Traveling to the Azores is one of the best options to go abroad. True! The Azores are Portugal but the feeling of being in a far away, different and challenging place is overwhelming. Thus, the Azores are probably the best destination in Portugal for those looking for the feeling of traveling without leaving Portugal.
What to visit in the Azores
When thinking about traveling to the Azores, the first question that arises is: where to go? Because in reality this will be the first choice you will have to make. The Azores are made up of 9 islands, so if you don't have a whole month of vacation, you'll have to choose which island or islands you want to discover and visit in the Azores.
Before making a decision and creating your Azores travel itinerary, it is important that you deconstruct some ideas about the Azores that are very important for you to enjoy your trip to the Azores.
- The Azores islands may not be very big but there is no island that can be seen in just one day (maybe Corvo can visit in one day but he won't know).
- The Azorean islands are big. Most of the islands in the Azores cannot be visited in less than 3 days and some of them require at least 4 or 5, as is the case of São Miguel, Pico, São Jorge or Terceira.
- If you have less than a month of vacation it is impractical, even if you fly, visit the 7 islands of the Azores in one trip and enjoy, taking time to get to know the Azores.
- It's easy to travel in the Azores, either in terms of sea or air transport, but it must be flexible because delays are very common in the Azores (and sometimes even flight cancellations), especially in the islands of the Western Group (Corvo and Flores).
- The Azores are a sustainable tourism destination in the world. It is very important to travel to the Azores with this awareness. Be part of the process and don't be the problem in the Azores. Enjoy nature, respect local ways of life and value the Azores archipelago.
Which island to choose to visit in the Azores
The Azores are a destination for nature lovers and this should be the profile of the visitor looking for the Azores. If you don't like nature, trails, wild beaches, natural pools, volcanoes, you'll probably have to think twice before deciding to go to the Azores. If you are looking for urban life, hustle, parties and glamour, then the Azores will not be so much for you. However, the Azores have almost an island suitable for every profile. As we know all the islands of the Azores, we share with you what you should know when you decide that you want to travel to the Azores but still haven't decided which island in the Azores to choose.
VISIT THE DIFFERENT ISLANDS OF THE AZORES
SÃO MIGUEL ISLAND IN THE AZORES
The island of São Miguel in the Azores is the island suitable for all those traveling to the Azores for the first time. It is the island to which there are more direct flights, from Porto, Lisbon, Faro or Madeira. It is a very diverse Azorean island, with some of the most beautiful Azorean landscapes and good infrastructure (many hotels, restaurants, transport, car rental, agencies for excursions and tours). As it has a wide range of services and products (it is the most accessible island in the Azores) the prices are the cheapest in the Azores archipelago. São Miguel is the largest island in the Azores, so don't dedicate less than 5 days to it (the ideal time to get to know the island is 7 days).
TIP TO THE AZORES – If you still don't know any island in the Azores, São Miguel is for you. That's where you should start. You won't regret it.
ISLAND OF SANTA MARIA IN THE AZORES
The island of Santa Maria in the Azores is a small island but you need at least 3 days to get to know it. It is the island of beaches and for those who like and are looking for the best beaches in the Azores. There are beautiful white sand beaches there, such as in São Lourenço Bay, one of the most beautiful places in the Azores. There are natural pools, good food, a desert, beautiful trails and the biggest waterfall in the Azores. In summer it is possible to go to the Ant Islands by boat and even swim with manta rays.
TIP – Santa Maria is a beautiful island and, oddly enough, one of the least visited. It is great to visit combined with a visit to São Miguel.
The island of Pico is the second most visited island in the Azores and it is no coincidence. Pico Island is probably the most beautiful island in the Azores. Pico Mountain is so imposing that it rises from the bottom of the ocean to over 2000 meters in altitude and can be seen from all the islands in the central group. It's like a beacon to the world, that world. Pico is the second largest island in the Azores and therefore you will need at least 5 days to visit it.
Pico is an island for nature lovers and adventure travellers. It is possible to climb to the summit of Pico Mountain, with an overnight stay in the volcano's caldera, camped. It is an island to enjoy the natural pools in the rocks, because the peak has no beaches. It is an island to enjoy the whaling culture and history, which began and ended on Pico. It is also the place to appreciate the volcanic landscape and man's struggle to produce wine in these lands. Pico's wine landscape is a UNESCO cultural heritage.
