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Top walks on the untouched islands of the Azores

11th September 2013 Print

Step out alongside serene crater lakes, re-invigorate the soul on rugged coastal trails and hike Portugal’s highest peak in the mid-Atlantic Azores.

The emerald-green archipelago of The Azores remains an unspoilt walking haven. The volcanic formation of the nine islands has endowed it with extraordinary beauty, from verdant valleys and sheer cliffs to vast craters of black igneous rock that cradle glistening blue and green lakes.

Couple that with a year-round temperate climate, the cleanest air you are ever likely to encounter (it’s especially rejuvenating for those with asthma and allergies), direct flights from London Gatwick (early April to late October) and this dramatic archipelago offers wonderful walking opportunities.

Sunvil Discovery can tailor-make multi-centre walking holidays across all nine islands of the Azores. Here are its top five trails in no particular order:

The Azores’ most beautiful lake, Sao Miguel island

A 14 km guided hike that skirts the deep turquoise waters of Lagoa do Fogo, arguably the most beautiful lake in the Azores. The hike also encompasses Monte Escuro volcano with long-distance views over the whole island. It finishes at a pretty pilgrimage site overlooking a bucolic village and islet. From £50 pp. Graded medium.

Europe’s westernmost walk, Flores island

A 12 km self-guided walk along the westernmost trail in Europe on the scenic coast of Flores. The route is fringed by hydrangeas, crosses several rivulets, takes in a typical Azorean lighthouse and descends to the seaside village of Faja Grande. Payable locally – expect to pay around £30 pp. Graded medium.

Portugal’s highest peak, Pico island

At 2,351 metres high, majestic Mount Pico is Portugal’s highest peak. While not technically difficult, a guided ascent should only be attempted by strong walkers and takes three to five hours. Clear skies permitting, the wonderful views of the central islands are magnificent and well worth the effort. From £206 pp. Graded hard.

The mountains and fajas of vertiginous Sao Jorge island

From the lofty peaks of the Serra do Topo to Faja dos Cubres (fajas are flat, fertile areas, usually found on the coast), this 10 km self-guided hike literally takes in the scenic highs and lows of this dramatic island. En route, Faja do Santo Cristo boasts an underground lake and cave, and is one of the most isolated spots in the Azores. Payable locally – expect to pay around £30 pp. Graded medium.

A dip in a waterfall, Sao Miguel island

A six km guided trek amid exotic and lush vegetation in the south-east of Sao Miguel. Take a refreshing dip in the cascading waters of the Salto do Prego waterfall en route. From £50 pp. Graded medium.

All guided walks require just a minimum of two participants and include taxi transfers from main town(s). Full route information and maps are provided for self-guided hiking.

A seven-night walking holiday on Sao Miguel, taking in Lagoa do Fogo and Salto do Prego, costs from £786 pp (two sharing). The price includes direct return flights (Gatwick), B&B at the Hotel Vila Nova, four full-day guided walks and all transfers. Sunvil Discovery offers a diverse range of guided and self-guided walks throughout the islands.

To book, visit