Azores Hiking Guide: the Top Trails on Each Island

The best hiking trails on Terceira, Faial, Sao Miguel and Pico Offer the Perfect Outdoor Adventure

 

 

The Azores are a world-class destination for adrenaline seekers and nature lovers alike, and the best way to truly discover all the hidden gems around the islands is by hiking. Whether you book an official Azores hiking tour with a knowledgeable local guide or decide to hit the trails for an adventure on your own, the Azores offer more than 60 hiking trails awaiting to welcome you, all of which have great conditions for walking safely. 

 

Viewpoint in Flores Island overlooking Fajã Grande, Azores, Portugal.
Witness the Most Amazing Scenery in the World

Venture out and breathe in the pure Azores air as you explore lush forests and ravines. Wave hello to the friendly local cows roaming free as you walk across the green patchwork countryside. Admire the reflection of the beautiful blue lakes and emerald lagoons as you hike around volcanic landscapes, and lift your face to be swept by the salty sea breeze as you pass through UNESCO-protected vineyards on your way down to the coast. All of this, and more, awaits you in every single hiking adventure in the Azores.

The Azores Islands have an excellent network of trails that allow you to explore their most pristine and unspoiled locales on foot. Imagine hiking on vibrant green and verdant nature paths, discovering awe-inspiring waterfalls, and taking spectacular photographs of stunning landscapes, all while breathing in the fresh, clean air of the Azores. Now pack your bags, because these paradise imaginings are real, and they are waiting in the Azores.

 

Salto do Cabrito waterfall in Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
Relaxing in Pools Beneath Cascading Waterfalls is Just One of Perk of Azores Hiking

The unique volcanic origins of the Azores Islands has created the ideal natural setting for visitors to enjoy being surrounded by stunning and vibrant scenery as far as the eye can see. No matter which island you choose to visit, whether it be Pico, Sao Miguel, Terceira, Corvo, Pico, Graciosa or beyond, you’ll always be surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, as well as the vast blue Atlantic Ocean

Azores hiking trails are divided into three levels of difficulty - easy, medium, and hard – and are classified by the Regional Government of the Azores to help ensure the safety of walkers of various ages and levels of fitness. Another factor that gives hikers peace of mind when embarking on their Azores hikes is that all of the trails on the islands are clearly marked with trail signs to help keep you on track during your trekking adventures. So you never have to worry about getting lost out due to a trail being unmarked. 

 

Hiking in Sete Cidades, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal.
Venture through hydrangea covered countryside 

Also, thanks to the Azores’ mild temperatures and moderate climate, hikers can enjoy hitting the trails in any season, year-round. If you’re planning your trip to the Azores during the winter, when the islands are known to experience a bit more rainfall, you’ll be treated to rushing waterfalls, fuller streams and lakes, and ever deeper hues of greens all around. For those coming to the Azores in the spring and summer, you’ll be arriving just in time to experience many epic flowers in full bloom. The hortensias are especially breathtaking! Just be sure to check the weather conditions before you hit the trails so you can be sure to  pack everything you’ll need! With stunning verdant landscapes, exotic plants, dormant volcanoes, mesmerizing lakes and amazing views, the Azores’ hiking trails will surely dazzle even the most seasoned hikers.

 

The Best 10 Hiking Trails of the Azores Islands, Portugal

 

Paths of the Lagoa do Fogo hiking trail in Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
One special Azores hike will allow you to see this lush landscape up-close

1. Lagoa do Fogo Trail in São Miguel Island, Portugal

Lagoa do Fogo is one of Sao Miguel Island’s most popular trails, and if you are looking for an excellent hike while visiting the Azores’ largest island, this will be an excellent addition to your hiking itinerary.  After traversing over an unassuming dirt road and venturing across idyllic farming lands and pastures that make you feel as if you have stepped back in time, you’ll climb in elevation, pass by the epic ruins of an ancient factory, an even come upon what is known in the Azores as a Levada (the Portuguese version of an irrigation channel/aqueduct).  

