Breathtaking panoramic views, deep green primeval forests and spectacular landscapes – a vacation in the middle of nature is always pure relaxation. If you don’t feel like traveling long distances and prefer to stay at home, you can of course spend your vacation in the Black Forest. But how about a new, exciting and quite unknown destination? If you need a break from crowded sandy beaches, hotel complexes and party miles this year, then you would be in good hands with an Azores vacation. Tucked away in the middle of the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese archipelago is a real gem and a unique example of the great power of Mother Nature. The remote location, rolling meadows, cliffs and impressive volcanic cones – the Azores could not offer more diversity and are the perfect place for both nature and beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. We’ll take you on an unforgettable trip to paradise and reveal all the beautiful places and sights in the Azores that you definitely shouldn’t miss!
Table of Contents
- Is an Azores vacation possible despite Corona? These are the rules you should know!
- Where are the Azores located and when is the best time for your vacation?
- The 9 islands of the Azores at a glance
- The crater lake Sete Cidades is a must on every Azores vacation
- The lake Lagoa do Fogo
- The volcano Pico
- Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
- Algar do Carvao
- Terra Nostra Park
- Azores vacation: The thermal baths of Furnas
- Whale watching in the Azores
Is an Azores vacation possible despite Corona? You should know these rules!
With 157.7 newly infected per 100,000 inhabitants, the number of Corona infections in Portugal has unfortunately peaked in recent weeks. However, only the Algarve region and the capital Lisbon are currently considered high-risk areas, so nothing stands in the way of your Azores vacation. Travelers do not have to fill out an entry declaration and in Germany you are no longer subject to quarantine. However, a negative Corona test is mandatory for entry. A rapid antigen test must not be older than 48 hours and a PCR test -older than 72 hours. A negative test is also required when checking into hotels. For stays longer than 7 days, additional testing occurs on day 6 and day 12. These rules do not apply to fully vaccinated and recovered persons.
Where are the Azores located and when is the best time to travel for your vacation?
The Azores archipelago is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between Europe and North America, and can be reached in about 5 hours by plane from Germany. The islands are an autonomous region of Portugal, but are located about 1400 kilometers from the European mainland. The weather on the Azores is quite unpredictable and in one day you can actually experience all four seasons! Due to their location, the islands are characterized by an oceanic subtropical climate, which ensures that summers are not too hot and winters are not too cold. The low climatic fluctuations make the Azores a popular destination all year round. To enjoy numerous sunny days with pleasant temperatures, the months between June and October would be the optimal travel time for your Azores vacation.
The 9 islands of the Azores at a glance
The Azores are a Portuguese archipelago consisting of 9 islands and each of them has its own charm. To help you plan your Azores vacation in the best possible way, we will briefly introduce the 9 islands below.
- São Miguel is the main island of the Azores and still known as the green island. It is also the most volcanically active island and there you can expect excellent healing water springs surrounded by beautiful nature.
- Santa Maria is the quiet and geologically oldest island of the Azores. Its beautiful sandy beaches and varied landscapes make it a real paradise for all nature lovers and sun worshippers.
- Terceira is the island of chapels and the picturesque capital Angra do Heroismo has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A real highlight are of course the chapels: There are countless of these brightly painted and cheerful places of worship to discover on the island.
- Faial is called the blue island, which is mainly due to the many blue hydrangea flower fields. The harbor of the capital Horta is often visited for trips between Europe and the Caribbean and is always worth a walk.
- Pico is the island of whales and the island’s namesake is the 2351 meter high volcano Pico, which is also the largest in Portugal.
- Sao Jorge is still called the “Dragon Island” and is a real paradise for all hikers. There you can expect steep volcanic cones, charming landscapes and in the protected valleys you can admire numerous dragon trees and protected plants.
- Graciosa is the second smallest Azores island and means “the graceful one”. Although there are only 4 small towns there, the island offers some varied and fabulous hiking trails. The absolute highlight on Graciosa is the circular hiking trail, which leads next to the magnificent crater cauldron “Caldeira da Graciosa” into the fairytale sulfur cave “Furna do Enxofre”.
- Flores is as the name says the island of flowers. If you want to enjoy the untouched nature, Flores is definitely a must on an Azores vacation. Take a short walk and be enchanted by the dreamlike forests with waterfalls and streams, the numerous flowers and the steeply sloping mountains.
- Corvo is the smallest inhabited island of the Azores and is still known as the island of volcanic craters and ravens. The only town of Vila do Corvo is actually one of the smallest towns in Europe. The solitude and tranquility give the island a special charm and unique charm.
The crater lake Sete Cidades is a must on any Azores vacation.
Impressive volcanic cones, breathtaking cliffs and rugged nature – it’s no wonder the Azores are also still known as the “Hawaii of Europe”. While the archipelago is blessed with endless natural wonders, nothing comes close to the beautiful crater lake Cidades on Sao Miguel. It covers 4 square kilometers and rests in a cauldron-shaped crater of volcanic origin. Walk above the surface of the water and look over the rim of the volcanic crater and you’ll hardly be able to get out of your amazement. Sete Cidades is divided into two lakes connected by a narrow channel and a road bridge – the larger Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verge.
