The Azores are a volcanic archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean. Belonging to their mother country, Portugal, the islands are not well known, and for that reason, it has never been a major vacation destination for the North American market. However, that’s all changing now. The region consists of 9 islands spread out to the west of Portugal, all of which offer unique features, activities, and cultures. In the spirit of the 9 islands, we’re providing 9 reasons to book your trip to the Azores, plus 1 more for good measure.
From the moment you step onto the island, you’ll be awestruck by the luscious colors surrounding you. Regardless of which islands you choose to visit, you’ll find new natural feats that give each island a unique personality. As we’ll talk about later, you’ll see dormant volcanic formations, winding caves, lively forests, and much more. And that’s not all! Region-specific plants and animals are scattered, hidden around the land. Be sure to bring your binoculars, as you may spot the small, rare Western Azores Goldcrest, Azores Bullfinch, or the Azores Grayling.
Plenty of Food & Wine
Prepare for a refreshing culinary experience in the Azores. A large portion of the food consumed on the Azores are produced locally, making for three fresh meals a day. Some of the islands top, local foods include cheese, seafood, and exotic fruits. In fact, cheese from the Azores is so tasty that 50% of Portugal’s supply comes from the island. For that reason, it’s included in most of the islands most famous dishes, making this the perfect destination for any cheese connoisseurs.
After a long history of wine production was destroyed by pests in the early 20th century, the Azores are once again becoming a wine-growing region. Over the past decade, they’ve been slowly restoring their vineyards and reclaiming their reputation. New and improved, these local wines pair perfectly with the island’s homegrown cheese.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Since its discovery in the early 15th century by Portuguese navigators, the island has experienced a long, plentiful history. Along the way it has experienced war, natural disaster, and cultural revolution, constantly changing the landscape of the archipelago. In its path, the island has left behind multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites that paint a picture of the past. The first is the Historical Centre of Angra do Heroismo, a place for both exile and refuge during the island’s early wars. The second, the Landscape of Pico Island Vineyard Culture, dates back to when the island was known for its wineries.
In addition, there are plenty of museums, artworks, and landmarks that depict the rich history of the islands. They are spread all across the region, as each island contains its own personal story unique from the rest.
Dolphin and Whale Watching
Year round, pods of dolphins call the surrounding waters of the Azores their home. Home to the world’s largest varieties of dolphin species, you’ll be astounded as the elegant creatures leap past your boat. Depending on the time of year, you may witness an even larger variety of whales as they migrate through the archipelago. From Orcas to massive Blue Whales, you never know which sea creatures you’ll spy on your cruise.
Endless Hiking Trails
Ridden with plentiful forests, rolling mountains and winding coastlines, the Azores offer a seemingly endless amount of unique landscapes that make for the perfect afternoon hike. Along these trails, you’ll experience the wonders of the islands as you take in its natural scenery. Regardless of your level of expertise or the business of your schedule, there are trails to suit any traveler’s needs. Of the many trails across the Azores, we recommend looking to Faial Island. Here, you can hike straight through the Caldeira- the beautiful, ominous crater of a past volcano
For those of you itching for adrenaline, the Azores can provide the rush. Given the many canyons around the islands, the daring few can test their limits by ascending and descending these cliffs. On the island of Sao Miguel in particular, these adventure seekers can organize canyoning and rappelling sessions. For those who may be hesitant about the idea, fret not; these activities are supervised by trained professional who ensure your safety.
Just in case hiking, rock climbing, and rappelling down the sides of cliffs weren’t enough adventures for your liking, we’ve got plenty more up our sleeve. Take a dive down into the depths of the Azores by exploring all sorts of mysterious caves. Lava caves, formed from a series of ancient lava flowings, create an underground maze of tunnels and caverns beneath the island. If this interests you, make the trip to the islands of Terceira or São Miguel, where these underground geological phenomena are a must-visit.
NOT a Tourist HotSpot
If you’re tired of crowded beaches, noisy hotels, and artificial cultural experiences, then the Azores are for you. For the most part, the Portuguese island chain has remained ‘off the map’ in terms of mainstream tourist destinations. It has since become more popular, but the secluded island allows for a quaint, culturally authentic trip.
In addition to being not-your-average vacation destination, you’ll be staying in not-your-average hotels. Around the Azores, you won’t be able to find any big-name chain hotels; instead, you’ll find local inns. These boutique-style hotels are full of culture, and their small size—generally consisting of less than 100 rooms—allow for a personal experience that will give you a true feel for Azorean hospitality.
So Many Choices!
As we may have mentioned once or twice, each of the nine islands that make up the Azores are home to unique features and activities that paint an entirely new picture. We understand that you may not have the time to travel to each island. For that reason, we recommend that you focus your time on the islands of Sao Miguel, Terceira, Pico, Flores and Santa Maria. Here, we can guarantee that you’ll find unique, quaint, and exciting vacation that you’ve been looking for.
Here, at Quest Travel Adventures, we want to ensure that your trip across the world is perfect in every way. As Atlantic Island Specialists, we have the expertise, depth of experience, local knowledge and connections to ensure you have a spectacular, memorable, and worry-free trip of a lifetime. Some of our most popular Azores trips include our 5 day Taste of the Azores, 6 Day Azores Adventure Seeker and 8 Day Best of Azores. View all of our Azores trips here.