While this portion of the trail especially can be a bit muddy, as the saying goes: A little dirt never hurts, and when the rewards include such natural inspiration as colorful endemic flora and incredible valley views as far as the eye can see, you’ll not even notice the mud anymore! You’ll be too busy admiring the beauty.

The valley of Ribeira da Praia is the masterpiece of the hike, offering an open area surrounded by towering mountain greenery, and the lake itself is beyond compare, glittering in emerald and aqua hues that make one feel as if they’ve ventured into heaven. There are even a colony of  local seagulls that frequent this favorite island trail, which will always say hello as you pass. On the way back to your origin point, you will get to see the island from a different vantage point, enjoying majestic views over the island’s South Coast, including the idyllic Islet of Vila Franca.

Trail Information:

  • Category - Circular
  • Difficulty - Medium
  • Extension - 11 km (6mi 1469yd)
  • Time average - 4h00

 

 

Azores hiking trail option for when you're visiting São Miguel Island, the biggest island of the Azores - the Sanguinho trail.
A majestic waterfall tucked away in a magical São Miguel's forest

2. Sanguinho Trail in São Miguel Island, Azores

One of São Miguel Island's best hiking trails is the Sanguinho Trail in Faial da Terra - one of the island's most remote and unpopulated places. Faial da Terra is a sparsely populated, magical little village that is host to one of the Azores' most heavenly hidden gems. During the hike, you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate the rustic charm of the old village houses and fruit orchards that can be seen from the trail, offering scenic beauty and harkening back to a simpler time.

The climax and ultimate reward of the trail comes when you reach the majestic Salto do Prego spring with its cascading waterfall. This scene will leave you in awe and wondering if it can actually be real, as the beauty here is so breathtaking it seems like it’s been taken straight out of a movie, like Avatar! The water is crystal clear, attesting to how pure and clean it is, and the surrounding natural scenery is so unbelievably green and lush that you’ll feel like someone has turned on technicolor in a control booth somewhere. But no, it’s all natural, as the Azores is really that beautiful without any help from anyone but Mother Nature herself. Salto do Prego is also a perfect place to take a break and refresh yourself with a dip in the invigorating waters of the small pool below as you prepare to return to the trail’s initial point. The entire experience will be one you will cherish forever, and want to repeat again and again.

Trail Information:

  • Category - Circular
  • Difficulty - Medium
  • Extension - 4.5 km (2mi 1401yd)
  • Time average - 2h00

 

 

Explore the outdoors of Santa Maria as you venture along magical paths

3. Santo Espírito - Maia Trail in Santa Maria Island, Azores 

One of Santa Maria’s best hiking trails is the  ‘’Santo Espírito - Maia’’ which ends in Maia’s Bay, one of the most visited places on the island. As you walk, you’ll have the opportunity to appreciate traditional aspects of Azorean life, such as the vineyards separated by little rock walls built by local artisans. These lovely vineyards still produce a type of wine known as ‘’Vinho de Cheiro’’ (translated literally as ‘’Smell Wine’’)  that is actually prohibited to consume or sell in the European Union. 

The trail starts to get more interesting as the captivating coastline of Maia’s Bay comes into view. The sea water is so clear that you will immediately want to dive in. In fact, the water is so clear and clean that you can actually see the underwater rock details. It simply doesn’t get much purer than that! The hiker’s reward for their effort is the Aveiro Waterfall, a fantastic 20 meter-high waterfall tucked along the trail like a hidden treasure to unwrap and delight. Keep your eyes open for a couple of duck families that are known to live in the little lake onsite, having been introduced there by the locals. These cute creatures are said to be friendly, which isn’t surprising since they live in such a beautiful place! 

