6 Interesting Things To Do In the Azores
When we planned our trip to Portugal, it was strongly recommended that we visit the Azores. These 9 islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean about 900 miles (1.450 km) offshore of Lisbon, Portugal. When we visited, we found so many interesting things to do in the Azores. And if you visit once, you will want to return!
1) Hike The Hills To Find Great Views
The Azores are volcanic islands with green space everywhere. We visited the viewpoints high above Sete Cidades on Sao Miguel Island. There were hiking paths all along the rim overlooking the volcanic lakes.
Volcanic craters were always a great place to find the hiking spots. The day we visited the Faial Caldera, the fog moved in very quickly. It hid the hiking paths that ran across the top and down into the volcanic valley. There are some limits on hiking in this caldera, so you will want to plan in advance.
If you like to get out in nature, you will find hiking one of the simplest things to do in the Azores.
2) Enjoy The Traffic Jams
It was very easy to drive around the Azores. The road systems were good and generally well signed. Having a car will let you plan your day around the weather. We visited the Azores in May. At that time of year, people commented that you might see all four seasons in a day.
If you have escaped the city, you probably hoped you left the traffic jams behind. But our favourite kind of traffic when we drove around the Azores was a cow traffic jam. Many of the islands of the Azores have more cows than people! The cows were regularly moved from field to field. And we just watched the show. Much of the time, we were not sure who was watching who.
The upside of so many cows however was some of the best cheese ever. You can find the cheese in the local stores. But not all of it is exported, so make sure to take home your favourite kind. If you really want to stock up, there is a great cheese factory you can visit on Faial Island.
Taking it easy is one of the things to do in the Azores! The slower pace of life will calm you as the natural beauty excites you.
3) Have Some Wine With Your Cheese
The Azores are one of the spots in Portugal that produces wine. It has become so well recognized that it was sometimes hard to find local wine when we visited the Azores! But we managed to sample a wide range of Azores wines.
When we visited Pico Island, we even got to see the vineyards. With the resurgence of the wine industry on the island, large fields are being reclaimed. The vineyards have a very typical design, with small rock walls separating plants. It reminded us very much of the vineyards on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
And if you want the ultimate in wine convenience, we found a hotel that had a wine dispenser in the lobby. Just put in your hotel room key. Pick the wine and glass size. And you are set to go.
Exploring the developing wine industry is one of the things to do in the Azores. If you find a favourite wine, you should take it with you. Or plan a return visit to find even more!
4) Watch Your Dinner Being Cooked
We found several interesting dining venues when we visited the Azores. On Faial Island, we had a delicious feast that we cooked ourselves on a hot volcanic stone. There was a wide variety of things offered. And we cooked our feast just the way we liked it.
When we visited the calderas on Sao Miguel Island, we got to see the delicious cozido (caldera stew) cooking in the field. The large pots are filled with meat and vegetables. The pots are buried in the earth above volcanic steam ports. The stew cooks for 4 hours. We were at the caldera field as they came out and we got to order our pot for lunch. A short trip into town and we sat down to the most tasty lunch.
Enjoying great food is just one of the things to do in the Azores. The abundance of cows meant that local cheese and meat was delicious. Being islands, the seafood was fresh and plentiful.
5) Relax After Lunch In A Hot Spring
The Azores are volcanic islands. Everywhere we drove, we saw the stunning volcanic sea coasts. We saw signs of the erupted volcanoes in the magnificent caldera lakes on the islands. When in Faial, we had a constant view of Pico Mountain that has yet to erupt. On Faial, we also got to see the massive calderas at Capelinhos created in 1957. An underground museum provided a great education on the volcanic history of the Azores.
While most of the hot springs we visited were just great to look at, we did find some that were meant for a dip. There were different pools at different temperatures. Even when the weather was cool, the hot springs were a great spot to relax. The wildest hot spring we found was at the Ferraria. The hot spring vented into the sea in a small cove. When the tide was down, this was a picture perfect spot to enjoy that mix of hot and cold water. But at high tide, it was a crazy swim.
A visit to the hot springs is definitely one of the things to do in the Azores. The hot springs are idyllically located in green spaces. You will find a spot that is just the right temperature for you!
6) Find Your Entertainment With Whales
If the Azores are known for volcanos, they are equally known for whaling history. When we visited Pico Island, we enjoyed a tour through the whaling museum. Whaling was a major source of income for the islands until the practice was stopped.
But the whales didn’t go away! There is great whale watching from both Sao Miguel and Pico Islands. The day we went whale watching, we saw both fin and humpback whales. The dolphins danced on the waves. And we got a great water view of the island.
If you are like us, then whale watching is a top one of the things to do in the Azores. We keep heading out to the sea in search of that perfect whale breach.
