National Geographic named the Azores Islands as the most beautiful place to visit in 2016 – calling it a far-flung paradise of Europe! This is mainly due to the green volcanic mountains and small towns, but also because of the special culture and healthy ecosystem. Some even think its part of the sunken Atlantis! Mark Twain also wrote a book here!
The climate is very friendly considering it’s northern location. It never gets much colder than 16 degrees in Winter. Okay, that might sound cold to you, but for a Danish traveller this is hot in February! The Azores is a group of islands belonging to Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and has 3 UNESCO sites.
My husband and I went in 2005, when I was very pregnant. I could hardly fit in the plane seat. We rented a car which I will most definitely recommend since it is steep and and not to get around by public transportation. This is an island great for biking or hiking – which of course we did neither.
We stayed at the largest city on the main island- Ponte Delgado on São Miguel. There only live 28.000 people. 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.
For nature-lovers, the island of São Miguel is a giant botanical playground. Miradouros (scenic overlooks) with manicured gardens sprinkle the coastal regions. There are so many hydrangeas that it looks like an English garden.
There are several volcanic crater lakes. Beware that the weather is way colder up there. The Lagoa do Fogo is 580 meters above sea level and often covered in clouds.
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 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 Park 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! No bikini pictures her, sorry!
The warm climate means you can grow tea in the Azores and São Miguel is home to Europe’s oldest and only tea plantation.
The most photographed lake(s) are The Twin Lakes – Sete Ciudades consisting of Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. You can’t really see it here, but one lake s green and the other is blue.
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 & Mexico the second and third!).
If you like islands, head for the East side of Crete, Greece for some R&R.
Have you been to the Azores Islands?