Navigating the Azores: An Island Escape
Food & Wine
Nestled in the Atlantic Ocean, the Azores are a Portuguese archipelago that boasts a rich tapestry of landscapes, ranging from volcanic terrain and lush greenery to serene lakes. Comprising nine distinct islands, each with its own unique appeal, from the rejuvenating hot springs of São Miguel to Terceira's historic charm. Nature enthusiasts will be drawn to the Azores for hiking, whale-watching, and the exploration of geothermal wonders. Immerse yourself in the islands' rich culture, savor traditional Azorean cuisine with delectable seafood dishes and local flavors, and uncover the fascinating world of Azorean winemaking found on Graciosa, Pico, and Terceira. With warm hospitality, a harmonious blend of adventure and tranquility, the Azores promise an unforgettable escape amidst their natural beauty and cultural richness.
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Where to stay in Azores
Octant Ponta Delgada
A contemporary hotel in the heart of São Miguel overlooking the marina, with a full spa and a restaurant serving local fare.
$100 spa credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Octant Hotels Furnas
A serene getaway in the Azores with a focus on hot springs, health and elevated local gastronomy.
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort
On the north coast of São Miguel, this resort retreat celebrates its beach and mountain setting with intimate villas, an ocean-facing infinity pool and raft of activities.
€25 hotel credit per room, per day.
Complimentary welcome drink per guest, per stay.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out, whenever possible.
Unlock perks by contacting Laura to book your trip.
Things to do in Azores
Getting to this remote paradise is remarkably accessible, with direct flights taking approximately 5 hours from the US East Coast. Once you arrive, start your journey on São Miguel, where you can explore the vibrant Ponta Delgada and the captivating landscapes of Sete Cidades. To fully embrace the Azorean charm, rent a car and venture across the island, and when you're ready to expand your horizons, utilize the efficient ferry services to effortlessly hop between islands in the archipelago. Terceira will charm you with its UNESCO heritage town, Angra do Heroísmo, Pico will astound you with the awe-inspiring Pico Mountain, and Faial will take you on a historical journey through Horta's maritime past. Each island offers its own distinct allure, promising diverse experiences for travelers seeking a harmonious blend of adventure, culture, and natural beauty in the Azores.
Boat Trips and Island Hopping
Navigating the Azores through island hopping is made accessible and convenient by Atlanticoline's ferry services, which connect several key islands within the archipelago. Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel Island, serves as a major departure point, providing a gateway to various other islands, including Terceira, Faial, Pico, and São Jorge, among others. These ferry routes offer travelers a flexible and scenic means of exploring the Azores, with frequent departures and well-maintained vessels ensuring smooth inter-island travel. Whether you're embarking on a day trip or an extended island-hopping adventure, the ferry system allows you to tailor your journey to your preferences, offering opportunities to discover the diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and natural beauty of the Azorean islands at your own pace. For those seeking an even more personalized adventure, you can also consider renting your own boat to explore the azure waters and hidden coves of this remarkable archipelago.
São Miguel Island: The largest island in the Azores, is home to some stunning beaches, and Praia de Santa Bárbara is a prime example. This long stretch of golden sand is perfect for sunbathing, and the powerful Atlantic waves make it a popular spot for surfers. The dramatic backdrop of green hills adds to the beach's allure, making it a must-visit destination for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts.
Terceira Island: Offers a unique blend of historic charm and beautiful beaches. Praia da Vitória, the island's main beach, is a picturesque crescent of golden sand lapped by crystal-clear waters. It's a fantastic spot for swimming and sunbathing. The nearby promenade is dotted with cafes and restaurants, making it a great place to enjoy some local cuisine after a day at the beach.
Faial Island: Boasts Praia do Almoxarife, a serene beach known for its tranquility and natural beauty. This sheltered bay is surrounded by lush vegetation and provides a peaceful atmosphere for relaxation. The calm waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and there are nearby hiking trails for those who want to explore the island's scenic landscape.
Pico Island: A unique beach experience at Praia de Areia Funda. Unlike the typical sandy beaches, this beach is covered in smooth volcanic pebbles, adding a distinctive touch to your sunbathing and swimming experience. The beach is nestled between dramatic cliffs and offers spectacular views of Pico Mountain, making it a picturesque spot for a day by the ocean.
Experience captivating marine encounters with responsible whale-watching tours from companies like Futurismo and Terra Azul, departing from Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island. For an added touch, consider exploring Santa Maria Island, known for its unique whale-watching opportunities and diverse marine life.
Discover the captivating Lagoa do Fogo on São Miguel Island, a stunning crater lake surrounded by lush landscapes. Engage with the island's natural beauty from viewpoints such as Miradouro da Barrosa. For another unique lagoon encounter, explore the hidden Lagoa do Congro on Flores Island, nestled in a serene crater and offering a tranquil atmosphere.
Indulge in a unique relaxation experience at Termas da Ferraria, where warm waters meet the crashing waves of the sea, located near Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island. For an alternative geothermal escape, journey to Furnas and relish in the soothing hot springs at Terra Nostra Garden.
