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Flores Island

The island of Flores, one of the nine islands of the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, is often described as a smaller version of Ireland or Switzerland. Lush green hills, pristine lagoons and hundreds of clear streams that flow into lakes or plunge dizzyingly into the Atlantic Ocean. And all this in such a small space! With a surface area of 143.1 km² (55 square miles), Flores is the fourth smallest island in the Portuguese Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of less than four thousand inhabitants, the island of Flores is a well-kept secret, a fancy destination that travellers used to find by word of mouth. In 2009, the UNESCO included the island in the list of biosphere reserves.

The easiest and most comfortable way to reach the island is by plane, with one of the regular daily flights of the Azores airline from Portugal (Lisbon, Porto and Funchal).

Take a walk on one of the four official hiking trails. The great thing is that there is a trail that is suitable for everyone. You can do the walks on your own and have some breathtaking views along the way.

To get a feel for what the island of Flores looks like, you can take a boat tour along the coast and discover secret corners from the boat.

The characteristic steep cliffs and waterfalls of the island make Flores one of the recommended destinations for canyoning in the Azores.

Also diving is on the top of the list of possible activities due to the variety of underwater species.

Pico Island

Pico is the second largest island of the Azores and has everything to offer from vineyards to volcanoes! On Pico live about 14.000 people on an area of 447 km².

Getting to and from Pico is a fairly simple process. Depending on where you come from, you will arrive either by plane or ferry.

By plane: Currently, there is one airline flying between the islands - Azores Airlines. You can check their website for flight schedules. Keep in mind that each day will have a different flight schedule.

By ferry: The ferry timetables can be found on the website of Atlanticoline - the only ferry service in the Azores.

You can explore the island by car as you make your way to some of the top spots around Pico. You can choose to rent a car or simply contact a local taxi driver who can take you around the island. 

A trip to Pico is not complete without a walk to the top of the highest point in Portugal - Mount Pico. At 2,351 meters, the hike to the dormant Volcano is a full day ascent and descent of over 7 hours. You must be reasonably fit to make the ascent and should be well prepared. If you want to have a unique experience, you can also stay overnight on the top of the volcano - on a clear night the stars and planets are as bright as possible.

If the weather is very bad, you can also change the days to complete the ascent in the best weather.

Or take a short but incredibly beautiful hike through the volcanic rock vineyards of Pico. The starting point of the hike, Vinhas da Criação Velha, is about 10 minutes by car from Madalena and the hike takes about two hours.

São Miguel Island

São Miguel is with 62 km length and 15.8 km maximum width the largest island of the nine Azores islands belonging to Portugal. The Ilha Verde (Green Island), as the locals call it, is also the most developed island for tourism. It is known for its volcanoes, flora and fauna (including whales). From thousands of years old bubbling geysers to flower lined winding roads, from spiral walks winding around dormant volcanoes to natural thermal pools scattered all over the island - São Miguel is a dream. The island is also home to the largest city of the Azores and its capital: Ponta Delgada. 

Attractions in the capital Ponta Delgada are the city gate Portas da Cidade, the gothic church Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião and the fortress Forte de São Brás. The crater lake of Sete Cidades with its green and blue parts is located in the northwest. In the east is Furnas with its fumaroles and mineral springs.

To see the volcanic activity at its best, you should visit the sleepy town of Furnas. Here you will find caldeiras everywhere, burping and spraying sulphur vapour into the air. The locals use them for cooking and to drink from the mineral-rich springs that emerge from the earth around them.

This is also where the famous Terra Nostra garden is located, where you can stroll through the park or take a dip in the mineral-rich thermal pool at the main point of the park.

But be sure to bring old swimwear, as the waters are so rich in minerals that your suit (and skin) will turn orange.

For some of the best views on the island you should definitely check out the highest peak, Pico de Vara. However, to hike to this 1103m peak you will need a permit, as only a certain number of people are allowed to climb the mountain per day.

São Jorge Island

Narrow and long, the "brown island" resembles the back of a sleeping dragon seen from afar - hence the name (according to Christian mythology, St. George was known to slay a dragon that tormented a fictitious village in Libya).  

The 233.5 square kilometers large and up to 6.7 kilometers wide island lies between the neighboring islands of Graciosa and Terceira in the north, Faial in the west, and Pico in the south. The Azores island is a paradise for nature lovers and individual tourists. São Jorge enchants us with its narrow coastal plains and steep cliffs, which either end abruptly in the sea or merge into small flat areas at sea level known as "fajãs" - secluded, mysterious, and incredibly fertile to produce almost all of it. There are numerous lookout points and hiking trails with breathtaking panoramas. There are also canyoning and boat trips along the beautiful coast. 

Best time to visit the Azores

There is a weather myth that sustains the idea of continuous rain in the Azores. Although cloudy skies and rain are often predicted for the islands, in reality, the islanders enjoy days and sometimes weeks of warm and sunny weather in summer. From June to September, you have the best chance to enjoy good weather and participate in local events and celebrations.

Pack for a moderate climate (the average maximum temperature is 19.9°C / 67.8°F and the minimum is 14.9°C / 58.8°F, with slight variations throughout the year), and don't forget to bring hiking boots and a light jacket for the rain.