Escape a grey British winter for the green islands of the Azores

STORY BY Debbie 8th November 2019

Street parties, volcanic craters & flowers galore

The Azores’ sub-tropical climate makes it a fantastic year-round destination but, in the winter months, this volcanic archipelago enjoys fewer visitors, meaning both an air of peace and tranquillity, and also an opportunity to get beneath the surface of the islands.

Formed of nine islands set in the Atlantic Ocean 600 miles west of Portugal, each Azorean island has its own personality, with wild dramatic landscapes and breath-taking natural beauty. And, with average winter temperatures sitting at a mild 14°C, this is a perfect time to explore, get to know local residents, experience the charms of their way of life and gain a deeper understanding of their culture.

São Miguel – or the green island – is the largest in the Azores and offers something for everyone. Why not hike one of the stunning walking trails, kayak in a volcanic lake, relax in one of the hot springs or simply stroll through the charming cobbled capital, Ponta Delgada?

See below for Sunvil’s top holiday ideas on São Miguel this winter…

Have a ‘green’ Christmas…
Enjoy beautiful nativity scenes in Ponta Delgada, plus classic choral concerts and celebrations throughout many towns and villages across the island this Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, see communities welcome in the new year together with street parties, live music, drinking, dancing and, of course, fireworks. The festivities also expand into the hotels, with many offering gala dinners and other activities, to ensure it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Stay at the five star Azor Hotel, overlooking Marina de Ponta Delgada, from £971pp (two sharing), including return flights (London Stansted to São Miguel), seven nights’ B&B accommodation, Christmas dinner and return transfers. Departs 21 December.

Take a walk on the wild side…
January is an excellent time to try something new and get active. São Miguel is blessed with dramatic volcanic scenery – giant crater lakes and hissing hot springs – so it is an ideal destination for increasing your daily step count. Many of the islands’ hiking trails pass around, or even through, some of the once-active volcanoes, which have made this fertile landscape what it is today. Walking Inside Volcanoes is a flexible self-guided trip, offering the chance to see the best of São Miguel – from the steaming holes (fumaroles) where traditional ‘Cozido’ is cooked (a stew with multiple meats, plus potatoes and vegetables, that’s all cooked underground by heat from the volcanic steam vents in Furnas) to the stunning lakes formed in volcanic craters.

The trip costs from £858 pp (two sharing), including return flights (London Stansted to São Miguel), seven nights’ B&B accommodation, transfers to hotels and to the start of the walking route each day (excluding the walk on Day Two), six half-day self-guided walks plus guidebook with trail descriptions and maps, entrance to the Monitoring and Research Centre of Furnas and the opportunity to plant a small endemic tree.

See flowers at their finest at the spectacular Camellia exhibition…
Camellias – or the ‘queen of the winter flowers’ – are in abundance on the island of São Miguel, often used as vibrant alternatives to hedges, and this February marks 25 years of the Camellia exhibition at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel. On 25th and 26th February, keen gardeners from all over the world will flock to the island to enjoy displays of over 200 varieties of camellias, inspired by the people of Furnas, as well as photography, sales of local products and live music.

A seven-night stay at Terra Nostra costs from £810 pp (two sharing), including return flights (London Stansted to São Miguel), B&B accommodation and car hire.

Prices for holidays to the Azores start from £486 pp for a seven-night B&B stay at Vila Nova Hotel, including return flights (London Stansted to São Miguel), one free night when staying seven nights, and transfers. All trips can be tailored to individual needs, with activities and excursions added.

Sunvil is offering an early booking discount of up to 20% off the room rate at select properties on São Miguel; visit thewebsite for more information.

To book or talk to an expert, call Sunvil on 020 8758 4722 or visit

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