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7 Of The Most Beautiful & Best Hikes in the Azores, Portugal To Explore!

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If youre planning to visit the stunning Azores in Portugal and would love to explore this great destination, then check out the best hikes in the Azores and get ready for your next adventure!

There are many things that Portugal is famous for, and when first hearing of Portugal you may be excused for thinking of the beautiful cobbled streets of Lisbon, or visiting the architecturally stunning Porto up north, or lazing around on one of the country’s golden sandy beaches like the ones found in Lagos, thea beaches near Lisbon, or even in tropical Madeira.

Of course, this small and compact country offers visitors so much more than historic landmarks and beaches, it also conjures up beautiful natural scenery that lends itself to some pretty incredible hikes. In fact, some of the best hikes in Portugal can be found in the Azores! 

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or you are just giving your first hiking steps, the Azores will prove to be a dream destination. You will be able to find easy walks as well as more demanding Azores trails, and all of them will blow your mind with the unique beauty of the local nature. 

Nine volcanic islands scattered off the coast of Portugal, home of incredible beauty and surreal nature, the Azores is a hiker’s paradise surrounded by the blue waters of the Atlantic. The islands hide incredible landscapes made of lush forests, surprising waterfalls, natural pools, and some of the most amazing hikes you could ever come to discover.  

In a certain way, the Azores have managed to remain quite off the beaten path, so it’s not difficult to find beautiful walks leading to solitary beaches, or an overall tranquil atmosphere, and even get the feeling that you’re completely alone and that nothing can stand between you and nature.

In this guide, we’ve decided to cover 7 stunning hikes in the Azores so you too can enjoy the awesome natural beauty of these isles that so many have come to love! 

Basics to enjoy the best hikes in the Azores

Sao Miguel, Azores © Image Courtesy of mgokalp from Getty Images by Canva
Sao Miguel, Azores © Image Courtesy of mgokalp from Getty Images by Canva

The different Islands in the Azores

All of the islands in the archipelago offer their share of incredible hikes and, especially when it comes to bigger islands, it is easier to find more trails to choose from taking into account different factors, such as what kind of hike you’re aiming to complete (loop or linear), what’s your hiking experience, and what season you’re visiting (will it be incredibly hot? Or rainy?).

Weather in the Azores

If you’re at the early planning stages of your Azores hiking trip, one of the first things you will want to consider is the weather on the islands, which is often described as nothing less than “crazy”. In fact, the islands are known for ever-changing weather conditions, from sunny to rainy in seconds. It can be so windy that the clouds disappear in minutes, or fog can get so thick that it is difficult to see ahead.

What to pack for your Azores hike?

And keeping these conditions in mind, pack accordingly, and don’t overlook a raincoat and good hiking boots that can help you go through slippery or muddy terrain with as few risks as possible. Hikes tend to be more enjoyable during the hotter months of the year (spring-summer) while autumns tend to be too rainy, cloudy, and even windy.

As usual, don’t forget your trekking poles, a good waterproof backpack, and a map. Don’t forget your swimming gear, a hat, and sunscreen, especially if you’re hiking in summer. 

Official Azores hiking resources

And for further safety, keep at hand the link to the official site to the Azores Hikes. Besides, on the site, you will also find the official app for the Azores hiking trails, with plenty of valuable information. The app also offers downloadable maps that you can access even if you’re offline, something that can be really useful.

Another thing you want to decide before getting ready for your adventure is what kind of paths you’d like to follow. Most of the islands feature both circular paths and one-way trails, in which case you would need to rely on public transport or a taxi in order to get back to the departure point.

Accessibility of trails in the Azores

The Azores are a fairly popular destination among hikers, so the authorities put special attention to mapping out and keeping trails well-marked. There are signs indicating which way to go (and not to go) when in doubt. 

Besides, it is also interesting to know that most of the paths used to be everyday footpaths that the islanders would use daily to move within the island, to transport local products (with mules or horses). And this took place for ages. The authorities have made all footpaths accessible and safe, by restoring and maintaining them, making them accessible for travelers to enjoy the stunning landscapes of the islands.

