On a guide, they’re barely visible. But zoom in closer about the Azores — a smaller archipelago of nine islands nearly 1,000 miles from the coast of Portugal — and you’ll locate one of Europe’s most fascinating natural landscapes. Colonized with the Portuguese inside the 1400s, the Azores are marked by volcanic mountain peaks (the latest eruption took place inside 1950s) and
tiny cobblestone villages. Similar to Iceland and the Falkland Islands in South America, the sheer vastness in the land this is humbling, and ideal for any traveler who enjoys the style of uncharted territory. “It’s largely undiscovered,” Luís Nunes, founder of Azores Getaways, told Travel + Leisure. “Visiting the Azores means reconnecting with nature,” he added, “whether which means active volcano and caldera hiking, geothermal hot springs, or whale watching and swimming with dolphins.” Here are several tips on how to plan vacations to the Azores.
How to go to the Azores
Perhaps surprisingly, the Azores are exceedingly accessible — as well as affordable. Though the archipelago is technically a part of Europe, its location from the middle from the Atlantic means you’ll spend only half all the time in an aircraft to get there. Travelers might get to the Azores in only four hours from Boston, allow it to become an entirely feasible last-minute weekend escape. Meanwhile, in the event you already are in Europe, Ponta Delgada International Airport on São Miguel Island is really a painless two-hour hop from Lisbon, and easily $40 using a low-cost carrier like Easyjet. (Packages can be found, too, that permit travelers to hop between several islands around the same trip, with airfare and hotels included.)
How to have around
All nine with the Azorean islands are available by plane and also by boat. Each island features its own airport, and travel between your other islands is actually comparatively straightforward. While nearly every island is linked via ferry service—thus making it possible to cover several, or all, in one trip—certain routes are just open from the warm season (from May through September). As an example, ferries between westernmost island of Faial and Terceira only operate over the summer. Others stay active year-round.
When to search
Summer is regarded as the popular time for you to visit, but mild year-round temperatures mean there’s no “off season” from the Azores. This is often a subtropical region, all things considered. In May, 1000s of hydrangeas bloom over the edge of Faial’s mile-wide caldera, earning it the nickname of “the Blue Island.” And when it can cool off, locals are attached to warming up from the bubbling geothermal pools in Furnas Valley, which can be known for their skin-nourishing benefits.
See numerous islands as possible
Unlike other archipelagos, the location where the scenery remains consistent throughout the region, each island inside Azores carries a distinct personality. From the lost-in-time village of Corvo (population: 400) to Terceira, whose capital, Angra do Heroismo, is really a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s impossible to pick out just one island but not feel like you’re really missing out. Craving adventure? Head to Pico Island, which you could summit a 7,700-foot peak (the very best in Portugal) and tour lush vineyards all inside same day. Need time inside the sun? Santa Maria includes a golden beach, Praia Formosa, that’s enclosed by steep cliffs. And because it is the southernmost Azorean island, it’s also the warmest.
Swim in Varadouro’s rock pools
Being encompassed by ocean, it’s natural to imagine that swimming can be a popular activity here. And you’d be right. One on the most unique places to consider a dip is Varadouro, a seaside town on Faial island’s western coast famous because of its tidal pools. Studding the island's rocky coast, visitors consider the dozen roughly pools that pock the black basalt rock. They're mostly accessible by ladder.
Follow the hiking paths
Thanks to your islands’ irregular topography and thickly forested mountains, some trails are only able to be accessed on foot or by donkey. Rocha de Relva, one example is, is usually a seriously remote hiking spot for the southern coast of São Miguel Island. Set amidst private farms and vineyards, the narrow path hugs the inside of a cliff the way it descends toward the sea, offering staggering ocean views. Along the way, you’ll pass donkeys that happen to be used to haul goods along the mountain.