Plan a trip to the bustling region of Azores, an autonomous region in Portugal. Known for its volcanos, vibrant green peninsulas, and lively local community, Azores has no shortage of fascinating spots and landmarks to visit. The islands of Azoras are known for their dramatic landscapes and culturally rich fishing villages.
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There’s no place quite as geologically interesting and breathtaking as the Azores Geopark. Comprised of a network of 121 geological heritage sites scattered throughout 9 stunning islands and surrounded by beautiful marine areas, the Azores Geopark is representative of the archipelago’s vast and varied volcanic geodiversity. Other stunning areas of natural beauty to behold in the park include about 300 volcanic cavities, underwater geothermal sources, fumarolic fields, crater lakes, dry calderas and so much more. Book a nature tourism tour to get the most of the geopark and to see all of the secrets that it beholds.
9900-038 Horta, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-12-92-29-35-25
2.Islet of Vila Franca do Campo
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Dive headfirst into a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo. Intrepid vacationers can enjoy an afternoon sunbathing on the slopes of the ancient caldera or go for a cooling and relaxing swim within the Islet’s crater. This tiny island is just a kilometer away from São Miguel’s coast, so all it takes is a short boat ride from the Pier of Vila Franca do Campo to get to this amazing location. Spot beautiful and vibrant vegetation, a gorgeous lagoon shielded from the ocean’s currents, and marvel at the natural cone that the islet creates. Make sure to take some food and water with you!
Villa Franca do Campo, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
3.Lagoa das Furnas
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There are three spectacular lakes on São Miguel Island and one of them is the Lagoa das Furnas. While that may not sound special at first, there’s no denying that Lagoa das Furnas is unique in scenery and experiences. One of the most unique features of Lagoa das Furnas is the clear and amazing sign of volcanic activity that takes place on the lake’s northwestern shore. Exploration of this area isn’t just offered, it’s encouraged as there is a raised boardwalk that guests can navigate to get a great view of the small calderas and pools at the lake spouting steam. Interestingly, many of the craters at the lake are actually used by restaurant chefs who simmer large pots of stew there.
São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
4.Algar do Carvao
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Descend 100 meters through an ancient lava tube when you travel to Algar do Carvão. Located in the center of Terceira, Algar do Carvão offers travelers a surreal experience in the heart of an extinct volcano. Entering the volcano’s magma chamber may be a bit daunting for some, but the view of the sky through the cone overhead is bound to take every participant’s breath away. Explore the unique geology of the volcano and marvel at the lovely hues of green at the upper portions of the cave thanks to the growing ferns and moss. Traveling further down into Algar do Carvão also grants visitors the magnificent view of silica stalactites as well as a visit to a huge lake at the bottom of the chamber with crystal clear waters.
Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal
5.Angra do Heroísmo
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Discover the rich history of transatlantic expeditions to the New World when you head to the colorful city of Angra do Heroísmo. Angra do Heroísmo was a hotspot in the 15th and 16th centuries for expeditioners keen on traveling to the Americas, thus making it an amazing town to visit for history buffs. Vibrant and animated, Angra do Heroísmo is home to beautiful 1700-style architecture, lovely mosaic pavements, unique and traditional houses, and a photo-worthy cathedral. Avid shoppers can also stop by the plentiful shops in the area or delve into the special history of Angra do Heroísmo at the city museum.
Angra do Heroísmo, Azoras, Portugal
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Connect with Mother Nature and enjoy a fantastic and unique water adventures with Terra Azul. Based on São Miguel Island, Terra Azul is a family-friendly experience that brings eager travelers to the marine wildlife oasis that are the Azores Islands. Available tours include Whale Watching, a truly exciting experience, and the Swim with Dolphins Tour, which gives animal lovers the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world’s friendliest and exciting creatures. Groups and those who want to enjoy a unique and private experience can also book a Private Marine Wildlife Boat Tour. Full-day tours to the Ringlet Island are also available which is home to great local food, whale watching and snorkeling.
Marina Vila Franca do Campo 4, 9670-909 São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-19-13-45-30-30
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One of the most beautiful things about Azores is that it’s gorgeous landscapes always seem to be in a constant state of flux. No place in Azores demonstrates this as beautifully as the Caldeira, a stunning location nestled in the heart of Faial. Formerly a lovely lake, much like those one would see at São Miguel, the Caldeira was reformed into the crater it now is after a volcanic eruption that took place in the 1950s. Nearly 1.5 kilometers in diameter, the Caldeira is now, for the most part, dry, but boasts of diverse plant life and a stunning array of green hues all year round. The highlight of trips to Caldeira is the 8-kilomoter trail that takes visitors from the rim of the crater to the center. It’s a challenging trail, but doable with the right gear and companions.
