Holidays to Azores are ideal for resting and relaxing, with a leisurely pace of life reflected in the easy-going attitude of locals. Created by volcanic eruptions, the nine islands of the Azores enjoy a strategic position between Europe and North America. Some 1,500 kilometres west of Lisbon, this Portuguese territory represents a completely unique proposition as a holiday destination.
Every island has spectacular coastal aspects on all sides – unsurprisingly, the word ‘Azore’ comes from the Portuguese term for blue. Combining super-fresh cuisine with crisp air and rugged coastlines, it’s easy to see why many people call Azores holidays a perfect escape.
A quarter of the 250,000-strong Azorean population can be found in the capital, Ponta Delgada. This feels like a proper Portuguese city, with an airport and ring road surrounding a grid-pattern layout of narrow streets lined with whitewashed buildings. Hotels tend to be situated along Ponta Delgada’s main Avenidas, and the warm climate makes this a year-round destination for sun-worshippers.
The climate is also ideally suited to the dolphins and whales that flock here. As well as conventional diving tours and shark adventures, travellers can actively contribute to an ongoing scientific study of sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins. Before your first night’s sleep on this island nation, you’ll easily see why there is so much more to Azores holidays than meets the eye.
Each of these islands has its own distinct character and culture, and the diversity of attractions ensures that holidays in Azores will always be unique experiences. Every island has an airfield, and ships criss-cross the Atlantic between different ports, so it’s easy to explore more than one island during Azores holidays.
The splendid isolation from mainland Europe has necessitated residents of the Azores to produce as much as possible locally. In return, holidays in Azores are synonymous with handmade gifts and locally grown produce. This is Europe’s only tea-producing region, while local restaurants incorporate grass-reared animals and freshly caught fish into their menus. Food is often simplistic in creativity, but its freshness and flavour far outweigh a lack of exotic ingredients, and Azorean wines and cheeses are particularly impressive, so make sure to indulge!
Each island has its own character, but all nine Azores are peaceful and safe places for families and solo travellers alike. Many visitors will participate in island-hopping, although Sao Miguel and Terceira have enough attractions and amenities to keep you entertained for weeks. Holidays in Azores can often be managed quite spontaneously, adding an extra sense of adventure to any stay here.
As well as being the second-largest Azorean island, Pico is also Portugal’s biggest mountain. Its steeply-sloping sides can be climbed in a few hours, while committed mountain bikers can also tackle the ascent to 2,350 metres above sea level. Time it correctly, and you can be at the top for a spectacular sunset that will provide a perfect backdrop to any holiday photos.
Dramatic landscapes are a standard feature of holidays to Azores, from the bubbling volcanic ground on Sao Miguel to Terceira’s historic city of Angra. Its narrow cobbled streets are lined with brightly-coloured buildings reminiscent of a real-life fairy-tale, with many streets leading directly onto a bustling marina.
As you might expect given their oceanic surroundings, Azores holidays are ideal for water sports and activities like fishing. Every island has its own harbour for sailing or yachting, and the concentration of villages along the various coastlines ensures the Atlantic is always within walking distance.