Overview

With good flight and ferry connections, São Jorge is one of the most scenically dramatic and friendly islands in the Azores. Its picturesque capital, Velas, is a sleepy harbour town dating from the mid 1400s and has a delightful traditional Azorean bandstand in the main square.

It’s a long narrow island with steep cliffs which make for spectacular walking but just hiring a car and exploring the country lanes stopping at the many viewpoints is a great way to discover São Jorge.

Highlights

Sit out in the evening with a drink at one of Velas' bars and listen to the unique cries of the Cory Shearwater as they return from their day out fishing. The Topo islet, at the east end of the island, with its nesting and resting areas for many resident migratory birds including the Shearwater, has been classified a Natural Reserve.
One of the most beautiful walks in the Azores heads off from the top of the island down to Fajã do Santo Cristo with its pretty church and lagoon where one of the island’s delicacies, clams, are farmed. These Fajãs are a famous highlight on São Jorge - they are coastal plains which lie at the foot of the steep volcanic cliffs and home to most of the villages on the island.
And while you are there don’t forget to sample the famous São Jorge cheese - a strong cheddar style cheese. There are 10,000 people living on São Jorge but twice as many cows so you'll see milking bales and cheese tasting cooperatives all round the island. Visit the church of Santa Barbara at Manadas, one of the finest examples of religious architecture in the Azores, containing glazed tile work, carved ceilings and rich gilded altars.

Activities

Walking, walking and more walking. There are so many trails to choose from on São Jorge and the island is home to some of the best walks in the Azores. When you're not walking, it's easy to drive around not forgetting to stop to gaze over the channel to Mt Pico and enjoy the forest parks. Canyoning here can be challenging but great for the more experienced.

Accommodation

Most people tend to stay in the capital Velas where there is a choice of hotels and guesthouses. Outside of Velas there is limited accommodation.

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