The 10 Best Azores Hiking Trails You Must Do
A Guide to the Best Hiking Trails in the Azores, Portugal
The Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal comprising nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic. It is located 899 miles (1,446 km) west of Lisbon, Portugal. The dramatic landscapes and the pristine nature of the Azores are simply breathtaking. The Azores have 80+ trails officially, making it a great hiking destination.
The Azores hiking trails are well maintained with clear signage at the starting points and markers during the trail, perfect also for self-guided Azores hiking tours. In this post, I’ll share with you some of the best Azores hiking trails.
If you are looking for guided hikes, check here the prices & reviews
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Useful Travel Information About Azores, Portugal
✔ Book tours in the Azores with Viator.com
➳ Find the best Hotel deals in the Azores with Agoda.com
❖ Rent a car with the best discounts at DiscoverCarHire.com
☘ The best discounted outdoor clothes (outlet) at REI.com
✎ Never leave without a travel insurance. I got mine at HeyMondo.com. It is cheap and easy to set up.
⚘ Get a travel guide in order to prepare your trip. I recommend the Lonely Planet Azores (get a 10 % discount with the code “PAULINA10”)
1. Hiking Mount Pico, Pico Island
11.2 km – High difficulty
The highest mountain of the Azores, as well as Portugal, is the Ponta de Pico and stands 2,351 meters (7,713 feet) above the sea. Mountain’s House is the place where this hiking trail begins.
This one is a paid hiking trail and a GPS is provided. There are 45 wooden pole markers and on a clear day, you can see the next marker (except between 1 and 2, and 5 and 6).
It takes around 2.5 hours to get to the moon-like crater navigating through different types of lava rocks (ropey lava, sharp lava, and smooth lava) and another 30 minutes to climb the steeper Piquinho, where the panoramic view of nearby Sao Jorge and Faial Island awaits you.
As you approach the peak, you will feel a sensation of hot steam escaping the fissures of the rocks, and a proud feeling of accomplishment from within.
Do not forget to try the local food specialties like Pao do Pico (typical bread from Pico Island), Vinho (their wine from the local vineyards that grow on lava rocks, for example Terra’s de Lava), and Lapas (limpets, the most popular shellfish in the Azores).
Where to stay:
2. Hiking to Lagoa do Fogo, Sao Miguel
12 km – Medium difficulty
The best Azores island for hiking is Sao Miguel Island. The Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire) is a crater lake at the center of Sao Miguel Island. The hiking trail to this lake is divided into four main parts.
This Sao Miguel Island hiking trail begins from Praia through the narrow dirt roads of the farmland with plenty of goats to view.
Then, you will enter the forest with massive Japanese Cedar trees (Cryptomeria japonica) lining the path until you arrive at a levada (irrigation channel).
At this point, you will be able to explore several endemic florae such as the Azorean Blueberry (Vaccinium cylindraceous), the Azorean Heather (Erica azorica) and the Laurustinus (Viburnum treleasei) with some stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.
Passing the valley of Ribeira da Praia with greenery-filled mountains on both sides, you will finally arrive at the bottom of the unique-shaped lake where the chirping seagulls will greet you.
While walking along the seaside promenade of Ponta Delgada, you can visit the farmers market at the Mercado de Graça, a fun place for shopping souvenirs and local food.
One of the top restaurants in Sao Miguel is Bar Caloura, offering a wide variety of fish options.
Where to stay:
The most lively spot nearby is Ponta Delgada where you will find plenty of lodging options like the Hotel Marina Atlantico, the VIP Executive Azores Hotel, the Azor Hotel and the Azores Royal Garden – Leisure & Conference Hotel.
Whale watching tours depart from here as well. Check here the best deals for whale-watching tours in Sao Miguel, the Azores.
3. Hiking Faja Grande, Flores Island
13 km – High difficulty
Flores is the westernmost island of the the Azores and Europe, a part of the North American tectonic plate. The linear trail of hiking Fajã Grande starts in the vicinity of the quay of Fajã Grande.
You have to take the asphalt road towards Ponte da Fajã (where a 250-foot waterfall is crashing on the background), walk along the cliff, turn right, take a steep climb to Rocha do Risco, go through the wooden stairway, turn left and continue on the coastal path where there is an abundance of Azores heather (Erica azorica) and hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla).
Here, you can see Maria Vaz Island and Corvo Island (the smallest island in the Azores). You will pass lagoons, seas cliffs, laurisilva forests, numerous viewpoints, and natural swimming pools. The waterfalls make this Azores hiking trail really memorable.
Where to stay:
The best places to stay in Flores are at Faja Grande, Aldeia da Cuada and Casa Via D’Agua to name a few. Some notable restaurants in the region are the Papadiamandis, the O Forno Transmontano, and the Cana roca.
If you are in search of local specialties, look for Araca, a fruit from Flores and Erva-patina, a seaweed used in side dishes and scrambled eggs.
