There might well be some very awesome things to do in the Azores, but maybe first you need to know something about this charming destination. The Azores are a group of islands – nine in fact – in the mid-Atlantic, off the coast of West Africa, owned by Portugal. The scenery is breathtaking and the culture European with a touch of everything else thrown in. The things to do in the Azores will suit travelers looking for sun, sea and sand, wildlife lovers and adventurers.
The Azores are volcanic islands, and thus they are home to amazing underground caves and have an out-of-this-world landscape above ground. One of the most awesome things to do in the Azores for those who love a little adventure is to explore the wonders of the underground world. You could go canyoning on Sao Miguel or Flores, and descend into the islands’ slippery, wet chasms through waterfalls and pools. Another one of the underground attractions of the Azores is the Alvar do Carvao volcanic vent, with its colorful and cheery stalactites and stalagmites. This is an easier tour, so you can enjoy it even if you are not exactly Indiana Jones.
Full of beautiful fish species and amazing rock formations, the waters surrounding the Azores are any diver’s paradise. One of the best places to go in the Azores if you are a diving enthusiast is under the waters of Terceira, where you can enjoy unique natural landscapes, as well as an anchor graveyard. Also, if you go diving off Sao Miguel, you can get to see the grey triggerfish or shake hands with octopi (this might take a while, though).
If you’re looking for things to do in the Azores, you absolutely must go whale-watching – this is actually what the archipelago is most famous for, since a third of all marine mammals known by man have been recorded here. A variety of dolphin species, as well as the sperm whales stay here all year round, while migratory dolphin, whale and turtle species rent a cozy place in these waters for a while every year. The best (and most comfortable) way to spot these beautiful creatures is by boat. But if you want to get close and personal and don’t mind a little adrenalin, you can book a guided tour and swim with wild dolphins in the waters of Sao Miguel.
The Azores are not only famous for their marine life. Did you know that Sao Miguel gives home to the bullfinch, one of the rarest bird species in Europe? Actually, it’s so rare that it can only be found on this island – and only in a small region of the island, in the east. What’s more, if you are a bird enthusiast, know that the bullfinch is not the only tourist attraction of the Azores you should look forward to. You can spot around 300 other bird species here, both resident and migratory, including the storm petrel and the roseate tern.
Another one of the enriching things to do in the Azores is visiting Ponta Delgada, the archipelago’s largest town, which is situated on Sao Miguel. With its long, mesmerizing coastal promenade and all its cobbled streets, it’s a charming little paradise if you’re looking for some romance, and it will allow you to get a glimpse at what life on the islands was like in the 16th century.
You can learn a lot about the history of whaling in several museums on Ilha do Pico, at Sao Roque or Lajes do Pico. Or, if you’re more into archaeology, you can visit the Angra Museum, which has an exquisite artifact collection you don’t want to miss out on.
You can’t say you’ve truly experienced the archipelago until you check out the local cuisine. So, one of the first things to do in the Azores (if you’re staying on Sao Miguel) is to ask around about a special meat stew that they cook in the hot springs of Furnas. It’s simply delicious! Also, wherever you decide to eat, look out for their delicious malasadas, alcatra, or the mouth-watering fish stew you can find on any of the islands.
If you’re looking for a taste of Europe but a little bit away from the norm, the Azores is perfect. It’s going down on the list of places I want to visit. How about you?