The Azores are a Portuguese archipelago that results from the wisdom of Mother Nature. This volcanic event gave rise to 9 islands that constitute a unique paradise from which we invite you to enjoy. And to know its qualities in the landscape, in the gastronomy, in the customs, and in the leisure.
The islands that form the archipelago are distributed in the Atlantic Ocean in three distinct groups:
- Eastern Group is formed by the islands of Santa Maria and São Miguel
- Central Group is composed of the following islands: Terceira, S.jorge, Graciosa, Faial and Pico.
- Western Group comprising the islands of Flores and Corvo
The archipelago is located about 1.400 kilometers west of Mainland Europe, between Europe and America, with an approximate extension of 600 kilometers.
This islands will enchant you with its beauty, will convey you with history, and welcome you with tranquility and comfort.
Let us see the secrets of these islands among the green of the meadows and the sea of cetaceans.
The origin of this archipelago
Scientifically, the Azores are the result of underwater eruptions, that is, they are of volcanic origin, BUT…
Pray the legend that the Azores may be manifestations of the existence of the ancient and extensive continent, Atlantis. This continent was characterized by extraordinary landscapes, its harmonious climate, rich vegetation and meek and strong animals.
Among these beauties there would be temples, palaces covered with precious materials. The society was composed of many sages, musicians and artists who lived in a welfare that envied. They were beings who did not seduce themselves with luxury and addictions. But they were a people that were thirsty to conquer everything around them, and what was pure became vanity, pride, and disrespect for the Gods.
As punishment, the divine beings, caused earthquakes, rippling and fire. Destroying paradise. And so Atlantis disappeared in the immensity of the sea, and this islands represent the mountains of the continent.
The discovery of the Azores
Around the fifteenth century the Azores were discovered by the brave Portuguese sailors.
At the time of discovery, none of the islands were populated. They were only covered with very rich vegetation, watered by abundant waters, and flew over this nature’s prodigy flocks of birds similar to the Azores, so they named the archipelago of the Azores.
The archipelago: geography, geology and climate
This region brings together a set of characteristics of geographic and environmental nature that distinguish it from other national, European and world territories.
Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, located about 1500km from continental Europe, 1450km from Africa and 3900km from North America.
It is considered to be a recent eruptive center and is characterized by high volcanic activity. Due to the fact that the archipelago emerged from a triple junction of the tectonic plates, and the Eastern and Central group were positioned in the so-called Azores microplate. In that it is constantly in small movements. The Western group is positioned on the North American plate.
A curiosity about this aspect is that the archipelago in its earliest days was not where it is today. For the platforms are always in motion, although it is slow, with the passing of the years it makes its difference.
The islands emerge abruptly from the ocean and have as their main characteristic the ravines. The altitude of the islands varies, standing out the island of Pico with 2351 m, having the gold medal as the highest point of Portugal.
The climate is the result of the geographical position of the Azores. The climate of the archipelago is essentially established by the geographical location of the islands in the context of global atmospheric and oceanic circulation.
In general, the climate is characterized by pleasant temperatures, high air humidity, regular and abundant rainfall. Although in summer the precipitations are scarce and the temperature increases mainly from June reaching its peak in July and August.
You will certainly experience the 4 seasons in one day. Now see what you can see in the first person.
The landscape of the Azores
The Azores stand out for its green meadows, and its blue waters that give an immense desire to photograph all the time. I tell you that no camera will be able to capture 100% the natural beauty of these islands, so do not just rely on seeing the memories of your friends’ travels and embark on the adventure of feeling the azores.
This region has nature as its protagonist. And of course its natural jewel is undoubtedly the basalt! Basalt is a rock that is very present in the landscape of the Azores, both in nature and in the construction of monuments, houses, etc.
These islands give you the possibility of descending to the ends of the earth, and appreciate geological formations of volcanic origin. There are caves where you can meet them in their natural state and where you can observe various types of lavas, as well as various geological formations, from which we can highlight different types of stalactites and lava stalagmites, lava balls, striated walls and lavas. So it’s an experience you should not want to miss and you can get an idea in this video
The forces of the interior of the Earth, resulting in volcanic phenomena reveal themselves to the surface. From where stands out:
- the Pico mountain
- the diversity of boilers and lagoons on the various islands
- the expression of volcanic landscapes such as the Capelinhos volcano in which you can see in video
- the way hot spots express themselves
These islands contain ponds in different shades of blue and green, this sometimes derived from aquatic plants! You will also see cascades that go to the sea and are of clear water that will make you want to dive.
