“Into the Wild Blue” - Portugal & Azores

Portugal and the Untamed Azores Islands SOLD OUT

May 31 - June 8, 2017

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Imagine gazing out your airplane window at the exposed tips of volcanic underwater mountains piercing the clouds. Descending closer reveals towering rose cliffs that drop to a virgin rocky coast with black sand shores lapped by a deep blue surf. Welcome to the paradise of the Azores, a photographers’ dream! Tell your friends you are vacationing here and they’ll say “Azores, awesome…where is it? This far flung archipelago in the mid-Atlantic has many names like ‘Hawaii of Europe’ or ‘The Other Eden’. It’s also called ‘Europe’s Galapagos’. The genesis of the 9 islands had a turbulent birth from the earth’s fiery core with 1766 volcanoes, 9 still active. A thousand miles away from any shore, the Azores has a lost-in-time quality with unspoiled beauty of dramatic volcanic landscapes, aquamarine lakes, gushing waterfalls, geysers, scalding springs, mud pots and grottoes. It’s also a nature lovers’ paradise with verdant valleys of blooming flowers, vineyards and picturesque towns.

Overview

Oh what fun it is in Europe’s secret islands of adventure! We begin in Portugal recognized for its tourism excellence, delicious cuisines and award-winning wines. Explore magical Lisbon and medieval Belem. Then enjoy a soulful Fado show with dinner.

Fly to San Miguel, our base island in the Azores that bursts with life in summer. We’ll go ‘off-road’ to discover the enchanting Furnas Valley and it’s 7 hidden natural wonders. Take a sunset cruise and taste Azorean cuisines. We will sail into the world’s largest whale sanctuary in search of 30 different species of whales and other marine life. These waters are the home of Moby Dick and sperm whales are omnipresent year-round. The Azores has an incredible seafaring and whaling history.  It has become the rising star destination for whale and dolphin watching. There’s free time for parasailing, riding horses on the beach, thermal spas and more.

The word hasn’t gotten out about how cool this place is. Those who discover it return again and again. Don’t miss our epic dual destination vacation to perfectly charming Portugal and the Alluring Azores, untamed islands of paradise!

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Our Glorious Itinerary

May 31 - Depart USA

Fly USA to Lisbon (Air details to follow in Trip Tips)


June 1 – Lisbon - Portugal

Welcome to Lisbon!

Lisbon is a magical city where the past and the present come together to make the city unique. The city of seven hills is also known as “White City” due to its irreplaceable glow with year-round sunshine. It’s a cosmopolitan city bursting with life, home to gothic cathedrals, medieval fortresses, impressive monasteries and art-nouveau buildings, typical black and white mosaic sidewalks and extraordinary museums. Lisbon’s beauty and charm make it one of the most exciting cities in Europe.
Rest of day at leisure to explore Lisbon.

Get to know your fellow AFS travelers at our group Welcome Dinner with Fado Show. Cafe Luso is a renowned Fado restaurant in the bohemian quarter of Barrio Alto. This iconic venue occupies the former wine cellars of a 17th century palace. The charming restaurant offers delicious traditional Portuguese cuisine. Fado is the national music here. Listen to the soulful singers and instruments at this colorful Fado Show that will surely amaze your soul.

Check into your upscale hotel in the heart of the city, Eurostar das Letras, with terraced restaurant, fitness room and free WIFI. Easy access to all major sites.

Overnight: Eurostar das Letras- Lisbon


June 2 – Step Back in Time City Tour

After breakfast we head to Belem, renowned for its role in the Era of the Discoveries, featuring iconic buildings from the 15th & 16th century. We will explore the beautiful Jeronimos Monastery built in the 1500’s. The church interior unveils a gorgeous Gothic-Renaissance style altar and the tombs of the great Portuguese explorers.

We will stop in one of the oldest and most famous pastry shops of Lisbon to taste the traditional Belem Pastry. Next we make our way towards the Belem Tower classified a World Heritage Site and the Monument of the Portuguese Navigators. The history lesson here is fascinating. Later stop at the ‘Sao Pedro de Alcantara’ for great views of the city, Moorish St. George’s Castle and the Graca area showcasing Lisbon’s success in merging the old with the new. 

You’ll have some free time here and your choices are endless. Consider the Hop-on-hop-off bus, Oceanarium, bike or food tours, or stroll cobbled street of old Barrio Alto. Ride the tram cars or metro to get anywhere – so much to love about Lisbon.

Overnight: Eurostar das Letras- Lisbon  B


June 3 – Fly to San Miguel, Azores

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Azores Islands! Upon arrival in San Miguel, you’ll be met and transferred to your local hotel.

