The Azores are islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean – 800 miles west of Portugal, and about 2000 miles east coast of North America. The Azores are lush, green are volcanic islands situated in an isolated spot of the Atlantic Ocean, where temperatures are mild and change little from season to season. The Azores are known for its excellent tourism quality, especially sustainable tourism.
The Azores took fifth place in the European Best Destination 2016 competition.
Where is the Azores on a map?
The archipelago of the Azores is located in the middle of the northern hemisphere of the Atlantic Ocean at the same latitude as the Mediterranean Sea. It is composed of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1,360 km (850 mi) west of continental Portugal.
Is the Azores a Portuguese territory?
The Azores or the Autonomous Region of the Azores is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal along with Madeira. In 1976, the Azores became the Autonomous Region of the Azores.
The Portuguese discovered the nine islands of the Azores archipelago in the fifteenth century and because of their strategic location, the islands became a stopping point between Europe, America.
Photo by Yves Alarie on Unsplash
Weather in the Azores
The Azores has a mild, temperate, humid, maritime climate with a rainy season from November to March. Temperatures range from 14-25° C (55-76° F). The climate of the Azores Islands is subtropical oceanic, pleasantly warm in summer. The water temperature is around 22 °C (72 °F) from July to September.
Best time to visit the Azores
The best time to visit the Azores is summer, from July to August, since it is the warmest and sunniest time of the year. Because of their oceanic climate, the Azores experience a delay in the sea getting warm, which affects the air temperature as well.
September is slightly warmer than June, but the rains become a bit more frequent.
How to get to the Azores?
The best way to reach the Azores is by plane. SATA airlines serve the nine Azores Islands. International flights arrive at the major settlement of Ponta Delgada on the Azores’ largest island, São Miguel or San Miguel. When it is high season, SATA has many flights to the Azores from Boston, Oakland, Porto, Faro, London, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, and the Canary Islands.
In the last few years the flights from the US to Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel have become more frequent, but it is always good to check SATA’s websites for the latest information, as these departures change frequently.
Photo by Nicola Brasetti on Unsplash
Renting a car
Renting a car in the Azores is beneficial since there are too many places where you can’t get to with walking or public transport. As an alternative option, you can always join a tour, but that can get often more expensive and it’s more fun to explore on your own.
Unfortunately, renting a car in the Azores isn’t cheap. Booking in advance often can give you a better price. You can book directly to local agency’s websites like Let’s Rent-a-Car, Autatlantis or Ilha, or your other option which gives you a wider view of all the prices offering from big and small agencies is by using websites such as Holidaycars, Rentalcars or Sunnycars. This way you can find the cheapest options for your holiday to the Azores.
Local rental companies offer airport pickup, they have multiple ways of payment, and if you’re traveling to more than one island you can have a car waiting for you at every step of the way.
There is a USA airbase on Terceira
In 1953, the U.S. Forces Azores Command was organized as subordinate Unified Command under the Command-in-Chief Atlantic. In peacetime, the U.S. Forces Commander is assisted by a small joint staff responsible for contingency planning. The command mission would be to support NATO forces in the area, to assist in the local defense.
Is there good wifi in the Azores?
Huawei Marine Networks, a submarine cable network provider, has partnered with Viatel, a Portuguese telecommunications engineering network supplier to enable all nine islands of the archipelago of the Azores to be interconnected, with backbone connectivity to European, African and cross-Atlantic submarine cables.
Most villages have ADSL connections and there are hotspots in Ponta Delgada and at the Airports. GSM internet service is also available or you can use Mobile WiFi router gadgets from websites like My-WebSpot.com, Meo.pt.
Photo by Filipe Lourenço Marques on Unsplash
Natural Pools & Thermal Baths in The Azores
The Azores archipelago is famous not only for its natural beauty and landscapes but also for the natural properties and health benefits its thermal waters provide. You’ll find spas with thermal water pools and natural thermal baths located in the Islands. The areas have a highly unusual combination of saltwater and sulfurous spring water which by claims from locals can help with inflammatory concerns like arthritis.
Ferns are everywhere
The Azores were isolated from the other continents Europe and North America for thousands of years and the flora and fauna evolved differently. The landscape is covered with fat aloe and cacti, giant ferns, black sand beaches and mineral baths with their warm water.