Faial, Azores, Portugal
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It’s not every day that travelers can explore a recently formed patch of onyx-colored volcanic desert. For people eager to experience that, however, Capelinhos at Faial Island is the place to do it. Between 1957 and 1958, the landscape of Faial Island was changed when the Capelinhos volcano erupted. It was the volcanic lava that gave way to the creation of a whole new island that was connected to Faial by a narrow strip of land called an isthmus. Visitors touring Capelinhos can experience the awe and wonder of how one volcano can create and destroy. For example, travelers can visit a ruined lighthouse at the island, which is now part of a museum dedicated to the volcano. Places to Visit in Portugal
Faial Island, Azores, Portugal
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Pay a visit to the only remaining tea plantation in Azores when you stop by the Gorreana Plantation. Owned and operated by the family of Ermelinda Gago da Câmara, the Gorreana Tea produced here is internationally celebrated for being Europe’s oldest tea, and a world class kind of tea at that. Visitors at the plantation can learn all about the rare teas that the estate produces, while also sampling some of their fantastic offerings. With 32 beautiful acres and a sterling history in the tea industry, there are tons of things to see, learn and experience at the Gorreana Tea Estate and Plantation.
Plantações de Chá Gorreana, 9625 304 Maia, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-96-44-23-49
10.Lagoa do Fogo
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Arguably one of the largest bodies of water in the whole autonomous region of Azores, the Lagoa do Fogo is remarkably tranquil and a treat to the eyes as well as the soul. The Lagoa do Fogo, which just happens to be one of the country’s astounding crater lakes, is home to stupendous endemic flora. So beautiful is the lake and its sharp slopes that a natural reserve has been established Lagoa do Fogo to maintain the lake’s atmosphere. The drive to the lake is a treat all on its own, as the winding roads take visitors through lush greenery and hairpin turns.
São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
11.Marina da Horta
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As the main recreational harbor on Faial Island, the Marina da Horta is one of the most visited locations in the area and provides guests with exciting sailing related activities and opportunities. One of the most unique features of the harbor are the hundreds of paintings that cover the walls and grounds of the breakwaters, quays and docs. The paintings were made by captains sailing in and out of the Marina da Horta and is a byproduct of what can only be described as a sailor’s superstition. Another exciting thing about the Marina da Horta is that it’s the staging point for exciting transatlantic regattas.
Cais de Santa Cruz, Horta 9900-017, Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-92-39-16-93
12.Montanha do Pico
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Standing majestically at 2,351 meters, the Montanha do Pico is the highest point in all of Portugal and is situated on the lovely Pico Island. The Montanha do Pico is classified as a basaltic stratovolcano and was declared a nature reserve in 1982 because of its spectacular beauty and wildlife. With a summit that often disappears into the clouds, the Montanha do Pico is a great place to visit for a challenging but feasible hike. Hikers will start their adventure at the visitor’s center before following a route that is marked by wooden poles. For those who make it to the stratovolcano’s summit, they’ll be treated to a remarkable view of the Faial, Graciosa, São Jorge and Terceria Islands.
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Hike around and explore the wonders at Monte Brasil. Rising up from the sea to connect to the city of Angra do Heroímo, Monte Brasil is an extinct volcano that was later declared a protected landscape. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular natural parks and has fantastic viewpoints for the public to visit and enjoy. Stunning views isn’t the only thing that Monte Brasil has in spades. The extinct volcano is also home to heritage sites like the Casatle of São João Baptista, or as it’s known in English, the Castle of Saint John the Baptist. The castle is undoubtedly the largest and most important forts on the island and was built by the Philippine Dynasty at the conclusion of the 16th Century. Monte Brasil also has amazing winding trails for hiking and walking.
Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal
14.Museu de Angra do Heroismo
© Museu de Angra do Heroismo
Dive into the history of the Azores Islands as a whole at the Museu de Angra do Heroismo. The museum is unique in that it is geo-referenced and beautifully showcases the history of Azores in a global political context. Exhibits at the museum features this through a synthesis of local, regional, national and global references, and are marked by diversity of items on display. One of the most notable collections at the Museu de Angra do Heroismo is that of military history and transport during the 18th and 19th centuries. Knowledgeable staff can take guests through the museum in a systematic way while telling interesting stories and facts about the museum’s exhibits.
Ladeira de São Francisco 32, 9700-092 Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-95-24-08-00
15.Museu dos Baleeiros
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Despite being a controversial method of subsistence, whaling was one of the main ways that the communities of Azores prospered from the 19th Century till the 1980s. So important was whaling to the way of life on the islands that a museum was founded in 1988 to portray and depict the whaling history of Azores. The Museu dos Baleeiros is located in an old whaling boat warehouse and displays hundreds of artifacts from the region’s whaling days. Visitors can see old boats, photographs of the whalers, and the items used to catch whales. There is also a beautiful collection of engravings and carvings made from the teeth and bones of whales, which is actually a popular art form known as scrimshaw.