San Miguel is the “Green Island” on the eastern archipelago and the largest thus offering the most things to do. It lies on the triple junction of African, Eurasian and America tectonic plates which creates amazing geography of different landscapes. See stunning scenery of sandy beaches and deep green valleys against the crystal sapphire blue ocean. It’s fun to explore the town for cafes, clubs and great shops.

The Royal Garden Hotel is located in one of the most privileged areas. It’s a great tranquil oasis for our five day stay. From the hotel you can reach the city center in a few minutes (5 min. walk) to explore great cafes, shops and the cultural wealth of the city.  2 restaurants, coffee shop/café, bar & piano bar, WIFI, indoor pool & outdoor pool, fitness center, spa & wellness center, tennis courts

Overnight: San Miguel Royal Garden Hotel    B


June 4 – Walking Tour of Ponta Delgada

The capital of the Azores, Ponta Delgada breathes history with its cosmopolitan ambiance, romantic gardens, narrow cobblestone streets, manor houses and small palaces. Visit the 15th century ‘Sao Sebastiao’ de Ginetes Church, ‘Portas de Cidade’ monument, City Hall, Republica Square, the Covent of Nossa Senhora de Esperanca from the 18th century, S. Jose’ Church and Sao Bras Fort.

We’ll enjoy lunch at the internationally recognized ‘Alcides’ to sample Azores specialty cuisine. Alcides means ‘huge portions’. Taste Alcides unique steak. Everything here is local and fresh.

Later, we take a Sea & Sunset Cruise from the port of Sao Miguel. As we cruise into the Atlantic Ocean, you can view the unique coastline, like a modern artists painting.  We then reach the world’s largest whale sanctuary. Great photo-ops with the many species of whales and dolphins that migrate through or live year-round in these waters. Keep your eye out for porpoises and plenty of resident sperm whales here year-round. Also look for humpback, fin, pilot, orca, blue, minke as well as 5 species of dolphins. The reason these islands are a magnet and hot spot for marine life is because in winter the Atlantic is too cold to produce nutrients. But, waters here are warmed by sunlight so whales can always feast on krill. Enjoy delicious snacks and drinks during your whale watching cruise.

Overnight: San Miguel Royal Garden Hotel   B, L


June 5 – Nature Adventure Day & Free Day (Split Group) Morning Free – Lunch & Wine tasting

We split into 2 groups. One enjoys a free day as the other does activities, tomorrow it’s reversed.

Group A – Activities today: The best way to explore the island is going ‘off-road’ on the Big Truck Adventure. We head past beautiful lakes, rivers, waterfalls and valleys to witness unspoiled nature at her finest. First Logoa da Fogo – “Lake of Fire” – this crater lake in the Agua Massif gets 5-stars on Trip Advisors and is a must do. Enjoy a scenic hike to a huge blue lake that fills a volcano crater for some photos. Continue on to Sao Bras Lake with lush meadows and deep forests then drive down the mountains into Calderia Velha with warm waterfalls and pools lined with unique plants and flowers. Walk the paths to other cascading mineral springs for some fun thermal bathing if you choose.

Head on to the only tea plantation in Europe. Family owned since 1883, Gorreana Tea Factory is famous for organic pesticide-free green teas, taste four special herbal teas here. For lunch enjoy a special meal at El Marinero restaurant along the sea. It’s an elegant place with the best gastronomy of all the Azores.

Afternoon adventure tour – the most remarkable off road safari is definitely on the western side and highlight of the island. Drive along the north rim of a gigantic volcano crater for Lagos das Sete Cidadades with mountains and lagoons that are the most well-known postcards of the Azores. Its spectacular views and it almost looks surreal, as if lost in time and everything is untouched.

Group B – Free Day today: Revel in your day of leisure! 

You can easily book fun jeep tours, paragliding, horse rides on the beach, the famous Furnas Valley tour, sailboats, kayaks, endless hiking and biking trails, even scuba diving. Or you may want to consider a half-day swim with wild dolphins, wet suits and equipment included.

Overnight: San Miguel Royal Garden Hotel   B, L


June 6 – Nature Adventure Day & Free Day (Split Group) Morning Free – Lunch & Wine tasting

Group A: Revel in your day of leisure!
You can easily book fun jeep tours, paragliding, horse rides on the beach, the famous Furnas Valley tour, sailboats, kayaks, endless hiking and biking trails, even scuba diving. Or you may want to consider a half-day swim with wild dolphins, wet suits and equipment included.

