island of the Azores
Europe > Iberia > Portugal > Azores > Flores (Azores)

Flores is an island in the Azores archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is well known for its abundance of flowers, hence its Portuguese name of Flores. During the summer, the island is covered with hydrangeas, which have large blue or pink flowers; this is the origin of the island's name (Flores is the Portuguese word for flowers.). The island has deep valleys and high peaks, has several inactive volcanoes, and seven lakes where water collected in volcanic calderas.

Understand edit

Westernmost end of Europe

Flores (FLOH-r(ih)sh, /ˈfɫo.ɾɨʃ/) 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.

Get in edit

By plane edit

  • 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.    

By boat edit

  • Atlânticoline. Ferry service from Corvo. Gets very busy in summer months, reserving a week before at least is recommended. Just operates when the weather allows, hence mostly non-existent in winter.

Get around edit

Map of Flores (Azores)

By car edit

Various car rental companies operate at the small airport on the island (Sunny Cars, Sixt, Europcar, Avis).

A country road (ER 1-2) connects Ponta Delgada in the north of the island via Cedros on the east coast with Santa Cruz das Flores and continues south via Caveira to Lajes das Flores. Here it turns west and leads to Lajedo and further north to Mosteiro, from where you can continue parallel to the west coast to Fajã Grande. Another country road (ER 2-2) leads from Santa Cruz das Flores through the interior of the island to the west and meets the ER 1-2 north of Mosteiro.

By bus edit

UTC operates three bus lines, each with 2-4 trips per day. Fares vary from €1.20 to €4.90 depending on the distance. No service on weekends or public holidays (as of Jan 2023).

Hitchhiking edit

Hitchhiking is fairly easy on the island. Although locals never do it, they frequently take tourists, as they are aware of the lack of public transportation.

Towns and villages edit

  • 1 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.    
  • 2 Caveira. From Caveira there is a dirt road that after a couple of kilometres reaches 1 Lagoa de Lomba.    
  • 3 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 drop of almost 100 m.    
  • 4 Fajãzinha. Village of 70 souls, about 3 km further south with other spectacular waterfalls. Fajãzinha is renowned for freshwater trout fishing.    
  • 5 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.    
  • Cuada. A village abandoned in 1960 whose inhabitants emigrated to the United States; the houses were restored and converted into tourist accommodation.

See edit

Ponta do Albernaz
  • The crater lake 2 Lagoa Funda.  , 3 Lagoa Comprida.  , 4 Lagoa Funda das Lajes.   and other crater lakes in the center of the island
  • 5 Rocha dos Bordões. Basalt organ pipes.  
  • 6 Aguas Quentes. Small hot sulphur springs.
  • The summits Sete Pes., Burrinha., Marcel. and 7 Morro Alto.    
  • 8 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 m 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.  
  • Poco da Ribeira do Ferreiro. A wall of Waterfalls fall into the 9 Lagoa dos Patos.   lake, right out of a fairytale. Lies on the trail between Faja Grande and Fajazinha. Alternatively take a bus and tell the driver to leave you there, or walk up the main street from Faja Grande (takes about 45 min.)
  • 10 Cascata do Poço do Bacalhau. 90m high waterfall, active in the rainy season. During summer a bathing pond.    

Do edit

Hiking edit

Lagoa Funda and Lagoa Rasa
View of Corvo from Ponta Delgada
  • The mule track that runs from Fajã Grande along the northwest coast to Ponta Delgada. It is a bit challenging when you ascend 300 vertical metres on very steep slopes at the beginning. It is a spectacular but challenging route that takes about 4½ hours one way. Or you could take a boat excursion. Cycling is not very possible.

The Rother hiking guide for Azores describes the following tours:

  • From Costa do Lajedo to Fajã Grande (5 hours, available online[dead link])
  • Around Fajã Grande (2 hr 40 min)
  • From the Lagoas to Fajã Grande (3 hr)
  • From Fajã Grande to Ponta Delgada (4 hr 20 min)
  • Trilho das Barrosas (2 hr 30 min)
  • From Ponta Ruiva to Fazenda de Santa Cruz (3 hr 10 min)
  • Fajã do Conde (2 hr)
  • Ponta da Caveira (1 hr 30 min)
  • Porto da Lomba (1 hr 35 min)
  • Fajã de Lopo Vaz (3 hr 10 min)

Beaches edit

  • Fajã Grande. With a natural swimming pool.
  • Ponta de Fajã Grande, At the waterfall.
  • 1 Fajã de Lopo Vaz. With a dark sand.    
  • Fajãzinha. 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.

