The Azores, an Atlantic corner of green and eternal sunshine
People often don’t know what country the Azores belong to. Well, in fact, Azores belongs to Portugal. If you look for the Azores on the map, it is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, consisting of reefs and 9 large green islands with a total area of about 2.3 thousand square kilometers.
Holidays in the Azores in 2022
Azores is located one and a half thousand kilometers from Portugal and almost four thousand from North America. The islands of the archipelago are divided into an eastern group (São Miguel and Santa Maria), a western group (Corvo and Floris) and a central group (Terceira, Faial, Pico, São Jorge). The Azores have airports – in Santa Maria, São Miguel and Terceira, which can be reached by domestic flights from Lisbon.
Azores is located in a subtropical mild climate. The average temperature in January is about +14 degrees, July – +22 degrees. From late October to March it can rain, but the rains quickly change to sunshine. From June to September the weather in the Azores is comfortable, clear and dry. The warmest time of year is July and August.
The Azores’ main values are the stunning, unlike anything else nature, great ecology and natural food, cooked homemade from quality and truly healthy products. Azores is a volcanic island. Azores nature is amazingly contrasting: cliffs overgrown with vegetation, fancifully shaped lakes in the craters of volcanoes, the blue ocean, dark sand of volcanic origin, blooming hibiscus and hydrangeas in rich hues. Some endemics are even preserved here: the azorina flower and the Azores bullfinch.
Few corners like the Azores are left on earth. There are no big factories and industries on the Azores, and the land is cultivated by the inhabitants with their own hands, without the use of chemicals. Here you can enjoy nature in its almost pristine form. The locals are very concerned about protecting the environment. It is no accident that in 1995 Azores received the European Union Prize for the preservation of pristine nature and development of ecological tourism. Many beaches of the Azores are marked by the “Blue Flags” for purity.
Despite the fact that Azores is often on the same list as the Seychelles, Maldives and Bahamas, there is a big difference between these resorts. In the Azores is not a luxury hotels, striking the imagination of the luxury of interiors and technical innovations. People do not come here to live in royal suites or to sunbathe under palm trees on beaches with white sand. Besides, the water in cold and restless Atlantic Ocean even in summer does not get warmer than +22 degrees, and in winter its temperature can vary from +14 to +20.
As a rule, Azores is visited by sophisticated tourists who have already traveled around the world, visited the world’s best resorts and paid tribute to all the benefits of civilization. Holidays in the Azores are chosen by those who are tired of the noise and bustle of big cities, their overcrowding, hectic activity and crowds of people. Here you can be alone with nature, feel a part of it and enjoy the peace.
But don’t think of the Azores as boring, with nothing to do. In addition to beach holidays and walks around the islands and the ocean, you can watch birds, ride a bike, scooter or ATV, admire whales and swim with dolphins (Fayal Islands, Piku, San Miguel), relax in hot basalt baths of natural origin, fly on deltoids and descend into caves and caverns.
There are plenty of activities for outdoor activities: diving (Faial, Pico, Santa Maria, San Miguel), yachting (San Miguel, Terceira, Faial), sport fishing, surfing and windsurfing (except Corvoo and Flores), horseback riding (Faial, Terceira, San Miguel) and even golf (San Miguel, Teixeira).
The cuisine of the Azores deserves special attention. It is based on the Portuguese, but has a number of its own characteristics. Azores cuisine is dominated by meat and fish dishes, often cooked in wine or juice. All food, as mentioned above, is completely natural, grown without any chemistry and genetic experiments.
Azor’s calling card is Cozido das Furnas, when the freshest vegetables and marinated meat, fish or game are put in a pot and buried in the hot volcanic soil, where it languishes in the natural heat for several hours, acquiring a unique delicate taste. Worth mentioning is the large selection of desserts, cheese from San Jorge Island, sweet Azorean pineapples, tea from San Miguel. Of drinks – the local vodka aguardiente from the island of Graciosa, fragrant liqueurs, Biscoctos wine from Terceira and the famous Verdelho wine from Pico vineyards, protected by UNESCO.
All about vacations in the Azores
The Azores Archipelago is a group of 9 islands lost between Portugal and the Americas. The Atlantic Ocean that washes the Azores has created picturesque lagoons on the island shores. Crater lakes and hidden grottoes are a consequence of the volcanic nature of the islands. And all this natural splendor is complemented by the cultural heritage created by people over the centuries.
Beaches, eco-tourism, contemplation of historical sights are the reason why many tourists choose to vacation in the Azores in Portugal.
Composition of the Azores archipelago
The capital of the archipelago is Ponta Delgada, located on the island of São Miguel. The entire island group can be divided into three geographical parts: 1. The eastern part. This includes the islands of Santa Maria, San Miguel and several islands united by the name of Formigas. 2. The central part, which includes the islands of Graciosa, Faial, San Giorgi, Pico and Terceira. 3. The northwestern part. The islands of Corvoo and Floris.
Going to the islands
There are international airports in Azor on only three islands: San Miguel, Santa Maria and Faial. The largest is Joao Paulo II on São Miguel. The most convenient way to fly from Russia is to take a connecting flight to the airport Joao Paulo II in Lisbon.
How to get from Lisbon to Azores?
