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Craving a travel destination unspoiled by development? Searching for an island paradise with countless opportunities to explore nature’s wonders? Perhaps hoping for an authentic experience that isn’t yet “trendy” or overcrowded by tourists and tour buses? Portugal’s Azores are the answer. A nine-island archipelago set in the mid-Atlantic Ocean about 845 miles from the mainland, these islands showcase nature’s majesty and are as rugged as they are beautiful. Formed by volcanic activity, the landscape is lush; bursting with hot springs, crater lakes and thermal baths. It’s the perfect getaway for thrill seekers and wellness enthusiasts alike. Experience the uniqueness of these islands while immersing yourself in its culture. A trip to The Azores is an unforgettable journey that will surprise and enchant.
Direct flights from the East Coast of the U.S. make accessibility a relative non-issue. With non-stop service from Boston’s Logan Airport on Azores Airlines, travelers can arrive in Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel Island, in less than four hours. If already in Europe, two-hour direct flights from Lisbon depart daily. Air and ferry services provide interconnectivity among the islands. For accommodations, The Azores offer unique stays dependent on location. There are many boutique hotel offerings as well as short-term apartment rentals. Keep in mind, this is not Hawaii. Travelers will not find big-box properties or sprawling seaside resorts so large groups are not easily accommodated. Instead, these islands cater to small, intimate group gatherings seeking adventure.
When planning your itinerary consider including one or all the destinations outlined below.
Located on the island of São Miguel, the Furnas Valley was created by a volcanic crater leaving behind thermal pools and hot springs. There’s no better place to experience these natural wonders than at the Furnas Boutique Hotel featuring indoor and outdoor thermal swimming pools and a world-class spa experience. While there, include a visit to Lagoa das Furnas. The area is best known for its use preparing Cozida, a traditional meat and vegetable stew, simmered within the hot earth.
Experience semi-annual running of the bulls and bull fights on Terciera, the second most populist Azorean island. In addition to this rich tradition, enjoy a more tranquil pastime such as sunbathing on the beaches of Praia da Vitória or venture just outside the city to the peak of Miradouro do Facho. From this hilltop, you can take in expansive views of the town, harbor and coastline below. For adventure seekers, explore Algar do Carvão. Here, visitors walk inside an extinct volcano descending 338 steps to its pit.
Montanha do Pico is the highest peak on the island of Pico. The volcano is nearly 8,000 feet tall. Hiking to the summit is not an easy feat and best accomplished with a guide. Visitors can explore an array of caves scattered throughout the island as well. Don’t miss an opportunity to whale watch either. Tour operators depart the island daily.
When international travel resumes, the Azores are waiting to be discovered!
The US Embassy & Consulate in Portugal provides up to date travel information relating to COVID-19 restrictions and considerations. Currently, non-essential travel from the United States to Portugal is prohibited.