A Hidden but Accessible Paradise
Located in the middle of the wild North Atlantic Ocean, between Europe and America, the Azores are the perfect getaway for outdoor adventures. The archipelago of the Azores Islands is the westernmost point of all Europe. Only 2 hours away from Lisbon and 4.5 hours away from Boston, this lost gem is accessible very easily by plane. You maybe are just one plane away to discover another world full of lush nature and landscapes worthy of Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones movies.
Nine Different Worlds
Did you know that geographically, our 9 volcanic islands are divided into 3 groups, distributed across 370 miles?
The Oriental Group is the closest to Europe, it includes Santa Maria and São Miguel islands. The Central Group has 5 islands: Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Faial and Graciosa. And finally, the Occidental Group, closest to America, with Flores and Corvo islands.
The biggest island in terms of population and the total area is São Miguel (about 140,000 inhabitants), with the biggest city of the archipelago being the beautiful Ponta Delgada. The highest point in the Azores, and in Portugal, is Pico Mountain (2,351m), in Pico Island. Every island is unique in its beauty, they are all worth a visit.
The Azores Islands are in fact the tops of underwater mountain ranges. You can witness the volcanic origins on many occasions. For instance in Furnas, the geo paradise. There, you can see fumaroles, smoke coming out of the Earth, as well as the thermal baths, naturally warm iron-rich water of about 37ºC.
For sure, the land is beautiful, but under the sea, it is actually wonderful! The Atlantic Ocean surrounding our islands is so rich in biodiversity. As we are literally in the middle of the ocean, many cetaceans live around. Others will pass by our archipelago on their yearly migration. Thanks to its geographical remoteness, the Azores managed to preserve their pure nature.
The Best Season to Visit the Azores
Truth is, there is no best season to come to the Azores. Our paradise is amazing all year round, every season is so unique. In spring, the biggest whales pass by our islands for our great pleasure. In summer, we have the hydrangeas blooming everywhere. In fall, the trees turn orange, giving the islands a completely different atmosphere. And in winter, we don’t have snow and can still swim in the ocean! However, there is snow sometimes on top of Pico Mountain. It is also the perfect time for hot springs.
The weather is very unpredictable in the Azores. You can be somewhere where it is raining and then move some kilometers away by car and it is actually sunny. Good weather is just 5 minutes away! You can see the weather thanks to cameras around the island. In the meantime, enjoy the rainbows.
To know how to dress in the Azores and what to take in your luggage is easy! For the summer months, take some shorts, t-shirts, and a swimsuit of course! But don’t forget the raincoat just in case. In the winter, you can take a thicker jacket and pants, as well as boots, but also your swimsuit for the hot springs.
Thanks to its mild sub-tropical climate, temperatures stay reasonable. During wintertime, it can drop down to 13°C (55°F) minimum. In the summertime, we regularly have 25°C (75°F). You will never be too cold, or too hot, this is perfect for outdoor experiences, exploring around. The ocean also is very comfy throughout the year, ranging from 16°C (61°F) in March to 25°C (77°C) in August. Our islands are bathed in waters that are influenced by the Gulf Stream.
Useful tips about the Azores
- The Autonomous Region of the Azores belongs to Portugal, so it is part of the European Union.
- We use the Euro currency, most currencies can be changed here on the islands.
- The first language spoken is Portuguese, though many people know how to speak English.
- Our time zone is UTC-01:00, which is one hour less than Lisbon, two less than Paris.
- The voltage for Portugal mainland as well as for the Azores is 220Ac, 50 cycles. American or British plugs will not fit in our outlets. Adaptors can be found in several stores around.
- Goods and services (shops, restaurants, hotels, transportation, …) are more diverse in bigger islands.
- Traveling between the islands cannot be done always by boat.
- The cost of living is quite cheap for people coming from the US or Central Europe. The minimum salary here is about 690 euros per month.
- Everything is nearby. Perks of being on an islands are that you have the beach, mountains, lake, waterfalls all really close. There are so many things to do, and it is all next door.
- We don’t have crazy traffic jams. Life here is more relaxed, there is no stress to get somewhere fast.
- A weekend is not enough to see it all. The Azores are perfect for slow traveling. Take your time, or come back anytime to explore more.
- The main roads are in good condition, but secondary roads can be quite impressive for someone who is not used to it. You don’t need a car, Futurismo can take you everywhere.
- Despite what people might think, we have good Wi-Fi and mobile data around the islands.
- Locals are down to Earth people, don’t hesitate to talk to them, they can have interesting stories to tell.
- It is one of the best places in the world to go whale and dolphin watching due to incredible marine biodiversity.
What is so special about the Azores?
Our green mountains, high waterfalls, powerful volcanoes, quiet lakes and beautiful coasts have earned global recognition. The Azores islands are so special, and its uniqueness was noted by global institutions as well as magazines renowned worldwide.
Chosen by UNESCO
The global organisation UNESCO is currently protecting two of our beautiful treasures, highlighted as World Heritage Sites. Those include the historic center of Angra do Heroísmo in Terceira island, which is a true gem with forts, baroque cathedrals, churches and well preserved 16th and 17th century buildings. The other protected area is obviously the authentic volcanic vineyards of Pico Island. They are unlike any other on the planet. The black volcanic rock forms a maze, protecting the vines. It is a peculiar method of cultivation, and very artistic to see.
The Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal
With the pandemic due to covid-19, we have to be careful while traveling. In the beginning, we all stayed home, but at some point, when it calmed down, people wanted to keep on travelling and help local tourism agencies. And the Azores are one of the safest places to travel to in 2021 according to the European Best Destinations.
Top 100 Most Sustainable Destinations in the World
We are so proud of being among the 100 most sustainable destinations in the whole world, elected by Green Destinations as “Best of Nature”. Come enjoy our pure nature in a responsible way. Ecotourism is a keyword here in the Azores. This is not a place of mass tourism, here you can breathe the fresh air and enjoy big open spaces with no one in sight.
The Best Sustainable Destination in Europe
We are not among the best sustainable destination in Europe, we are THE best sustainable destination in Europe. You read well. The Azores managed to keep its pure nature and we are all about protecting it. We are proud of being so blessed with beautiful landscapes and will do everything we can to keep it this way.
Third Safest Country
For several years, the Global Peace Index is putting Portugal 3rd safest country, in the list of all countries. It is situated after Iceland and New Zealand. Indeed, our crime rate is very low, and our people are very nice. This is a good place for solo traveling.
European Safest Destination 2021
With the pandemic due to covid-19, we have to be careful while traveling. In the beginning, we all stayed home, but at some point, when it calmed down, people wanted to keep on traveling and help local tourism agencies. And the Azores are one of the safest places to travel to in 2021 according to the European Best Destinations.
A spot in the World Travel Awards 2020
As Portugal was elected by the World Travel Awards as Leader Destination in Europe with about 21 different awards, the Azores were distinguished as the Leader Destination for Adventure Tourism in Europe. This is a very important reward for us, but no surprise, thanks to our nine islands full of adventures in the open air.
Best whale watching destinations in Europe
Guess who is number one of the best whale and dolphin watching destinations in Europe? The Azores Islands! Indeed, our waters are very rich in marine life. Go on a tour with us to see the biggest cetaceans in the world.