This package to the Azores gets you to Europe in four hours -- well, the part of Europe that's west of Portugal and part of a group of nine islands. Azores Express and SATA airline (tel. 800/762-9995; www.sata.pt) are offering a six-night package with air that's available for travel in November through spring 2011.
The starting price of $709 reflects the Hotel Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel during shoulder and off-season travel. The upper end of the pricing spectrum (from $1,109-$1,299) reflects both a different destination (Terceira Mar Hotel in Terceira Island) and high season (June 1, 2011-September 30, 2011).
With this package, you have a choice of 24 hotels: four on Terceira, two on Faial, one on Santa Maria, one on Pico and 16 on São Miguel, the largest island. Therefore, your price will depend upon the hotel you choose, the island you want to visit, and the travel dates.
The affordable Azores have crater lakes, geysers, and seaside fishing villages. São Miguel is the main island; Ponta Delgada is a good base for exploring the rugged coastline or the thermal lakes and tea and pineapple plantations further inland.
Terceira boasts a UNESCO World Heritage site in its historic main city, Angra do Heroismo, and the island is dotted with black lava cliffs. You can climb to the 7,700-foot summit of the volcanic mountain on Pico (which means peak in Portuguese, naturally.)
Boating enthusiasts--specifically yachties--might have heard of lively harbor in Horta, Faial. Santa Maria is the sunniest and dries of the Azores and regarded as possessing some of the best beaches in the Azores, with white sand and deep bays. The climate is temperate year-round , ranging from 60° to 80° Fahrenheit.
Fall, for example, sees temperatures in the 70s, whereas November and December only gets as cold as the 60s. January and February tend to be a little rainy in comparison, but it does not get cold like it does in North America. You can thank the warm ocean water for that.
Trip Type: Air-inclusive; independent
What the Quoted Price Gets You: Round-trip airfare from Boston to Ponta Delgada, São Miguel; six nights at the Hotel Ponta Delgada; breakfast daily; and airline fuel surcharges.
What Else You'll Have to Pay: Government taxes and fees of about $175.
When: Tuesday and Friday departures Nov. 1, 2010-March 31, 2011 (from $719); June 1, 2011-Sept. 30, 2011 (from $1,109).
Book By: As soon as possible to ensure availability.
Other Details: All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes, and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Blackout dates may apply. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways and any single supplements, which is the extra cost that a solo traveler would pay to book the deal.