Ever heard of the Azores? Well, I have to admit that when we chose them as our summer walking holiday destination, I hadn’t! Or at least I might have heard of them but couldn’t have told you where they were. And that seemed to be true of everyone I told about our holiday plans! My excited ‘we’re going walking in the Azores’ was met with either an ‘ooh lovely’ and a slightly blank look, or a direct ‘where’s that then?’.

So in case you’re also not sure, here’s the lowdown. The Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal, an archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic. It is about 1,360 km (850 miles) west of continental Portugal, about 1,500 km (930 miles) northwest of Morocco, and about 2,500 km (1,600 miles) southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Looking at Pico Island, from São Jorge.

Why visit the Azores

I’m not actually sure how we came up with the idea of going there or where the inspiration came from. One minute we were talking about Romania or Slovakia, and the next we’d decided on the Azores! But I’m glad we did. It is an amazing place to visit – full of beautiful scenery, great walking and other outdoor activities, as well as plenty of delicious fish and friendly people. It’s not yet hugely known as a holiday destination in the UK, although I suspect that will soon change, but is very popular with the rest of Europe. And they’re on to a good thing! As a result, it’s not the easiest place to get to. We had to fly via Lisbon, but it is worth the effort to get there.

One of the many beautiful walking trails

Planning tools

The Visit Azores website is a great planning tool to help you decide which islands to visit and what to do there. And the trails section of their site is invaluable for finding walk information and guides. All the routes we did during our trip were from this website. You can search by island and there is route information (length, time, ascent etc) as well as maps and downloadable guides (do this before you leave as we found wifi to be a bit hit and miss).

With only 12 days for our trip and a full day of travelling to get there and back, we were never going to be able to go to all of the islands. But which to choose? Each island is different and there is quite a distance between the most easterly and westerly islands. After a lot of research, we opted for two of the central islands – Pico and São Jorge – and then the main island – São Miguel – spending four days on each one.

To read more about each of these islands please click on the links below

Pico (coming very shortly!)

Sao Jorge (coming shortly)

Sao Miguel (coming shortly!)

Famous lava vineyards on Pico

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