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Portugal

The Azores - Islands and Volcanoes

Guided Leisure Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,035 P.P.
Portugal

The Azores - Islands and Volcanoes

Guided Leisure Cycling Holiday

Grade

1
2
3
4
5

Duration

8 days

Prices from

£1,035 P.P.
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A guided cycling holiday in the Azores, an archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean. The volcanic origins of the islands are reflected in the mountains and valleys covered by a rich and varied vegetation, lakes in ancient volcano craters, natural swimming pools by the sea, black sandy beaches, active steaming fumaroles, and thermal hot water cascades and fountains.
Our trip starts in Ponta Delgada, which is situated on the largest of the Azores islands, Sao Miguel, or as it is more commonly known, The Green Island. It is in Ponta Delgada that we will spend our first few days exploring the trails. These include the volcanic complex of Sete Cidades, with its amazing Blue and Green lakes and the heated pools of Ferraria - make sure to bring your swimming costumes as there's plenty of opportunity during the week for a swim! 
We have scheduled in an optional non-cycling day and with the Azores famous for whales and dolphins, you can swap your cycling shades for binoculars and head out on a boat for a spot of whale watching! In the afternoon there is the option of a jeep safari to Caldeira Velha - a hot waterfall where you can take a dip.
Later on in the week we head to the village of Furnas, from where we're well placed to experience the volcanic origins of the Island around Furnas Lake, Caldeiras da Lagoa and the fumaroles! Our final day ends the trip in style - lovely cycling, amazing views over the whole island and the ocean, and a visit to the Gorreana Tea plantation.
If you'd like a little more flexibility, or are travelling with a family, then we also have a self-guided version and family version of this trip available. 

Holiday Highlights

  • Taking in the stunning Blue and Green Lake of Sete Cidades
  • Pedalling through Pinhal de Paz Park
  • Sampling tasty Cozido de Furnas at the Caldeiras da Lagoa
  • Cycling the trails of the Tronqueria forests
  • Sipping tea at the world famous Gorreana Tea Plantation
  • Bathing in the thermal pools of Ferraria

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This tour was one of the best holidays I’ve had. Cannot praise everyone enough!

Bianca, Australia

Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival into Ponta Delgada airport - Transfer to Ponta Delgada

Following your arrival you will be transferred to your charming hotel in the centre of Ponta Delgada. Depending on flight times (as options often arrive quite late in the evening) dinner can be taken at one of the many small restaurants in the centre of town. Tonight you’ll have time to get to know your fellow cyclists and discuss the week to come.

Day 2
Santa Barbara Loop Ride
19 Miles / 30 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Today we will cycle to the north coast of the island, where we’ll head along the coast before turning inland.

We’ll pass one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the Azores, Miradouro de Santa Iria, which makes the uphills worthwhile as the views are stunning across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as to the nearby beach of Santa Iria. This makes for a perfect snack spot, before we continue steadily higher, along country lanes on our way to Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande. Once we reach the Caldeiras valley you can feel the micro climate of this area. We’ll come across a number of fumaroles, a mineral water spring and a bubbling water pool…certainly not one to swim in! There is of course time set aside to visit the fumaroles.

A slight uphill detour will take us to the dam of Fajã do Redondo, from where there is a fun descent (off-road, on hard packed earth) which takes us to Ribeira Grande and then to the surf beach of Santa Bárbara once again. It’s a great place to relax in a cafe after the ride and watch the surfers battle with the waves.

Day 3
Pinhal da Paz Park Loop Ride
24 Miles / 38 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Leaving our hotel, we head away from the sea and gradually wind our way uphill to Pinhal da Paz Park. Pedalling through Pinhal da Paz we will be able to see the diverse, local vegetation such as azaleas, bamboos and palm trees. We continue our route to the south coast, passing green pastures which vividly contrast the ocean. Once in the village of Lagao, we‘re likely to spot the local fishermen returning home in traditional boats and unloading their catch. Lagao makes for a fine lunch spot.

After lunch we will head back to Ponta Delgada. Our final cycling stretch sees us joining a traffic-free cycle path from the small town of Sao Roque all the way back to our hotel. For our evening meal it’s time to venture out to one of the great local restaurants that are scattered around Ponta Delgada.