Just A Taste Of The Things To Do In The Azores
If you read our detailed posts about our visit to the Azores, you will see that we really loved these islands. We revelled in the chance to enjoy the rugged volcanic landscape we found. Nature surrounded us everywhere we went. It was an ideal spot for us to enjoy great local food and wine. There was just so many things to do in the Azores.
We found it easy to visit three different islands. We flew into Sao Miguel from Lisbon on a larger plane. The hop to Faial Island was done with the local smaller airlines that services the islands. Our trip to Pico was by ferry. The other islands in the group are equally as easy to visit. We heard so much great things about the other islands that we will definitely plan a return trip!
What would be your favourite of the things do do in the Azores?
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I’d love to be stuck in a traffic jam too, if the one causing it are as cool as those cows! 😀 What a lovely list of things to do overall.. Indeed, Azores has an amazing selection of activities that people will love to see and experience.. Personally, the hike to the hills sound pretty cool. Is the trail hard?
Marvi, We were just happy to sit and watch the cows. They were everywhere in the Azores. But that just meant so much great cheese. We did the easier hike but many people hike all the way down into the caldera. It did not look steep so I am sure it was doable at a slow pace for most people. Linda
We see a lot of great travel deals advertised about the Azores in Canada (because we are always looking for a way to escape winter!) It’s so nice to have this list on hand to inspire our next winter escape!
Vanessa, We are from Canada too. Since TAP is an Air Canada partner, there are deals coming up for Portugal all the time. They also are doing stopover deals – sorta like what Iceland started. Not sure what the weather is like in the winter though. We visited in May and it was nice. Hope you get to visit. Linda
I’ll have to share this post with my husband, because I’ve been trying to convince him this is another place we need to go. 🙂 The wine, cheese, and hot springs might sell him on it. For me it’s all about the hiking and views. I’d love to do some hiking around the craters!
Tracie, I would definitely recommend a visit to the Azores. It was highly recommended to us and it did not disappoint. If you like spectacular natural beauty – then this is the place to visit. It is pretty easy to move around the islands so plan to visit more than one. Linda
Cheese, Wine, hot springs and Volcanoes. What else can one ask for? Going to Portugal and to Azores is on my list. Count me in for Whale watching or Dolphin watching any time. I love these huge but graceful creatures.
Vasu, It sounds like you will find everything you want in Portugal and the Azores! We so loved everywhere we visited. Hope you get to plan a trip. Linda
Oh my goodness, this is really beautiful! The hills look like they have been sculpted to perfection! What a view!
Kirstie, We just love the Azores and would return in a minute. So many great natural sites. Linda
There is good lot of activities to do and experience in Azores. The cow traffic jam was a surprise for me, we have it here in Bangalore too 😀 😀
Watching dinner cooked seems such a tempting activity. I am sure to do that.
Indrani, There were definitely a lot of interesting things to do in the Azores. Definitely try to have the caldera stew. Linda
The Azores sounds like a treasure trove of sights and experiences. Love the natural landscapes. Loved reading about the “traffic jams” and smiled at the cow jams! The hot springs are something else that had me riveted. They look so inviting, though I guess not all of them are swim-worthy.
Sandy, There truly are so many things to see and do in the Azores. The natural scenery was really stunning. We would not swim in any of the hot springs not marked for swimming though. Linda
Wow so many amazing things to do in the Azores. I’d love to taste that Caldera stew – how cool is that being cooked over volcanic steam!!! Fabulous! I’d love to hike with the kids along the volcanic rim too!
Mags, It was great to see the caldera stew in the ground and then have it for lunch. So tasty after cooking for several hours. So many great hikes with the kids. Linda
Azores sounds so charming. With its natural surroundings and the natural “traffic jams”. I love the various trails that the place seems to promise. I would definitely enjoy the wine and cheese break too. Add to that the pleasure of Whale Watching. Guess I should definitely plan this side of the world!
Ami, I would definitely recommend a trip to the Azores. Each island is a little different and worth exploring. Linda
This reminds me of Hawaii with the black sands and hot springs, I would love to try the local wines and cheese – this all sounds wonderful for me.
Noel, We have not yet made it to Hawaii. Although it is moving further up the list. We loved all the volcano scenery in the Azores. Unfortunately so much of the local wine is kept for local use. So hard to get it off the islands. But a great reason to visit! The cheese was a big surprise. So many different kinds. And you could get it fresh. A great spot to visit for sure. Linda
Just found your blog and I am really enjoying hearing about your travels. Have you been to Madeira?
Gerry, I am glad you are enjoying the blogs. We did indeed visit Madeira. If you search you can find it. It was only a one day stop on a cruise trip. But we definitely want to return. Linda
What a great place this is! I simply love those hiking paths overlooking the volcanic lakes. That image is awesome. Cow traffic jams are common in Indian villages. 🙂 Being able to cook by yourself on a volcanic stone is so unique. I have not been to Portugal yet, but am adding Azores to my bucket list.
We did love the Azores so much. We only saw 3 islands and definitely want to go back.