Azores travel guide, including map of the Azores, top Azores travel experiences, tips for travel in the Azores, plus where to see whales in the Azores
The nine islands of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago sitting out in the Atlantic 1,500km from the mainland, form the western border of the EU. Straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the American and Euro-African continental plates meet, the islands are a product of volcanic eruptions below the ocean floor.
Rural, green and rugged, dotted with whitewashed houses, you could almost think you were in west Ireland at times. But then you notice how black the soil is, how the stone walls are basalt, and how the mountains are actually volcanoes. With a mild climate, and plenty of rain, as well as volcanic soil, everything from potatoes to pineapples grows in this bounteous garden, with agriculture and fishing providing the main incomes.
The Azores is also one of the top places in the world for whale watching, with sperm whales and other species of whale and dolphin regularly seen. Add in some excellent walking, and a way of life that has changed little over the centuries, and the result is a unique and fascinating travel destination.
Try to visit several islands as they each have a different character. A typical three-island itinerary would combine Sao Miguel, the largest island, with Pico and Faial, which are only a few kilometres apart. If you have time for more islands, you could add on Terceira or Flores.
Take a waterproof and suncream – the weather is extremely changeable.
You can have all four seasons in one day, so expect warm temperatures (up to 27°C in summer; around 13°C in winter), humidity averaging 80-85% and a chance of rain in any month.
May to September is good for whale watching, sailing or fishing. To witness the island’s famous azaleas and hydrangeas in flower, June and July are best.
São Miguel Sao Miguel do Oeste (SQX)
All islands, except Corvo, are linked by the domestic airline, SATA.
Transmaçor runs ferries between Faial, Pico and São Jorge, as well as between Terceira and Graciosa. During summer Açorline ferries connect all islands except Corvo.
Taxis and rental cars are widely available; buses operate on all islands except Corvo. Bicycle hire is available in some centres.
Sao Miguel has the widest range of accommodation, but all the islands have hotels from simple B&Bs upwards.
Influenced by the Portuguese motherland, Azorean cuisine includes locally made sausages chouriço (a spicy version) and morcelas (a black-blood sausage), as well as bacalhau (dried cod). Caldo verde, potato soup with cabbage, is popular.
Dairy products, especially cheeses, are good, but otherwise there isn’t much vegetarian food offered in restaurants (despite the wide variety of vegetables grown on the islands).
Try the tasty local wines and potent local liqueurs, such Maracuja, made from passion-fruit.
There are no particular health problems in the Azores; check with your GP to make sure you are up to date on vaccinations. The crime rate is very low.
Rising from the azure Atlantic, the Azores archipelago is a land of beauty and adventure. Alistair McLean reveals why you’ll fall head over heels for the islands... More
This wild Atlantic archipelago is a hot spot for diving, whale watching and walking – but heed this advice before you travel... More
Volcanic peaks, picturesque towns, whale-filled waters and now a new Darwin-inspired bike trail – here’s why the Azorean island of Terceira is the natural selection More
Whether you're a first-time climber or searching for your next high-altitude challenge, don't overlook these 'classic' peaks... More
Want an incredible whale watching experience? Make sure you're in the right place at the right time with this guide... More
Atlantis-obsessive Mark Adams lists 5 possible locations for the mythical city... More
For whale-watching, volcanic crater lakes and spectacular hiking trails, these 9 beautiful islands are hard to beat More
Inspired to get up close with a lava-spewing beauty? Here’s our hot picks... More
Visit Azores and tour operator Sunvil answer your most frequently asked questions on the Portuguese archipelago to help you plan your trip More
Lace up your boots for these hot global hikes, from tough tramps to easy strolls More
We know that scheduled tours aren't everyone's cup of tea, so here are 10 spots to whale watch without the pressure of being on someone else's time More
William Gray ventures out into the remote Atlantic and stumbles upon the whale-infested waters of the Azores More
10 island hops to help you join those dots More
Paul Morrison tracks down the little-known Azores archipelago and reveals its best-kept travel secrets More
Wanderlust subscribers now receive a free £50 voucher valid on trips from a great selection of top tour operators
And the best bit is, this isn't a one-off offer, you get one every time you renew as well!
The £50 discount can be redeemed against one trip booking with one of our tour operator partners, by the expiry date printed on the voucher. The £50 can even be redeemed on top of any discounts our partners are already offering, ensuring Wanderlust subscribers get the best deal possible.
Simply quote your unique voucher code when booking to claim the discount. This offer is only available to Wanderlust subscribers.
UK subscribers automatically receive the voucher each year. Overseas subscribers receive it upon request.
Set over three acres, Quinta do Espirito Santo is a traditional two-storey building within an 18th century restored property. Owned by local historian Dr Francisco Maduro-Dias, enjoy 3 days of lear...
This two island walking tour offers the chance to walk through well kept trails ranging from easy to medium levels of walking. The popular “Fajas” on the island of Sao Jorge are flat, ...
Located at Ginetes, on the south east of Sao Miguel, Quintadas Raiadas offers the chance to experience life on a working farm. Cook traditional Azorean food, ride on horse-drawn carts and tour the ...
Sign up today for free and be the first to get notified of new articles, new competitions, new events and more!