The island of the Azores Islands in Portugal is very unique. The landscapes are amazing and almost all volcanos in the country are found on the islands, not to mention the lively and hospitable local community. The islands have no shortage of astounding landmarks and spots to check out. The Azores consist of 9 small islands which, despite attracting a lot of visitors yearly, remain unspoiled.
There is plenty to do and see here, including whale and dolphin watching, kayaking, fishing, surfing, scuba diving, horseback riding, and hiking among others. Oh, and remember tectonics plates in middle school? After visiting the Azores, everything will make sense!
Here is our list of the 15 best things to do in Azores, Portugal:
Check out Sete Cidades Massif
Located on the western parts of Sao Miguel Island, Sete Cidades Massif is a twin blue and green lakes entrenched in evergreen flora and enclosed by a volcanic crater.
Volcanic events of more than 38,000 years have shaped the landscapes around the lake. The most recent eruption is believed to have occurred in the 1400s before the island was invaded by the colonials.
Every spot here offers a vantage point for amazing views, but I recommend Vista do Rei towards the south rim near and derelict hotel Monte Palace.
Visit the wine country in Pico Island
The Azores also have a fine reputation of wine culture, especially Pico Island which has been making wine from the 15th century when the first settlers arrived on the island. It seems like the numerous volcanic eruptions are responsible for the fertile soil.
Though there are no sweeping vineyards on the island, vintners adapted perfectly to the basalt-littered land. The stone-walled vineyards help protect the wine estate from the strong Atlantic winds as well as the gushes of salty ocean waters.
Walk the scenic trails
The islands of Azores also feature some of the most scenic trails you will expect of an island of its stature. The most outstanding hiking trails can be found on the Sao Miguel Island, which is punctuated by streams, cascades, volcano craters, and lagoons. All these features are accessible only on foot. You will find some of the best bucket list trails here, including an 8-mile trail called Praia-Lagoa do Fogo, which provides the jaw-dropping vistas of Ribeira da Praia and Vila Franca do Campo and ends at the Lagoa do Fogo.
Discover underground caves
Because of its volcanic nature, Azores Islands are home to some unbelievable underground caves. If you find yourself on the island, exploring these caves is something you just can’t miss. The most popular cave is called the Algar do Carvao on Terceira Island. It was formed about 2000 years ago after a volcanic eruption.
Today, the cavern is filled with lots of grottos with incredible stalagmites and stalactites. The entrance of the cave is a chimney descending to an extinct volcano that leads to a subterranean lake which is usually supplied by rainwater.
Go whale watching
Whale and dolphin watching is one of the most popular activities in the Azores. There are different species of these water mammals in the waters of the islands, some of them live there permanently while others pass by during migration. It is believed that at least a third of all aquatic mammals have been recorded on the islands.
Unlike other spots around the world, the chance of seeing a whale or dolphin in the Azores is 98 percent.
Find out the diversity of the islands’ marine life
The waters of the Azores are ideal for scuba diving. They are filled with numerous species of fish and breathtaking rock formations, making them a diver’s paradise. The islands consist of over 100 diving locations with clear waters, more than 3,000 species of marine life, high visibility, vertical walls, and encounters with mobulas, manta rays, and occasionally whale sharks.
Go bird watching
Besides the rich marine life, the Azores are also known for their diverse species of birds, with over 300 common and migratory birds. Among the types of birds, you will find here including storm petrel, grey wagtail, and bullfinch among others.
The Azores bullfinch is among the rarest species of birds in the world and is only found on Sao Miguel Island.
Read the history of the Azores
The islands also have some interesting museums where you can learn a few things about the Azores. The majority of these museums are located on Sao Roque, Ilha do Pico, and Lajes do Pico. So if you are an archaeologist, you can have a field day on these islands.
Ride a bike around a volcanic cavern
Though the majority of the islands can only be explored on foot, Sao Miguel has great cycling paths. There are several guided and self-guided tours on the island that offer a chance to cycle around a volcanic crater. The rides take you through some of the most scenic and picturesque attractions of the island including the famous twin lakes of Sete Cidades.
Climb up Mount Pico
For a little bit of exercise and amazing views, climbing Mount Pico is a great option. It is the tallest peak in Portugal and one of the tallest Atlantic mountains, standing at 7,700 feet high. You can do it solo or join an organized tour.
Picnic around Caldeira Velha
Sao Miguel Island has a fair share of Azores’ treasures. Caldeira Velha for example offers a great spot for a picnic. The main pathway here, which is lined with refreshing plants and flowers, leads to a beautiful waterfall that collects below and forms warm pools. This area is great for a picnic and swimming.
Check out Ponta Delgada
Azores’ largest city is Ponta Delgada, situated on Sao Miguel Island. It is a wonderful place worth your visit. It is famous for its cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings, sweeping promenade, and some 17th-century churches and convents.
Enjoy horseback riding
The islands are also home to plenty of well-trained Portuguese hoses. Horseback riding is another way of exploring the awe-inspiring countryside while admiring the ocean.
Wander around Angra do Heroismo
Angra do Heroismo one of the well-known UNESCO World Heritage sites in Portugal. It is the largest city on Terceira Island and one of the trio of Azores’ capitals. The city is perfect for strolling around thanks to its 17th-century vibe as well as local cafés, shops, and bars. The best place to watch the city, however, is at Alto da Memoria.
Paragliding is arguably the most exhilarating activity on the Azores Islands. The sport is quite popular as well for adrenaline junkies as it allows you to fly over some of the islands’ famous volcanic craters such as Sete Cidades and Furnas.
To help you plan out your visit to Azores, we listed places to visit and things to do in this city. We also listed some of the best Azores travel and tour packages, as well as excellent flight deals and accommodation.
Tripadvisor has a list of the best Azores vacation packages. You may check out Airbnbs listings in Azores for cheap but high-quality accommodation.
Searching for the best Azores hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Azores hotels and resorts via Agoda, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.
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