Immerse yourself in Furnas' geothermal wonders, including the Furnas Lake with fumaroles and bubbling mud pots on São Miguel Island. For a unique volcanic encounter, venture to Gruta do Algar do Carvão on Terceira Island, a fascinating underground volcanic cave that unveils impressive rock formations and an emerald-green lake. Additionally, on Faial Island, you can explore the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Center, which offers insights into the 1957 eruption that dramatically altered the island's landscape and shaped its modern history.
Discover the underwater wonders of the Azores as you explore Terceira Island with Arraia Divers, renowned for its expertly guided diving experiences. Santa Maria Island offers a different aquatic adventure, thanks to the Santa Maria Dive Center, where you can delve into underwater caves and encounter an array of marine biodiversity. Over on Flores Island, the Gruta das Enchanted Pools serves as a mesmerizing diving site, leading you to a concealed freshwater lagoon that adds an element of intrigue to your underwater exploration.
Discover the enchanting underwater world around the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo off the coast of São Miguel. This natural swimming pool, formed by volcanic activity, offers clear turquoise waters and abundant marine life for both beginners and experienced snorkelers. Glide through the calm waters to spot colorful fish, sea urchins and intricate rock formations, creating an unforgettable snorkeling adventure.
São Miguel's Salto do Prego trail near Faial da Terra combines lush scenery with refreshing dips in natural pools, creating a rewarding day of adventure. Embark on a distinct hiking experience on São Jorge Island by trekking along the Fajã dos Cubres trail, revealing stunning coastal vistas and volcanic landscapes.
Delve into the wineries of the Azores, where tradition meets innovation amid the volcanic landscapes and unique climate of the region. Explore Pico Wines Cooperative on Pico Island, where grapevines thrive in UNESCO-listed vineyards, nurtured by volcanic soil and iconic stone walls. Savor the fresh, mineral-rich wines of Adega do Vulcão on São Miguel Island, a reflection of the island's volcanic origins. Experience Quinta de Marvão on Terceira Island, a harmonious blend of ancestral techniques and modern approaches, yielding a diverse range of wines that capture the essence of the Azores. Each island's winemaking artistry adds a unique facet to your experience, inviting you to discover the captivating charm and natural beauty of the Azores through its wines.
Shopping & Markets
Discover Mercado da Agricultura in Ribeira Grande on São Miguel Island, a local farmers' market offering fresh produce, regional products, and handcrafted goods. Additionally, explore Ponta Delgada's Mercado da Graça, a bustling market where you can find a wide array of local products, from cheeses and wines to artisan crafts and textiles. For a contemporary shopping experience, stroll through Azores Parque, a modern mall with various shops, cafes and entertainment options, offering a glimpse into the island's evolving retail landscape. Lastly, don't miss the opportunities to purchase Azorean ceramics, woven baskets and traditional embroideries, all of which make for cherished souvenirs of your Azores journey.
Places to eat & drink in Azores
The culinary scene in the Azores is a delightful blend of traditional flavors and locally sourced ingredients. From the iconic Cozido das Furnas, a stew cooked underground using geothermal heat, to fresh seafood-like limpets and octopus, the cuisine offers a unique mix of land and sea. Don't miss trying the renowned Queijadas, sweet pastries made with local cheese and enjoying tender meats like alcatra. Embrace the Azorean dining culture by indulging in wholesome dishes that reflect the island's rich heritage and the culinary artistry of its people.
Ponta Negra Restaurante e Bar de Praia
Situated on São Miguel Island, offers more than just a meal; it provides a breathtaking oceanfront setting where guests can enjoy panoramic views of the sea. The menu features a blend of local Azorean cuisine and international flavors, with a strong emphasis on fresh seafood. Whether indulging in a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner, the ambiance perfectly complements the coastal beauty.
Nestled on the charming island of Graciosa, a delightful discovery for those seeking authentic Azorean flavors. This cozy taberna offers an intimate atmosphere where you can immerse yourself in local culture through traditional dishes and regional wines. The focus here is on the culinary heritage of the Azores, creating a true taste of the island.
Found on São Miguel Island, Terra Nostra provides a unique blend of gastronomy and nature. Beyond its restaurant, it's renowned for its stunning botanical garden. Diners can enjoy their meal surrounded by an array of exotic plants and serene landscapes. The menu showcases a variety of dishes that incorporate local ingredients, all while you're enveloped in the beauty of the gardens.
Also on São Miguel Island, Michel Restaurant is a culinary destination for those seeking refined dining experiences. Known for its creative approach to cuisine, the restaurant emphasizes local and seasonal ingredients in its innovative dishes. The elegant atmosphere complements the artistry of the food, making for an elevated dining experience.
On São Miguel Island, Wine & Art by 1001 Garrafas offers a unique fusion of wine appreciation and artistic expression. It showcases a curated selection of wines accompanied by a space adorned with local artworks. This establishment is not only a place to savor wines but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the cultural vibrancy of the Azores.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor McKensie Worley guide, Unique Travel Guide for the Azores, Portugal.
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