As for the sea, it is cool, now peaceful, now revolted. Under the limpid waters reigns an abundance and biodiversity that are exceptional. Our region has several seamounts where we can observe a unique variety of marine ecosystems. You may have contact with the species either in surface sighting or diving.
The Azores give you the pleasure of feeling like a whaler in other times. Between waves and tides, you will embark on the adventure of spotting whales, dolphins and turtles, near the coast.
The historical and cultural monuments show the strength and the essence of this people and of course they are excellent props in the nature. It is important to see and know a little of the history of these buildings that have a connection with the culture of the people. Many had important roles in citizens’ lives in the past.
From churches to corn mills, these speak for themselves, from an intense history. Past and present unite to offer visitors a unique experience, an unforgettable memory.
The churches are large, and inside are very well ornamented. On the outside, most of them contain basalt. The walks of our streets are tiled in white and black patterns. They have above all maritime symbols, and of our culture.
In your day-to-day life, the sky will enchant you. Sunrise and sunset are fantastic and by the sea you will observe these events without having any obstacle that prevents you from glimpsing these wonders.
It is increasingly rare to see a starry sky, but in the Azores, you will be lucky to be under a sea of stars and at the same time feel the nature. It’s a great place to reflect, and see how beautiful the universe is. In cities, although these are not very large, light pollution does not make it possible to see the stars clearly.
When you want to watch the stars go to places where there is not so much light, you can choose the center of the islands and the highest points.
The Azoreans have the taste of giving life to everything that surrounds them. They love to beautify what sometimes gets lost. They like harmony between everything, so they create street art. And as you can see, the contrast between color and nature is magnificent.
Review the video here
Authentic flavored gastronomy
The region of the Azores stands out for its quality gastronomy. The regional gastronomy is based on the freshness of the products, whether they are harvested from the land or from the sea. But you must choose the site well to appreciate the products of this land.
Fish come in different forms, whether in stew, grilled or broth.
There are many species that should be the target of your taste, but you can not visit our islands and not taste the tuna of our seas! In addition, octopus, limpets, conch shells, crabs, are obligatory dishes on your list and must be accompanied by a wine of smell.
We have clams that in no other place will find, for example the limpets that are the tastiest beings which is almost a sin not to taste. You should always ask if they are fresh, you can try the slices without going to the oven, but try the grilled limpets accompanied with a local wine, it will be your best option.
As for meats, there are typical Azorean dishes, such as the stew of Furnas that is cooked under the ground.
There is the rump and the famous sausage accompanied always with yams. The meat of the Azores stands out for its high quality, due to the weather conditions and the soil. These two components facilitate the development of abundant pastures, which contribute decisively to a meat of particular quality.
Meat from cattle has a low fat content but a high content of fatty acids that are beneficial to human health. This meat is tender and juicy. Contains a slight infiltration of fat, has a characteristic aroma and flavor, a result of the traditional way of production.
Happy cows result in a plate full of pleasures, so during your stay you should taste the meats produced in the meadows.
Due to the richness and milk tradition of the Azores, in almost all the islands produce several dairy products, being more famous the numerous Azorean cheeses.
The cheeses, better known as cheese from the Island, are nationally and internationally recognized, made from the best milk, from the best and healthiest grazing fields, are produced by hand. Thus, we can highlight the cured cheese, the buttery and the spicy cheese of the Azores. These should be an option to accompany with wine and a compote.
Drinks and Extras
There is also the tradition of producing countless wines, spirits, liqueurs and appetizers that will be the best companions in the appreciation of a quality dish or at a relaxed moment.
It should be noted that these products are handcrafted. The island of Pico is known for the production of wines and spirits. The production of these wines is something phenomenal that you should venture to see!
The vineyards are planted in open cracks in the basalt, protected by stone walls. This landscape, which constitutes the island of Pico, was classified in 2004 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. And this in itself makes you want to watch and maybe taste the wines.
In addition to these references we have the famous sobrado mass, the bread and the corn cake, the sweet rice, the species and the malassadas
This region stands out for the quality of the products that it harvests from the ground, the pineapple is a product with an extraordinary potential for the economy, and of course for our gluttony.
Another product is tea. The Gorreana tea plantation is the only and oldest in Europe. It is an ecological product produced on the island of São Migue. Ode to go to the museum of this tea to have more knowledge about its production.
