BY: Luka Trcek
The nine islands that comprise the Azores are in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between North America and Europe. They provide beautiful scenery, excellent hiking, fabulous beaches, and superb food.
Here are seven of the best reasons to visit the Azores this year.
1. Easy to Get To
Some airlines, including SATA Airlines, offer a stopover in the Azores for flights to Portugal at no extra charge. Others offer cheap flights from either the United States or Portugal.
Also, flying to a neighboring island is easy and inexpensive once you fly to one of the islands. For example, SATA offers regular trips between islands for less than $100. The ferry also operates regularly between islands and is an even less expensive option.
2. Easy to Get Around
Getting around the island is also easy. For example, Sao Miguel, the largest island, has many paved roads that work well for cars and scooters. Also, the island is small, so using a scooter is quite practical.
The downside is that public transportation is poor. So, travelers without a car or scooter will want to depend on tours to help them see the islands. GetYourGuide offers one tour of the west side and one of the east side of the island.
3. Easy to Experience In a Week
Because the islands are small, tourists can fully experience Sao Miguel and another island within a week. Allowing about four days in Sao Miguel gives tourists one day in Ponta Delgada, one day on the west side, and one day on each east side coast.
Other islands of interest are:
- Pico for exploring volcanos, the highest mountain on the Azores, and excellent wine
- Faial for whale watching
- Santa Maria for white, sandy beaches and the unique geological formation, Ribeira de Maloas
- Flores for hiking or mountain biking
4. Prices Are Friendly
Food, accommodations, and transportation are all relatively inexpensive. For example, all three meals will likely cost less than 50 euros. Yet the food will be delicious; cosido das fumas, a stew cooked inside a volcano, is one example.
Accommodations at a guest house or hotel cost between 45 and 75 euros, although a room in a hostel dorm is only 17 euros. A scooter rental is about 17 euros a day; a car would rent for about 21 euros a day.
5. Perfect Weather
The weather in the Azores is perfect no matter what time of year travelers go. The temperature ranges between 60F and 86F, so travelers are comfortable even in the off-season.
6. Impressive Architecture
Architecture is one of the islands’ most impressive features. Ponta Delgada in Sao Miguel offers beautiful whitewashed buildings with black basalt, for example.
Picturesque villages of whitewashed buildings are throughout the entire archipelago. In addition to traditional architecture, Sao Miguel also features interesting modern buildings or renovations.
Lagoons are prevalent in the Azores. One of the most popular is the Lagoon of the Seven Cities, a twin lake within a dormant volcano on Sao Miguel. The lake is one of the largest sources of freshwater on the islands.
Another famous sight is Lagoa das Furnas, a calm lake in the center of a dormant volcano. A walk along the lake provides opportunities to see the calderas in the volcano; Mata-Jardim José do Canto, which features a large waterfall; and the neo-Gothic Chapel of Our Lady of Victories.
Lagoa do Fogo is also within a volcano and is the highest lake on the islands. It presents lovely mountain views.
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