The nature of the Azores – deep volcanic craters, high mountains, jungle-like nature and breath-taking views as far as one can see. This group of islands located in the extreme southwest of Europe (well over 1370 km west of the mainland in the Atlantic Ocean) belong administratively to Portugal and therefore Portuguese is also spoken here. Viewpoints, so-called “Miradouros” as they are called in the Azores, are always a highlight and can usually be combined with a small, fine walk. Despite the fact that the earth here seems to be constantly in motion due to small impacts, the inhabitants are not afraid. They have volcanoes and earthquakes in their blood.
This archipelago consists of a total of 9 islands, some of them we would like have a closer look upon.
São Miguel – the extraordinary longer main island
it probably has the most extensive offer, as well as the best infrastructure. It is also home to the capital of this region, Ponta Delgada. Near the port there is the three-arched city gate Portas da Cidade. Also, here you can find the church Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião, which facade is in Gothic style. A widely adored statue of Christ is located in the convent church Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Esperança. An insight into the history and culture of the Azores, offers the nearby Museum Carlos Machado.
The Caldeira das Sete Cidades (Seven Cities)
This is a huge crater landscape with several lakes and a village of the same name. The two most famous lakes are Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. Much more romantic than the scientific explanation for the coloration of the lakes is the legend of the forbidden love between a princess and a shepherd: the blue comes from the tears of the blue-eyed princess and the green from the green eyes of the prince. Other viewpoints here are the Miradouro da Vista do Rei. and the ruins of the Monte Palace Hotel. This was an exclusive 5-star hotel in 1989, until it had to declare bankruptcy after only one year.
São Jorge – the second largest and greenest of the Azores islands
This island is quieter, more tranquil and more unspoiled compared to the others and therefore a paradise for hikers. It is also known for its fajãs, spits of land at the foot of cliffs, like the Fajã dos Cubres. Furthermore, there are a lot of cows and very good cheese. Another specialty is the way the grapes are cultivated. The vines grow flat on the ground in the deep black of the lava soil within waist-high walls, a protection against the salty winds. Since 2004 they are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Due to the rapid change of weather within a short period of time, the journey over a total of 700 meters of altitude from the summit to the beach is very unique.
Terceira – third largest Azorean island – most beautiful city of the Azores
The third largest of the Azores islands has its own small airport, which is served by flights from the other Azores islands and also from mainland Portugal. Within the Azores islands, you rarely fly more than 30 minutes from island to island. The most beautiful city of the Azores is on Terceira. Angra do Heroismo is also the oldest city of the archipelago. The old town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
Flores – fourth largest Azorean island – the most western point of the EU
It is not possible to choose the most beautiful Azorean Island. However, Flores is at the top of the list, even though it has the most rainfall and the strongest winds. Flores is exposed to the westerly winds coming from America. Here the waves of the Atlantic Ocean and those of the Gulf Stream meet land for the first time after 3,500 km.
Faial – fifth largest island of the Azores – “Ilha Azul” the blue island
Faial is the fifth largest island of the Azores. The nickname “blue” comes from the fact that in summer kilometers of blue hydrangea hedges line many streets. From green overgrown craters to barren brown volcanic landscapes and black lava beaches to the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, the most important sights on Faial have been created by nature, often with tremendous force. In addition to these fascinating natural phenomena, however, Faial’s location opposite the sublime Ponta do Pico also makes a stay so worthwhile. Whether in the morning or in the evening, when this stratovolcano rises from the clouds at the golden hour, the atmosphere is simply magical.
Pico – with its volcano of the same name Ponta do Pico in the center of the island. From here you can easily travel by ferry to the island of Faial
Santa Maria- “Holy Mary” is the southernmost and third smallest island of the Azores.
It is the geologically oldest island of the Azores. It is known for its arts making and pottery and has distilleries and fish processing.
- Graciosa – second smallest island of the Azores
Together with Faial, Pico, São Jorge and Terceira it forms the central group of the archipelago and is located in its north.
- Corvo – “Raven” the smallest island with its own airfield for smaller planes.
This island consists of an extinguished volcano, Monte Gordo, which forms a caldera “crater” 2 km wide and 300 m deep, at the bottom of which is a lake called Lagoa do Caldeirão. At the southern edge of the caldera is the 718 m high Morro dos Homens (“Hill of the People”), the highest elevation on the island. Except for the somewhat flatter south, the shores of the island are characterized by steep cliffs. The surface consists of green crater pastures, typical of the island, grazed by cows. The meat and other products from cattle farming are sold in Lisbon and form the basis of income for the inhabitants of Corvo.
Each Azores Island is, in a way, a small world of its own.
Therefore, how about going island hopping?
Decide quickly, as from May to October is the best time to travel.