The Azores of Portugal had been on my travel wish list for years. Many people know little about the islands and others have never even heard of these jewels of the Atlantic. Located off the coast of Portugal this paradise is less than a 5 hour flight from Boston. My family was born in the Azores. For me, visiting the Azores was a homecoming of sorts. From photos I had seen of the lush landscapes, I knew I would be impressed. Nothing could have prepared me though for seeing these islands in person. See why we fell in love with the Azores and why you will too!
Natural Beauty Beyond Belief
The 9 islands of the Azores are called the Hawaii of the East, a deserving title. These volcanic islands are a gorgeous combination of landscapes that resemble Scotland’s green pastures, and the volcanic coastlines of Hawaii. Add in waterfalls, volcanic lakes and craters and a large dose of cows to begin to visualize these spectacular islands.
Outdoor Adventure Activities
For us at RoarLoud, natural areas lead to outdoor adventures. The Azores has more to experience than one can possibly fit into one trip, though we tried! Of course, RoarLoud is all about great hiking, and the Azores have gorgeous hikes for all levels of hiker. During our visit, we hiked the highest mountain in Portugal– Mt. Pico at 7,713 feet (2,351 m). This was a great workout and amazing views from beginning to end. The Azores’ island Faial also has a beautiful day hike, that goes up and over 10 inactive volcanoes! Another popular activity in the Azores is mountain biking. Many of the most beautiful views such as Sete Cidades have trails that can be hiked or biked to get incredible views. São Miguel also hosts a paragliding festival, I’d love to add this to my adventures on our next trip. Do you prefer being on the water? No problem paddleboard, kayak or canoe on many of the volcanic lakes. Head to the ocean for fishing, kayaking, snorkeling or scuba.
Thermal Spa Relaxation
After strenuous outdoor activities, it is time to relax. In Furnas on the island of São Miguel, can visit one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. In this garden paradise, you can enjoy outdoor thermal pools that are heated by volcanoes. While hot tubs are great, it is hard to beat having your water heated by a volcano!
Take your pick of volcanic rocky beaches, dark sand or light sand beaches. Each island has numerous beaches to enjoy!
While we are talking about Azores beaches, did you know that whale and dolphin sightings are common? The Azores is considered one of the 10 best places in the world to see them. Whales and dolphins frequent the Azores year-round, but the best time for sightings is the summer. During the summer, you can see 6 varieties of dolphin and 14 kinds of whales!
Separating the pastures in fields and lining most roads, the Azoreans use hedges of flowering hydrangea. Come summer the islands turn blue with blooming hydrangea, this I must see! Spring offers a variety of azalea blooming as well as purple wisteria and endless plants thriving outdoors in the rich soil. Plants that we can only grow indoors in New England flourish on these islands.
Plan on extra time walking anywhere in the Azores, one can’t help but stop and admire the architecture. From churches adorned with amazing sculpture and intricate details to decorative gates, beauty was everywhere. Plants growing on ceramic roofs and each door a unique personality led to us wandering the streets to see more.
Discovering Street Art
Each year in São Miguel, there is a street art festival where world known artists come to share their art with the city. Down alleys we often found street art on the side of buildings, it became a treasure hunt for us. Walking times were extended for us to enjoy the sidewalks that each had different beautiful designs in the cobblestones. Beauty and art was everywhere!
Rich in culture and traditions, the Azorean people have a great appreciation for both art and music. We were welcomed by locals whether walking the city streets or touring an island. Kind, generous Azoreans made us feel like we were at home with them. Every person, town and island had a sense of community and pride for their home and country, that is not common these days. Many lead a sustainable lifestyle to some extent, with gardens and livestock in their yard. While it is an old-fashioned lifestyle, it is also what makes the Azores an ecotourism area.
Remember all those cows I mentioned, they make some of the best cheeses in the world! Many of our meals were accompanied by 4 or more cheeses. The freshest seafood was prepared exquisitely, full of flavor without being overpowering. Maybe you prefer your meal cooked by a volcano? No problem, head to Furnas. Cozido das Furnas is a delicious meal of mixed root vegetables, sausages, chicken, beef and pork all cooked in a pot underground by the heat of volcanic steam. For those of you with a sweet tooth like me, you will not be disappointed. In addition to Portuguese sweet bread and muffins, there were pastries with every meal!
Tip: Do not go home without at least 2 boxes of Queijadas- amazing egg tarts. This is not something I thought I’d like and I was even more surprised my kids loved them. Next time 4 boxes!
Any of these 10 reasons would have made the Azores wonderful to me. Having all 10 and even more, makes the Azores truly paradise! If you haven’t fallen in love with the Azores yet, wait for the series of blogs coming out all this month showcasing the beauty of these islands and the adventures we had there!
Check out our Instagram for more reasons to fall in love with these amazing islands!
This trip was made possible by Azores Airlines, Bensaude Hotels, and Futurismo Azores Adventures. Thank you all for your sponsorship making this dream trip come true! As always all opinions are honest and our own.
Ready to go- See how to get there: Azores Airlines- Non-Stop to Paradise
See what to do in the Azores: Futurismo Bike and Kayak Tour of Sete Cidades in Sao Miguel, Azores
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