The Azores is an archipelago in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, on which the eponymous autonomous region of Portugal is located.
The archipelago consists of 9 islands with a total area of 2322 km². The largest island is San Miguel, and it is here that the capital of the autonomous region is Ponta Delgada. The island of Pico is famous for the fact that the highest point rises not only in the archipelago, but throughout Portugal: the active Pico volcano (2351 m).
Almost 247,000 people live on the Azores. The bulk of the population are Portuguese, and there is also a small part of the Spaniards and French.
The main language spoken by the inhabitants of the Azores is Portuguese. But at the same time, the local dialect has significant differences from the dialects characteristic of other regions of Portugal.
The most popular attractions in Azores
The Azores of Portugal are considered to be somewhat unique: there is not a single plant here, the virgin nature has been preserved. Fans of ecotourism, outdoor activities, water extreme sports come here: trekking, diving, surfing, hiking. Due to the large number of good beaches, these islands are also great for beach lovers.
One of the most popular attractions in the Azores is ocean fishing, and the waters between Florisch, Faial, Sao Jorge and Pico are recognized as ideal places for it.
Almost every local travel company can organize such a tour, although you can just rent a boat or yacht with the required equipment and go fishing on your own.
The most suitable time for ocean fishing on the islands of the Azores archipelago is July, August and early September.
The world’s largest habitats of whales include the waters of the Azores.
Everyone who wants to get the most out of their stay on the archipelago can go out on a small boat to the ocean and watch whales in the wild. As a rule, the boat swims quite close to the whales – so much so that it is possible to feel the whale’s breath and make excellent photos.
Whale watching is completely safe, you only need to follow the captain’s instructions.
The best time for whale watching in the Azores is considered to be spring (from March to early May) and autumn (second half of September).
The archipelago appeared as a result of volcanic activity, so most of the local beaches are covered with frozen lava. Nevertheless, on the islands of Santa Maria, Faial and San Miguel there are beach areas with black and even light sand.
Most of the beaches are concentrated on the island of Faial, and almost all of them are covered with black sand. The exception is the picturesque Porto Pim, where the sand is light. Good for relaxation surrounded by rock formations Castelo Branco and stretched at the foot of the volcano Comprido. The secluded Praia de Pedro Miguel is ideal for a romantic, relaxing break. The busiest of all the beaches, on the territory of which a variety of concerts and shows are organized during the season, with a huge number of bars and restaurants along the coast, is Praia do Almoxariffe.
There are beaches on the island of San Miguel. On the territory of the village of Ribeira Grande, the most picturesque beaches of the Azores are located, which are especially popular among fans of surfing.
What to see on the Azores archipelago
Each island is interesting and attractive in its own way. Each of them is a unique natural attraction with craters of volcanoes, volcanic lakes, waterfalls, healing springs, parks. To see all the very best in the Azores, one trip will not be enough. In any case, you have to make a choice, what you need to visit. So, TOP-10 of the most interesting sights of the archipelago, most of which are concentrated on the island of San Miguel.
San Miguel has very visible traces of volcanic activity. For example, just 10 km from Ponta Delgada there is a unique local attraction: a huge crater of the inactive volcano Sete Cidades with the lake of the same name located in it. Seti-Sidadish Lake looks like two separate bodies of water with different shades of water (blue and green), and it is popularly called Blue and Green Lakes.
The most stunning view of the crater and the twin lake Sete Cidades, recognized as one of the most unusual sights in Portugal, opens from the observation deck Miradouro da Boca do Inferno. From it you can also see the cave, through which the entrance to the Gulf of Boca do Inferno opens with waves beating against it. From the site, from different angles, you can take many stunning photos of the unique attractions of the Azores. Entrance to the site is free, no restrictions.
Behind the site there is an abandoned hotel building, many rise to its roof and inspect the territory from there. There are several restaurants nearby, a small parking area and a public toilet.
The second most beautiful after Sete Cidades landmark of the archipelago is Lake of Fire. It is on the way from Ponta Delgada to Seti Sidadish.
Lagoa do Fogo can be observed even from the road, along which there are several small viewing platforms. Leaving the car on the road, you can go down to the water itself – trekking is simple and takes about 25 minutes in time.
Good to know! The water is warm and crystal clear, there are small beaches. The terrain is “wild”, not equipped at all, everything is completely free.
The huge and amazingly beautiful park area Terra Nostra is another attraction of the Azores on the island of San Miguel.
Terra Nostra has a Botanical Garden (one of the best in Portugal) and Terme. Admission is paid: for adults 8 €, for children from 3 to 10 years old – 4 €.
In the botanical garden, one of the largest in Portugal, there are many unique plants. But perhaps the most amazing of them are giant tree-like ferns that look like small palm trees. White and black swans live in the garden, ducks – like ordinary mallards, as well as fires, tangerines. On the territory there are many winding paths leading to ancient bridges, mysterious grottoes, beautiful sculptures.
