A mountainous archipelago that fills every visitor with wonder the second they set eyes on it, the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands in the northern Atlantic Ocean, located around 1,400 km from the coast of mainland Portugal.
Getting to Know the Islands
Steep, rugged mountains give way to the bright blue waters of the Atlantic as visitors take in São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands and home to capital city, Ponta Delgada. Across the way, the white sandy beaches on nearby Santa Maria make for a popular water sports destination, and Terceira is where visitors can explore the inside of an extinct volcano. Historic Graciosa Island is scattered with small towns and villages and a vaulted cave over an underground lake.
Known as the ‘Blue Island’ for the colour of local buildings, Faial is also a popular destination for nautical sports, while the vineyards on the island of Pico are the Azores’ second UNESCO World Heritage Site. São Jorge, Flores, and Corvo islands provide incredible landscapes and striking buildings, each with its own legends and traditional tales to tell.
Mere words could never do these unique islands justice, but just the feel of each one is enough to draw visitors in, keen to explore further.
Making the Most of the Azores
There is no shortage of activities to get involved in on islands this diverse, starting with the unparalleled landscapes and vistas, which can be taken in on hikes, cycle rides, boat or horseback-riding trips around the volcanic islands’ crater lakes, caverns, steep mountains, and steaming mud pots. Then there are the water sports, which range from diving to sailing, and surfing, to name but a few, all the way to thermal pools in volcanic hot springs, making for a toasty dip not soon forgotten. And the stew slow-cooked in the steam from volcanic hot springs? It is unique and a must for any visitor.
An enticingly exotic adventure awaits on Europe’s best-kept secret.