Europe's Best Kept Secret
Backpacking in Azores
The Azores are a great backpacking destination for nature lovers and have three youth hostels (Pousadas de Juventude) - one each on São Miguel, Pico and Terceira. Prices start at 11€ for beds during the low season and 14€ in the high season. Walking trails, which are marked and easy to follow, are found on all the islands of the Azores. Do not expect a big scene of partying European trekkers on holiday. Again, this is an undeveloped pearl for backpacking in pristine natural conditions and should not disappoint anyone in search of beautiful views and fantastic hiking opportunities.
Beach in Azores
The Azores does not have many sandy beaches, but those they do have are quite special. An Azores beach holiday can be spent on the lovely island of Santa Maria, with its white sand beaches nestled amongst pic-turesque cliffs and inlets. Though the weather in the Azores can be unpredictable, Santa Maria is the island with the most sun. Praia Formosa is Santa Maria’s largest and most popular beach, while São Lorenço is a well known surf spot. A great thing about beach holidays in the Azores is that all beaches in the Azores benefit from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. For something different, try Praia do Faja on Fial, with its dark volcanic sand and stunning views.
Camping in Azores
The Azores are a good choice for holiday campers who prefer basic facilities and are interested in the natural surroundings these lovely islands have to offer. There are a couple of official campsites on each island, though some campers prefer to ask local farmers if they can pitch a tent on their land. It should be noted, however, that camping in the Azores is restricted to officially designated campsites and campers who camp outside these sites on public land can be subject to hefty fines. Keep this in mind when planning an Azores camping holiday. Recommended campsites for camping holidays in the Azores include the site at Furnas on São Miguel, Praia do Almoxarife in Faial, Faja Grande on São Jorge and Santo Antonio on the north coast of Pico, which has plenty of facilities and is good for families.
Cruises in Azores
A cruise holiday in the Azores is a wonderful way to experience the breathtaking scenery, and beautiful unspoiled nature these remote European islands have to offer. An 8-day Azores cruise takes you to each island, giving a great overview of Azorean nature, culture and geography. Other long transatlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean and European cruise holiday routes operated by well known cruise lines such as Fred Olsen, Crystal Cruises, Holland America, and Norwegian Cruise Line, incorporate the Azores into their itineraries.
Culture and Arts in Azores
Most people visit the Azores for its unspoiled nature and beautiful scenery, but that doesn’t mean that the Azores aren’t a good culture and arts holiday destination. In fact, the city of Angra do Heroísmo, on the island of Terceira, is a UNESCO heritage patrimony city and is the oldest town on the Azores, dating from as far back as 1534. Cultural and artistic landmarks include the square in Angra and the 17th century Palace of the Bettencourts. Touradas, like the traditional “running of the bulls” in Pamplona, are popular traditional Azorean spectacles. The Azores are also a place where many cultural festivals are held year-round including religious processions, traditional Carnival masquerades and São Jorge Cultural Week.
Disabled Needs in Azores
The Azores are a not a very good option for the disabled tourist. Since tourism in the Azores is very small-scale and undeveloped, wheelchair accessibility is very limited. Towns are largely paved with cobbled streets and much of the Azores is still very rural and close to its original pristine state, which is part of its charm, but this means it does not have much in the way of wheelchair or disabled access.
Family Holiday in Azores
The Azores has much to offer as a family holiday destination with a safe, family oriented atmosphere and a wealth of nature-based activities to choose from. Charming historical towns such as Angra do Heroísmo are also great family holiday spots. Hiking and trekking, camping, whale watching and swimming with dolphins are just a few of the activities which promise fun for the entire family. The Azores has very good options for family accommodation, from hotels and guest houses to private self-service apartments and cottages. Exploring this natural paradise is a great choice for a thrilling family vacation.
Gay and Lesbian in Azores
The Azores are a small and remote group of islands and do not have a well known gay and lesbian holiday scene. They are, however, a stunning natural paradise with a friendly population, and are therefore of interest to anyone with a love of nature or interest in eco tourism. Of particular note to gay and lesbian holiday travelers is Casa da Lenterna on São Miguel, a beautiful gay owned and gay and lesbian friendly bed and breakfast.
Hen Destination in Azores
There are currently no package holiday services for hen parties or hen celebrations in the Azores, so the Azores as a hen destination is more of a DIY affair. Since the Azores aren’t full of clubs and party spots, a hen celebration in the Azores would be more of a private getaway to celebrate in a beautiful and remote natural setting. This may appeal to those who aren’t interested in wild parties or typical hen party gimmicks.
Stag Destination in Azores
There aren’t any package holiday services for stag weekends or stag celebrations in the Azores currently offered, so the Azores as a stag destination is more of a DIY affair. Though there are several strip clubs throughout the islands, on the whole the Azores aren’t really a place for parties and nightlife. A stag party in the Azores would be more of a private getaway to celebrate in a beautiful and remote natural setting. This may appeal to those in search of an active adventure weekend or those who aren’t interested in typical stag party gimmicks.
Honeymoon in Azores
The Azores are a beautiful choice for a honeymoon holiday destination. Newlyweds who want to get away from it all and spend a romantic honeymoon in an unspoiled, natural setting will experience something they will never forget. The Azores offer a romantic honeymoon holiday replete with gorgeous views and a quiet pristine setting of picturesque coastlines, verdant mountains and charming historical towns. Honeymooners have the choice of modern four star hotels and spas or cosy countryside accommodation. Whether whale watching, exploring the Azores’ towns, unique nature and landscape, or relaxing on the beach, the Azores are a fantastic spot for a honeymoon holiday.