Terme is considered a local landmark, the water in which contains a large amount of iron and is heated to + 40 ° C. Scientists have proven that this brownish-sand colored water has a rejuvenating effect. Changing rooms and showers are available near the outdoor pool. Towels can be rented for an extra fee.
The thermal pool is located very close to the entrance to the Terra Nostra park area.
Terme with a very nice name (“Poca Da Dona Beija” in Russian is translated as “Kisses of a little lady”) is a great place to relax after exploring local attractions. The water here, although it contains a large amount of iron, is much more transparent than in Terra Nostra.
Exact coordinates : Lomba das Barracas, Furnas, Povoasan, San Miguel 9675-044, Portugal.
The working schedule is very convenient: daily from 7:00 to 23:00. There is a small free parking nearby.
Entrance to the Thermais for adults is 4 €, for children under 6 years – 3.5 €. For 1 € you can rent a safe, for 2 € you can rent a towel.
Inside, everything is very modernly decorated. Locker rooms and a toilet are equipped (use is free), there is a paid shower.
The most important thing is the pools. In the most shallow and farthest, the temperature is +29 ° C, in the other 4 temperatures +39 ° C. The depth in the pools is different: from 90 to 180 cm.
What else you need to see on the Azores is the main attraction on the island of San Miguel. We are talking about the Salto do Prego waterfall, whose coordinates are Faial da Terra, Povoasan, San Miguel, Portugal.
The route to the beautiful, tall and rather strong Salto do Prego begins in the village of Sanginho. A hiking trail runs through low hills, through a forest and several villages, along the way there are small waterfalls. The route, pleasant and uncomplicated, is suitable for people of any age, but you need comfortable shoes.
Nature lovers should definitely visit the island of Pico, the main attraction of which is an active volcano with the same name. Montanha do Pico (2351 m) is not just a landmark of the archipelago, but also the highest point in Portugal.
Climbing Mount Pico during a tour of the Azores is one of the most vivid adventures.
Climbing shoes require strong athletic shoes, otherwise they will not be allowed to go on the official trail. Since the mountain is windy and often foggy, warm clothes and a windproof jacket will come in handy. You need to take gloves and walking sticks with you to help yourself with the movement. You also need to grab food and a few liters of water.
To get to the starting point, where the ascent begins, you can take a taxi. A trip from the nearest cities will cost 40 € for a “minivan”, designed for 6-7 passengers.
It’s better to arrive early, if possible, even before sunrise. Noon is the deadline. For people with poor physical fitness, climbing to the top of the volcano and descending from it will take 7-8 hours, so it is better to devote an entire day to exploring this landmark of Portugal.
Upon arrival, you must necessarily register at the Tourist Assistance Center, undergo safety instructions, receive a GPS navigator and a phone in one package, and pay for the climb. Payment for climbing to the crater – 10 €, with climbing to the top itself – 12 €.
Along the entire trail there are columns with numbers from 1 to 45, which should help navigate along the way. Between columns No. 1 and No. 2 the distance is quite long, then the columns are found more and more often. The most difficult part of the path, where the mountain is the steepest, is between marks No. 7 and No. 25. After column No. 34, the slope of the mountain is more gentle, but at the same time, many pebbles and tuff appear on the trail, on which you can stumble and slide down. At column number 45, an overview of the old crater and the top of the volcano opens. The further ascent to the summit, to a height of 2351 m, continues without marks and marked paths. The view from the top is breathtaking: you can see the entire island of Pico, the ocean, located nearby the island. The main thing is to be lucky with the weather, since the peak is often covered by clouds.
Descent from the top to the crater can occur on the other side of the mountain. On the way there are fountains of steam, beating directly from under the stones. Some stones are so warm that you can warm your hands. By the way, the descent is as difficult as the ascent.
To climb the highest point of the Azores, Pico volcano, it is advisable to take a guide, although the cost of travel in this case will be higher. Sometimes, even if there are marks, you may not notice the necessary turn, and the guide has a detailed map of the area. Guide services will be especially relevant if the ascent is performed at night or if the ascent is not in a group, but independent. It is also convenient that the guide can successfully replace the photographer, capturing against the backdrop of the famous sights of Portugal.
On the island of Fayal, covered with thickets of lilac-blue hydrangeas, there is a beautiful natural park. Almost all of its territory is occupied by a huge basin of volcanic origin. She is known as Caldeira.
This attraction of the Azores reaches a diameter of 2 km, its depth is 400 m. The slopes of the Caldera cover impenetrable cedar forests.
There are several hiking trails through these scenic spots, one of which is laid around Caldera. But if such a route seems long, you can see this famous attraction from the observation deck Miradouro da Caldeira.
The main tourist attraction of the island of Fayal is the volcano Capelinhos and the “New Land”, which appeared as a result of its activities.
This attraction is located in the western part of the island, from the city of Horta to get there about 40 minutes by car.
