8 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO ON THE AZORIAN ISLANDS
Midway between the Old and the New Worlds in the middle of the Atlantic are the beautiful Azores. Nine islands are completely different from each other, but they are united by volcanic landscapes and evergreen subtropical forests. Mass tourism has not yet reached here, so you can enjoy not only amazing landscapes, but also the tranquility of a distant corner of the earth.
1. WALK BY PONTA DELGRAD
On the south coast of the largest in the archipelago of the island of San Miguel, its capital, Ponta Delgrada, perched. Go through the three-arch gate, which is more than 300 years old, visit the church of St. Sebastian of the XVI century and admire the magnificence of the treasury. Come to the Carlos Machado Museum, where unique exhibits await you: placers of jewelry, ancient paintings, medieval toys, elegant porcelain dishes. Take a walk along the promenade and watch the colorful yachts and transatlantic liners moor at the cruise port. Urban architecture is dominated by Manueline and Baroque styles, and volcanic lava is generously used to decorate the facades.
2. ESTABLISH A PICNIC AMONG THE ATLANTIC
The main attraction of the island of San Jorge is the magnificent nature with many small plains, which are called fajes. Follow the hiking trail to the Fajã da Caldeira do Santo Cristo lagoon, where you can enjoy a delicious bivalve mollusk in a local restaurant. Then go to the Seti Fontisch park to have a picnic on the shore of the transparent lake and enjoy sandwiches with local cheese, which, like the island, is called São Jorge. Cheese with a bright orange crust is made from fresh unpasteurized milk and is considered the most delicious cheese in Portugal.
3. GO down to the VOLCANIC CAVE
For the richness of nature and the uniqueness of the landscape, UNESCO declared Graciosa Island a biosphere reserve. You need to get to its southeastern part, where Caldeira da Graciosa is located with volcanic caves. To enter the famous “sulfur grotto”, or the cave of Furna do Enxofre, go down the spiral staircase. Get ready for almost 200 steps. Below you will see high domed arches, a sulfur lake and seething mud geysers.
The cave owes its origin to volcanic lava, which, flowing out of the crater, made its way directly through the hill. After visiting Fournu do Inshofry, drop by the Ethnographic Museum, which contains exhibits telling about the history and modern life of Graciosa.
4. Catch the trout
Florish is an island of flowers, volcanic lakes, mountain waterfalls and ancient mills. Due to the perfect cleanliness of the reservoirs, the Portuguese authorities chose them to breed rainbow trout. Catch the lake beauty on a hook and pass it to the culinary specialists of the coastal restaurant, where it will be turned into a gourmet dish for you personally.
5. TO VISIT AN OLD TOWN
In the most ancient city on the Azores – Angra do Heroismo – a huge number of architectural monuments have been preserved. Discover how Terceira Island residents defended themselves from pirate attacks by visiting Fort Sau Zhuau Baptista. Walk along the wall with a length of more than 4 km and imagine that this is only a small part of the old fortifications.
Angra do Heroismo is home to the main cathedral of the island region. It was built in the 16th century and is now called the mother of all the cathedrals of the Azores. The central part of the city is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. CONQUER THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN OF PORTUGAL
On the island of Pico rises the eponymous startospheric volcano – the highest point in Portugal. Prepare yourself for the ascent – you have to climb to a height of 2351 m, usually such a trip lasts about 4 hours. At first, the path runs through the forest, which smoothly passes into the area of shrubs. A little more up, and now you are standing on a frozen lava in front of a grand crater crowning the summit. Traveling along mountain roads, you will come across many viewing platforms that offer stunning panoramas.
7. ENJOY THE FRAGRANCE OF HYDROCENCIES
All the Azores are famous for hydrangeas, but there are especially many of these flowers on Fayal. Lush bushes grow in the gardens, they are strewn with hillsides and roadsides. You will enjoy hydrangea fragrance, even climbing a volcano to the Caldeira crater. Rate its size: diameter 2 km and depth 400 meters!
This is probably not only one of the largest craters on the Azores, but also the most beautiful, because it is surrounded by a blue hydrangea necklace. To see the ocean from above, go to the highest peak of the island – Cape Cabezu Gorda and admire the islands of Georges and Pico, which are green in the middle of the ocean.
8. TAN ON GOLDEN SAND
When the island of Santa Maria appears before your eyes, you will feel like a time traveler. Tiny settlements, wheat fields and pastures with fat herds have little resemblance to the modern European world and are more reminiscent of a medieval pastoral. The idyll is complemented by endless beaches encircling the island.