Azores is one of our bucket list destinations. Portugal is great. It is. But when people in (and out) of Portugal think of summer vacations they think of Azores. Plenty of things are available in Azores, even for the most demanding travelers. There are things to eat and things to do.
Azores are hot! How else could it be? Azores and volcanoes are one and the same thing.
Placed in the Atlantic Ocean is maybe that ocean’s best kept secret. It is a complex of islands and not an island itself. The main settlement is Ponta Delgada. The islands are: Flores and Corvo, to the west. Graciosa, Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, and Faial are in the centre. São Miguel, Santa Maria, and the Formigas Reef are at the east.
Brace yourself! Here are top things about Azores.
Sete Cidades Caldera
You are not prepared for that green ocean. Sete Cidades Massif is located the west side of São Miguel Island. The combination of amazing vegetation and blue lakes, embedded in a volcanic crater (that is what you are looking at above). You will take great pictures from every single vantage points around.
Whales are sailing through the Atlantic and there are organized tours available so to meet magnificent mammals. Perhaps you will find more tour options/companies via São Miguel, being the largest of the islands. Look at Ponta Delgada & Villa France do Campo.
Angra do Heroísmo
A harbor on the Island of Terceira, that in both 15th and 16th centuries, it was used as a pivot point for those who were fleeing to discover the New World. As you see the architecture resembles that from the 1700s. There are traditional houses and streets are with mosaic pavements. Seeing from afar is the cathedral. Spend some time in the city’s museum to absorb the very essence and history of this city.
Hot food means something else in Furnas, São Miguel
Eat food cooked inside the hot volcanic ground. Locals make pots of a meat & vegetable stew (called Cozido). Then they lower the pots inside the ground and leave it there so it is cooked slowly all day long. Well, it is not just food, it is an experience.
What else could you find in Azores? There are numerous hot springs on the islands. Popular ones are Terra Nostra Park & Poça da Dona Beija. Locals advise not to wear light colors in the pool water as the natural yellow tends to discolour such fabrics (i.e. your swimsuits).
Montanha do Pico
Pico, is the second largest island and there resides Portugal’s highest mountain. Montanha do Pico (2,351 mt – 7,713 ft) is not considered a mountain for non-experienced hikers. It is mostly rocky. If you manage to reach the top you will see a spectacular view of the islands of Graciosa, Faial, Terceira and São Jorge (on a clear day). You need a permit to climb there, but the route is really well marked.
Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa Del Fogo is one of the largest bodies of water in the Azores. This photo may look serene but this erupted just 60 years ago. It is spectacular how nature fixed things. Plan your visit carefully as many times the crater is covered with mist.
Marina da Horta
This beautiful location with nice sail boats sliding on water is on Faial Island. Photo shows just a few boats but this is not usually the case. This is an intermediate staging port for transatlantic regattas. The harbor can be really busy, filled with super yachts or of those of amateur sailors who try to cross the ocean.
Sailors are superstitious and you will see paintings painted on the harbor with the boat name and year it was there.
Pretty nice volcanic beaches and water sports
Some beaches resemble those of Santorini, Greece due to the volcanic ground. You can to stand-up paddle-boarding, surfing, scuba diving and snorkeling.
Vila Franca do Campo Islet
Unless you’ve been to Santorini, Greece or in any other volcano caldera then you will be one of the few to have swimmed in such. You can do this in Azores, at the islet of Vila Franca do Campo, which is located around a kilometre off the coast of São Miguel.
Above is a lagoon that is in the middle of the islet, with sea water in it. It is protected from ocean currents as it faces the port.
Horse-drawn carriage ride like old times
Mosaic pavements and houses with wooden doors and window frames make you feel like you have gone back in time. Complete that by having a tour around Ponta Delgada with such a carriage, bathing in Azores sun.
Attend one of the many festivals
Plan to attend of the numerous musical, religious or themed festivals during summer time. There are various happening in every island of the Azores. Here is the festivals list you can check so to plan your trip to Azores properly.
Just allow time to explore local architecture. All those beautiful houses will let you with perfect memories of the towns of Azores, that will sum up to great landscapes.
Azores is a multi-day traveling experience. Just the hiking part- going through all these greenery- is merely one those unique experiences.
We hope we gave you some ideas for your trip there.
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