The thermal baths of Furnas on the island of São Miguel
We begin with the island of São Miguel, the largest of the entire archipelago and usually also the starting point of all sightseeing. Here in fact is Ponta Delgada, one of the most important towns in the archipelago, thanks to its port. Its appearance is cosmopolitan. Churches, convents and historical buildings are examples of the city’s transition from a simple fishing village to a dynamic tourist town, where past and present merge perfectly.
The island of São Miguel is also famous thanks to Furnas, a town with spectacular natural thermal baths. Here, the water gushes directly from volcanic rocks and thus provides thermal springs: a true open-air wellness centre! Just what you need to relax after a fantastic trek around the crater of a volcano. That’s right, on the island of São Miguel, close to Lagoa do Fogo, you can walk right on the crater of the Caldeira Velha volcano and enjoy the landscape over the ocean, stopping then, why not, to take a dip in the natural pools you find along the way. However, this island offers wonders everywhere, you just have to choose which of the many to visit. Take a look at Weroad’s proposal.
Horta e Capelinhos: fly to the island of Faial
The island of Faial is part of the central group of islands in the archipelago, together with São Jorge and Pico. The most important town on the island is Horta. Built on a hillside, through streets and alleys, the town stretches down to the sea, where the harbour is located. Horta is a town with an international spirit, which has always welcomed travellers and yachtsmen from all over the world.
From the highest point of the island, Cabeço Gordo, one can admire the blue of the sea and more: Faial is referred to as ‘the blue island’, also due to the colour of the numerous hydrangeas that bloom on the meadows, gently sloping down to the coast. To the west of the island, the volcano of Capelinhos rises majestically. This is where the last volcanic eruption of the Azores took place and of course the landscape is lunar, although nature is fast returning to colour the meadows green. You will really feel like you have landed on a different planet! Among the things to see in the Azores, you cannot miss the view from the Capelinhos lighthouse: after a spiral staircase of 140 steps, the spectacle will leave you speechless!
Finally, you cannot leave the island of Faial without visiting one of the most characteristic bars: the Peter Café. It is located in the harbour area, very nice for dining and pleasant evening strolls, and perfectly describes the hospitable character of the islanders. In the past, the pub was a meeting point for sailors and seafarers, and although today it is a mostly touristy place, it retains the same atmosphere. Try the famous gin do mar and enjoy relaxing after a long walk.
Terceira Island: from Angra do Eroísmo to the volcanic chimney Algar do Carvão
We remain in the central group of the Azores archipelago to discover Terceira, the third island to be discovered by navigators. The lustre of its past is well represented by its most important city, Angra do Eroísmo; this town is the ancient capital of the Azores and is as lively as a true European capital. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Angra do Eroísmo is a nice break between treks. Cathedrals, castles, panoramic terraces, but above all the impérios, small, colourful, chapel-like temples: this city is waiting to be discovered!
Visiting Algar do Carvão, we return to the wilderness of Terceira. This is a unique natural monument; it is a real inactive volcanic chimney, where you can venture. You reach a depth of 100 metres and as you walk, you are enchanted by the lush vegetation growing on all the walls of the hole. Not all of the chimney is passable, but you can get to see a small lake that has formed at the base of the cave: a truly unimaginable scenario! Also here, among the many things to see in the Azores, it is also possible to enter a ‘lava tube’ about 700 metres long: the Gruta do Natal, so called because inside there is an altar on which Christmas mass is celebrated every year.
Then relax in Praia do Vitória, a pretty coastal municipality famous for its waterfront and typical food taverns. After all, Terceira is considered the most festive island in the archipelago and, among the things to do in the Azores, a good night of partying must be on your list!
Whale watching on the island of Pico
Among the things to see in the Azores, whale watching undoubtedly deserves a place on the podium. In general, all the islands of the archipelago are suitable for whale watching, as almost a third of the existing species can be spotted here. The island of Pico, however, is historically famous for these mammoth cetaceans: in the past, whaling took place here. Now the whales are protected and tourism only allows sightings so as not to disturb these animals. Just arm yourself with binoculars and wait for the right moment. Get your camera ready!
