Azores, the magical journey destination

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

In this travel feature, Paulo Silvestre takes readers on a guided tour of the best places to visit in Portugal. Paulo provides inside information and useful tips to assist you in planning relaxing trips and enjoyable days out. You’ll discover the best of Portugal and enjoy celebrating its unique culture! Paulo holds a degree in Media Studies and his hobbies include playing in a band.

Standing in the middle of the North Atlantic, the Azores is a group of nine islands and eight tiny islets, situated 1,300 kilometres from mainland Portugal.

The islands were formed by volcanic activity and they feature some of highest mountains in the world.

Prior to Portuguese colonisation in the fifteenth century, the Azores archipelago was completely uninhabited.

Since then the islands have played an important role in Portuguese modern history, serving as the stronghold of the liberals during the civil war.

Sete Cidades lagoon
Sete Cidades lagoon

There are around 250,000 inhabitants who mainly live from raising cattle, fishing and the tourist industry.

The nine islands of the Azores are spread out over a vast area. Based on their distance, they are classified in three groups.

The western group consists of Flores and Corvo, the central group is formed by Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira, with São Miguel and Santa Maria making the eastern group.

São Miguel is the largest of the islands and home to half of the total population of the Azores.

Ponta Delgada, one of the three capital cities of the Azores and the largest city, is on São Miguel. The other two capital cities are Angra do Heroísmo and Horta, located on Terceira and Faial respectively.

Despite the existence of beautiful beaches, with a yearly average air temperature of 17⁰ C, sunbathing is not the main source of attraction for tourists.

Visitors are mostly drawn by the natural beauty, as well as a range of available activities, such as whale watching, trekking, diving, paragliding, horseback riding, cycling and sailing.

The Azores are considered the perfect spot for an active holiday and a quiet retreat and are also one of the safest tourist destinations on the planet, with virtually no reported assaults on tourists and a good standard of living.

A considerable part of the islands’ population consists of former emigrants who have returned after working in the United States and Canada.

The islands are renowned for their hot springs and lakes inside volcanic craters. One of the most impressive landscapes in the Azores is the Sete Cidades lagoon, which is a huge volcanic crater on São Miguel that boasts two freshwater lakes.

Equally dazzling is Furna do Enxofre, a volcanic tunnel on the island of Graciosa, taking visitors into the ground to a secluded warm lake.

The Azores islands’ unique views and places located on the border between the Old Continent and the New World is an extraordinary place to visit.

Discover it!