Updated January 2023
National Geographic named the Azores Islands as the most beautiful place to visit in 2016 – calling it a far-flung paradise of Europe! And ever since its popularity has grown as a hidden paradise in Europe.
The reputation is mainly due to the green volcanic mountains and small towns, but also the special culture and healthy ecosystem makes the green islands perfect for nature lovers. Some even think its part of the sunken Atlantis! It’s not just for literary nerds: Mark Twain also wrote a book here!
SO WHY IS THE AZORES THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE ON EARTH
The Azores is a group of islands belonging to Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and has 3 UNESCO sites. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of them as we stayed on a different island.
The climate is very friendly, considering its northern location. It never gets much colder than 16 degrees in wintertime. Okay, that might sound cold to you, but for a Danish traveller this is hot in February!
My husband and I went in 2005 – almost 20 years ago, when I was very pregnant. I could hardly fit in the plane seat… We were definitely the first I knew that went to the Azores, and still in 2023 I don’t know anyone else.
PONTE DELGADO, AZORES
We rented a car, which I will most definitely recommend and not to get around by public transportation. The islands are very rugged and hilly, which is great for the outdoorsy traveller. This is an island created for biking or hiking – of course we did neither.
We stayed at the largest city on the main island, São Miguel: Ponte Delgado, with only 28.000 residents. Ponte Delgado is a nice little town with good fish restaurants, where you can get sword fish – if the season is right. We just stayed at a generic hotel with a nice pool, so you can probably find something better. No recommendations here.
THE FLOWER ISLANDS
For nature-lovers, the island of São Miguel is a giant botanical playground. Miradouros, scenic viewing spots with manicured gardens sprinkle the coastal regions. There are so many hydrangeas, that it looks like an English garden.
On the island of Faial, it’s the volcanic soil, that makes it the ideal growing place for the plants as well as giving the blue colour an extra bump up. But actually the flowers are an invasive species ruining for the indigenous plants.
MADE OF FIRE
The Azores and Sao Miguel have several volcanic crater lakes. The Lagoa do Fogo is 580 meters above sea level and often covered in clouds. Beware that the weather is way colder up there, so bring your sweater. Brrr.
The most photographed lake(s) are The Twin Lakes as seen in the first picture – Sete Ciudades consisting of Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. On a sunny day one lake is green and the other one is blue.
The Azores is one of Europe’s most geothermic active areas and most of the island’s energy comes from this. The city of Furnas has 22 hot springs, and you can see the inside of the earth comes boiling up like in Iceland. It smelled so bad of rotten eggs and being pregnant – well we only stayed shortly. You can also get a meal cooked in the warm ground. But be careful, the ground is full of deep holes and you can get scolded on the water. Don’t mess around with earth!
In Terra Nostra Gardens you can try the hot baths. On the other side of the mountain there is a small cascade Caldeira Velha with a natural pool, where you can cool off – or not really, since it’s 25 degrees!
The warm climate means you can grow tea in the Azores and São Miguel is home to Europe’s oldest and only tea plantation.
WATER OF LIFE
Whale watching is one of the hot activities to do on the Azores.
My husband went out on a boat to see whales, since this is a very good whale spotting island. But he didn’t see any. That was the first time, we did not see any whales. Iceland and Mexico was the second and third time, we tried. With no success – despite several hours of throwing up and trying not to jump overboard.
So is the Azores the most beautiful place on earth? There’s no doubt it’s one of the most stunning places, I’ve been and very different from anything else in Europe. But the scenic Lake Bled also blew me away. Bt definitely in my Top 5!
Have you been to the Azores Islands?