Found in the Mid-Atlantic, the Autonomous Region of the Azores are part of the Portuguese Republic, and are formed of nine volcanic islands. Enjoying a mild climate, thanks to the gulf-stream, the islands were settled in the 15th century, and offer traditional Portuguese culture and architecture, and breath-taking scenery, all of which you can experience with one of our holidays in the Azores.
Sitting at the meeting point of the North American, Eurasian and African tectonic plates, the landscape of the Azores is full of incredible volcanic features. Mount Pico is the highest point in the Portuguese Republic, standing 2,351 metres above sea level, and the volcano lends its name to the island it sits on. On a clear day, taking a few hours to a hike up the volcano will be rewarded with spectacular views across the entire archipelago. But if the weather’s not great, there’s still plenty to explore on the island, including vineyards and caves.
The largest island in the archipelago, Sao Miguel, is home to Europe’s only tea plantation at Gorreana, as well as Furnas, which is rich in hot springs, and what better way to relax when on one of our Azores holidays than by lying back and soaking in one of the area’s natural thermal baths. The most Western island, Flores, is a biosphere reserve with beautiful coastal hiking routes, impressive waterfalls and the basalt columns of Rocha dos Bordões. The waters around the islands also offer many whale watching, surfing, fishing and sailing opportunities, and many world-class sailors have stopped by Peter’s Café Sport on the island of Faial.
Most Azores holidays begin on Sao Miguel, with national and international flights landing in João Paulo II airport. The airport sits in Ponta Delgada, the islands’ capital, which is a cosmopolitan city with a population of almost 70,000. Wander around its attractive cobbled streets and you’ll find inviting shops, cafes and historic buildings to explore, as well as a modern marina, which is surrounded by restaurants.
Terceira, the third largest island, is home to the oldest city in the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983, Among the city’s key sites are the Sao Joao Baptista fort, which dates back more than 400 years, the grand 19th century theatre Teatro Angrense and the Angra do Heroismo Museum, which is found in a former convent. You’ll also find plenty of interesting shops in the Rua Direita and Rua da Se.
The Azores are home to thriving agricultural and fishing industries, and this is reflected in the fine cuisine that can be enjoyed during Azores holidays. The islands produce their own wine and cheese, and you can try both Portuguese tapas and traditional Azorean cuisine in restaurants around the islands. A particular highlight is Cozida das Furnas, a meat and vegetable stew, cooked underground by natural volcanic heat.