Group B -Activities today: The best way to explore the island is going ‘off-road’ on the Big Truck Adventure. We head past beautiful lakes, rivers, waterfalls and valleys to witness unspoiled nature at her finest. First Logoa da Fogo – “Lake of Fire” – this crater lake in the Agua Massif gets 5-stars on Trip Advisors and is a must do. Enjoy a scenic hike to a huge blue lake that fills a volcano crater for some photos. Continue on to Sao Bras Lake with lush meadows and deep forests then drive down the mountains into Calderia Velha with warm waterfalls and pools lined with unique plants and flowers. Walk the paths to other cascading mineral springs for some fun thermal bathing if you choose.

Head on to the only tea plantation in Europe. Family owned since 1883, Gorreana Tea Factory is famous for organic pesticide-free green teas, taste four special herbal teas here. For lunch enjoy a special meal at El Marinero restaurant along the sea. It’s an elegant place with the best gastronomy of all the Azores.
Afternoon adventure tour – the most remarkable off road safari is definitely on the western side and highlight of the island.

Drive along the north rim of a gigantic volcano crater for Lagos das Sete Cidadades with mountains and lagoons that are the most well-known postcards of the Azores. Its spectacular views and it almost looks surreal, as if lost in time and everything is untouched.

Tonight we all gather for a fabulous Farewell Dinner at Paladaro de Quita restaurant on a tranquil lake surrounded by gardens. Dishes are cooked in wood fire oven for memorable meals not to be forgotten.

Overnight: San Miguel Royal Garden Hotel      B, D


June 7 – Goodbye Azores – Fly to Lisbon

After breakfast it’s time to say goodbye to the Azores. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Lisbon. On Lisbon arrival, transfer to Eurostar hotel for free afternoon. Ask your guide for suggestion of fun things to do.

Optional Private AFS Tour to the UNESCO town of Sintra:  

We drive through hills dotted with palaces and villas to the totally quintessential Portuguese town of Sintra filled with historic architecture and considered to be among the worlds’ most romantic villages. Vibrant colored shops and houses greet you. It’s crowned with Pena Palace, the 19th century extravagant palace is decorated with Victorian furnishings and paintings. Free time to explore this charming area. Continue on our coastal drive along the Portuguese Riviera to view the secluded Guincho beach and the storybook village of Cascais.

Departure to Sintra, became the preferred king’s summer “spot”, when in the 19th century it was picked and transformed into the most fashionable site in the surroundings of the capital. This “hidden treasure” boasts its lovely palaces and manor houses scattered throughout the hills. See (not visit) the Pena Palace a marvelous fairy tale castle from the 19th century, and one of the most important examples of the Portuguese architecture from the Romantic period. OR alternative visit the Sintra Palace which will be visited, was the residence of many Portuguese Kings as from the 14th Century.
Beautiful tiles, painted ceilings and centuries old walls, as well as an unusually huge kitchen. Enjoy some leisure time in Sintra historical center and the opportunity to stroll along its charming narrow streets, full of small shops, where beautiful tiles, ceramics and handicrafts can be found.

Overnight: Eurostar das Letras- Lisbon   B


June 8 – Depart back to USA

Airport departure home.

You may want to extend your stay to explore on your own – the coast of Portugal, Porto, Doho Wine Valley, Fatima and more.


Activity Level:

2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.

Pricing

A $400 deposit will secure your space on first come basis.

Land price - $1495 + Domestic flights

Includes all services above in first class hotels, daily guided tours with entrance fees, meals as stated, A/C private coach, AFS trip leader. 

Not included – gratuities.

International Air – 

  • May 31  S4220  BOSTON-LISBON  750pm-1040am next day
  • Jun 3  S4321  Lis-San Miguel Azores  1220pm-145pm
  • Jun 7  S4320  San Miguel - Lisbon  730am-1040am
  • Jun 8  S4223  Lisbon-Boston  135pm-705pm

Excellent price (around $1140 with tax) for all air legs and internal air.  Call us to book.

Trip land cost based on a minimum of 30 participants.

Options

Name
Description
Price
Gratuities

This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.

It is protocol to tip your drivers, porters and local guides - we have the absolute best. $13 pp per day should suffice as minimum and will be added to your final bill. We will give this to your GTL to disperse accordingly throughout. It’s easier this way. Tips are for local guides, drivers, group meals (except breakfast) and hotel porters that bring bags from bus to lobby.
$80.00
Sintra Option
Sintra tour June 7. See Trip Tips for description
$65.00
All Group Air
$985+$148 tax May 31 Boston-Lisbon, Jun 3 Lisbon - Azores, Jun 7 Azores - Lisbon, Jun 8 Lisbon-Boston - Includes internal air
$1133.00
Internal Air Only
Lisbon-Azores roundtrip only
$255.00
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Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.