Tree ferns are present throughout the archipelago of the Azores but are particularly numerous in São Miguel. Fauna and flora of the Azores. Asplenium azoricum is a fern of the hybrid origin and it lives exclusively in the Azores, and it is a strict endemic Azorean fern.
The Azores are internationally recognized as bird-watching destinations for observing certain groups of bird species. Resident and migratory bird populations of the Azores archipelago are the islands’ most noteworthy fauna. Some 36 bird species are reported to breed in the Azores. Here we can find also the most important nesting populations of Cory’s Shearwaters in the world.
Pyrrhula murina is listed as endangered, with a population estimated at less than 250 birds restricted to islands. Breeding seabirds of the Azores comprise 5 species of Procellariiformes, 4 Charadriiformes, and 1 Pelecaniform, and include Fea’s petrel.
The number of species seen in the islands is close to 400. You can join small groups from the local company Gerbybirding, specialized in birdwatching.
Drinks and food
Food is usually imported from the nearest countries, which causes high prices in restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets, and makes fresh food hard to find. The most famous dish of the Azores that you should definitely try is ‘furnas de caldas’, a stew that’s cooked inside a volcano or a fish baked on hot stones, fresh and unusual salads or fantastic pizza.
Even the most basic supplies are imported and are priced accordingly. But the overall Azores are a great deal. You can try a local brand of ice cream, with unique flavors like coconut and sweet pineapple. To get the best culinary experience, you can book a nine-day food and wine tour across four of Azores’ islands and you’ll have the chance to taste famed Azorean dishes.
Photo Credit: madeinazores.eu
Azores wine is good and cheap
Azorean wines have a great singularity, exclusivity, and History. The vine culture dates back to the 15th century. The vineyards are planted in particular locations called “Currais” where they are surrounded by volcanic rock walls that release heat to the vines overnight and have a quite effective protection effect against bad weather.
The historic vineyards on the island of Pico have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The wines are made from Verdelho, Arinto, and Terrantez. Most wines are white, fresh and tangy, but there is some good, light red, including some Merlot.
Where to stay in the Azores
There are nine main islands in the Azores and each one of them offers different experiences and things to do. If you only have limited time to visit one island, São Miguel is the largest and it has the most and cheapest direct flights.
For accommodation, there are many options to choose from for your stay at the Azores. You can rent a Holiday home on the Azores at HomeAway or choose a farmhouse or manor house. You can browse through Booking.com to find the best hotel or check out Airbnb and find what fits your budget and style.
They have more than 100 houses, cottages, and apartments for rental or official camping sites on all islands. Or you can check the best-priced Hotels in the Azores at:
The only tea plantation in Europe is there
In the Azores you will find the only tea plantations in Europe, which produce excellent teas, processing the leaves on vintage 19th-century English machinery.
The plants have to grow 7 years before you can start harvesting. The tea is harvested every 2 or 3 weeks from April until October.
Ribeira Grande, in São Miguel Island, is home to the two tea factories and a plantation–the only such plantation in Europe, courtesy of the island’s balmy climate.
More Nature, Less Beach
Nature is the biggest attraction to the Azores. The largest island, São Miguel has the most versatile scenery: from mountains, lakes, to sandy beaches and precipitous cliffs.
Each Azorean island has its own identity, its own unique landscape, traditions, cuisine, and architecture. Walking around stunning landscape marked by dense coastal woods, play golf of one of the best courses in the world.
Although is not a beach destination, there are very good beaches in the Azores. You can find some in S.Miguel – Praia Populo, Praia Agua d’Alto, Praia Ribeira Quente and Praia Porto Formoso are the most known, and Santa Maria Island. There are 2 great beaches Praia Formosa and Praia São Lourenço.
Azores is full of hiking trails
There are plenty of things you can see and do when you visit the Azores and without a doubt a great place to hike in beautiful landscapes. There are dozens of trails of different difficulty, length and type so you can choose between. All islands have clearly marked official hiking trails. The official tourism website has a section dedicated to trails. You can use the search option and you’ll have a list of all the hiking trails in the Azores that match your preferences. Why not go on an adventure by hiking and climbing along these scenic trails.
If this article inspires you to start packing to visit the Azores, check out our other post about Top 10 Things to Do in the Azores