If you are a vegetarian, the Azores does not exclude you! We offer products from the earth that will notice that they are pure without any chemical to the blend.
We present some products that we have removed from the earth for our table:
- Sweet corn cooked with fennel seeds
- Cucumber, tomato, lettuce salad
- Sweet potatoes that can be cooked, grilled or fried to accompany fish or meat
- Yams that are later cooked or fried and served with sausage
- Fruits that later have a compote or liqueur end
You should taste these typical products of the Azorean table, they are simple but loaded with flavors that will give you the pleasure of feeling the essence of the Azorean lands.
What can you find at the level of culture?
I can say that the culture of the Azores is unique. The region has a wealth of artisanal creations linked to popular art. There is an authenticity in the work done and they mirror through materials, dance, music and songs, their way of being and living. This may be interesting for you if you are looking to get to know other cultures.
- Folklore: Folklore groups are the most representative manifestations of popular culture that distinguishes and values us. The Azorean folklore presents dances and traditional songs of its zone. They present the typical costumes of the old. Preserving and presenting the characteristic traits of our people.
- Craft: it is a testimony that personifies the wealth of a heritage, where the Azorean way of being is portrayed. Let’s look at some genuine examples of Azorean crafts that you will discover on every island.
- Quilts produced in different techniques that repeat old patterns with explosions of colors
- Ivory and whale bone worked with drawings that reflect a piece of our history.
- The lace and embroidery made with all the affection and perfection, reflect the rare beauty of the islands, representing their rural origin with shamrocks, silvas, flowers
- The diversity of fish in our sea gave wings to the creativity of the craftsman, his hands create beautiful flowers of scales
- The nativity scene in the lapel which consists of shells, flowers, rocks, and pottery is an object of decoration during the holiday season.
- Wicker baskets – baskets make them in different sizes and shapes. Some people use it to put the bread, or even to take the food for a picnic.
These are some of our handmade products, of course you can find many more in our cities.
- Festivities: The 9 islands of the Azores live in tradition. Tradition is characterized by religiosity that are closely linked with the occurrences of natural phenomena. These religious manifestations include pilgrimages, processions, promises. Although religious and profane, they do not leave aside the fun. Festive programs can include arraiais, marches, music concerts, nautical sports events, cultural events, gastronomy fairs, handicraft shows and even bullfights. Let’s see what parties you can enjoy in this paradise.
You should be aware of the following point as it may be essential to plan your vacation well. We want you to have a unique experience, and could not come to the Azores without enjoying a good party.
- Feasts of the Holy Spirit
The Feasts of the Holy Spirit, are the most popular of the archipelago and are celebrated in all the islands. The high point of this tradition is with the procession that runs through an area and ends at the church, where a mass is celebrated.
Afterwards, the “Soups of the Holy Spirit” are served, to which many people are invited. In this offering besides the soup is also served meat that is roasted in the wood oven, accompaniment with soaked pasta, wine and sweet rice.
Then, in some cases, the party follows with typical dances such as the draw, the dance of the wheel, and other entertainments. These feasts begin shortly after Easter and last until September.
- Feasts of the Lord Santo Cristo dos Milagres
This festival is the biggest religious event in the region. It takes place in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel five weeks after Easter and attracts people from all the islands besides the many emigrants. The Lord Santo Cristo is loaded with importance and meaning. In this party you will find snack bars with snacks from the region and of course, the band, the fairs and fun.
- Feasts of St John
This tradition occurs only in the islands that have São João as patron, as is the case of Vila Franca do Campo in São Miguel, in the island of Faial and Terceira. The celebration of São João is stronger on Terceira Island, in Angra do Heroísmo. Between June 21 and 30, Sanjoaninas are celebrated. They are known for their parades and marches, for the floats, for the bonfires to be skipped, and of course for the bullfights.
- Sea Week
The Week of the Sea happens annually during the month of August and has the island of Faial like epicenter. It is a festivity related to the sea. So if you are passionate about water sports you should not miss this week in the Azores.
During this week, there are several regattas and maritime events that take place in the bay of Horta with the participation of vessels from other islands and even from other countries. At night, the city of Horta filled with people, snack bars, drinks and musical concerts with national and international artists.