Party Holiday - Singles Life in Azores
The Azores are not a party holiday spot with an exciting singles scene, but rather a destination suited to those who wish to experience the natural unspoiled beauty these islands have to offer. There are bars and a few clubs scattered about and a good selection of typical Portuguese cafes, but on the whole the Azores aren’t a busy singles or party holiday destination.
Naturism in Azores
The Azores has not opened up to naturism and nudism like the Algarve or some beaches around Lisbon. There are therefore no naturist beaches, official or otherwise, in the Azores. However, the islands do offer secluded spots and are amongst the most unspoiled locations in all of Europe.
Couples Holiday in Azores
The Azores are a fantastic destination for couples who want to get away from it all and spend a romantic couples holiday amongst natural splendor. As a destination for couples, the Azores offer stunning views, a peaceful green setting, picturesque coastlines and charming historical towns and countryside. Pristine natural beauty and cosy accommodation make the Azores a magical environment for a couples holiday. Whether whale watching, hiking around beautiful sites like the Lagoa das Sete Cidades, or just relaxing on the beach, the Azores are a wonderful romantic getaway.
Golf Activity Holiday in Azores
A golfing holiday in the Azores lets you play on some very good courses among Europe’s most unspoiled and beautiful scenery. There are only three courses in the Azores to enjoy on a golf holiday, so although the Azores aren’t quite a golf mecca, it is a relaxing and fascinating place for a golfing trip. Two are on São Miguel: Furnas (18 holes) and Batalha (27 holes) and one is on Terceira, with 18 holes. Green fees are 58€ for the courses on São Miguel and just 35€ for Terceira.
Sailing Activity Holiday in Azores
A sailing holiday in the Azores is a wonderful way to experience these remote and picturesque islands. Sailing holiday options include island hopping, or sailing from island to island, and making the journey to Madeira and back (4-5 days each way). Chartered trips of 4 and 8 hours sailing off the coast of São Miguel cost 55€ and 85€, respectively, while weekends trips to the island of Santa Maria are about 515€. Day sailing trips around Faial run about 65€. A more ambitious sailing holiday would be to sail all the way between the Caribbean islands and the Azores.
Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in Azores
The Azores are fantastic for a scuba diving holiday. The shores offer great opportunities to observe a variety of interesting fish, sea stars, eels, octopi, crustaceans and volcanic rock formations. For a holiday diving with whales offshore, the government requires a special permit, requested three months in advance. Falai island is a great location for diving and has a eco-friendly PADI certified school called Dive Azores, which is run by two marine biologists. Besides PADI courses and snorkeling trips, the school also offers “snorkeling with dolphins” and whale watching excursions. Pico and São Jorge are also great places for Azores diving holidays and swimming with dolphins. Pico Sport offers several packages and single excursions with high and low season prices.
Hiking Activity Holiday in Azores
Azores hiking and walking holidays are great ways to experience this beautiful majestic natural paradise. Trek through verdant valleys and amid stunning volcanic and coastal scenery. Self guided holidays, tours, and hiking and walking packages in the Azores take you through São Jorge, São Miguel, Falai and Pico for varying costs, depending on the length and nature of your holiday as well as the time of year. Lagoa das Sete Cidades, literally “lake of seven cities”, located on São Miguel island, is a breathtakingly beautiful lake within the crater of a dormant volcano and is a popular Azores holiday hiking spot.
Cycling Activity Holiday in Azores
A cycling holiday is a great way to see the wonderful beauty of the Azores and combine it with your love of mountain biking. Cycling package holidays may include flights, accommodation, airport transfers and bike rentals. A scenic week-long cycling holiday on Pico (not including flights) should run about 850€ during the off season and up to 1000€ during peak times. Similar holidays are also available on São Miguel for up to 2,300€.
Touring - Driving holiday in Azores
Touring or driving around the Azores is a great way to experience all the beauty and diversity of the islands. Seeing the Azores by car allows you to sample many locations, a broader selection of the accommodation on offer and see the manifold beauty of the region from the comfort of your own vehicle. Car rental prices start at 33€ per day, based on a weeks rental and go up about 20-25% during the peak months of July-September. It can also be difficult to get ahold of a rental car during these months, so make sure you book well in advance. Large ferries travel between all the Azorean islands so it is possible to have a driving holiday on all parts the Azores.
Shopping Holiday in Azores
The Azores itself is not a major shopping destination, but is a good place to pick up local handicrafts, teas, jams and wine. Ceramics, baskets, embroidery, and bedspreads are good shopping suggestions, which are usually crafted from locally produced natural materials. Wine from Pico, Graciosa and Biscoito (Terceira) and other Azorean alcoholic drinks such as passion fruit and Japanese plumb liquors are also items of interest on an Azores shopping trip or holiday.
Well-being and Spa in Azores
There aren’t many options for a spa or well-being holiday in the natural island paradise of the Azores, but on the main island of São Miguel you can find Furnas Spa Hotel, a luxury 4 star facility offering massage and several spa treatments. The Azores’ other spa holiday option is on Terceira in the form of the Terceira Mar Hotel in Angra do Heroísmo, which features spa facilities, a Turkish bath and an infinity pool in a beautiful setting only 500 meters from the historic city of Angra do Heroísmo.
Wine Tasting Holiday in Azores
Though the Azores islands aren’t a major wine producing region, it does have quality wines and its own varieties such as Verdelho dos Acores and vinho de cheiro, a “morangueiro”, meaning it has a slight straw-berry-like fragrance. A wine tasting holiday in the Azores would not be complete without a visit to the Biscoitos Wine Museum at Praia da Vitória on the island of Terceira. The museum is a beautiful traditional structure which shows the history of wine production in the region and has a wine tasting room. Pico, however, is the main wine island in the Azores and a must for any Azores wine tasting holiday, with its terraced vineyards dating from the 1500s and its own wine museum.