Trail Information:

  • Category - Linear
  • Difficulty - Easy
  • Extension - 4.1 km (2mi 963yd)
  • Time average - 2h00

 

 

Misterios Negros trail in Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal
Climb to the top of Terceira Island and discover its hidden gems

4. Mistérios Negros Trail in Terceira Island, Azores

The Mistérios Negros hiking trail in Terceira Island is an experience like no other, where you can expect to discover secrets lakes that you otherwise wouldn't ever get to see. Your hiking adventure begins near Lagoa do Negro, an area of the island where volcanic activity has been more recent. As the trail meanders among lovely lakes and greenery offering scenic views, you’ll appreciate the wild black and white cows roaming free that live happily here, unhassled. On that note, let’s not forget that in Terceira Island, one of the best things to do is just appreciate the picturesque image the large green fields touching the horizon, backlit by the different cotton-candy colors of the skies create as they meet with the dazzling jewel tones of the deep blue ocean. 

Fresh air feels your lungs as you traverse the trail. Breathe it in and be at peace, while nothing but gorgeous scenery surrounds you. Though the hike progresses in difficulty as you walk further along-- especially in the last part as you climb Pico do Gaspar, the highest point of  ‘’Mistérios Negros’’ at 645 metres high -- the plethra of Azores endemic vegetation that awaits you here is worth the reward, not to mention the epic views. This is a difficult but doable trail, but if you prefer to do it with a specialist, here’s the best guides in Terceira Island, who will be more than happy to accompany you. 

Trail Information:

  • Category - Circular
  • Difficulty - Hard
  • Extension - 4.9 km (3mi 78yd)
  • Time average - 2h30m
 

 

Climbing Mount Pico in Pico Island is one of the best Azores hiking trails and one of Europe's most popular hiking attractions as well. Pico island Portugal's highest peak and it is located in the Azores archipelago.
Pico Mountain is one of Europe's most popular hiking attractions and a favorite Azores trail

5. Pico Mountain Trail in Pico Island, Azores

Important note: It is highly recommended to climb Mount Pico with the help of a local guide due to the changing weather conditions. Click here to choose the best hiking tour for you. 

Pico’s mountain is Portugal’s highest point, towering tall at 2.351 meters. Its height causes it to stand out in the middle of everything, and the peak itself is so beautiful that it draws every eye, even those from neighboring islands! You could safely say that Pico mountain is the symbol of the island, and an awe-inspiring one that commands attention! 

Climbing Pico’s mountain is one the best radical experiences you can have in the Azores, making it the perfect hiking trail for those who seek adventure and thrills. As Portugal's highest mountain, climbing this trail won’t be just a physical challenge, but will also be a big psychological and emotional test, too -- all of which makes the feeling once you have completed it comparable to nothing else in the world! As you go higher, the rise in altitude increases the efforts needed. Since some hikers can struggle with this, this is where a guide is needed, as they can help you trekk in safety, while also encouraging you to push  a bit harder to reach this epic goal of arriving at the mountaintop for that picture perfect view, and bragging rights to friends upon your return home!

 

 

The most famous Azores hiking trail of Faial Island is the Capelinhos one.
Discover the unique volcanic landscapes at the site of the Azores’ last eruption

6. 10 Volcanoes in Faial Island, Azores

Faial’s most interesting hiking trail leads you to one of the coolest places in the Azores archipelago: Capelinhos Volcano. The ‘’10 Volcanoes’’ trail  starts in Caldeira do Faial Natural Reserve at 900 meters above sea level. In light of the great altitude, you may want to wait and do this hike on a clear day. The trail ends next to Capelinhos Volcano Interpretive Center, which is worth a visit and highly recommendable if you’re interested in understanding the natural disaster that occured here in the islands. 

Specifically, Capelinhos Volcano erupted in 1957, an event that tragically changed the life of Faial’s population at the time. Capelinhos’ volcanic activity lasted a long period, 13 months to be exact, and left behind numerous  geological vestiges that can still be seen by trekking among the ash paths of this trail. 

