For many, Flores stands out as the most beautiful island of the Azores. It’s majestic waterfalls, secluded crater lakes and imposing seacliffs attract walkers and photographers in equal measure from across the globe. The Florian’s themselves are easy-going, warm-hearted and hospitable. Many of our favourite trails begin and end in the friendly villages of Fajazinha and Faja Grande – the most westerly villages in Europe and arguably the best bases for a walking holiday.
Across the channel, you’ll find Flores’ smaller neighbour Corvo. Home to around 450 residents, the island’s landscape is dominated by it’s 2km wide, 718m high caldera – the collapsed remnants of a larger kilometre-high caldera and Europe’s most-outlying geological monument. Together with Flores and Graciosa, Corvo is a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, where the balance between the preservation of these unique landscapes and sustainable human development is carefully managed.
Faja de Lopo Vaz – Flores PRC04 FLO
Circular // 3.4 km // Medium
Well worth a visit, this is a short in-and-out walk from the viewpoint of Faja de Lopo Vaz down to the spectacular and secluded Faja itself. Lopo Vaz himself was one of the original settlers of Flores and Fajas are coastal areas of flat land formed either by eruption or landslide. The Faja de Lopo Vaz was formed by a landslide from the steep ground that still bars access directly north. There’s a dark-sanded and pebbly beach down at the faja, perfect for a dip if the seas are calm.
Lajedo – Fajã Grande – Flores PR02 FLO
Linear // 13.1 km // Medium
The west coast of Flores is the western boundary of Europe and definitely feels like the edge of the world. The famous coastal path follows the cliffs and steep ground of the coast from Lajedo in the south to Ponta Delgada in the north. The spectacular bowl and town of Faja Grande is in the middle of the west coast, splitting this walk into two convenient sections. It’s always worth chatting with locals before setting off as the mid-Atlantic climate and steep, young volcanic cliffs can sometimes conspire to block sections meaning a work-around is required. The southern section passes spectacular volcanic scenery on the way from Lajedo and towards the end has a side-trip to perhaps the most beautiful crater lake in the islands. Lagoa das Patas is framed by the forest and fed by scores of waterfalls tumbling down the green cliffs of the bowl of Faja Grande. 10/10 would walk again.
Fajã Grande – Ponta Delgada – Flores PR01 FLO
Linear // 12.9 km // Hard
If traveling with us and staying in Faja Grande, the northern section of the west coast path is best walked from north to south, ending back in Faja Grande. Starting at Ponta Delgada, the path follows the west coast, gradually ascending from the seaside town to the 400m heights of the north western cliffs. This walk is classed as Hard for the descent to Faja Grande, losing 350m of height in 1km of steep and uneven path. Again, it’s always worth chatting with locals before setting off in case there are diversions or closures to deal with on the way. The final 2.5km is relaxed by comparison as you pass the settlements on the outskirts of Faja Grande and follow your nose to the ocean front.
Miradouro das Lagoas – Poço do Bacalhau – Flores PR03 FLO
Linear // 7.3 km // Hard
We recommend walking this route in ascent from the Faja (the opposite direction to that of Visit Azores) as we feel it’s safer than encountering the steep cliff path unawares in descent.
Faja Grande sits in a spectacular half-bowl, it’s western side open to the Atlantic and it’s sunsets. The sides of the bowl are steep, green and rise some 250-400m from their base. Seemingly inaccessible, the cliffs are turned via this route that winds and zig-zags extremely steeply along a well-constructed path on the northern end of the cliffs. Although a walking path and not a scramble, the ascent is of uneven stone steps rising from 130m to 370m is physically demanding and not without exposure. It’s well worth the effort as the views over Faja Grande are superb. Take plenty of water and time the ascent to avoid any mid-day heat! After the main cliff ascent the path skirts the rim of the bowl before heading inland to explore Flores’ crater lakes – Lagoa Negra, Lagoa Comprida, Lagoa Branca and Lagoa Seca. Experienced walkers will want to reverse the route back to Faja Grande rather than pre-arrange a taxi.
Archipelago Choice – Faja Grande and Lagoa das Patas from Cuada
Circular // 9 km // Medium
We’ve put together a circular walking suggestion for those staying in Cuada or Faja Grande that gives an option for those wanting a true circular walk from the door. Exploring the Faja from the Faja Grande to Fajazinha, the route is entirely within the amazing bowl cradling this special place. There’s a side trip to spectacular Lagoa das Patas because, when in Faja Grande, the lake’s a must-see! Walk clockwise or anticlockwise, start in Cuada or in Faja Grande – it’s a route for all reasons.
Great Route of Flores
Linear // 47 km // Hard
Flores’ Great Route takes you around the north and west coasts in a continuous and spectacular journey, linking Santa Cruz with Ponta Delgada, Faja Grande and Lajedo. The first 21km leg from Santa Cruz to Ponta Delgada follows the north and eastern coastline for amazing views of the sea cliffs and out to neighbouring Corvo. The second 26km leg joins together the western paths of the PR02 and PR01 routes above. Most people will walk this Great Route over two or three days with transfers to and from their accommodation – it’s convenient to stay in either Santa Cruz or in Faja Grande (though we’ll always recommend Faja Grande if we’ve free choice!).
Caldeirão – Corvo PRC02 COR
Circular // 4.8 km // Medium
If staying on or visiting Corvo, experiencing the iconic Caldera is a must-do. Taxis are always ready to transport visitors from town, up the 6km road to the crater rim. This walking route starts at the taxi drop off point – if you’re not planning on walking back to town, arrange your return journey before you say goodbye to the driver! The viewpoint at the road end gives you a glimpse of the immensity of this perfect volcanic crater. It’s a surprising mix of character to anyone who’s visited stone-walled agricultural fields in the UK – the definitely-volcanic and young landscape has been tamed somewhat by settlers who have cleared the ground for agriculture, building improbable walls from the volcanic stone. The juxta position of the agricultural constructs within the volcanic landscape is unique and very photogenic! The walking route takes you down to the marshy crater floor and around it’s crater lakes before returning to the taxi drop off point. From here you can either ride back in a taxi, or perhaps make the journey on foot to take in Corvo’s ambience and admire the views of nearby Flores.
Cara do Índio – Corvo PR01 COR
Linear // 10.3 km // Medium
This second walk from Corvo’s Caldera rim can be combined with the Caldera circular for a 15 km walk. Starting from Corvo’s taxi drop-off point, the route descends the quiet road, always with views to the ocean and, enticingly, across to Flores. It’s a very pleasant stroll. After just over 3km strike away from the main descent and re-ascend towards the viewpoint at Coroinha. The way descends steadily from here to finish with a tour of Corvo airstrip, and the beach and natural swimming pools at it’s western end.
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