Where do I start from? Where to go hiking in the Azores

Deciding which hiking paths you want to follow is not an easy task, there are more than 80 incredible hiking routes you can choose on the islands according to the Azores authorities, and that is no doubt a lot to choose from!

The first thing you should check is the kind of trail you’re looking for (easy, medium, or hard), and then once you’ve made up your mind according to your own experience level, you can start planning for the kind of landscape you’re more into. 

Would you enjoy a coastal path more than a lush mountain forest? Do you want a rewarding natural rocky pool at the end of it to go for a swim? And arguably the most important question of all, how long do you want your trail to be?

On the Azores, you will not only find some regular hiking trails, but also the so-called Grand Routes, which can take anything from 10 to 30 hours to walk. I’ve limited this article to shorter, easier walks, but if you’re a hardcore hiker and a Grand Route sounds like a challenge you’d be up to, then check this official page to learn more about these longer paths.

The Azores islands are divided into three different groups and all of them have excellent hikes, choosing the islands in the eastern group is common for hikers, although hiking Pico island is also a popular choice: 

  • the western group (Corvo and Flores islands)
  • the central group (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, and Faial islands)
  • the eastern group (Santa Maria and São Miguel islands. Being São Miguel the biggest of them all, it is the place that offers more hikes, more things to do, more amazing beaches, and much, much more)

These are the most popular (and more beautiful) hikes you can choose to follow when visiting the Azores:

5 Best Hikes in the Azores

Agrião – São Miguel Island Hikes

Ribeira Quente Village © Image Courtesy of amedved from Getty Images by Canva
Ribeira Quente Village © Image Courtesy of amedved from Getty Images by Canva
  • Linear trail of medium difficulty
  • 7.6 km long – takes about 3 hours to complete

If you love green landscapes and lush surroundings, then this is a good trail to follow on the island of São Miguel. The trail is linear and takes you from Povoação to Ribeira Quente, one of the nicest beaches in the Azores. Besides, this is a crossing point of the pilgrimage along the island.

An interesting trait of this walk allows you to start your walk passing through a beach (if weather conditions allow), then taking you through a gorgeous ancient bridge and offering alternative paths in case of rain or bad weather, all of them well-marked.

Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande – Salto do Cabrito (São Miguel Hikes)

Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande - Salto do Cabrito © Image Courtesy of Jennie Vanderhoof from Alltrails
Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande – Salto do Cabrito © Image Courtesy of Jennie Vanderhoof from Alltrails
  • Circular trail of medium difficulty
  • 8.5 km long – takes about 3 hours

If you’re not afraid of heights, then you will enjoy this circular route on São Miguel island. The walk begins at the hot springs in Ribeira Grande passing next to the impressive Fajã do Redondo Dam and the Hydroelectric Power Plant of Fajã do Redondo. 

Once you’ve made it up the stairs, you will cross the breathtaking metallic sidewalk and continue to the magnificent waterfall of Salto do Cabrito. And if you’re a truly adventurous soul, then you can also give canyoning a try!

Baia da Folga (Graciosa Island)

  • Linear trail, easy hike
  • 2.1 km long – takes about an hour

This is the perfect trail if you’re just starting hiking. The route starts in the village of Luz in the southern area of the island and it is very well marked. 

It will take you through a gorgeous landscape of vineyards in the center of Graciosa island and then turn into a coastal path with unique exotic trees and endemic flora. The trail ends at Portinho da Folga.

Costa Norte – (Santa Maria Island)

Costa Norte – PR01 trail © Image Courtesy of J O from Alltrails
Costa Norte – PR01 trail © Image Courtesy of J O from Alltrails
  • Linear trail of medium difficulty
  • 8.4 km long – takes about 4 hours

Another popular Azores hiking trail, this time on Santa Maria island. It is a short linear route along the northern coast of Santa Maria, connecting the village of Bananeiras to Anjos. Along the trail, you will discover two watermills, a stream, and a mill in ruins that belongs to the abundant local vineyards.