- Marina of Horta: All the islands have a port to moor boats, yachts, all types of boats. But the city of Horta is internationally known for its colorful marina. For it is a tradition that the Yatians leave a painting alluding to their vessel on the walls of the marina. Contributing to an art gallery that represents all the adventurers who have passed by the marina. Therefore the visit to this place is obligatory. Take a look at:
- Pico Island Holidays
The island of Pico also has its festivities. The first party takes place in São Roque, then in Magdalena and finally in Lajes do Pico. Usually these parties are religious, but they always have an attractive and fun program. These parties take place from July to the end of August.
- Sails Cultural Week
The Candlemas Cultural Week is the most prestigious event of São Jorge and takes place in the first week of July. There are also cultural and recreational activities.
There is so much to discover, I’ve shown you just a little of what this region-level festivities and culture has to offer you.
Holidays in the Azores will be a different experience, made of small and great pleasures. But as you noticed the parties are distributed across the different islands. Do you enjoy going to all of them? You are in luck because these festivities do not occur simultaneously, giving the possibility of being able to cover all these festivities.
Do you want to go through all the islands?
If you want to go to these parties mentioned above, you will spend a good season in this region, and you are lucky because most of them take place in the middle of the summer. You will have your days well filled, enjoying the sun, our waters and nature. And then he goes to a little party where he can snack and drink in the moonlight, and good music.
In the Azores, we do not live in isolation from one another. The islands have connections, not by bridges but by boats that transport them.
Every day, there are boats with excellent conditions that will take you to all ports. You also have the option to use aviation. But I advise you to venture out to sea. It will be a pleasant experience. You will glimpse birds and dolphins while you see the land where you are going to go. In addition, when we see the islands of the sea we get a different perception, they have another charm. We see to the detail the slopes, the cities that are so beautiful with a mixture of white and basalt.
The boat trips are short, the longest should certainly be the scale between São Miguel and Horta, which lasts approximately 10 hours. Between Pico and Faial, it has a duration of 30 minutes. Long trips are pleasant and on board you have all the conditions you need to be comfortable. You still have the possibility of transporting a car, or even an animal.
The Azores stand out why?
The fact that this archipelago has an unusual landscape, the existing culture and the way Man enjoys and shapes itself in nature is what sets this region apart.
It is a tourist spot that presents quality, luxury, and diversity. You can find everything you want on a vacation in this magical little world.
These small islands lost in the Atlantic Ocean that constitute the richest archipelago in culture and landscape, has won a few awards and was considered by the National Geographic Traveler as the most beautiful place in the world. Now let us see other distinctions:
Azores in the top 10 regions to visit the Azores in 2017 by Lonely Planet magazine.
The Azores are in the top 100 of the most sustainable destinations in the world – 2014 and 2016
Azores distinguished by AHRESP awards as regional tourism entity 2016
Azores, the world’s first QualityCoast platinum destination. This award was specially created to distinguish not only parameters such as the quality of marine life, nature, coastal zone, but also aspects related to identity, culture and society that may influence the tourism experience of those who visit the Region.
How to get to the Azores from 3 points in the world?
From America: If you plan to travel from Toronto to the Azores, SATA travels all year round, and from Oakland only between June and September.
From Europe: SATA also offers trips to the Azores from Paris, Frankfurt, London, among other cities.
From Portugal: Of course, the region of the Azores is also with open arms for the continental. And SATA is the bridge that connects the archipelago to mainland Portugal, from the city of Faro, Lisbon and Porto.
Will you be welcomed with open arms?
Of course yes! The Azorean people stand out by the way it receives its visitors. The main ingredients to welcome people is undoubtedly humility, good mood, availability, and comfort. And we have all that to offer you and more!
The population of this region wants everyone to feel comfortable in their city, in their establishment to taste their dishes, to celebrate the festivities, to be part of the tradition. They want visitors to leave these islands with a feeling of longing and the desire to return. They want to show the best they can offer, and make this little paradise a world desired by all.
Nine islands for different and active holidays
After all the information we transmit, your curiosity has certainly increased! And the desire is enormous to come! Well, in addition to feeling in a postcard with a magnificent landscape, you will enjoy what nature offers you. For us it is not enough that the visitors see, they must use and abuse the pleasures that nature offers.
To visit the Azores is to find a paradise on Earth. Where Man had the decency to value what Mother Nature gave him, and created a gigantic beauty. The region has so much more to see, to offer. The Azores are a kind of book that will introduce you to new things, whether in gastronomy, culture or science.
The pleasures at the table, the excitement of the activities and the luxurious comfort offered to you will be the ingredients to have an authentic vacation. Just have the right tips to create a spectacular script.