Day 4
Sete Cidades Loop Ride
18 Miles / 29 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Today we’ll transfer by vehicle to Sete Cidades, from where we start our ride. During today’s ride we will have the chance to learn about the legendary love story behind the formation of the lakes of Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde.

As we pedal around the craters’ rims, we’ll have superb views over several lakes and the coastline – it’s a great day of cycling and we tend to take lunch on the shore of the Blue Lake of Sete Cidades. We will explore the tranquil lakeside routes before heading to explore Ferraria (by van or minibus), which is heated by a volcanic crack where the heat of the water is dictated by the tide times it’s a great place to relax after a day in the saddle.

Day 5
Rest Day - Whale Watching / Jeep Safari / Optional Cycling
  • Meals: Breakfast

Today has been scheduled in as a rest day. In the morning you might like to go whale watching (in total approx. 3 hours). If you choose this option, you will be picked up from your hotel for the short transfer to Marina Portas do Mar. During your time at sea, you will have the opportunity to watch some of more than twenty species of whales, dolphins, and other marine species that can be found in the Azores. The Sperm Whale is the whale most frequently seen, but you might also get the change to see migrating whales such as the Blue Whale, Pilot Whales and even Orcas!

In the afternoon, you might like to do a Jeep Safari (approx. 3.5 hours). If so, you’ll be collected for a safari showing you the Azores at its best! This trip includes time at the fascinating landscapes of Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake). This huge blue lake is around 2km long and 1km wide and fills the ground of the crater. Surrounded by high mountains and luxuriant endemic vegetation, this mystical lake is now a nature reserve. You will also spend time at Caldeira Velha, a warm waterfall where you can swim in the steaming waters.

Of course, you may wish to just relax completely for the day or take your bike for a quick spin. Please note that should conditions not be suitable for whale watching then we may alter timings, or even switch days around, so as to give you the best opportunity to undertake the whale watching. Tonight we will stay in Furnas.

Day 6
Furnas Lake and Caldeiras da Lagoa Loop Ride
11 Miles / 18 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Today’s ride begins in the centre of Furnas, and we’ll soon arrive at Caldeiras da Lagoa. This is where natural hot springs are used as ovens. It’s traditional for locals to boil (only with steam) a meat and vegetable stew, known as cozido, in huge pots which are placed underground for up to seven hours. We’ll continue on to Furnas Lake – watch out for the majestic views as we circle the lake. On the way back to the hotel, we’ll retrace our steps a little so that we arrive back into Caldeiras da Lagoa in time to see the cozido being removed from the ground. We’ll head back to the hotel, in time for lunch, to have our first taste of cozido.

This afternoon we have the opportunity to explore the superb botanical gardens of the hotel and then take a relaxing swim in an iron-rich, heated swimming pool. Our accommodation tonight will once again be in Furnas and there’s no better way to end your day than a short wander to the pool for a final dip before bed.

Day 7
Povoação to Nordeste
18 Miles / 29 Kms Approx.
  • Meals: Breakfast, lunch

To make things a little easier on the legs today we have arranged a transfer to Povoação. From here we will begin cycling through the countryside of Nordeste, passing the base of the highest peak of São Miguel (Pico Vara at 1105m) and witnessing some incredible views in all directions. From Salto do Cavalo we follow a gorgeous, winding lane which takes us gradually uphill, to the reserve of Tronqueira. It is a very steady climb with no major steep sections, so time to select one of the lower gears and get your wheels turning! Once at the top we are in for a real treat and from here it is all downhill to Nordeste. In Nordeste we’ll have lunch and take a wander around the small town.

It’s here that we load up the bikes for the return transfer to Ponta Delgada. On the way we will stop at Ribeira dos Caldeirões to check out the waterfalls, watermill and levadas, before continuing along the coast to the Gorreana Tea Factory, which is renowned throughout the world for the production of organic tea (especially Green Tea).

Day 8
Departure from Ponta Delgada - Transfer to Ponta Delgada Airport
  • Meals: Breakfast

Sadly your time in the Azores is at an end, though you might have time before your flight home for a little more exploring! We’ll transfer you to Ponta Delgada airport in time for your return flight home.