The picturesque place hosts some of the best viewpoints and is undoubtedly one of the most popular Azores attractions. It is also one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal – reason enough to take a short trip. The charming village of Sete Cidades is also worth a visit and best suited for a relaxing stroll. Marvel at the fairytale church of Sao Nicolau or go to the roof of the famous “Monte Palac” hotel. Although the hotel filed for bankruptcy in 1990 and the building has been crumbling ever since, it can still be visited. There is colorful graffiti there that reads “Welcome to the best view in the world,” which is hard to disagree with.
The lake Lagoa do Fogo
Turquoise waters surrounded by plump nature, steep mountains and scenic hills as far as the eye can see – all this awaits you on an Azores vacation! Surrounded by volcanic mountains and enveloped by clouds, the picturesque lake Lagoa do Fogo is located on the island of Sao Miguel. Translated, Lagoa do Fogo means Lake of Fire, and the picturesque lagoon is almost 600 meters high, making it one of the most photographed and visited Azores sights. Especially in the early afternoon, the water appears in its most beautiful glow and makes for excellent and absolutely Instagram-worthy photos. What makes the place so special and unique is that it is located in a completely pristine landscape. No houses, no villages – just nature and people. All nature lovers can discover many endemic plant species and birds on and around the volcano – life that can only be seen in this form in the Azores.
The volcano Pico
On the island of Pico, the highest mountain in Portugal awaits you – the 2351-high Montanha do Pico. Beautiful, threatening and magnificent – nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the mountain. Ponta do Pico is a stratovolcano, that is, a layered volcano composed of several layers of lava and loose masses. Take a hike along the breathtaking landscape to enjoy the magnificent view from the very top. The climb is a bit challenging and not for everyone, but it’s definitely worth it. If you are lucky and the weather cooperates, you will have an excellent view of the islands of Terceira, Gracioa and Faial.
Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
Although the Azores never recognized the city of Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel as its official capital, it is in fact the economic center of the island group. With old-world architecture, fairytale streets and a thriving culinary scene, the city is always worth a visit. Soak up the special atmosphere and take a long walk back along the harbor promenade and through the old town. With many small churches, monasteries and beautiful squares, Ponta Delgada attracts like no other and is without a doubt one of the best ways to experience all the charm of the Azores. To the west of the city you will find the Gruta do Carvão – a lava cave, which at 1912 meters is also the longest on the island.
Algar do Carvao
On an Azores vacation, you have the unique opportunity to discover numerous natural treasures and literally descend into a volcano – guaranteed not something many others can claim. The volcanic cave Algar do Carvao is located on Terceira and is undoubtedly the absolute highlight of the island. The breathtaking stalactites and a never-ending rain caused by the internal humidity make the journey through the volcano almost like coming from another world. A truly unique experience that you can not experience anywhere else in the world. Due to the staircase system and the access tunnel, the visit to the cave is absolutely uncomplicated and without any danger. At a depth of about 90 meters, a small, picturesque lake awaits you, fed by seepage and rainwater. The view to the sky through the volcanic maw cannot be described in words – you just have to experience it! To enjoy the special play of colors and the splendor of lichens and mosses, you should visit Algar do Carvao around noon, when the sunlight reaches far down into the vent.
Terra Nostra Park
The Tera Nostra Park on Sao Miguel offers visitors everything that makes up an Azores vacation: pure peace and relaxation in the middle of nature. The park was established as early as the 18th century and the numerous native and exotic plants create a Caribbean feeling. In the park there is also a nostalgic swimming pool, which invites you to swim and linger with its 38 degree warm, ferruginous water. However, the thermal springs and streams not only have a relaxing effect, but can also provide relief from illnesses such as rheumatism.
Azores vacation: The thermal baths of Furnas
If you are on vacation in the Azores, you should definitely visit the hot springs of Furnas on Sao Miguel. How about a hot bath inmidst the botanical garden, in the nature reserve or rather with a view of the ocean? You are spoiled for choice, because in Fortunas the hot water bubbles from a total of 22 springs. In fact, the Azores are known worldwide for their soothing and beautiful thermal baths. Especially popular is Poca da Dona Beija in Furnas, which is even open late into the evening. It contains 5 thermal baths with different temperatures and thus provides the ultimate bathing fun!
Whale watching in the Azores
An absolute must on any Azores vacation? Whale watching! Around the archipelago whales feel particularly well and about 30 percent of all whale species occurring in the world can be observed! Some species live permanently in the waters and others pass by very briefly on their migrations. The most commonly sighted whales are sperm whales, fin whales and blue whales and there are many companies on the various islands that offer whale watching throughout the year. Would you like to swim with dolphins? Many species of dolphins also cavort off the coasts of the Azores.