Go take a hike! Explore the Azores on foot this winter with these must-visit trails

STORY BY Debbie 20th December 2019

With a year-round mild, subtropical climate, the archipelago of nine volcanic islands makes for a stunning location for any walking enthusiast, with dramatic views, hot springs and trails of varying lengths and levels of difficulty to explore. 

And, with two new direct flights** launching in 2020, the Azores will become more accessible than ever before with direct access to both São Miguel and Terceira from London. You can also island-hop with ease via inter-island flights.

Celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2020, travel specialist Sunvil discovered the Azores in 1990 and, since then, has been a leading promoter of responsible tourism to one of the least-known paradises in Europe.

Alongside its long-standing local partner in the Azores, Melo Travel, Sunvil has picked its top trails to dust off those walking boots for this winter…

SANTA MARIA: Pico Alto – Anjos
Distance & walking time (average): Approx. 6.2km & 2hrs
Difficulty level: Medium

  • Reach the highest point of the island, which boasts views over Santa Maria
  • Enjoy extensive views across the calderas, large cauldron-like depressions created from volcanic eruptions
  • Visit the caves at Furna de Santana, where local people used to hide from pirates

Why go?It is such a pleasure to walk on Santa Maria. You hardly see anybody, so you get a sense of relaxation, peace and serenity. The walk has a bit of everything, starting on the highest point of the island, going through Azorean forest, passing by the red desert and ending at the coast.” – Catarina Cymbron, Director of Melo Travel.

SAO JORGE: Caldeira do Santo Cristo
Distance & walking time (average): Approx. 10km & 2hrs 30m
Difficulty level: Medium

  • Visit the Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo – the best known Fajã (small plains originally created by lava or landslides) of the island and a place that deserves a visit for its natural beauty, isolation and peacefulness
  • See species of endemic flora, such as the Azores heather, the Azores juniper, the Azores blueberry and the Azores sanicle
  • Walk by coastal lagoons and waterfalls

Why go?São Jorge is great for walking due to its dramatic landscape of cliffs, crags and fajãs. It is one of the greenest islands in the Azores archipelago and the walk to Caldeira do Santo Cristo is just spectacular.” – Catarina Cymbron of Melo Travel

FLORES: Miradouro das Lagoas – Poco do Bacalhau
Distance & walking time (average): Approx. 7.3km & 3hrs
Difficulty level: Medium to challenging

  • Enjoy one of the most beautiful coastlines of the Azores
  • Follow the trail alongside the black lake and waterfall of Comprida
  • See endemic flora, especially Azores buckthorns, Azores junipers and peat moss
  • Witness the cascading waterfall of Poço do Bacalhau, which falls from a height of around 90 metres

Why go?This trail is wonderfully varied, starting near two small lakes in Flores, it then descends along a rock, down hundreds of stairs until you reach Fajã Grande.Catarina Cymbron of Melo Travel

SANTA MARIA: Great Route of Santa Maria
Distance & walking time (average): Approx. 78km & 28hrs 30m (walk to be split over several days)
Difficulty level: Medium to challenging

  • Take in the whole island, including areas of great geomorphological interest
  • Discover beautiful fauna and several species of migrant birds which use the Azores as a resting place
  • Enjoy natural bathing areas to relax and revitalise
  • Divide the trail up as desired, with stations and designated places to spend a night en route

Why go?Santa Maria is a delightful walk because it is so calm and varied. You can break up the Grand Route over several days, depending on fitness levels, and enjoy new discoveries each day.” – Catarina Cymbron of Melo Travel

FAIAL:  The trail of 10 volcanoes
Distance & walking time (average): Approx. 19.3km & 5hrs
Difficulty level: Challenging

  • ​Enjoy views over the interior crater of Caldeira (a 2 km wide and 400 m deep volcanic cone)
  • See the massive stratovolcano, Cabeço Gordo, and Capelinhos – the most recently formed volcano
  • See the old lighthouse, and learn about the volcanic eruption in Capelinhos’ visitor centre and museum
  • Observe several examples of typical flora of laurel forest, as well as some birds from the Azores
  • Journey through woods, areas of cultivated fields and pastures

Why go?This trail from the top of the island to the bottom provides beautiful views of the Caldeira and ends at the last volcanic eruption of Capelinhos (which added 2.4 sq km to the island), where the volcanic ashes predominate.” – Catarina Cymbron of Melo Travel


At 2,351m, the dormant volcano of Mount Pico is one of the most prominent landmarks of the Azores archipelago. Sunvil’s two-centre Pico Mountain Hike trip offers an opportunity to climb the highest peak in the whole of Portugal with an experienced guide and enjoy spectacular views across the islands. The price is from £1,583 pp (two sharing) including return flights to São Miguel (London), two nights’ B&B in Ponta Delgada, five nights’ B&B at the new Lava Homes on Pico, all inter-island flights and transfers, and the guided Mount Pico climb.

 ** The new flights include a Tuesday direct flight to Sao Miguel and a Wednesday direct flight to Terceira (both from London Stansted). Other daily flights are via Lisbon.

To book your tailormade itinerary to the Azores, or to talk to an expert, call Sunvil on 020 8758 4722 or visit www.sunvil.co.uk. For more information on the trails, visittrails.visitazores.com/en.


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