Rua dos Baleeiros, Lajes do Pico, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-12-92-67-92-40
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One of the most popular things about Azores are the gentle giants that swim through their waters yearly. Whale are, undeniably, one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful and majestic creatures, so it’s only natural to want to see these marvelous animals up close and personal. OceanEmotion specializes in Azores Whale Watching Tours, setting up seasonal trips that take place during the migratory season of the whales. Aiming to prove the best possible sighting opportunities, OceanEmotion has camps that offer whale watching, dolphin watching and even the exciting change to swim with dolphins. Other activities that guests can do with OceanEmotion are touring the Cabras Islets, seeing the sunset at Monte Brasil, and snorkeling.
Marina de Angra, Loja 9700-154, Angra do Heroismo, Terceira Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-95-09-81-19
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17.Peter Café and Scrimshaw Museum
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If you’re an avid sailor or are someone who has a heart that practically longs for the ocean, then the best bar on land for you in Azores is, without a doubt, the Peter Café and Scrimshaw Museum. The museum was founded in 1986 and is undoubtedly a must-visit place in Faial Islands because of its beautiful collection of scrimshaw. Meanwhile, the café is practically an institution in Horta and is frequented by international yachtsmen looking for a good drink and even better conversations. Truly, the Peter Café and Scrimshaw Museum has more to it than meets the eye. The only way to find out everything that it has to offer is to see and experience it for yourself.
Peter Café Sport Angustias 027, R. Jose Azevedo, Horta, Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-92-29-23-27
18.Pico Island Wine Country
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Epicures and wine lovers mustn’t leave the Azores without exploring the basalt lined vineyards of Pico Island. With all of the volcanos surrounding the Azorean islands, they’re probably the last place that you would think wine culture and vineyards would thrive, and yet the Pico Island Wine Country has been producing world-class wine since the 15th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pico Island Wine Country has 2,439 acres of vineyard that grow historic grapes that are spectacularly sweet thanks to the black basalt that surrounds the vines. Tour the vineyards with a local guide during the day and spend the late afternoons and evenings sipping and tasting all of the gorgeous wines that Pico Island has to offer.
Silveira, Lajes do Pico, Lajes 9930-177, Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-92-67-95-05
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19.Poca da Dona Beija
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Enjoy complete bliss and relaxation at Poca da Dona Beija, a popular hot spring complex situated close by Furnas on the island of São Miguel. Each pool in Poca da Dona Beija is fed by a natural hot spring with 40-degree water. The springs were actually originally enjoyed in a cave until people discovered a safer way to funnel water from the cave to the mad-made pools. Today, Poca da Dona Beija has been lovingly renovated and update to exude a rustic charm with its brick pools that are fringed by vibrant tropical vegetation. When you’re done enjoying some R&R at the hot spring, take some time to enjoy the tropical landscaping and the gift shop of the facility.
Lomba Das Barracas 1, Furnas, Azores, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-96-58-42-56
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20.Sete Cidades Caldera
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If we could only use one word to describe the Sete Cidades Caldera, it would be spectacular. The natural beauty of this twin lake, which located in the crater of a dormant volcano, is breathtaking with lively hues of green blanketing the surrounding landscapes. The twin lakes, which are relatively small and are ecologically unique, are connected by a small straight and can be crossed via a small bridge. They are known simply as the Green Lake and the Blue Lake, and are frequented by nature lovers from near and far. Apart from nature trails and fantastic photographic opportunities, the Sete Cidades Caldera is also a choice location for recreational activities.
Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
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21.Terra Nostra Gardens
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A visit to the Terra Nostra Gardens is like spending time in a secret paradise tucked away at the Azores, one of the world’s best kept secrets. Over 200 years old, the Terra Nostra Gardens are internationally renowned for their incredible beauty which is showcased in a sprawling 31-acre complex. Visitors to the gardens can see beautiful plant life from all over the world such as Rhododendrons from Malaysia, a collection of Cycads and Camellias, the exceptional Victoria Cruziana, and even over 300 kinds of ferns. Other popular locations to visit in the Terra Nostra Gardens include the Thermal Water Pool and the Botanical Library. Meanwhile, visitors can head to the hotel to pick up custom itineraries depending on what time of the year they’re there.
Rua Parde Jose Jacinto Botelho, 9675-061 Furnas, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-12-96-54-90-90
22.Azores Mountain Bike Holidays
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Explore the Azores Mountain in a unique and challenging way with the Azores Mountain Bike Holidays. Riding volcanoes since 2014, Azores Mountain Bikes Holiday specializes in tourist entertainment on the spectacular São Miguel Island. Tours with this company are truly unforgettable as large and small tours travel around the mountain, through the lush forests as well as to some of the top destinations and landmarks in the city. Packages with Azores Mountain Bike Holidays are all-inclusive with day tour and multiple day options as well as bike rentals. Pre-set tours to try include 1-Week Packs, Self-Guided Week Packs, and Day Tours. Those who want a personalized tour can also work with the Azores Mountain Bike Holidays Team to put a tailor-made package together.
