The Portuguese Azores have been one of the most popular destinations among European tourists for years. To explain why, you must look for the answer in the fantastic nature, the tropical atmosphere, and the endless sights. The archipelago consists of 9 major islands, the largest of which is São Miguel. Ponta Delgada considered the island's centre, is also the largest city in the Azores.
It were formed through volcanic activity, and the islands still have numerous volcanic features, including hot springs, geysers, and volcanic lakes. It is often labelled as the Hawaii of Europe.
The official language on the island is Portuguese, but people working in tourism and hospitality speak English.
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|Country||Portugal (Atlantic Ocean)|
|Area||2 333 km²|
|Distance form Lisbon||2-3 hours (by plane)|
|Biggest island||São Miguel|
Where are the Azores?
The Azores are a group of 9 islands belonging to Portugal. The group is located in the Atlantic Ocean. Its largest island is Sao Miguel in the east. You can travel between the islands by boat or helicopter - but in the second case, you must reach deep into your wallet.
International flights mostly arrive in Ponta Delgada. The airport is 2 kilometres from the city centre. Ponta Delgada is located on the previously mentioned island of Sao Miguel. The island can be reached by plane in 2.5 hours from the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
Map of the islands
The archipelago includes a total of 9 larger islands, all of which are habited. The smaller, uninhabited islands mostly have no names.
- West: Corvo, Flores
- Middle: Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, Terceira
- East: Sao Miguel, Santa Maria
Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial are the Triangle Islands ( Ilhas do Triângulo ). These three islands are the closest to each other. The islands are part of the mid-ocean ridge, outcrops of basalt volcanoes.
The speciality of the Azores is not the previously mentioned cows but the dazzling green and lush vegetation, as well as the numerous internal, circular lakes. These lakes testify to former volcanic activity. It is also worth mentioning the many, many caves on the island.
|Sao Miguel||759 km²||Ponta Delgada||152 154||Santa Barbara, Água de Alto, Caloura, Vila Franca, Ribeira Quente, Mosteiros|
|Pico||446 km²||Madalena||14 500||Praia do Canto da Areia|
|Terceira||403 km²||Angra do Heroísmo||55 000||Silveira, Biscoitos|
|Sao Jorge||246 km²||Velas||9 500||Caldeira do Santo Cristo|
|Faial||173 km²||Horta||15 000||Porto Pim, Almoxarife|
|Flores||143 km²||Santa Cruz das Flores||3 950||Fajã Grande|
|Santa Maria||97 km²||Vila do Porto||5 500 fő||Formosa, São Lourenço bay|
|Graciosa||62 km²||Santa Cruz da Graciosa||4 700|
|Corvo||17 km²||Vila do Crovo||435||Canto da Areia|
Transportation - ferry, boat, plane
- If you want to travel longer distances, rent a car.
- Another option is the pre-book a transfer service from your hotel.
- If you want to stay close to your hotel, rent a bike.
- You can travel between the islands by boat and plane. Only one company will fly you over; a ticket costs about 100 euros. A trip takes about 45 minutes, plus check-in, etc.
A ferry between most islands will take you and your rental car between the islands. Most of the ferries operate between May and September. Out of season, only a few islands can be reached by ferry. In addition, you can choose a boat tour that takes you to a neighbouring island.
- The ferry has four routes (yellow, blue, green, and red).
- The shortest is 30 minutes; the longest is roughly 3 hours.
- Please note that not all ferries can take your car.
For accommodation, it is worth choosing the central island of Sao Miguel, where you will find the most beaches and the main airport. Here will be the easiest to find restaurants and service providers. There are plenty of options and routes for hiking, but if you want to climb the highest peak in Portugal, visit the island of Pico, where you will find Mount Pico.
The average temperature of the archipelago is 25 °C in summer and 16 ° C in winter. The summers are getting hotter- and rainier thanks to the increasingly hot weather. You never have to expect heat waves (like all islands, the Azores are also characterized by windy weather).
- The highest temperature in summer is 30 degrees. The weather is drier, with an average rainfall of less than 30 mm in July.
- The wettest months are September, October, November, December and January. The average amount of precipitation is over 90 mm.
- An oceanic, mild and warm subtropical climate characterizes the Azores.
First, here is a great video that briefly (in 5.5 minutes) presents the best of the island.
