The nine enchanting islands of the Azores archipelago are located in the middle of the Atlantic and are a short 4.5-hour flight from the Northeast. The Azores have so much to offer from breathtaking views, tasty food and wine, fantastic hiking, hot springs, waterfalls, and more. With so much to do in the Azores, it may be overwhelming to a first-time visitor to decide how to spend the trip. Luckily, we created a list of our favorite things to do when we visit the Azores.
The Terra Nostra Gardens and Geothermal Hot Springs are without a doubt one of the natural highlights of the Azores, and for good reason. From natural thermal pools to lavish and rich botanical gardens, Terra Nostra in Furnas village should be at the top of everyone’s itinerary. Originally built in 1780, Terra Nostra Park’s main pool is the largest thermal pool in the Azores, and its water temperature consistently reaches highs between 35ºC and 40ºC. Once you’re done swimming in the iron-water pool, relax and take in the rich botanical gardens. Terra Nostra Park is a relaxing experience that every traveler will want to enjoy.
Explore the Outdoors!
One of our favorite tours, which includes relaxing in the hot springs above, is the Furnas Tour of Eastern São Miguel. This scenic tour begins with a drive along the southern road and a stop in the beautiful seaside town of Vila Franca do Campo to taste the famous Queijadas de Vila Franca, a traditional pastry perfected by convent nuns during the 1600’s. The tour then continues to Terra Nostra Park to visit the award-winning botanical gardens and geothermal hot springs, and continues to Furnas Lake. After lunch a typical cozido lunch cooked in the ground using the natural, geothermal heat, visit Pico do Ferro which houses the archipelago’s oldest crater. The day will provide an overall experience you will never forget.
You cannot visit the Azores without touring Sete Cidades. The Sete Cidades parish provides one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Azores. Conveniently located on the west side of the island of São Miguel, Sete Cidades is composed of twin blue and green lakes that are picturesquely placed in the middle of a 3-mile-wide volcanic crater. The landscape has been shaped by successive volcanic events that lasted for over 38,000 years, and the inactive volcano makes for a beautiful backdrop. There’s no lack of vantage points or views in Sete Cidades, and it is a must-see when visiting the Azores.
A Whale and Dolphin Watching boat excursion is one of the most thrilling excursions you can go on in the Azores. Join an exciting marine wildlife tour to see and learn more about whales, local dolphins, turtles, fish, birds, and the marine biodiversity of the Azores Islands. With the central location of the islands in the Atlantic, you are guaranteed to see wildlife year-round, and the Azores Islands are one of the best places for whale and dolphin watching due to the currents and temperatures which provide a natural breeding ground.
Adventure in the Azores!
Calling all adrenaline seekers! Head into the jungle and experience one of the most beautiful and untouched areas of the Azores. Canyoning and rappelling in Ribeira dos Caldeirões Nature Reserve is an adventurous activity that is suitable for all skill levels. This canyoning experience will take you out to the waterfalls on the north side of the island, where you will hike the lava-created river bed and then rappel the waterfalls using different techniques like slides and small jumps. It’s one of the only places in the world you can discover this unique experience at a beginner level. And it’s one of our favorite activities when we visit!
For the hikers in your group, discover the trail to the Lost Village of Sanguinho.This hike in the central parish of Faial da Terra and follows the old-world trail to the former village of Sanguinho. Discover abandoned buildings and traces of traditional farming, along with a panoramic view of the village and valley below. The highlight of the day is a stop at the magnificent Salto do Prego waterfall, famous for its fresh, glittering, crystalline water. On a nice day, take a dip in the refreshing, clear waters!
The Azores have so much to offer in terms of adventure, tours, relaxation, and more. Quest Travel Adventures are your Atlantic Island Specialists with over 10 years of experience in small group travel to the Azores. Some of our most popular trips include our favorite things to do in the Azores. Make sure to check out our 6 Day Adventure Seeker, 5 Day Nature Lovers Hiking, and 4 Day Azores Spa Getaway. What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to the Azores today!