Rua do Espírito Santo 71J, 9500-337, Fajã de Baixo, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-19-14-91-79-12
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23.Azores 38N Private and Jeep Tours
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Set off on an incredible and exciting journey with the Azores 38N Private and Jeep Tours. Passionate about showcasing the best that the amazing Terceira Island has to offer, Azores 38N caters to avid explorers that are ready to discover the most beautiful spots on the island. The folks behind Azores 38N will take you to all the hidden gems of the area aboard a 4-wheel drive jeepney. Perfect for big groups and small groups alike, visitors can choose between pre-set tours or work with the guys at Azores 38N to create a personalized and memorable private tour.
R. de Jesus 75, 9700 Angro de Heroísmo, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-19-18-01-28-91
24.Bike Safari Tour
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Are you strong enough to explore Azores on the back of a mountain bike? This is exactly what Bike Safari Tour is all about. Specializing in mountain bike tours, this company can organize events for all fitness and experience levels. However, there’s no denying that what Bike Safari Tour does best are endurance tours, all-mountain tours, and downhills tours. Booking an adrenaline pumping tour with the company comes with trail shuttles and bike rentals, while they also organize one-of events like mountain bike races and skills camps for those who want to work on their mountain biking skills. Select one of the pre-set packages or work with the Bike Safari Tour team to put together a unique ride for you and your travel companions.
Rua Dr Alberto Carlos Paula de Oliviera 155 9500-052, Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, Phone: 35-19-14-40-83-74
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25.Green Visions Tours
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Explore all that the São Miguel Island has to offer with Green Visions Tours. Offering fixed tour packages as well as unique and tailored packages for groups, Green Visions Tours knows everything there is to know about the island. Visitors can look forward to exploring the most beautiful locations on the islands as well as enjoying the sweeping vistas of the surrounding landscapes. Packages with Green Visions Tours visit popular locations like the Fire Lake Mountain, Seven Cities, Furnas and Nordeste to name a few. The best part about Green Visions Tours is their dedication to the satisfaction of their clients, so if there’s something special that you want to accomplish, all you need to do is ask.
Rua Bento José Morais, São Pedro Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, Phone: +35-19-19-14-36-94-49
25 Best Things to Do in the Azores, Portugal
- Azores Geopark, Photo: Courtesy of Mauro Rodrigues - Fotolia.com
- Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, Photo: Courtesy of solipa - Fotolia.com
- Lagoa das Furnas, Photo: Courtesy of PUNTO STUDIO FOTO AG - Fotolia.com
- Algar do Carvao, Photo: Courtesy of F.C.G. - Fotolia.com
- Angra do Heroísmo, Photo: Courtesy of jalvarezg - Fotolia.com
- Terra Azul, Photo: Courtesy of Karol Kozlowski - Fotolia.com
- Caldeira, Photo: Courtesy of bruno ismael alves - Fotolia.com
- Capelinhos, Photo: Courtesy of Henner Damke - Fotolia.com
- Gorreana, Photo: Courtesy of KajzrPhotography.com - Fotolia.com
- Lagoa do Fogo, Photo: Courtesy of Alexandra Gnatush - Fotolia.com
- Marina da Horta, Photo: Courtesy of dilg - Fotolia.com
- Montanha do Pico, Photo: Courtesy of Francesco Bonino - Fotolia.com
- Monte Brasil, Photo: Courtesy of kgdad - Fotolia.com
- Museu de Angra do Heroismo, Photo: Museu de Angra do Heroismo
- Museu dos Baleeiros, Photo: Courtesy of ContributorArtist - Fotolia.com
- OceanEmotion, Photo: Courtesy of Karlos Lomsky - Fotolia.com
- Peter Café and Scrimshaw Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Syda Productions - Fotolia.com
- Pico Island Wine Country, Photo: Courtesy of FedevPhoto - Fotolia.com
- Poca da Dona Beija, Photo: Courtesy of abilio - Fotolia.com
- Sete Cidades Caldera, Photo: Courtesy of bbsferrari - Fotolia.com
- Terra Nostra Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of cristovao31 - Fotolia.com
- Azores Mountain Bike Holidays, Photo: Courtesy of nullplus - Fotolia.com
- Azores 38N Private and Jeep Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Francesco Bonino - Fotolia.com
- Bike Safari Tour, Photo: Courtesy of ustudent - Fotolia.com
- Green Visions Tours, Photo: Courtesy of jonatan - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of samael334 - Fotolia.com