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Azores: the Emerald Isles

Soak in steamy volcanic pools, cook up a feast of local dishes and spot migrating whales off Europe’s most exotic archipelago

Azores: the Emerald Isles

8 Days | From £2730

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Important Notes

Azores: the Emerald Isles

Soak in steamy volcanic pools, cook up a feast of local dishes and spot migrating whales off Europe’s most exotic archipelago

Azores: the Emerald Isles

About your trip

800 miles off the coast of Portugal, these remote subtropical isles have remained largely under the radar, making them the perfect setting for an immersive Flash Pack adventure. 

Hailed as the ‘Hawaii of Europe’ for their lush volcanic landscapes and temperate climate, the Azores are like nine tiny emeralds jutting out of the mid-Atlantic. Together with your group, you’ll spend eight days kayaking across sparkling crater lakes and soaking in steamy hot springs. You’ll visit one of the only tea plantations in Europe and sample Cozido das Caldeiras stew slow-cooked the traditional way inside a volcano. There’ll be whale watching and brunch with goats (yes, you read that right), a hands-on cooking class and guided meditation in the lush island forest. 

In just eight days, you’ll discover a little slice of Portugal that’s a realm unto its own: a unique volcanic playground for a different kind of adventure.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Max 14 travellers per group
  • Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
  • All activities mentioned on the itinerary
  • 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Stay in hand-picked 3-4 star hotels
  • Private minibus
  • Experienced Pack Leader with you throughout the trip
  • Arrival airport transfer

Flashpackers must provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.

Itinerary

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Your Itinerary

  • Day 01 An Azorean welcome

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    Looking out your plane window, you’ll realise how remote the Azores actually are: a handful of specks in the Atlantic, surrounded by nothing but ocean for hours. You’ll touch down on São Miguel, the largest of these exotic isles, where a Flash Pack transfer will be waiting to transport you to your boutique hotel in Ponta Delgada, the regional capital. Here, you’ll meet your group and Pack Leader for a welcome drink before heading out for dinner at a local restaurant. Get to know your fellow Flashpackers over a traditional three-course meal and raise a glass of aromatic island wine to your week of adventure to come.  

  • Day 02 Cook up an island feast

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    Wake up to sunshine and sea breezes as you prepare for your first activity: a local-led island cooking class. Blessed with a subtropical climate, fertile volcanic soil and oceans rich in marine life, São Miguel has a thriving culinary scene, shaped by the elements. Together with your passionate host, you’ll cook up a feast of Azorean dishes washed down by volcanic wine (made from grapes grown on ancient lava flows). After lunch, you’ll return to Ponta Delgada for a walking tour of the city. Stroll through the mosaic cobbled streets, lined with white and black basalt buildings, and discover how this tiny town grew from a staging post between Europe and the New World.   

  • Day 03 Kayak in a crater lagoon

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    Today, you’ll discover why Sao Miguel is nicknamed Ilha Verde (Green Island), as you set out to explore its extraordinary interior. Your first stop is the Pico do Carvao viewpoint for a panoramic vista over the entire west of the island. Set within a steeply forested caldera are the stunning twin lagoons of Sete Cidades, one sparkling blue, the other vivid green. You’ll kayak on the serene waters before lunch at the lakeside village. This afternoon, you’ll visit a unique pineapple greenhouse. Introduced from Brazil in the 19th century, the tropical fruits are small, juicy and packed with sweetness – perfect for creating the island’s Ezequiel liqueur.   

  • Day 04 A day with goats and whales

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    Start your day by visiting a goat farm in the island’s hinterland, where you’ll learn how the animals are cared for and try your hand at milking (or cuddling the baby goats) before being treated to a typical local brunch: think crusty bread, fresh goat’s cheese and delicious fruit spreads. Continuing along the mountain road, you’ll wind your way to the coast for a whale-watching excursion. Slap bang in the middle of a migratory route between the northern and southern hemispheres, the Azores are visited by 24 species of cetaceans. Keep your eyes peeled for deep-water species like sperm whales, as well as pilot whales and pods of playful dolphins.   

  • Day 05 Geothermal pools & a volcanic stew

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    Travelling along the south coast, you’ll stop at Franca do Campo – the island’s first capital – to taste the famous Vila Franca pastry, before venturing inland to the town of Furnas, located in the valley of a volcano. Set around a pale green lake, fringed with bubbling mud pools, the earth here is so hot, locals slow-cook a stew called Cozido das Caldeiras a metre underground. Note the uniquely sulphuric flavour as you sample it for lunch. You’ll spend this afternoon at the nearby 18th-century Terra Nostra estate. Explore the botanical wonderland of lakes, winding paths, exotic flowers and centuries-old trees before relaxing with a steamy soak in the mineral-rich hot spring. (Avoid white clothes, towels and swimwear as the minerals can stain.)        

  • Day 06 Forest meditation

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    Today you’ll explore the rural east of the island starting in Vila da Povoação, the first village to be founded when Portuguese sailors discovered the island (Povoação means ‘village’). Take in the heart-stopping views at Ponta da Madrugada and Ponta do Sessego before lunch at a local restaurant. Travelling north along the coast, you’ll visit Ribeira dos Caldeirões natural park, an area of protected forest thick with lush vegetation. Here, you’ll take part in a guided meditation experience, using breathwork and mindful observation to deeply connect with the world around you. Follow this up with a walk along the tranquil river, past tree ferns and hydrangeas, to discover waterfalls and a series of 16th-century water mills. 