Trail Information:

  • Category - Linear
  • Difficulty - Hard
  • Extension - 19.3 km (11mi 1746yd)
  • Time average - 5h
 

 

The most famous Azores hiking trail of São Jorge Island is the one that connects Faja da Caldeira do Santo Cristo to Faja dos Cubres in Portugal.
Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo Santo Cristo connects two of t São Jorge’s most iconic fajãs

7. Serra do Topo Caldeira do Santo Cristo - Fajã dos Cubres in São Jorge Island, Azores

‘’Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo Santo Cristo’’ is one of Azorean nature's best masterpieces, so it makes sense that it is the main attraction of this hike. A ‘’fajã’’ is a plan territory formed next to the sea by sediments that have fallen from the coastline behind it, but Fajã do Santo Cristo is an extra special faja, due to the green sea lagoon formed there. The waves crash frequently flow into it, making it one of the best spots in the island to surf, windsurf, and bodyboard. 

The only way to really get to know this little green paradise is through this trail. Descending down to the coastline may not be an easy job, so it is better to be accompanied by a tour guide, just to guarantee everything goes smoothly, and safely. Also, don’t forget that if you do go down, you still have to return (going up this time!) by foot, as the majority of São Jorge fajãs is not accessible by car. 

The starting point of the trail  is the Eolic Station parking lot at Serra do Topo, and the descent starts on a dirt road covered with hydrangeas from both sides in the end of Summer. After enjoying a roughly 3 kilometer walk, you’ll arrive at Caldeira do Santo Cristo viewpoint, where you finally start to get an idea of what awaits you at the very bottom of the descent: sheer beauty. Even from a long distance, you will be able to tell how very special this place truly is. Once you get to the fajã, you’ll be rendered speechless and left wondering how such a surreal sight can truly exist: a quiet lake and a wavy sea, existing in perfect -- and sublimely picturesque-- harmony. Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo is a surprising beauty. Its sparse population consists of friendly locals mostly, who welcome every hiker with a smile and live there very proudly, knowing that their home is a Natural Reserve that is so uniquely special, tourists travel from all around the world to visit it. 

Trail Information:

  • Category - Linear
  • Difficulty - Medium
  • Extension - 9.5 km (5mi 1589)
  • Time average - 2h30m

 

 

Furna do Enxofre, a volcanic cave in Graciosa island, Azores, Portugal
Journey on a thrilling hiking trail that actually takes you inside an old volcano

8. Volta à Caldeira - Furna do Enxofre Trail in Graciosa Island, Azores

Graciosa Island - where those sweet addictive cupcakes are made - has a hiking trail that literally takes you inside an old volcano. Gruta do Enxofre is considered unique both to Volcanology and Speciology due to its perfectly vaulted ceiling. It’s hard to imagine that a volcano created that kind of architectural perfection! Once you get to Gruta, you’ll pass a 200-meter-long mystical tunnel that will take you to the Visitors Center. As you start to walk down the 183 steps of stairs, the excitement will build in your mind as you know you are always one step closer to getting to the Earth’s actual interior! The lighting that is set inside the cave is a special feature that is super cool, as it lets you see clearly the volcanic wall details and provides a complete visual show to enjoy.

Trail Information:

  • Category - Circular
  • Difficulty - Easy
  • Extension - 10.8 km (6mi 1251)
  • Time average - 3h

 

 

Poço do Bacalhau trail in Flores island leads to a beautiful waterfall, Azores, Portugal
The highlight of Flores’ Poço do Bacalhau hiking trail is its gorgeous, towering waterfall

9. Miradouro das Lagoas – Poço do Bacalhau Trail in Flores Island, Azores

The Poço do Bacalhau hiking trail in Flores Island is one of hikers’ favorites since it is a 3-in-1 experience, allowing you to discover three of the island’s main attractions during one single hike. The trail starts in Negra and Comprida lakes viewpoint, offers panoramic views over Fajã Grande, and ends with a huge 90-meters-high (295 ft tall) waterfall.

