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Exploring the Azores’ exciting volcanic landscapes by mountain or road bike is a unique and exhilarating experience. Here are six of the best routes to follow…

The Azores islands boast an abundance of bike trails ideal for all levels, giving riders the chance to revel in the fascinating nature and unusual volcanic terrain all around.

From ultra-technical single tracks which connect mountains, beaches and fajãs to roads circling lakes and mountain ranges which flourish with plant and bird life, the Azorean islands offer a mountain biking experience for every taste and skill level. If you’re a mountain biker, there’s a vast network of enduro trails criss-crossing the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria.

If you would rather bike on the road, the islands also provide a large road network flanked by hydrangeas and Japanese cedars. These roads connect some of the Azores' most breath-taking landscapes and unlock insights into the islands' culture and villages.

And after a long day in the saddle you can cool off at one of the archipelago’s many bathing sites, natural warm water baths, in tidal pools or the ocean.

 

Tour of Stª Maria

Island: Santa Maria
Distance: 52.77km
Time: 3hrs
Difficulty: Medium

This circular road bike tour begins and ends at the Largo Nossa Senhora da Conceição square and shows off the exciting contours of 'the Yellow Island', also known as the Island of the Sun. Santa Maria is also an island of two halves - a lower, flatter area, where the airport and the town of Vila do Porto sit, and a hilly area, featuring more luxuriant vegetation and the Pico Alto, which offers fantastic panoramic views. After the final climb, have a rest at the pool at Pedreira, and regain your energy.

Highlight: The viewpoints overlooking Praia Formosa beach and the sweep of São Lourenço Bay.

 

Volta ao Concelho

Island: São Miguel
Distance: 91.2km
Time: 4-5hrs
Difficulty: Hard

A circular road-bike tour of the east end of the Green Island and the largest of the nine Azores. One of the highlights of this extensive ride is the descent to the Lagoa das Sete Cidades, a large lake nestled in a huge volcanic crater, and one of the most iconic features of São Miguel. Factor in a stop at the viewpoint of Cumeeiras, overlooking the Mosteiros, and after skipping through the island's northern parishes make more time for a stop at Areais de St Bárbara beach.

Highlight: Sete Cidades. One of the best-loved spots in the Azores.

 

Pico Grande

Island: São Miguel
Distance: 1.73km
Time: 6-8mins
Difficulty: Hard

Enduro descents are very popular in the Azores, and this - with its 360m vertical - is the best-known trail in this area. It begins on a wide, fast dirt track, and becomes more difficult as the track narrows, and you enter a section with a gap followed by a sequence of four jumps. Before the last jump there is a sloping rock garden. After this section the trail is flatter and smoother, before rising gradually towards the end. This last part has a stone surface with long straight stretches linked by three zones of hairpin bends, before the trail ends in the area of Burguete.

Highlight: The jumps!

 

Pico Granfondo

Island: Pico
Distance: 144km
Time: 6-7hrs
Difficulty: Tough

Beginning and ending in Madalena town, this is as challenging as you want for a panoramic road circuit of the Grey Island that is home to Portugal's highest mountain, the volcano Mt Pico. And though you don't climb the peak itself, the route does include a lactate-guzzling climb of just over 15km in the shadow of Mt Pico, getting up to the tour's high point of 931m.

There is also a tricky descent to the town of São Roque, where you will need to stand on the brakes to avoid going too fast. After this point you can have a break at the bathing area on the quay of São Roque, where there is a Whaling Museum, and a restaurant and bar area, before the long ride home along the south coast.

Highlight: The views from the top.

 

Interior Sete Cidades

Island: São Miguel
Distance: 15.6km
Time: 1hr
Difficulty: Easy

If the tricky Enduro descents that criss-cross these islands are not your thing, this undulating ride along the shores of the beautiful Blue Lake and the forested trails of its smaller neighbour the Lago Verde, both cupped in the crater of Sete Cidades, gets you up close to this spectacular island beauty spot. There are even a couple of delightful picnic spots to stop off at.

Highlight: The tranquillity of the lakeside settings.

 

Volta à Ilha Terceira

Island: Terceira
Distance: 80.4km
Time: 4-5hrs
Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult

This complete road circuit of the beautiful 'Purple Island' starts and ends in the historical centre of Angra do Heroísmo; a network of beautifully preserved streets, alleys, churches, palaces, manor houses, monuments, squares and gardens, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit location.

The round-island route includes several climbs including one testing ascent up to the vantage point at the Raminho headland, where not only can you observe the coast of Terceira but also the other islands in the central group: Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial. Worthwhile pit-stops include the wine museum in Biscoitos and the crystal-clear waters of Praia da Vitória beach.

Highlight: stunning views and wonderful landscapes.

 

See more information on these and other Azores bike routes at biking.visitazores.com/en/routes

 

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