4. Hiking Salto do Cabrito, Sao Miguel
7.5 km – Low difficulty
For hydroelectricity themed and a relatively easy Sao Miguel Island hike, look no further than Salto do Cabrito.
This small circular walking trail starts/ends in the area of Caldeiras of Ribeira Grande, famous for its hot springs, recreation, and restaurants.
Take the tarmac road towards Lombadas and Monte Escuro until you see a giant water pipe. Hop the chain fence to get access to Faja do Redondo dam, and enjoy a downward walk surrounded by ginger lillies, ferns and the waters of Ribeira Grande.
Get back to the track again where the forest path will be flanked by eucalyptus, acacia, and Japanese red cedar. You will see many hydroelectricity pipes on your way and pass the Faja do Redondo electricity museum.
You will even have to cross a gushing stream, climb stairs and follow a metallic sidewalk until you reach the Salto do Cabrito power plant and magnificent waterfall.
Once you get back to the track, you will pass the bar Lagoa do Fogo and after a detour and crossing more water streams, you will eventually be back to the starting point. The Azores hiking on Sao Miguel Island can never be so easy yet adventurous.
To give the Sao Miguel Island, the Azores hiking a totality, indulge yourself in the local food and comfort. Whilst at Caldeiras of Ribeira Grande, do not forget to check out their famous volcanic steam-cooked stew, Cozido at Bar Restaurante Caldeiras.
Where to stay:
5. Hiking Monte Brasil, Terceira Island
7.5 km – Moderate difficulty
Another easy hike in the Azores is Monte Brasil. Surrounded by the Bay of Angra and the Bay of Fanal, this hike offers plenty of panoramic views of the nature, landscape, and remnants of defensive forts.
The circular Monte Brasil hiking trail starts and ends at Relvao Park. Start climbing an asphalt road towards fortaleza de Sao Joao Batista (St. John the Baptist’s fortress).
The fortress sits atop the 1,023 m high Monte Brasil, the remains of a mostly submerged crater from an underwater eruption. After passing the arcade and following the trail signs you will reach the Santo Antonio chapel.
Following the trail further and passing the picnic area, you will come to the Pico do Facho viewpoint, wherefrom the view of the Monte Brasil nature reserve is magnificent.
Go down a winding path carved out of tree trunks and rocks, until you reach the Quebrada fort. Continue the narrow path bordered by Australian cheesewood (Pittosporum undulatum) until you reach the Vigia da Baleia viewpoint (whale lookout and second world war station).
Following the trail, the next viewpoint is Pico das Cruzinhas, looking over the city of Angra do Heroísmo. Then continue downhill, back to the city.
Where to stay:
6. Hiking Caldeirao, Corvo Island
4.8 km – Medium difficulty
Corvo Island is the smallest and most isolated island in the Azores. The atmosphere is serene. Silence is the keynote. Roughly 500 people are living here! Corvo Island is also a birdwatching mecca.
The circular hiking trail of Caldeirao goes around a collapsed crater, allowing you to take pictures from all possible angles. You will enjoy the sense of isolation and remoteness of this place.
The route starts at the Caldeirao viewpoint. Start descending towards the lagoons. Following the trail, you will reach a large mushrooms field. Continuing 900 m further, you will reach a rock.
Turn right and proceed around the ponds counterclockwise, until you reach Poco da Velha. On your way back, turn left of the marsh, until you reach the rock again. Climb the same path that you descended, until you return to the starting point.
There are only a few official accommodation places and your best bet will be to stay with locals. Many houses rent out private rooms for visitors.
In fact, the most rewarding and enlightening thing to do is talk to locals. They do not lock their doors on this peaceful island.
There is only one restaurant on the island, Caldeirao. They have a 10 € lunch buffet with traditional Portuguese food and serves dinner as well. You can also hang out at the local snack bars Irmaos Metralha and BBC.
7. Hiking Caldeira-Faial, Faial Island
7 km long – Low difficulty
The most famous attraction on Faial Island is the massive Caldeira right in the middle of the island. Caldeira (boiler) is the largest crater in the island (400 m in depth and 2 km in diameter), formed through numerous eruptions interspersed with periods of calm.
The circular hiking trail around the rim of Caldeira is fairly easy, yet really stunning. Start the route at the belvedere da Caldeira, cross the small access tunnel to the crater and enjoy the view to its interior.
There are actually smaller craters and some lakes inside the Caldeira, making the whole scenery even more spectacular. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to head down into the Caldeira on your own, but you can do so with an official guide.
As you hike around the rim of the Caldeira on your own, enjoy the views over the North and West coast, the rich endemic flora (azorean juniper, heather, blueberry, Euphorbia and Angelica) as well as the interior, before the path begins to climb to Cabeco Gordo, the highest point of the trail (1,043 m in altitude).
Passing the antenna, the route descends to the initial viewpoint, arriving at the car park.
There are plenty of accommodation and restaurant options in the main town of Horta and it is one of the lively towns in the Azores.
