We have a habit of creating quite busy holidays, with plenty of things to see and do. Contrary to what we tell you on the rest of our website, it is also possible to visit the Azores to just do nothing – to relax with your family and friends, in peaceful rural isolation. If that fits with your idea of a summer holiday, our family holiday on the little island of Graciosa is the one for you.
Graciosa’s connection to the outside world is via the neighbouring island of Terceira, so we begin and end your stay in the seaside town of Praia da Vitoria. It’s Terceira’s ‘second city’, with a small beach (great for sea-kayaking, which we’ve included) and a friendly laid-back atmosphere. After a couple of days in Praia, you’ll make the short hop by plane to Graciosa, to spend four-and-a-bit days relaxing at Quinta do Bairro: a newly-built two-bedroom cottage on the outskirts of Santa Cruz.
We’ll include a car to help you get around so you can visit our favourite swimming spots – the island’s rocky coast is dotted with natural sea-water pools and BBQ/picnic areas. Graciosa’s also home to one of the Azores’ most spectacular volcanic sites: the vast lava cave at Furna do Enxofre, whose aquifers feed the geothermally-heated pools at Termas.
We’ll usually leave your first morning on the island free, so you can relax and explore Praia da Vitoria – Terceira’s ‘second city’ and the site of the very first settlement on the island (in the early 1450s).
The nearby beach is a lovely spot for a morning swim; the harbour next door is home to the island’s fishing fleet and Praia’s restaurants serve some of the best fresh fish on the island.
You’ll take to the waters of Praia da Vitoria bay this morning, for a kayaking session with our instructor. The calm waters of this protected bay are perfect for beginners and younger children to get to grips with a kayak.
In the afternoon, you’ll leave Terceira – flying to the neighbouring island of Graciosa. You’ll be met at the airport by the owner of your accommodation, and after collecting your hire car, he’ll guide you to the house on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. A welcome pack will be waiting at the house, with some essential supplies and a few Azorean treats.
It’s nice to spend your first full day exploring the island’s main town: Santa Cruz. The island was first colonised in the late 1450s (records are a bit shaky on the exact date) – initially Praia was the first settlement, before Santa Cruz quickly took over as the island’s capital. At the height of Graciosa’s agricultural output, the population of the island peaked at almost 14,000 - hard to believe as you wander around the peaceful main square. The Graciosa Museu is a good place to learn more about the island’s history.
Overlooking the town is Mount Nossa Senhora da Ajuda – it’s well-worth the short walk to the summit for a panoramic view over Santa Cruz and out to sea. From the summit, it’s also much easier to see the mount as it really is: a now-extinct volcano.
Today you’ll exploring the island’s volcanic past and present. The island was formed around 600,000 years ago - the more interesting eruptions (in terms of what we can see today), occurred 50,000 years ago and created the large caldera at the south-eastern end of the island. It's just under 2km across and 1km wide, and was once filled with a lava lake 240m deep (fed from the Furna do Enxofre cave, which you can visit later today).
There’s a nice circular walk which takes you around the outside of the crater rim: the Volta a Caldeira trail - one of the very few places in the Azores where you can see five islands from the same spot. Following your walk, a short drive will take you down the visitors centre at Furna do Enxofre – the vast volcanic cavern 200m long and 50m high, that once fed the lava lake above.
Sometimes it’s just nice to spend the day relaxing by the sea, and there are some great swimming spots on the island; the beach at Praia de Sao Mateus is one of the most popular. Closer to home, there’s an excellent swimming spot at Barro Vermelho (a five-minute drive from your Quinta), with changing facilities, showers and a nice picnic area.
We're normally leave your final day on the island free. Late-afternoon, you’ll return your hire car to the airport before flying back to Terceira. Our driver will collect you once again, for your transfer into Praia and your overnight stay.
You'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home (via Lisbon once again).
Price Per Person
We can create a tailor-made holiday to suit your budget.
INCLUDED : Accommodation for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children) in a junior suite (with extra sofa beds) at Atlantida Mar, and on self catering basis in a 2 bedroom cottage at Quinta do Bairro, airport transfers on Terceira, 4 days Model D car hire, 1 x half-day guided sea-kayaking session, and International and Inter-island flights (as a guide price only).
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.
Brilliant holiday organised by an excellent company!
Friendly, helpful, professional and completely geared to us as individuals.
John and Janice
Very helpful staff, and the trips they organised for us were excellent with knowledgeable guides.
A really wonderful holiday!
We normally travel independently, but I am go glad that we used Archipelago Choice – their insider knowledge was really helpful in making the most of our time.
Valerie – Brighton
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