Overview

The island of Graciosa has a peaceful rural charm, perfect for a truly relaxing break.

The whole island is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (along with Corvo and Flores) – highlighting Graciosa’s ideal balance between the preservation of her landscapes and ecosystems, and sustainable economic and human development. As a visitor, this manifests itself as sparsely populated villages, traditional rural architecture, quiet roads and a gentle pace of life which you can’t help slipping into as soon as you arrive on the island.

That’s not to say Graciosa is dull; quite the opposite – it’s violent volcanic past is only too evident when you take the plunge down into the volcano at Furna do Enxofre. A unique geological phenomenon, this enormous lava cave is an extraordinary sight: 200m in diameter, with a magnificent vaulted ceiling 50m high (made up of perfect cross-sections of volcanic prisms), its own underground sulphurous lake, and it’s only accessible via a vertigo-inducing 80-year-old stone spiral staircase (we counted 183 steps). The Azores has more than its fair share of impressive geological phenomena, but Furna do Enxofre has to be one of our favourites.

Highlights

Furna do Enxofre (pronounced ‘Fur-Na Dough En-Show-Frer’) is an incredible natural wonder. The visitors centre is excellent too, with displays on the geological evolution of the island since its creation 600,000 years ago.
Having explored inside the volcano, it’s time to explore the outside. The Volta a Caldeira trail takes you right around the caldera, and includes one of the few miradouros in the Azores where you can view five islands from the same spot: Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico, Faial and of course Graciosa herself.
Once your walks are done, it’s nice to spend a relaxing day on the beach at Praia, or maybe swimming in the seawater pools at Ponta Barca. The geothermal baths at Termas do Carapacho are a wonderful all year around.

Activities

Spend your days exploring on foot and by car, and your evenings relaxing in the main square in Santa Cruz. It's also a great island for studying pelagic bird species; we have a group trip every August.

Accommodation

The island's capital Santa Cruz is a good base from which to explore the island, and there are some great self-catering and hotel options in and around the town.

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