Along the way, you will be able to observe beautiful local flora as well as plenty of indigenous birds. After a while on the road, you will access a fantastic lush forest and then a unique site known as Barreiro da Faneca, covered by an impressive mass of red clay dating from the last eruptive phase of Santa Maria.

Entre Montes (Faial Island)

Entre Montes – PRC08 trail © Image Courtesy of Davide Tessarollo from Alltrails
Entre Montes – PRC08 trail © Image Courtesy of Davide Tessarollo from Alltrails
  • Circular trail, easy
  • 3.4 km long – takes about 1.5 to 2 hours

One of the most beautiful experiences on Faial island is this impressive circular trail with some of the most stunning views of the local landscape.

This circular route will take you from Montes da Guia to Queimado, two remarkable areas with a rich history on the island.

Along the walk, you can admire the wide bay and the fortress of São Sebastião as well as many other fortifications for maritime protection built between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

The trail takes you near the underwater volcano craters of Monte Guia and gorgeous views of the beach. On your way, you can make a short stop to visit the Porto Pim Aquarium which exhibits many common species of the Azores. 

Following up next, you will be able to check out Monte Queimado, a curious volcano of terrestrial origin.

2 Organized hikes you can check out in the Azores: 

Lomba de São Pedro (São Miguel Island)

This is a gorgeous waterfall trail that takes you through refreshing rivers and impressive historical structures and the most stunning natures you could imagine. The hike also includes coastal views, forests, and different waterfalls and springs. 

The best way to experience this activity is by joining a guided, organized tour that will also provide all the necessary logistics, transport, and eventual equipment, and will even take you to visit a tea plantation in the area.

Click here to learn more and book your spot!

Lagoa do Fogo (São Miguel Island)

Lagoa do Fogo © Image Courtesy of Paulo Mendonca from Getty Images by Canva
Lagoa do Fogo © Image Courtesy of Paulo Mendonca from Getty Images by Canva

One more exciting organized hiking tour that will certainly leave an ever-lasting memory!

This is a perfect trail if you also enjoy swimming and admiring gorgeous panoramic views. The day starts by admiring the amazing views of the lagoon, checking the thermal baths of Caldeira Velha, and exploring the waterfall of Salto do Cabrito. 

You will get the chance to bathe in the pools of Lagoa, admire virgin green forests, and admire the southern coast of the island while enjoying a delicious picnic in the area with plenty of local delicacies.

Click here to learn more and book your spot on this Azores hike!

A word on Hiking Mount Pico – Pico Island

Mount Pico, Azores © Image Courtesy of ArchonCodex from Getty Images by Canva
Mount Pico, Azores © Image Courtesy of ArchonCodex from Getty Images by Canva

As its name indicates, the island receives its name due to the majestic peak that is also the main attraction and a challenging hiking experience. Mount Pico is, in fact, the ultimate hiking experience in the Azores with hundreds of hiking enthusiasts visiting the island only to experience this challenging ascent.

Hiking Mount Pico can be considered a Grand Route as it can take up to 8 full hours to complete (it is a circular trail of about 17 km). It is a very challenging route that we do not suggest you hike if you do not have enough experience. 

This is an ascending trail that will take you to the highest point in the Azores and Portugal!… So be prepared for a long, tiring walk together with extremely rewarding views.

In order to enjoy the experience, keep in mind that this trail requires you to wear good quality hiking boots (the soil conditions can be tricky due to rocks and lava) and that it’s also necessary to keep a map of the mount in your backpack.

Also keep in mind that, if you’re really interested in this trail but don’t feel like attempting it on your own, there are official, very experienced guides that offer an amazing opportunity to do this hike in the safest conditions.

Final thoughts on Hiking in the Azores

The Azores offer endless adventure opportunities and landscapes of spectacular beauty, bizarre rocks, volcanic environments, pleasant natural pools, waterfalls, and hot springs to discover. What other ingredients would you need to enjoy hiking in the Azores?

7 Best and Most Beautiful Hikes in the Azores to Uncover!
7 Of The Very Best Hikes in the Azores to Explore!