The eruption of the underwater volcano Capelinhos occurred in 1957-1958 (it lasted 13 months). Traces of the eruption can be seen everywhere: dilapidated buildings covered with mountains of frozen lava, a lighthouse half covered with ashes, and also a new peninsula. Where the lighthouse stands, before the eruption of Capellinhos was the edge of the island. As a result of the action of the volcano, a new peninsula was formed, which increased the area of Faial by 2.5 km². “New Earth” – this is what the locals call it.
Under the lighthouse there is a museum of volcanology, the only one of its kind in Portugal. In the museum you can get acquainted with the history of the Azores archipelago, learn a lot of interesting things about volcanism. A ticket costs 10 €, it also allows you to climb the lighthouse.
Monte Brazil is essentially a park area in the center of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira Island. Exact coordinates: Freguesia da Se, Angra do Heroismo, Terceira Island, Third, Portugal.
You can climb to the top by car, but still it is better to go along the well-prepared walking paths and get the maximum impression. At the top of Monte Brazil, there is an extensive recreation area, a small zoo, several viewing platforms. From there, a magnificent panoramic view of the city and the ocean opens. If you are lucky with the weather, you get beautiful photos in memory of a trip to Portugal and the Azores.
Florisch island for those who like to go hiking.
The village of Fajan Grandi is a beautiful place on the west coast of the island. On the one hand, it is covered by huge rocks with lush green vegetation, on the other hand – the ocean, which brings its waters to the coastal cliffs.
From this territory you can see another attraction of Portugal: the small island of Monchique, which was once used as a reference point in marine navigation. Monchique is small basaltic rocks that stand alone in the ocean waters, reaching a height of up to 30 m.
The exact address of Faja Grande is: Santa Cruz das Flores, Floris 9970-323, Portugal.
Rest on Azores: the price issue
Holidays in the Azores are not as expensive as many people think. If you try, you can fly there inexpensively, find a budget hotel and eat quite sparingly.
In Ponta Delgada, 3 * hotels offer double rooms for an average of 100 € per day, and prices start at 80 €. So, for 80 € at the Hotel Comfort Inn Ponta Delgada you can rent an excellent double room.
Prices for apartments start from 90 €, for example, a good option is Apartamentos Turisticos Nossa Senhora Da Estrela or Aparthotel Barracuda. Average prices for apartments in Ponta Delgada are kept at 160 €.
By the way, it is advisable to book hotel rooms in advance, especially if a trip to Azores is planned during the holiday season. The best deals are best looked at booking.com.
Food prices in Azores are not much different from prices in Portugal. So, in Ponta Delgada, in a mid-range restaurant, you can have dinner for two for 40 €, and this amount includes a bottle of wine. In the cafe you can eat for 6 € per person.
If there is such an opportunity and desire, you can buy products in stores and cook yourself. Below are the prices in euros for some foods:
- a loaf of bread – 1.5;
- a package of milk (1 l) – 0.5;
- a bottle of water (1.5 l) – from 0.5;
- eggs (12 pcs) – 2.5;
- locally produced cheese (kg) – 7;
- fish and seafood (kg) – from 2.5 to 10;
- rice (kg) – 1.2.
Azores Weather Conditions
The Azores has a subtropical marine climate.
The average air temperature in the winter months is within +17 ° С, and in the summer months it is around +25 ° С, although in July and August it can sometimes rise up to +30 ° С. The water in the ocean warms up to approximately +22 ° C in summer.
The rains on the Azores are short, they can go only for a couple of hours, and mostly in the fall and spring. In summer, it is usually dry and clear. The close location of the Atlantic Ocean leads to the fact that the weather here is changeable – it can change several times a day.
Interesting fact: the Azores is a year-round resort. However, it is advisable to choose different times for a beach holiday and for trips to local attractions. The best season for relaxing on the beach is the period from June to September, and the spring months are more suitable for walking and sightseeing trips.
How to get to the Azores
To get to the Azores archipelago, which is part of Portugal, you can only by plane. There are several airports here, but most of them are used for domestic flights, and only 3 have international status: “Santa Maria” on the island of the same name, “Terceira Lages” on the island of Terceira, and the largest – “Ponta Delgada” on the island San Miguel.
There are no direct flights from the CIS countries to any of these airports, so you have to fly with a transfer in the capital of Portugal, the city of Lisbon. In 99% of cases, tourists from the former Soviet Union fly to the Ponta Delgada airport, from where flights to all islands of the archipelago are constantly operated.
There are no problems with getting from Lisbon to the Azores. Twice a day, at 6:30 and 19:00, there are direct flights from the Portuguese capital to Ponta Delgada, the flight lasts from 2.05 hours to 2.30. A ticket can cost both 20 and 220 €, and even more expensive – it all depends on the air carrier (Tap Portugal, Sata International), time of year, day of the week, etc.
At Lisbon Airport, domestic flights to the Azores depart from the small terminal No. 2, which can be reached from the terminal No. 1, which accepts international flights, by a free bus (it runs with a frequency of 5-7 minutes).
Prices on the page are for June 2018.
Useful video for those wishing to visit the Azores archipelago.