about 30 minutes. There is a trailhead near where you’ll be staying in Calheta (Baixa). From the town center, walk straight for about 2-3 blocks, then follow the street to your left. It is also at a place called Ponte dos Tubarões (Tiger’s Bridge). The hike on the beach can be a little more challenging, but it’s very picturesque and there are numerous falls along the path. From Calheta, catch a bus to your hotel in Baixa (Calheta means “pretty” in Portuguese – no matter what makes you think of this island is beautiful!).
Day 4: Walking the Outdoors and Backside of Pico (Overnight in Fajã das Carquejades, Faial Island)
If you have any energy left and your schedule allows it, take a tour bus up to the highest point on this island: Monte Pascoal. From there, it’s an easy hike to the crater of this extinct volcano. From the observatory at the top, you can see a lot of land around the archipelago. The view is amazing, and it’s a good place to stop and admire the scenery. It will be another bus ride to Fajã das Carquejades. This is a small village on the outskirts of Pico. If you want to spend the night there, you can rent a room (not to worry, they are very basic) or camp out in one of the grassy hiking trails surrounding the village. Finally, it’s another ferry ride back over to Calheta (Faial Island).
Day 5: Exploration of Faial Island (Hiking, Swimming, Hiking)
This island is home to several hiking trails. The easiest route will take you to the foot of the famous waterfall on the south side of the island. From there, it’s a short hike through a coastal forest to reach some fantastic swimming pools. These beaches are not often crowded and they have large boulders in which you can swim without fear of crushing yourself. On one side of this beach are sheer cliffs that drop into the ocean. To get there, walk along Luísa Ribeiro Street for about 2-3blocks, then turn left on Rua dos Fares. Continue forward to reach this beach access point. If you’re not a hiking type, the island also offers boating tours. From Calheta, catch a bus to Fajã da Telha.
Day 6: Backside of Faial (Calheta – Fajã da Telha) and Transfer Back to Pico (Overnight in Calheta)
Take a ferry over to Calheta from Fajã da Telha at around 11am. From there, stop at the capital of Calheta for lunch or refreshment (this is where most tourists stop). Then catch a van or bus back to Pico.
Day 7: Transfer to the Airport (Pico Island)
Ferries and buses terminate in Pico. Arrange for a transfer from the port back to Funchal. If you have a lot of luggage with you, your hotel can probably arrange it as well. If not, make sure to book a transfer before arriving on the island. There are few taxis on Pico so having your own ride is key! Otherwise, you’ll pay at least €180 – round trip – for a taxi to pick you up within the island and return you to Funchal. We found this amount of money too steep, especially considering we returned by bus and ferry within 3 weeks time frame.
Electricity on the island of Madeira is 230V and 50hz. If you need a plug adapter, you’ll need to buy this on the island. It’s inexpensive but we chose not to bring one with us. Also note, that your home country power outlets are likely different than Madeira’s so be sure to check!
Add on Madeira by flying to Funchal!
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