The Azores are a photographer's dream. This fairytale travel destination, in the North Atlantic Ocean is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands: Terceira, Sao Miguel, Santa Maria, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, Faial, Corvo and the Formigas Reef. As much as we wanted to visit all of them, the time allowed us to explore the largest and the most developed island of the Azores - the Sao Miguel island. Now, have a look why the Azores should be on your bucket list.
SEE ALSO: 5 Things to Do in Madeira
Visit the Azores - Sao Miguel
The Azores got its name by a bird called Azor. But as strange as it sounds, there are apparently no tracks that this bird ever existed on the islands. Nevermind, the islands are a phenomena in terms of it volcanic appearance. Wild and with a diverse landscape, it seems that the Azores have something for everyone. Here are a bunch of reasons why you should travel to the Azores:
1. Visit Azores - The Architecture
One of the things you probably don't expect when visiting the Azores is that the buildings would have somehow a unique architecture (at least we thought so). The buildings come with a Spanish colonial touch, distinguished by an ornate Manueline portal carved from limestone, sometimes also decorated with azulejo panels.
Portas da Cidade, the churches Santo Christo and Sao Pedro were built back in 1500 and are therefore the most fascinating buildings to see when walking down the streets of the capital city of Sao Miguel with its almost 70k inhabitants called Ponta Delgada. The city became the center of the Azores in 1946 when an earthquake in 1922 completely destroyed its previous capital city - Vila Franca do Campo.
2. Visit Azores - The Lush Vegetation
Walking around and hiking in the Azores islands was remarkable due to the lush and sometimes also colourful vegetation. It is said that the islands have the most interesting flora in whole Europe! The most unique plants found on the Azores are i.e. the Wild Berry, Cedar, Scotch Heather and Heath. Some plants have been brought to the islands for its commercial purpose but it turned out to be a great idea!
3. Visit Azores - Spectacular Viewpoints
Here is another reason why you should visit at least one of the Azores islands. Sao Miguel has a true gem which is a spectacular viewpoint! It is in the area of Sete Cidades and can be found close to the Lake Canario (Lagoa of Canario). A view Jerry and I will never forget - maybe the pics don't do it justice. In the same area there is an abandoned hotel (Monte Palace), open for visitors to go at the very top of this building and enjoy the views over the Lagoa Azul. Also a great adventure!
4. Visit Azores - Geysers
The Sao Miguel island is rich in natural geysers, hot springs and fumaroles. Some of them can be found at the lake in Furnas - a town, located in the Southeastern part of the island and is known for its volcanic active area in the past (since 1630). These apparently have a therapeutic effect on our bodies.
5. Visit Azores - Pretty Lakes
If spectacular viewpoints and geysers weren't enough, the island of Sao Miguel has some pretty stunning lakes. Nonetheless, there are two that stand out due to its uniqueness in its flora. One is Lagoa Azul with its town Sete Cidades and the other one, pictured below, which was btw. also a highlight of our trip is called Lagoa do Fogo.
6. Visit Azores - Beautiful Flowers
The flower which seems to be in almost every corner of the Azores and makes the nature scenery even more exhilarating is called the Blue Hydrangea. In early summer those flowers are in bloom which makes driving along flower-decorated roads really joyful. Loved it!
7. Visit Azores - Many Hiking Trails
These Portuguese islands are a playground for adventure-seekers. Besides paragliding, cycling and kayaking around the Lagoa Azul there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from. One that stands out? For sure the one in the Sete Cidade area where you hike from Lake Verde to the viewpoint called Vista do Rei.
8. Visit Azores - The Delicious Food
The food we ate on our Azores trip was just amazing (as this is usually the case in Portugal)! There are dozens of yummy restaurants all over the Sao Miguel Island. One in Ponta Delgada was truly a treat and goes by the name A Tasca. Fish meals in all variations but also some vegetarian options are available. It is recommendable to make reservations in advance as the restaurants in Ponta Delgada get quite crowded in the summer months.
9. Visit Azores - Wine
Mmm, their wine! Nothing is better than having a tasty glass of wine along a Portuguese dish! The wines Arinto do Acores and Cancela do Porco Verdelho are definitely good choices!
10. Visit Azores - Tea Plantations
The tea plantations are not only a pretty sight, but with its tea factories also an interesting spot to visit. You may opt to go for a factory tour to see how the tea is produced. Apart from that you can buy some cool souvenirs and do a walk between the tea plantations. Said by a local, the best one to visit is the factory called Cha Gorreana.
11. Visit Azores - Beautiful Sunset Spots
There is a special place in the Sao Miguel Island where you can soak up the last sun rays and watch the sunset - it is called Mosteiros. Order a drink in the bar Sunset Poco de Pedra and enjoy the scenery!
12. Visit Azores - Iron Lakes
When visiting the Sao Miguel islands one thing shouldn't be missed - the Terra Nostra thermal baths in Furnas. There is a pool with a orange-brown colour of the water. Its this kind of colour due to its high concentration of iron in the water - at the first sight it looks strange but it has a calm effect on the body.
13. Visit Azores - Meditation Spots
The lake Furnas is the perfect place for a morning meditation or yoga practise! The tranquility of this area is somehow contagious! Walking around the lake with all the lush vegetation along the path makes it a well-spent day!
14. Visit Azores - Picturesque Cliffs
The cliffs on the Sao Miguel islands blew our minds! In our opinion, the most beautiful ones are in the North and North-East. Check out the following viewpoints: Ponta do Cintrao, Ponta Formosa, Ponta da Marquesa and Ponta do Sossego. Your camera will love you for this!
As the Azores are still an unknown travel destination among many, we recommend to visit them now before everyone else discovers them! The short summer, however, is the best time to visit the Azores islands.
Where to Stay
Have you been to the Azores? Or is it a wish of yours? Let us know if the comments below! If you liked this blog post please share it with others! **Thanks**
Travel essentials for the Azores: