Some of the Most Dramatic Landscapes in the World Are Located in the Azores
The Azores, a group of nine Portuguese islands in the Atlantic Ocean, are known for their gorgeous weather, beaches, volcanoes, and beautiful mountain scenery. While the islands were once uninhabited land, they are now a well sought-after vacation destination.
The islands are a 2 hour flight from the Portuguese mainland, and there are 3 international airports to choose from. The best time to visit the Azores is between June and August when the weather is most ideal. While there, you can get around by taxi or renting a car, and there are ferries available if you want to explore the various islands. If you’re considering a vacation and want something that is perhaps a little different from the standard tourist locations, then the Azores are a perfect option for you.
The Must See Sights and Activities
For such a small set of islands, there’s a whole lot to see and enjoy in the Azores. Any trip should make you want to see some of the following:
- Parque Terra Nostra - Located on São Miguel Island, Parque Terra Nostra is a garden originally created in 1775 by an American merchant who wanted to create a relaxing oasis. Today, it has a vast array of rare flowers and plants, including over 600 species. The world-renowned thermal pool, which has volcanic water that comes from the nearby hot springs, is located in the adjoining park. In addition to a soothing and relaxing experience, the water contains minerals that are good for the skin.
- Lagoa do Fogo - A stunning natural creation near the center of Sao Miguel that is over 5,000 years old, this is one of several volcanic lakes in the Azores that was formed by erosion and the collapse of volcano walls. There are various observation decks around the lake that give visitors the best vantage point to enjoy the spectacular surrounding views. You can choose to drive to the lake or embark on a hike that will take about 2 hours each way.
- Nossa Senhora da Paz - Dating back to the 18th century, this white chapel is characterized by its striking tile and stone work, as well as the intricately designed steps that lead to the structure. Located in the town of Vila Franca do Campo on the island of Sao Miguel, the legend is that the chapel was built by shepherds who saw a vision of the Virgin Mary. Since that time, people have made pilgrimages to the site, which also provides a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside.
- Museu Carlos Machado - This structure was originally the home of a convent, but was turned into a museum by Carlos Machado in 1876. Its first exhibits focused on Azorean natural history, including zoology, mineralogy, botany, and geology. Over the years, however, it has evolved to include regional and cultural artistry, rare Azorean artwork, paintings, fiber art, and sculptures.
- Portas da Cidade - Portas da Cidade, which means ‘City Gates’ in English, are one of the most prominent landmarks in The Azores. They are intricately created gates with detailed archways that were erected in the 18th century. They are the gateway to the vibrant public square in Ponta Delgada, and they stand in close proximity to a variety of restaurants and cultural institutions.
There’s some incredible places to stay. This applies whether you love hotels or renting out a house. Some of the best options include:
- Azore Hotel - Located in Sao Miguel next to the Marina of Ponta Delgada, this hotel gives guests convenient access to the city center, the airport, and numerous local attractions. The Azore hotel provides chic and upscale accommodations, with each of its 123 rooms providing an amazing view of the sea. Amenities include a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and spa services.
- Terra Nostra Garden Hotel - The Terra Nostra Garden Hotel is situated in the Furnas Valley of Sao Miguel. It is a popular choice of those visiting the island, and it recently underwent an extensive upgrade process. Its charming appeal has been enhanced, as well as its rich historical Art Deco details. It serves as a relaxing retreat, with the backdrop of the 18th century Terra Nostra Garden. Amenities include free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a spa, and a fitness center.
- Hotel Marina Atlantico - Designed to resemble a ship docked on the shore, the Hotel Marina Atlantico offers breathtaking views of the ocean. The décor is modern and inspiring, and guests will find a calm and relaxing atmosphere to retreat to while vacationing. Amenities include a health club, free Wi-Fi, an on-site restaurant, and spa services.