TIP – The island of Pico is excellent to visit along with the island of Faial and São Jorge, the so-called Triângulo island. They make an excellent destination for a two week holiday in the Azores.
SÃO JORGE ISLAND
The island of São Jorge, in the Azores, is the island sensation for lovers of hiking and trails. Tourists come from all over the world to walk the trails that lead to the fajãs of the Azores. There are fajãs on all the Azorean islands, but those on the island of São Jorge are the most beautiful, most diverse and most exuberant. It is also the island that has the most fajãs. The island of São Jorge is a small paradise in the middle of the Atlantic but, along with Pico, the most expensive islands in the Azores.
TIP – If you like trails and adventure, São Jorge is the right island for you. You will have wonderful trails to do, magnificent natural pools and breathtaking landscapes. It is ideal to visit together with Faial and Pico on a trip through the islands of the Triângulo.
The island of Faial is the scene of the most recent eruption in the Azores. It is an island to learn about Azorean volcanism and realize that we are really in virgin territory. The volcanic landscape of Capelinhos is wonderful and it even seems that we are on Mars. It's a fantastic island for whale and cetacean watching with some of the most sustainable practices on planet Earth.
TIP – Although the island of Faial is the smallest of the islands in the Triangle, you need about 3 days to visit it. It is excellent to combine in a visit with Pico and São Jorge.
Terceira island was the third island to be discovered in the Azores and is also the third in size, so don't think that visiting the island will be quick. The ideal is to have at least 5 days to explore Terceira Island. The island has wonderful volcanic landscapes, namely the largest caldera in the Azores (patchwork in the center of the island), the only visitable volcanic chimney in the world (Algar do Carvão), volcanic tubes, fumaroles, natural pools in lava flows, etc.
TIP – Terceira Island is also an excellent island for a first trip to the Azores. Along with São Miguel, these are the easiest islands to explore, due to the ease of renting a car, driving and the excellent offers of accommodation and restaurants. It is a very diverse island that will certainly ensure that you fall in love with the Azores and want to return.
Graciosa Island is the best kept secret of the Azores Archipelago. The least visited island in the Azores sees very few mainland and foreign tourists. Most of the tourists are Azoreans from other islands who enjoy the beautiful beaches and natural pools of Graciosa. It's a small island but full of amazing places to discover. The Furna do Enxofre on the island's largest volcano makes it famous but there is much more to discover on the island of Graciosa. Graciosa has the most beautiful natural volcanic pools in the Azores, in Poceirões, and some of the most virgin and exuberant landscapes in the archipelago.
TIP – Graciosa Island is a small island but you need 3 days to explore and visit it. It is ideal for renting a motorbike and feeling like a teenager. It is excellent for going to the beach in the natural pools and for visiting from Terceira (because there are frequent boats). It is an island to visit in summer. As it has little infrastructure, accommodation and restaurants, everything has to be booked well in advance.
The island of Flores is reputed to be the most beautiful in the Azores. There's no debating its beauty, but Flores really is a charming island that won't leave anyone indifferent. Flowers hold a unique, raw and wild beauty. It has wonderful trails, steep slopes towards the sea, waterfalls and lagoons scattered throughout the island. It has good and welcoming people and many secrets to discover.
TIP – The islands of Flores, in the Oriental group, are the most difficult to visit in the Azores, especially due to the number of flights, cancellations and delays. Plan your trip well and be flexible with dates. To visit the island of Flores you need 3 days but the ideal is to have 5 to be prepared for unforeseen events. When visiting Flores Island, add a couple more days and go to Corvo.
The island of Corvo is the most inhospitable island in the Azorean, Portuguese and European territory. Getting there is difficult, getting out too. But believe me, it's worth it. The island only has 7 km of road and it's almost like living on a different planet. It is worth visiting the island of Corvo, whether in one day or more.
TIP – You can visit the island of Corvo in one day, by boat from Flores. That's what we did. However, if you really want to get to know the island of Corvo, the ideal thing is to stay overnight on the island, even if it's just one night. You can reach the crow by boat or plane.