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The Cycling

Terrain

During your time in the Azores, you will be cycling on a variety of terrains. These will vary from quiet, asphalted and mostly traffic-free countryside and coastal roads / lanes (approx. 50% of the route), to wide ‘off road’ trails which, whilst not asphalted, are well compacted (approx. 40% of the route). At certain times (on 2 of the cycling days) there will be slightly bumpier / rougher sections, but these are non-technical. About 12% of the route is traffic free. This trip is a grade 3, as although the distances are quite short, the terrain can be challenging in parts. Day 4 around Sete Cidades will prove the most challenging, throwing up the most difficult terrain, although the day can be made slightly easier.

Do contact the office to discuss the terrain / routes and for more information relating to the above.

azores-guided-leisure-cycling-adventure.jpg

Leisure Cycling Grade

1
2
3
4
5
Grade 3 : Moderate

Distances generally between 20-45 miles / 32-72 kms per day

For the leisure cyclist with a good level of physical fitness

May include some steeper, cheeky climbs and possibly sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc)

Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!

For more information about our grading system click here.

Is this suitable for you?

Although you may not cycle everyday, you do keep yourself relatively fit and maybe enjoy an afternoon out on your bike at the weekend. Your preference is perhaps for flatter terrain but you don’t mind tackling some hills, and the occasional steep climb if you can take it at your own pace. For those happy to tackle some ups and downs, and possibly some sections of varying terrain (eg. forest tracks, gravel paths etc) we’d recommend our grade 3 trips. We’d generally expect those on a Grade 3 holiday to have a decent level of physical fitness and be comfortable with some longer days in the saddle.

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It was a brilliant holiday where everything worked fine. Our two guides were simply superb, explaining things about the island.

Mick, Essex

Dates & Prices

Private Departures

Private Departures

Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.

Whats Included Tick

A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en suite rooms) in 4* hotels

B) Meals as per the itinerary (B-Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

C) Full tour service, including English-speaking guides

D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid

E) Support vehicle, for tired bikers and luggage transfers

F) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Ponta Delgada airport (PDL)

G) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Ponta Delgada airport (PDL)

What's not Included Cross

A) Bike hire (available if required)

B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)

C) Single room (available if required)

D) Travel insurance

E) Meals not stated in the itinerary / refreshments on route

F) Personal clothing and equipment

G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities, etc.)

H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route

I) Optional whale watching on day 5 (approx. 55 Euros) – payable locally

J) Optional jeep safari on day 5 (approx. 40 Euros) – payable locally

K) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days

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The Essentials

Travel Options

Group airport transfers are included in the cost of your holiday. For this tour we ask that you fly into and back from Ponta Delgada airport (PDL)

Due to the close proximity of the airport to your accommodation, we are able to do various pick-ups throughout the day (between 09.00 and 23.00), so you have some flexibility with your arrival and departure time.

Ryanair offer a direct option from London Stansted (STN). If you‘re flying from the US, there are direct flights from Boston (BOS) with Azores Airlines and TAP Portugal.

Please contact us for more detailed information on the specific flight schedules available for your holiday. Please check with us before booking any flights, to make sure we have reached the minimum number required to guarantee your holiday.

Accommodation

Accommodation on this trip will be in two 4* hotels, located in Ponta Delgada and in Furnas. The accommodation will be in twin or double ensuite rooms, unless you have selected the single room option.

Bike Hire

If you don’t own a suitable bike or would prefer to avoid bringing your own we have bikes available to hire. These bikes are typically Merida Big Nine 300 or Specialized Hardrock / Myka mountain bikes with knobbly tyres and a relaxed riding position. Please note, hire bikes in the Azores have a crossbar frame – it is not possible to provide a step-through frame on this trip. If you do decide to hire we can include a helmet on request; please request helmets when making your booking.

Hire bikes are equipped with a water bottle holder, and your guides will be carrying all necessary spares, such as puncture repair kits and spare inner tubes. Bikes will not have panniers, and so we recommend bringing along a rucksack to carry any daily essentials you may need. It is possible to bring along your own saddle and / or pedals, but please let us know in advance.

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