The discovery of the archipelago is attributed to the name of the Portuguese ship captain, Goncalo Velho, who landed his ship on the island of Santa Maria in 1427. However, the group was already unofficially known to the Medicis, as evidenced by a map in the family's possession. But these maps (1351) only show seven islands.
- Columbus also visited the island and docked at Santa Maria on his way back from his voyage of discovery in 1492.
- Later, until the 17th century, it was practically governed by Spain.
- The Azores had their heyday in the 19th century, at the time of advanced transatlantic shipping, when ships "rested" as part of the shipping line connecting Europe and North America. But with the rise of aviation, this important role decreased, and its economy declined somewhat.
- Between 1974 and 1975, the Azores Liberation Front tried to win its independence, but ultimately, they abandoned this plan. They finally received autonomous status from Portugal in 1976.
- Nowadays, most of the population lives from farming, fishing and tourism.
There are approx. 40 beaches to find on different islands. Sandy beaches and the average temperature of 23 degrees will also contribute to your pleasant time here. It is best to go between June and September for bathing and swimming. It is also worth bringing or buying a snorkel on-site.
The beaches are a mix of sand, pebble and rock. Whatever your favourite, you're sure to find something you like. Here is a list of the most popular beaches by island:
- Sao Miguel: Santa Barbara, Água de Alto, Caloura, Vila Franca, Ribeira Quente, and Mosteiros
- Terceira: Silveira and Biscoitos
- Santa Maria: Formosa and São Lourenço bay
- Flores: Fajã Grande
- Pico: Praia do Canto da Areia
- São Jorge: Caldeira do Santo Cristo
- Faial: Porto Pim and Almoxarife
- Corvo: Canto da Areia
Things to do
- In addition to going to the beach, it is good to know that water sports are very popular on the island. You can rent various things: kayaks, canoes, boats, windsurf, diving equipment, snorkel glasses, jet skis, etc.
- And if you want something more relaxing, you can also pay for a whale-watching trip. The whales living here can grow to be particularly large (up to 30 meters long), and there are also 150-ton specimens among them.
- It is also worth trying island hopping (when you are taken from one island to another by boat). The ferry will help you the most.
- If you prefer to stay on land, you can go on hikes and excursions, but in more and more places, you can also rent bicycles (electric bicycles), which makes exploring easier. It's worth winding your way through the plantations or taking a hike to one of the gorges or one of the waterfalls.
- And if you like spas, don't miss the local thermal baths either.
- Bicycle rental (30 - 100 euros/day)
- Snorkel equipment (30 - 50 euros)
- Whale watching (30 - 50 euros)
- Lava cave entrance (10 euros)
- Diving (100 euros)
- Admission to museums and exhibitions (2 - 10 euros)
Sete Cidades, the tiny village hides among the mountains. Here you find the island's most beautiful and most photographed hiking trails. The Blue and Green Lakes are also not far from here. Among several notable viewpoints, perhaps the most popular is the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno (Entrance to Hell in English). The village is located on Sao Miguel, the main island.
- Whale Watching: The Azores are one of the best places in the world for whale watching. You can spot several species of whales, including sperm whales, blue whales, humpback whales, and dolphins in their natural habitat.
- Unique Cuisine: The Azorean cuisine is a delightful blend of fresh seafood, local cheeses, and unique dishes like "Cozido das Furnas," a traditional stew cooked using volcanic heat.
- Azorean Bullfights: Unlike traditional bullfights in other countries, Azorean bullfights are bloodless and focus on the interaction between bullfighters and bulls rather than harming the animals.
- UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: The island of Graciosa is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve due to its rich biodiversity and sustainable practices.
- São Miguel's Hot Springs: São Miguel Island is known for its thermal hot springs, and one of the most famous ones is the Terra Nostra Park's thermal pool, located in Furnas.
- Whaling History: Historically, it were a major whaling center. Nowadays, the region focuses on whale conservation and eco-tourism.
- Festivals and Celebrations: The Azores host numerous festivals throughout the year, celebrating religious traditions, local culture, and maritime heritage. The biggest festival is the Festas do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres on São Miguel Island.
- Capelinhos Volcano: The eruption of the Capelinhos Volcano in 1957 and 1958 created a new island, and the ash-covered landscapes of Faial Island offer a unique sight.
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