Located about 850 miles west of Portugal, the picturesque Azores is an archipelago rooted into the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores offer nine separate islands to explore and is a natural haven with largely untouched foliage and dramatic landscapes. Some refer to the green hills, sparkling water and simplistic villages as “Eden”. With its tropical setting, specific food scene, cozy lodging and multiple water activities, one could spend weeks island hopping while never experiencing it all. So if your time is limited, these are the top things to do in the Azore Islands.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Deep-sea fishing enthusiasts will be in heaven when reeling in some of the big catches of the island. Seafood is a big industry already in the Azores, and locals are happy to take enthusiasts out to experience what all the buzz is about. Azores Fishing operates out of São Miguel and also treats passengers to a little bird watching as well.
Soak in a Geothermal Pool
The Azores boasts designated soaking spots where you can unwind. Furnas is known for an abundance of earth heated waters, and the Furnace Boutique Hotel is built around the natural resource. If you’re looking to take a wellness vacation, the authentic cuisine, tranquil rooms and healing facilities fit the bill—add on spa services round out the experience. Maybe you just want to get out into the outdoors solo for a soak, Ponta da Ferraria hot spring meshes right against the ocean so swimmers can glide between hot and cool teal-hued waters. As a bonus, minerals from the baths have multiple health benefits.
Canyoning is an incredible way to experience the stunning falls and formations of the volcanic islands. São Miguel houses some fantastic canyoning hot spots, as well as São Jorge and Flores. Azorean Active Blueberry is a popular company of choice for those wanting to repel the cliffs and waterfalls of São Miguel. Side note, the guides also offer coasteering, also known as exploring the coast via swimming and snorkeling.
Marine biologists, through a company called Naturalist, take passengers via boat out to the surrounding waters of the islands to whale and dolphin watch, while teaching a few things about the local natural environment. Sea Adventures, who like Naturalist offers a variety of land and water tours, also operates a pretty sweet whale tour. It’s not difficult to find a list of day excursion that will take you to stunning waters, while the more adventurous may enjoy kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding. Overall, a boat ride is a peaceful way to enjoy the marine environment of the Azores.
Lagoa Do Fogo
Lagoa Do Fogo is a crater lake that is a top site to see if you don’t have much time on your hands but want to understand the magnitude of the area’s beauty. Situated on São Miguel, you can drive up via Miradouro da Barrosa and Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo for optimal views. But visitors also have the option of hiking around the various trails for a more up-close look of the volcanic body of water, more famously known as the “Lake of Fire”.
With so many islands, it’s hard to decide where to go for the best eats. On São Miguel, foodies dive into Cozido, a stew with tender pork, beef and veggies that’s literally been volcanically steamed underground. The island also produces sweet fruits from pineapple to oranges which are often turned into liqueur. Cha Porto Formosa tea plantation offers tours and sips of impeccable brews. Fifty percent of Portugal’s cheese comes from the islands, and the best is made on São Jorge. Of course, the seafood is top notch and the tuna even finds its way to Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. Grilled fish, Azorean beef, Limpets, Cozido das Furnas and Azorean breads are also things to keep an eye out for. Sabores Local Food on São Miguel is a good place to start your tasting journey.
Snorkel and Diving
Unlike the type of snorkeling and diving you’d find in the Caribbean, the somewhat colder waters of the Azores offer a vastly different experience when it comes to the life seen within the super clear waters. Sao Miguel is a great place to enjoy an underwater excursion, while Pico is also a top spot to snorkel and there’s even the rare opportunity to swim with wild dolphins. June to November is the optimal time to snorkel because the water isn’t quite as chilly.
Stay in a Local Hotel
There aren’t really many chain hotels on the islands anyway, so unique authentic hotels are the way you should go. But trust us, it’s a good thing. The Azore Hotel on Sao Miguel is beautifully blended with nature and is a good example of the interesting places to stay on the islands.