Negra and Comprida lakes viewpoint is one of the best spots in Flores to snap artistic photos. Simply cross the street, and you’ll find Lagoa Seca, which is translated as ‘’dry lake’’. Once you start descending to Fajã Grande, be careful as the stairs at this point can get slippery. Then, before you can even blink, you are met with a powerful and awe-inspiring phenomenon: Poço do Bacalhau waterfall itself! Here, cascading waters flow freely from dark rocks covered with green vegetation, and the majority of hikers enjoy a cool refreshing bath after a long walk. As it is truly unique, it is fitting that Poço do Bacalhau is one of the most beloved attractions in an island with such a peculiar personality as Flores!

Trail information:

  • Category - Linear
  • Difficulty - Hard
  • Extension - 7.3 km (4mi 943yd)
  • Time average - 3h
 

 

Caldeirao trail in Corvo Island, Azores, Portugal
The Azores are full of iconic landscapes, as far as the eye can see

10. Caldeirão Trail  in Corvo Island, Azores

This Azores’ hiking trail in Corvo Island allows you to discover one of the most iconic landscapes in the whole Azores archipelago by foot and up-close. Your Azores hiking adventure will begin at the Caldeirao viewpoint, after which you will descend to the crater. En route, let yourself be dazzled by the trail’s magnificent scenery. At a certain point during this Azores hiking trail, you’ll reach a gigantic boulder, where a panoramic view over the whole Caldeirão awaits. Be sure to bring your camera so you can take advantage of this once in a lifetime photo-op in nature.

Trail Information:

  • Category - Circular
  • Difficulty - Medium
  • Extension - 4.8 km (2mi 1729yd)
  • Time average - 2h30m
 
 
 
Pico Mountain trail in Pico island, Azores, Portugal
The following helpful tips will make sure you’re ready to hit the trail

 

What to Pack for Your Azores Hiking Adventure

Hiking in the Azores is a unique experience, and the most important thing to “wear” is an adventurous spirit! As for everything else, here’s what to pack for your Azores’ hiking adventure:

  • Comfortable clothes, weatherproof coat, and hiking boots;
  • Backpack with water and snacks;
  • Hiking stick;
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat;
  • Bathing clothes and towel (to wade and swim in the crystal water waterfalls);
  • Camera.
 

 

Tips for your Azores hiking adventure. This photo is in Boca do Inferno viewpoint at sunset in Sete Cidades, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal.
Ready for your Azores hiking adventure? These tips will ensure you have a safe experience

 

What to Know Before You Go on Your Azores Hiking Adventure

Weather can be really unpredictable in the Azores, but that just makes it an even more special destination and increases the adventure that is spending a day here! Before you go on your Azores hiking adventure, here are some things you should know in order to do it safely: 

  • High altitude trails should only be done on clear days; If the weather is very foggy, you should choose a low altitude trail instead, for your own safety;
  • If you are going without a guide, you should always notify someone of the trail you’ll be hiking. Advise your hotel receptionist of your plans, so that you’ll have someone local who can alert the authorities if you take too long, get lost, or injured. Keep your phone localization on in case you need to be tracked; 
  • Respect the trail signs and download specific trail information via digital sheets; 
  • Note emergency contacts before you depart. 
 

best time of the year to hike in the azores, portugal
Hiking adventures in the Azores can be enjoyed year-round, there are things to consider in each season

 

Best Time of the Year to Go on an Azores Hiking Adventure 

Any time of the year is great for an Azores’ hiking adventure. With weather that can see four seasons  in a day,  the Azores provides you with the surreal experience of being able to start the trail in “winter”, and by the end of it, it’s “summertime” again! Just be careful and be sure you check the weather and trail conditions before departing on any hike, as some paths can be very muddy and slippery, especially in winter and autumn months when more rainfall generally occurs.

Whether it be in winter, spring, summer or autumn, the Azores’ hiking trails are a good idea and  are sure to awe and inspire you. From volcanic craters to mysterious lagoons, and from vineyards and historical cities to Portugal's highest mountain, the only difficult decision about hiking in the Azores will be trying to choose which hike you want to try first, and next, and after that...

Related travel deals

Get $50 off your first trip!
Subscribe to our newsletter to get a $50 discount towards your next trip!
Get $50 off your next travel package