  • Day 07 Taste exotic tea

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    It’s your last full day on the island and time to start making your way back to Ponta Delgada. En route, you’ll one of Europe’s two tea plantations (the other is just down the road), high up in the hills. Little changed since it opened in 1883, the Gorreana Factory has been run by the same family for five generations. You’ll discover how the organic green and black teas are combined with other plants and fragrances to create distinct, exotic flavors – which you’ll get to sample in a private tasting. Soak up the neatly manicured rows of tea plants and the flower-filled valleys beyond, before arriving back at your hotel in time for your final farewell dinner.

  • Day 08 Tchau, São Miguel

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    After breakfast, your Azorean adventure has come to an end. It’s time to make your own way to the airport for your onward flight. If eight days on the islands have gone too fast, why not combine this trip with our mainland Portugal trip? Our Flash Pack travel experts are ready and waiting for your call.  

Our Favourite Hotels

Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.

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Casa Hintze Ribeiro

A boutique hotel in Ponta Delgada’s historic centre, with chic interiors by Portuguese designer Nini Andrade Silva. Everything is in blue and beige, reflecting the colours of the Azores, from the striking geometric tiles and beautiful stone archways to the airy apartment-style rooms. This hotel will be used for our 20 May, 3 Aug, 24 Aug and 31 Aug 2024 trips. 

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Hotel Vila Galé Collection

Occupying the site of a former hospital, this sophisticated Ponta Delgada hotel is full of historic character with a grand sweeping staircase, high coved ceilings and ornate arched windows overlooking the monochrome courtyard pool. Check out the à la carte restaurant for its Azorean gastro menu. This hotel will be used for our 6 Apr, 28 Jun, 28 Sep, 5 Oct and 12 Oct 2024 trips.

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Hotel Lince Azores

Space and light are the common theme of this contemporary 4-star hotel, a 10-minute walk from Ponta Delgada’s seafront promenade. The curve of white metal and glass stands out above the residential neighbourhood, with clean, bright interiors and an attractive spa and pool area. This hotel will be used for our 10 Jun, 15 Jul, 2 Sep and 21 Sep 2024 trips.

Important Notes

Which airport do I need to fly in and out of? Plus airport code

Fly into and out of Aeroporto João Paulo II (PDL) in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. 

What time should my flight arrive (time for the welcome meeting)?

Ideally before 1 pm. The welcome meeting and dinner will be from 4 pm onwards starting at the hotel, which is located approximately 20 minutes away from the airport.

What time should my flight depart on the last day?

There are no activities planned for the last day, so you can leave any time you wish. 

Are airport transfers included?

If you arrive on Day 1 of your adventure, or you book pre-tour accommodation with us, your airport arrival transfer will be included. If you book alternative pre-tour accommodation or are arriving by another mode of transport you must arrange your own arrival transfer.

Arrival transfers are private to Flash Pack and will be in groups depending on flight times. Sometimes this means waiting in the airport for a short while until other flights have arrived.

We don’t offer a departure transfer as Flashpackers leave at different times of the day and many stay for extra nights. We will offer you support with finding a local taxi

Are tips included?

Please note that tips are not included in the cost of this adventure. Suggested amounts per person are:

  • Pack Leader: 5-10 USD per day
  • Drivers: 2-3 USD per day
  • Local tips: tipping isn’t customary in the Azores, however if you wish to leave tips for restaurants, local guides, etc, your Pack Leader will be able to advise on suitable amounts.

All tips are at your discretion depending on what you feel comfortable with.

Do I need a visa?

You do not normally need a visa if you’re visiting as a tourist from the EU, UK, USA, Australia or Canada. Please check with your local consulate/embassy if the country you are travelling from requires a visa.

From 2024, ETIAS travel authorisation will be an entry requirement for visa-exempt nationals travelling to European countries https://travel-europe.europa.eu/etias/what-etias_en.

We recommend that you have at least six months validity remaining on your passport and can show a return ticket.

How much should I budget per day for extras?

We recommend budgeting around 35 GBP per day.

 

What fitness levels do I need for this trip?

We recommend having a read-through of the itinerary above, and getting in touch if you have specific questions on fitness. Overall, the trip is relatively relaxed so no real level of fitness is needed. The most strenuous activity is the kayaking on Day 3. 

Are whale sightings guaranteed?

While we can’t guarantee specific whale sightings due to the unpredictable nature of wildlife, our experienced guides will make every effort to provide an enriching experience. In the event of unfavourable weather on Day 4, the whale-watching activity may be rescheduled to Day 7 or an alternative day when conditions are more favourable.

What will the hotel rooms be like?

Room types might vary at the property in Ponta Delgada but we can guarantee all rooms are comfortable, characterful and in line with Flash Pack’s standard.

Will the itinerary change?

Due to their remote location in the middle of the Atlantic, weather in the Azores can be unpredictable – notoriously experiencing ‘four seasons in one day’. After periods of extended dry weather, waterfalls on the islands will be less impressive and might even dry up completely.

Please be aware that the itinerary, activities, and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting.

OUR PROMISE

Joining the Flash Pack comes with a few special guarantees

THE PEOPLE

Our mission is to create 1 million friendships, so we obsess over the group dynamic. Everyone is aged 30-49, 98% travel solo & 80% stay friends.
Want to know more about your group?
Get in touch.

THE SECURITY

We operate using a 3rd party trust bank account, meaning we guarantee refunds in 14 days if your trip has to be cancelled.
Book with confidence.

THE TRIPS

Our trips are made up of ‘can’t-do-by-yourself’ experiences – think staying on your own private island in the Arctic and glamping in Land Rovers on the Serengeti.
See trips.

THE GUIDES

We only work with trusted local guides who know their destinations better than anyone.
Meet your Pack Leaders.

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