The main airlines serving the route Lisbon – Ponta Delgada are SATA and TAP Portugal. Round trip tickets cost from 80 euros. From the airport you can get to the capital by bus. The ticket price is on average 5 euros.
By the way. You can read information about the cost of travel directly at the bus stop on a special stand. It is worth taking into account that buses in San Miguel, as well as on other islands, run irregularly, despite the available schedule.
Therefore, a good alternative is to take a cab from the airport to the city. A trip to the center of Ponta Delgada will not cost more than 10 euros.
Transport in the Azores
All of the islands in the group have a bus service. The exception is the island of Corvoo. But, as already noted, public transport here does not work regularly. Therefore, using it as the main means of transportation and visiting tourist sites is unlikely to be convenient. Ticket is most often sold by the driver.
Cabs: Local cab drivers are quite sociable. And if a tourist speaks English, he has every chance not just to get to your destination, but also to learn interesting facts about the cities and islands of Azor. It is worth knowing that in Azores it is not customary to catch a cab on the streets. The common practice is to pre-order a cab by phone. It costs about 1 euro in addition to the cost of travel.
By the way ordering a tour around the island is a common phenomenon in the Azores. It costs 30-50 euros. The cost of the trip, whether it’s a tour or a regular ride, with the cab driver should be negotiated in advance.
If you have an international driver’s license, and during a trip to the islands is planned not just a beach vacation, but an active acquaintance with the island territories, the best option would be to rent a car. You can book a car in advance on the available online resources or directly at the airport of arrival.
Travel between islands
You can travel from one island to another by plane or ferry.
By plane: Joao Paulo II Airport, the largest airport in the archipelago, is connected to the main islands. Each island has a local airport serving nearby islands.
By ferry: Ferry service is a cheaper but more time-consuming option. Traveling by ferry is the best route between the islands of Faial – Piku – San Jorgey. The reason for this is their small distance from each other. The duration of the ferry trip in this triangle is from half an hour to 2.5 hours. The price of the ticket is 13-50 euros.
The trip between the other islands of the archipelago may take more than 10 hours and will cost more.
Important features of a beach holiday in the Azores
Speaking of the island beach holidays, we should note the underdeveloped level of infrastructure by European standards. However, the tranquility and uncrowdedness of local coasts surrounded by picturesque landscapes attract people who value this type of recreation.
Islands, offering the best beach vacations
Faial. The noteworthy beaches here are: – Porto Pim, notable for its rare light-colored sand for Azor. – Praia de Pedro Miguel – one of the most suitable for an intimate holiday. – Castelo Branco – a secluded beach surrounded by rocks. – Comprido – An opportunity to spend time at the foot of a volcano. – Porta da Eira would suit those who love outdoor activities and are willing to overcome a mountain range on the way to the coast.
San Miguel Island. The western coast of the island is the main destination for lovers of relaxation by the edge of the ocean.
Santa Maria. It is here where one of the best and most popular beaches in the Azores archipelago, Praia Formosa. The beach strip is covered with golden sand, unique to Azores.
Piku Island. On the coast of this island, you should pay attention to those who prefer scuba diving to lazy beach vacation. The most interesting place for divers is around the village of Punto Topo. Here, not far from the shore you can see the coral reef with colorful fish living there. Frequent encounters with dolphins and whales.
The best time of year for a beach holiday in the Azores is the period from June to late September. The air temperature during this period is within 25 degrees and the water is heated to +220 degrees. Precipitation is rare.
What to see?
Despite the fact that beach recreation is one of the main tourist destinations in the Azores, the main attraction of the islands is the unique natural landscape.
There are no large factories, megacities, large concentrations of traffic. But there are places where rare birds build their nests. And in the Atlantic basin of the archipelago passes the migration route of whales. Each island is a unique natural attractions.
So on the island of San Miguel there are hot springs. And here are equipped with thermal spas.
The island of Tezeira is an opportunity to visit the sulfur caves. There is also a volcano with the widest crater in the entire archipelago. Those who want to see the highest volcano in the archipelago should go to Pica. Here you can also visit the wine museum and get acquainted with the island’s architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries.
On a trip to San Giorgi you should try the local cheese of the same name.
Florish Island gets its name from the lush vegetation that makes it look like a lush garden washed by ocean waters. Worthy of note is the local Deep Lake.
Corvoo is the most compact island of the archipelago. There are no buses here, and the locals are welcoming and open. Here go those who are looking for silence and a complete break from the dynamic reality.
Entertainment in the Azores
While vacationing on the shores of the Azores, you can engage in a variety of water sports. Among them: paragliding, windsurfing, boating, diving. Sport fishing is organized. At the same time, the prices for such entertainment is pleasantly different from other European beach resorts.
Lovers of hiking will be able to go down into the caves, hiking, trekking in the gorges and foothills.
Another pleasant side of rest, which does not require physical strength, is the opportunity to bask in hot springs, to try the local cheeses and wines.
If the time of your trip falls at the end of June, you can join the festivities organized in honor of St. John’s Day – June 24. On this day, the main squares of all the island towns are lit up by the light of the fires that are lit there. Colorful processions are held everywhere.
Holidaying in the Azores, Portugal is an unforgettable journey. The lush colors of unspoiled nature, picturesque beaches and friendly people will long stay in the memory of those who have ever visited this unique archipelago.