If like us you enjoy walking, you will love Sao Jorge in The Azores. The island is long and thin, with a 56 km mountain ridge along its spine. The ridge is dotted with craters and lakes, and the sides plunge down steeply to the sea. Scattered around the coast are small villages situated on fajas, which are small coastal plains.
From many places in Sao Jorge there are superb views of neighbouring Pico – even better than the views from Faial.
You can fly to Sao Jorge with SATA, or use the ferry service from one of the neighbouring islands. For more information on travel between the island see Azores Practicalities.
The main town on Sao Jorge is Velas. We stayed in the Hotel Sao Jorge Garden, which we really enjoyed. The hotel is situated in a peaceful spot with great views over the ocean. It does not have its own restaurant, but is situated just far enough from Velas to be a very pleasant stroll into town for dinner each evening. We would definitely stay there again.
There is a better choice of restaurants in Velas than on some of the other islands. Strolling back to the hotel after dusk was accompanied by the weird calls of Cory’s shearwaters, which nest on the island. For more information on Cory’s shearwaters see the post on Flores.
Walking on Sao Jorge
You could hire a car, but because many of the best walks on the island are linear, we found it was better to use taxis. It is simple to arrange for a taxi driver to take you to the starting point of a walk, and arrange for the same driver to pick you up at the finishing point later on. Show the driver your walking guide or map so they know exactly what you intend to do. Make sure you factor in enough time to enjoy the views and take photographs. We just found taxi ranks in Velas and made the arrangements direct with the driver. They did not charge us for the outward journey, but charged the total amount when they brought us back to Velas later.
For a guide to the walks on the island I highly recommend Landscapes of The Azores, which has detailed route descriptions, maps, and beautiful illustrations. We particularly enjoyed the walk to Santo Cristo, and the walk starting at Parque Sete Fontes. Here are some pictures that show the stunning scenery that the island has to offer:
Like many islands in The Azores, hydrangeas and ginger lilies grow wild on the hillsides. Tree heathers are also common. Here are some fine examples:
If you are planning a trip to the Azores you will not regret including Sao Jorge in your itinerary. You cannot fail to be captivated by its beauty.
Please be aware that this site is based purely on our own experiences, therefore please note the disclaimer.