Where to stay:
For a relaxing drink, head to Peter’s Cafe Sport, the most famous bar in Horta.
8. Hiking Caldeira de Santo Cristo, Sao Jorge Island
10 km – Medium difficulty
Sao Jorge Island is known as the island of Fajas and there are so many of it. The faja at Caldeira Santo Cristo, situated between the cliffs and the sea, has only 12 inhabitants.
It is the isolation and inaccessibility that makes this faja so impressive.
The linear hiking trail to Caldeira de Santo Cristo starts from Serra do Topo, next to the car parking lot, near to the wind farm.
Climb a wide trail, flanked by hydrangeas, until you reach a water tank with the possibility to visit a waterfall 3 km apart. Continue on the cobbled path towards Faja de Santo Cristo.
The path is continuously descending and often times with intense slopes. Upon arriving at the faja, turn right near the first house, following the dirt road that will lead you to the Hermitage. Here, you can enjoy and relax, only being disturbed by the sea.
You can bathe in the waters of the lagoon and eat fresh clams! From here, take a shortcut to the left and head towards Faja do Belo.
Follow the trail to Faja dos Cubres, where you can enjoy the lagoon and migratory birds, and get picked up by your driver from the chapel Nossa Senhora de Lurdes bar area.
Where to stay:
9. Hiking Passagem das Bestas, Terceira Island
4 km long – Medium difficulty
Terceira Island, also known as the lilac island, is rich in history and archeological artifacts and monuments. People in Terceira Island are fun-loving and festive.
The small circular hiking route of Passagem das Bestas is inserted in the geo site and the protected area of Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz, featured by the Macaronesian forests and peatlands that assure the recharge of the aquifers of this ancient volcanic complex.
Starting from Porto Judeu, go down the old rocky lava field and oxcart tracks until you arrive at the mini-hydric power plants of Angra.
As you cross the pasture, you can see the largest crater in the Azores, between the Ribeirinha mountain range and the Serra do Cume mountain range, the collapsing crater of Cinco Picos volcano with an average diameter of 7 km.
You will also pass by a belvedere overlooking Terra Brava and another one with a view to the interior of Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz.
Go down the ravine that was used to access this crater and proceed until you arrive again to the old oxcart tracks.
Where to stay:
The Hotel Branko II, the Merces Garden Guesthouse, and the Casa do Vizinho are some of the hotels near the starting point of this hiking trail.
You should taste their famous Alcatra (a traditional Portuguese pot roast), while you are there.
10. Hiking Sete Cidades Lake, Sao Miguel
11.8 km – Easy linear
Hiking Sao Miguel Island will remain incomplete without a visit to the Sete Cidades Lake. Sete Cidades (Seven Cities) is a small town on the western end of Sao Miguel Island. Check rates for day tours in Sao Miguel Island.
The town sits on the base of two crater lakes, the Lagoa Azul and the Lagoa Verde. As their names say, one is green, the other blue.
Boca do Inferno is considered to have the most magnificent views overlooking Sete Cidades and its gorgeous lakes. On a clear day, the lakes of Cidades, Santiago and Rasa are all visible, contrasting with lush green hills and the vibrant blue of the Atlantic Ocean on the horizon.
This Sao Miguel Island hiking trail of Mata da Canario starts near the Canario Woods.
Go down the dirt road to the tarmac road. Turn left and continue until you reach the Nine Windows Wall. Follow the trail until you reach the viewpoint of Pico da Cruz.
The hike then takes you all along the crater’s edge of the blue Lagoa Azul, as you circle the lagoon counter-clockwise and end up in the town of Sete Cidades.
There are numerous hiking trails on Sao Miguel Island, the Azores up around the rim of this twin crater, but the most famous and most photographed stretch allows you to walk on a path as if you are walking on a platform, into the middle of the crater.
Hiking on Sao Miguel Island, the Azores can not get better than this!
Where to stay:
If you are looking for a place to stay at Sete Cidades, the options are the 7 Cidades Lake Lodge, the Quinta da Querio, the Country House Casa Dos Plátanos, and the Casa do Vale Hotel. Alternatively, you can stay at Ponta Delgada or Furnas.
Sete Cidades is a pretty small place, where the street signs point towards the restaurants in town, such as the Sao Nicolau, the Lagoa Azul, and the Green Love.
If staying at Furnas, do not miss their Cozido das Furnas (Furnas stew), a stew with all sorts of meat and vegetables cooked inside volcanic potholes, available at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel and the Caldeiras & Vulcoes Restaurante.
If staying at Ponta Delgada, try the greenhouse-grown Azorean pineapples, which are much smaller but intensely sweet.
The Azores are simply spectacular and breathtaking with all of their natural wonders and varied landscapes. Each island in the Azores maintains its own unique character and distinct cultural identity.
So, include the Azores hiking in your bucket list and make it happen. You will be glad you did!
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case.