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How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?

Lagoa do Fogo (Fogo Lagoon) in São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal

How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?

Where to go and how much time to spend on each island?

You want to spend some time in the Azores but you don’t know where to go.

Let me try to help.

The Azores is an archipelago of the Portuguese territory constituted by nine islands.

These islands are organized into three groups accordingly with their relative position and proximity: Oriental Group, Central Group, and Occidental Group.

Oriental Group: Santa Maria Island and São Miguel Island

Central Group: Pico Island, São Jorge Island, Faial Island, Graciosa Island, and Terceira Island

Occidental Group: Flores Island and Corvo Island.

Check the Azores location in Google Maps here.

In spite of the Azores being part of Portugal, the archipelago is totally different from the mainland.

Is far from sufficient to say that you will find there a unique environment. Is like visiting a different country but with the same language.

In between the several Azorean islands you will also find huge differences.

While some islands are green, with dozens of lakes and waterfalls, other islands will give you dark landscapes colors with impressive mountains.

These differences between islands are not only in the landscape but also in their traditions and ways of being.

At São Miguel island you will find a considerable size island, all green and quite exuberant, with an architecture based on black and white buildings.

On the other hand, just as an example, Pico island is dark and dry because of the volcanic dark stone.

At Pico, the locals love to paint their dark stone houses doors with red color and the result is fantastic.

With nine islands and also considering the difficulties of access to some of them, is almost impossible to visit them all in one week, at least it doesn’t worth your while to do it like that.

If you’re planning a one week tour, or 9 days for that matter, you will need to make choices regarding what islands to visit.

In this post, I will focus on a 9 days tour.

Later I will write another post considering a two weeks tour and these two possibilities will be very different.

Naturally, the answer will depend on your personal preferences.

However, in case you are more willing to go trekking the answer will be to go visiting islands like Flores or São Jorge.

If you are more of a general tourist maybe plan to spend more time at São Miguel and Terceira.

For the sake of the explanation I will divide the people that are interested in visiting the Azores in two big groups knowing that I’m taking the chance of leaving many possibilities out of this division:

Relaxed Group – Those that are more like a general tourist. Want some cultural activities, not too deep, some walks, not too far or not taking too much time, take some pictures, have some relaxation moments but get to know the place.

Active Group – Those that are interested in knowing the place while doing some physical activities like walking, maybe trekking, or scuba diving, photography, sea kayaking, etc, although are also interested in getting to know the place.

Note that, things like local food and wine tasting, getting to know people and some relaxing are included in both groups, naturally.

I know that splitting the people into two groups like this is probably not even fair but this is a blog post, not a scientific study … give me a break.

So, the question is now “How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?”

Please bear in mind that I don’t like to travel with too much tide schedules or be all day long rushing.

I also need to feel that I’m making the most of my time in a balanced way.

What is good for me is not necessarily the best for you so you will do your own decisions.

Relaxed Group: mix tour with some cultural activities, some photo opportunities, and some walks:

3 days at São Miguel island

2 days at Pico island

1 day at São Jorge island

3 days at Terceira island

Active Group: plenty of opportunities for walking, scuba diving, serious photography, surf, rock climbing, etc – two possibilities:

3 days at São Miguel island

2 days at Pico island

2 days at São Jorge island

2 days at Terceira island

or

3 days at São Miguel island

3 days at Flores island

2 days at Pico island

1 day at São Jorge Island

This is only an idea of how to split time between islands, you will decide what is best for you.

The Azores is in my shortlist of favorite destinations

I’ve been traveling there for many years and I know deeply all the islands.

There are infinite possibilities to do a wide variety of activities like walking, photographing, lay down on the beach, jumping from cliffs, cultural visits, you name it.

Is really difficult to select some islands to visit in one week, leaving out so many other wonderful places but this is real life with its limitations of time and money.

In this post, I did not consider the logistic difficulties you can find when booking flights to the Azores.

It will always depend on where do you come from. 

Later I will write a series of posts regarding each island and with some ideas of what can be done here.

You also have the possibility of joining us on our tour here.

Have fun,

David Monteiro

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Cliché photo of a waterfall in the Azores

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Cliché photo of a waterfall in the Azores

Some shots are irresistible.

I was at Flowers Island, at the Azores archipelago that belongs to Portugal, spending days of vacations and, contrary to the rest of the year I was not in the mood for physical activities, which I do all year round. I wanted to enjoy being there, the place and the tranquility.

But, after two days of heavy rain and being confined to this cheap hotel room the relaxation was starting to annoy me a great deal.

We had planned to spend two days at Corvo island but it was impossible to go out or to arrive in Flores, boats, and planes are not running because of the bad weather. So, that tour went down the drain.

After this two days, the plan was to go spend some more days at Fajã Grande, the opposite extreme of the island.

With so much rain the soil couldn’t absorb more water and the creek and waterfalls were pumping of life in movement and colors.

On our way to Fajã Grande at a certain moment I saw another waterfall but without realizing how far I was a didn’t pay too much attention, it was just another one and … who cares for pictures of water falling from a cliff?

I was not for cliché photos were at that time until I reached the road that is close enough ear the water falling and that was really far anyway.

Ok, I was totally convinced to stop and photograph the scene.

David Monteiro

Location: Waterfall of the “Ribeira Grande” and viewpoint of Fajãzinha, Flores Island, Azores archipelago, Portugal

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Salto do Cabrito, a handsome waterfall, São Miguel, Azores

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Salto do Cabrito, a handsome waterfall, São Miguel, Azores

One cannot imagine this walk’s beauty before you did it. Its name is Salto do Cabrito, near Ribeira Grande at São Miguel, Azores.

The Salto do Cabrito walking trail at São Miguel, Azores, is marked to be done in the opposite way than the one I usually do it but I have my reasons.

Having said that, start walking at Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande where you can find some fumaroles/boilers making bubbles on the outdoor water tanks.

Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande has thermal baths dating back to the 19th century and is a pleasant place to start this adventure.

The first kilometer will be walked on tar.

I find quite annoying walking on the tar roads. However, the surroundings are so lovely that it really doesn’t matter.

Anyway, by the time you will arrive at the small electric plant, you will have to climb some stairs to walk on a platform on top of some big tubes/pipes, kind of a catwalk metal grid.

Well, you can find it odd, but you will love it.

It will allow you to have a top-bottom perspective that will be even better inside of a small canyon you will have to cross.

At the end of the canyon, you will find a handsome waterfall called Salto do Cabrito “little goat’s jump”.

Like in any other linear walk, you will need to organize transportation to the beginning where you left your car.

This is one of the walks we do during the Iberactive tour to the Azores.

In the photo gallery, you can have a better idea of the place.

A gorgeous place.

David Monteiro