If you’ve never been to the Azores archipelago, they are the ideal destination for your first international trip once travel restrictions are eased. As Europe’s closest islands, the Azores are only a 4.5 hour flight from Boston or Toronto. Plus, these hidden gems of Europe are affordable, not very crowded, and offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
Within the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Azores locked-down and implemented restrictions that were even stricter than mainland Portugal. As a result, they have remained a nearly covid-free destination. While some consider the mandatory testing requirements before or upon arrival to be a bother, others realize it is a necessary step in order to preserve what makes the Azores a special destination.
Non-stop daily flights from the northeast make this a great option for anyone looking to visit Europe while also forgoing a longer flight. Also, the weather is mild and the slower pace of life will immediately relax you upon arrival. Rolling volcanic hills of green patchwork fields, a UNESCO World Heritage city with terracotta roofs and the traditional Azorean architecture of white ceramic mixed with black basalt rock, coves of black sand beaches, and geothermal hot springs make this a destination that has it all.
The views, vistas, and your own photography will be postcard perfect. Standing at the platform overlooking the Sete Cidades green and blue lakes, surrounded by the local hydrangeas, you will find your instagram-perfect image. Around every corner are more snap-worthy views, from the Salto do Prego waterfall to the Arnel Lighthouse at the northeast tip of São Miguel, you will find that perfect shot.
Adventure is also around every corner, whether you prefer hiking to the peak of Pico island (the highest point in the Azores), rappelling down waterfalls in the Ribeira dos Caldeirões park on São Miguel, or exploring the lava caves of Algar do Carvão on Terceira island, there is an adventure for every ability level.
If food is your thing, check out the locally grown produce like pineapples, passion fruit, or bananas in the local markets. Head to Furnas, where you can eat the traditional ‘cozido’ dinner, cooked in the ground using the natural geothermal heat. Most of all, the Azores are best known for their local cheese. With over 20 different varieties of cheese produced in the islands and about 50% of all the cheese consumed in Portugal coming from the Azores, this is a must-taste on your visit. Each island has its own special cheese that it produces. And don’t forget to pair them with a glass of local wine or visit the Museu do Vinho (wine museum) in Biscoitos on Terceira island.
All of this is just a short flight away and still undiscovered by some of the most savvy travelers. 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 5 Day Taste of the Azores, 6 Day Azores Adventure Seeker and 8 Day Best of Azores. Don’t miss out or wait until these islands become crowded - book your trip to the Azores today!