Flores is the westernmost Azorean island and is thus considered the westernmost part of Europe. Faja Grande is thus westernmost settlement of Europe, and is beautifully secluded.
It is located about 236 km northwest of Faial and rests on the american tectonic plate. Together with the small island of Corvo, Flores forms the western group of the Azores. The length of 18 km and a width of 14 km contribute to its total size of 143 km². The highest point is the extinct volcano Morro Alto with a height of 914 m (2,999 ft).
The most substantial town is Santa Cruz das Flores with about 1,700 inhabitants. The population of the island, which had reached almost 11,000 in 1849, has fallen sharply due to emigration and is now only about 3,800.
The name of the island, which is of volcanic origin, is derived from the rich floral splendor. Short streams form numerous waterfalls. The coastline is predominantly formed by high cliffs. The interior of the island has idyllic crater lakes, such as the Caldeira Funda, between laurel forests.
- 1 Flores Airport (FLW IATA). A small airport opened in 1968 ) in the immediate vicinity of Santa Cruz das Flores, which is served by the Azores Islands São Miguel, Terceira, Faial and Corvo of SATA Air Açores. After São Miguel and Terceira there are regular connections from Central Europe via Lisbon. The travel time on these paths (incl. transfer times) from Munich is at least 12 hours.
Various car rental companies operate on the island (Sunny Cars, Sixt, Europcar, Avis). A Renault Clio was offered in April 2016 for around 75 EUR / day.
- Caveira. From Caveira there is a dirt road that after a couple of km reaches 1 Lagoa de Lomba.
- Fajã Grande. Village of 200 inhabitants, Fajã Grande is considered the westernmost of European settlements. The village has a pebble beach but the real boon is the possibility of excursions in the surroundings between waterfalls and natural pools surrounded by exuberant vegetation. Despite the uninviting name "Poço do Bacalhau" it is among the most famous natural swimming pools of Fajã Grande, It is fed by a waterfall with a jump of almost 100 m.
- Fajãzinha. Village of 70 souls, about 3 km further south with other spectacular waterfalls. Fajãzinha is renowned for freshwater trout fishing.
- Lajes das Flores. A small town in the south, with the church Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora do Rosário, a small whaling museum, a lighthouse and a yacht harbour
- Santa Cruz das Flores. Capital of the island, with the church Igreja Matriz da Nossa Senhora da Conceição and the Museum of Islands Museu das Flores in the former Franciscan monastery Convento de São Boaventura
- Cuada. A village abandoned in 1960 whose inhabitants emigrated to the United States; the houses were restored and converted into tourist accommodation.
- The crater lake Lagoa Funda and another six crater lakes in the center of the island
- 2 Rocha dos Bordões. Basalt organ pipes
- 3 Aguas Quentes. Small hot sulfur springs.
- The summits Sete Pes, Burrinha, Marcel and Morro Alto
- Gruta dos Enxaréus. Visible only by boat, the grotto is the largest of the myriad caves that open at the base of the promontory "La Caveira", about 3 km south of the capital. The marine cave measures 25 x 50 and is of volcanic origin. Like the nearby "gruta de galo", it used to be a hiding place for pirate ships that then gave themselves to the boarding of the galleons coming from Brazil and the other Portuguese colonies. Today Gruta dos Enxaréus is one of the major natural attractions of Flores.
The hike between Ponta Delgada and Faja Grande is absolutely stunning. It is a bit challenging when you descend a good 300 vertical meters on very steep slopes at the end. For this reason, easy cycling is not very possible.
The Rother hiking guide for Azores describes the following tours:
- From Costa to Fajá Grande (5 hours, available online)
- Around Fajá Grande (2 hrs 40 mins)
- From the Lagoas to Fajá Grande (3 hours)
- From Fajá Grande to Ponta Delgada (4 hours 20 minutes)
- Trilho das Barrosas (2 hrs 30 mins)
- From Ponta Ruiva to Fazenda de Santa Cruz (3hrs 10mins)
- Fajá do Conde (2 hours)
- Ponta da Caveira (1 hour 30 minutes)
- Porto da Lomba (1 hour 35 minutes)
- Fajã de Lopo Vaz (3 hours 10 minutes)
- Fajá Grande. With a natural swimming pool.
- Ponta de Fajá Grande, At the waterfall.
- Fajá de Lopo Vaz. With a dark sand.
- Fajazinha. In Riberira Grande.
- Lajes das Flores. With a small sandy beach.
- Ponta Delgada. In the harbor bay.
- Santa Cruz das Flores. Multiple natural swimming pools.
From Santa Cruz, a roadway faces south, bordering the eastern and southern coast and then returning to the main town along the hinterland. The list of POIs along the route and its branches: Gruta dos Enxaréus, Caveira, Lajes das Flores, Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Rasa, Rocha dos Bordões, Fajãzinha, Cuada, Fajã Grande and Morro dos Frades.
From the capital, another roadway heads north towards Ponta Delgada where it stops. It is a scenic road with beautiful views of the high and steep north-east coast. The most interesting point is the bay of Alagoa, surrounded by islets and rocks covered with vegetation, Da Ponta Delgada is visible on the island of Corvo .
- The mule track that runs from Fajã Grande along the northwest coast to Ponta Delgada. It is a spectacular but challenging route. Those who have no physical resistance can alternatively order a boat excursion.
- Pastelaria Snack Bar Amanhecer, Rua Dr. Armas da Silveira 21, Santa Cruz das Flores.
- E-Legal, Rua Da Esperanca 28, Santa Cruz das Flores.
- Restaurante Sereia, Rua Dr. Armas da Silveira, Santa Cruz das Flores.
In Faja Grande, Argonauta is an excellent Italian-Portuguese bed-and-breakfast.
- Hotel das Flores/Inatel, Zona Do Boqueirão, 9970-390 Santa Cruz das Flores. from €37/person.
- Servi-flôr, Antigo Bairro dos Franceses, 9970-305 Santa Cruz das Flores, ☏ .
- Aldeia Da Cuada, Fajã Grande. approx. €75/person.
- Camping in Fajã, at the sea.