On this island you can do one of the most beautiful treks in the Azores. It is the route that will take you to the highest peak in the archipelago: Mount Pico. A 4- to 6-hour walk to a height of 2351 metres, this route is not for everyone, but it offers a unique spectacle.
The island of Pico is also famous for its vineyards, which are so special that they have been classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The vines are protected from the sea wind by stone walls, creating what can look like a labyrinth by the sea in the distance. The special climate and volcanic soil create a dry, fruity wine that is definitely worth tasting once you arrive on the island.
Europe’s westernmost islands: Flores and Corvo
Flores can also be called ‘the pink island’. In fact, if you climb to the highest point, Morro Alto, you can see a beautiful plateau covered with beautiful azaleas, whose colour gives the island its nickname. From this location, you can also admire the beautiful vegetation and the many streams and waterfalls of Flores and, in fact, one of the most unique activities to do on this island is canyoning.
On the island you can also visit one of the most famous natural monuments of the Azores, undoubtedly one of the most original things to see, the Rocha dos Bordões: a set of large basalt columns, arranged in such a way as to resemble a giant pipe organ. Another experience to try is the navigation of the Flores coastline; given its diversity, in some places consisting of cliffs and in others of flat areas, the coastline allows for navigation. By crossing an arm of the sea, it is possible to reach the island of Corvo.
The smallest island of the 9 and the only one to be a true volcano-island, Corvo. With only 500 inhabitants, the island is the least populated, but not the least attractive. The ‘grey’ island corresponds in its entirety to a volcanic edifice and this made it initially unattractive to explorers, remaining intact in its uniqueness. The island’s rhythms are marked by agriculture, which is practised despite the rugged and steep coastline. The main attraction is, of course, the crater of its volcano, the Calderão. This place is also a must-see in the Azores.
The Island of São Jorge
Be surprised by the longest island in the archipelago. São Jorge stretches 60 kilometres and is located in the centre of the Portuguese islands. As you may have guessed by now, this island, like its sisters, is the perfect place for hiking enthusiasts. In this case, one of the most popular destinations is the Pico de Esperança; this is not just a mountain, but a volcano, whose last eruption dates back to 1907. The peculiarity of the route, immersed in the lush greenery typical of the Azores, is the view. In fact, thanks to the narrow and elongated shape of the island, once you reach the top of the highest point of São Jorge, you can see the sea both on your right and left. Descending to the sea, however, is not as easy as it looks from the summit, because the island is characterised by steep cliffs. At the foot of these, however, is another surprise of nature: the fajas. These are very low coastal plains that provide a very sharp and scenic contrast against the steepness of the cliffs. Definitely on your list of things to see in the Azores.
The ‘extremities’ of the island are also one of the most fascinating things to see in São Jorge. Given the elongated shape of the island, you can drive to the east and visit Topo, a place famous for its natural pools, and then drive west to Punta do Rosais. From the latter, particularly impressive thanks to its lighthouse, if the weather permits, it is possible to see the island of Graciosa with the naked eye.
Graciosa: the white island of the Azores
What to see in the Azores? How about visiting the Unesco World Heritage Biosphere Reserve? That’s right. Graciosa can boast of this lustre, being among the most unspoilt and least touristy islands in the archipelago. This makes Graciosa even more special; the architecture respects nature without disrupting it and follows its rhythms. The traces of man can be seen especially in the numerous vineyards and the beautiful windmills.
Graciosa: the white island of the Azores
What to see in the Azores? How about visiting the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Biosphere Reserve? That’s right. Graciosa can boast of this lustre, being among the most unspoilt and least touristy islands in the archipelago. This makes Graciosa even more special; the architecture respects nature without disrupting it and follows its rhythms. The traces of man can be seen especially in the numerous vineyards and the beautiful windmills.
Graciosa is called the ‘white’ island because of the massive presence of volcanic rock. Over time, the rock undergoes alterations that lead it to take on a whitish colour. Like any island in the Azores, one can make a beautiful trek to Caldeira da Graciosa, an elliptical depression on the summit of the volcano. On the coast, on the other hand, the islet of Praia, a Special Protection Zone, is worth a visit, as the route of the Monteiro stormbird, the only endemic seabird of the Azores, passes through here.