Driving itineraries edit

In one busy days with a car you can see the major points. With two days, you can drive both routes at a leisurely pace.

Southern loop edit

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.

Northern route edit

From the capital, another roadway heads north towards Ponta Delgada where it stops. Look west to see if you can see Newfoundland. (You can't: it's 2,688 km away.) 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.

Village festivities edit

The summer is the time of the traditional Festas do Espiritu Santo. Every weekend another village organizes these religious festivities, that always include parties on the streets until late at night, with traditional live music, people dancing and traditional food being served. The best way to meet the locals is on the dancefloor.

The Sopas do Espiritu Santo on the other Hand are privatly organised public lunches. Usually someone that wants to show a contribution to the church offers generously to pay for a cow, which get cooked up into a delicious soup by lots of volunteers in the community kitchen. This soup together with a lot of whine, is served either for free or for a small contribution. Happens irregulary (every time someone sponsors the lunch), but has a very nice community atmosphere and locals, expats and tourists are equally welcome.

Buy edit

Eat edit

  • 1 Restaurante "O Moreão", Rua Dr. Armas da Silveira 21, Santa Cruz das Flores, +351 292 542 133. Lots of seafood and other interesting choices.
  • 2 Restaurante Sereia, Rua Dr. Armas da Silveira, Santa Cruz das Flores, +351 292 592 093.
  • Barraca Q'abana, Avenida Complexo XXI, Faja Grande (walk down the main street of Faja Grande and turn left when you reach the oceanside), +351 969 317 901. Summer: 10:00-22:00, winter: 12:00-14:00 & 18:00-20:00. Bifana €3, hamburger with french fries €5.5, bigger meals from €8, desserts from €1.5, beer and wine €1.

Drink edit

Sleep edit

Camping edit

There are several (in summer) well mantained public camping spots. Most of them are free and unsupervised, but get cleaned daily in summer, have showers and toiletts, very often free foods and toiletries that other people left and free, already cut firewood and grill spaces. You can find free camping spots in.

  • Fajã Grande. Next to restaurant Barraca Q'abana. Showers with warm water, toilets get cleaned frequently, plugs for phone charging, place for washing clothes, beautful ocean view and absolutely best sunset view, but gets quiet busy.
  • Alagoa. Directly on the trail between Santa Cruz and Ponta Delgada, 1 hr by foot from Santa Cruz. also reachable by car. Lies above a cobblestone beach, toilets and showers, free fire wood, lots of free foods and toiletries from former campers. It is used by locals for weekend grill get-togethers.
  • Ponta Delgada.
  • Lajes das Flores.
  • Santa Cruz das Flores. Small fee charged, but only one that is supervised. closed in winter.

Wild camping edit

Wild camping is widely accepted, although the camping spots are so frequent along the main trails, that wildcamping is barely necessary. Wild camping in nature reserves are forbidden, inluding at the Poco de Rebeira do Ferreiro. Good spots for wild camping are:

  • Faja Lopo Vaz. From Lajes ask for the beginning of the trail. It is well mantained, but kind of steep down. On the beginning of the trail there is a Grilling Place and toilets, but the view from there is non-existent, which is a waste of time, steps away from a breathtaking place like this. Faja Lopo Vaz has a micro-climate so it is a bit warmer down there. But be aware- there are no shops, very few private houses, that are mostly weekend houses, so they are not inhabited and there is almost no phone signal, you'll be completely alone there at night with a lot of Cagarros (big sea birds that live there in big colonies), which are very light sensitive, so they will try to fly into your bonfire, lightsource. During the day there are also some wild goats walking the beach.
  • Porto da Lomba.
  • Faja de Pedro Viera.

Connect edit

Go next edit

  • Corvo. Daily boat trips in summer or 15 min by plane with SATA Air Azores. Most people take the ferry in the morning and come back in the afternoon, but there is a beautiful free camping in Corvo also, right next to a black sand beach, staying there overnight is recommended, just as always on the Azores, check the weather.
  • Faial. Daily flight connection with SATA Air Azores
This rural area travel guide to Flores is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.