What Can You Experience In 10 Days In the Azores?
If the Azores Islands are not on your travel list …. If you ask yourself …. “What can you experience in 10 days in the Azores? Let me show you!
The Azores Islands are 9 small islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean about 900 miles (1.450 km) offshore of Lisbon, Portugal. You can fly to the Azores from mainland Portugal and many spots in Europe. There are also a number of flights from North America (including Toronto).
I learned about the Azores from Cathy (@RoarLoud). I read their blogs and looked at their pictures and knew that we needed to add the Azores to our adventures in Portugal. We planned our 10 days in the Azores to get a taste test but also to see as much as possible. Here are just a few of the most awesome things we experienced in the Azores. For more detail, read the individual blog posts.
1) Stunning Coastal Waters
Being islands, there is no end to the stunning coastal waters you can see touring for 10 days in the Azores. We found long stretches of sand beaches. While some had white sand, most were black volcanic sand.
But most of the coastline was rugged rock. In some areas the volcanic rock was at the water level in intricate coves. The seas pounded in creating stunning coastal scenes.
We were interested to find that in many of these areas, natural swimming pools had been created. In Caloura on Sao Miguel, the high tides swamped the swimming area. On Pico the swimming pools were evident at almost every stop we made when we toured Pico Island.
In 10 days in the Azores, we never tired of the stunning coastal views we found.
2) Awesome Panoramic Views
All of the Azores are volcanic islands. This left many high spots on the islands. Mirardouros (or viewpoints) are located everywhere. We just looked for the signs with the binoculars on them.
The most stunning panoramic view we got was when we went high on Sao Miguel Island. As we went higher we got a great view of both the north and south coasts at the narrowest point on the island.
The day we visited the caldera at Sete Cidades on Sao Miguel Island, we started with an amazing panoramic view of this caldera. We could see down to the 3 lakes in the caldera and the small village of Sete Cidades. Far off we saw the coast.
Touring on Faial Island, we also visited several viewpoints above the port town of Horta. Our viewpoint above the main Faial caldera let us gaze at the dry caldera. We could see the path that wound around the top.
On Pico Island, we got great views out to sea. We even climbed a windmill to get a better view.
3) A Great Education on Volcanic Islands
Our first introduction to the volcanic islands of the North Atlantic occurred when we landed in Cape Verde. As we moved through the Canary Islands from Lanzarote to Tenerife, we gained a much better understanding of the formation and current state of this ridge of volcanic islands.
We spent 10 days in the Azores and learned more about volcanos. We saw massive calderas on both Sao Miguel Island and on Faial Island that were created a long time ago. On Faial Island we saw the impressive calderas at Capelinhos. This was a recent volcano eruption. Over the period of over a year, three different phases created a series of calderas and lava flows. The shoreline at Capelinhos continues to change as the shore is eroded away.
The massive Pico Mountain on Pico Island stands high at 7,713 feet (2,351 metres). This volcano has not yet erupted and is not active at this time. But while Pico Mountain has not erupted, we saw the remains of many other volcanos that created the island.
The greatest variety of lava was found when we toured Pico Island. We saw flat lava and the chord lava. Looking at chord lava you could really see the movement of the lava in waves.
While we learned some things about the volcanic history of the Azores from our guides, we were really happy that we visited the underground museum at Capelinhos. We learned so much about the volcanic activity that created the Azores Islands.
4) Relaxing Natural Spas
Dry calderas were not the only volcanic activity we saw. There were many active thermal areas to see during our 10 days in the Azores. When we toured the Furnas area of Sao Miguel, we saw an active thermal area with bubbling hot water and steam escaping.
The great side benefit of thermal waters was ability to capture the hot mineral water for thermal baths. We took the opportunity to try out several of the thermal pools in the Furnas area of Sao Miguel.
The next day we visited the thermal baths at Caldera Vehla. This was a much smaller thermal pool set into a natural setting. There was a colder pool with a waterfall effect.
Our final thermal water experience was at the Ferraria. This is a hot spring that feeds out into a cove on the shore. A swimming pool has been created that mixes the hot water with ocean water.
5) Great Azorean Food
We had great food and drink during 10 days in the Azores. When we toured on Sao Miguel and on Pico Island, we enjoyed fresh seafood. Great seafood was never hard to find when we wandered around the port cities in the Azores. There was fresh fish of many different kinds. Limpets where a local specialty although we never did take to these. My favourite was always octopus baked in the oven.
It is said that there are more cows than people on many of the Azores Islands. More than once our trip was halted for the cow traffic jam to pass! Naturally, this means that the Azores Islands are known for their dairy products. Local cheeses were plentiful. We even had the chance to tour a cheese factory on Faial Island.
While most of the cattle is used for dairy, there are cows for meat. If you looked for Azorean Certified Beef, you could not go wrong. We had a great stew one day. But our real meat experience was when we had a Tomahawk Steak in Ponta Delgada. This was the most beef I have every seen on one plate!
We had several very unusual meals during our 10 days in the Azores. We started our interesting experiences with Caldera Stew (or cozido). The stew was cooked deep in a hole over a steaming caldera for 6 hours. The meat and veggie stew was cooked to perfection.
On Faial Island we went out for dinner one night and cooked our meal on a hot lava stone.
6) Wines and Liqueurs Are Produced On the Azores Islands
Wine is produced on Pico Island. As you tour the island, you can see wine fields everywhere. The wine from Pico has gained such popularity that people are recovering old wine fields buried in overgrown trees. You can do a wine tour on Pico Island. We certainly tried to have Pico wine whenever possible!
More prevalent was local liqueurs. They came in a wide variety of fruit flavours and some different flavours (e.g. coffee). I really preferred when I was lucky enough to get homemade blackberry liqueur. I found it fruity but not too strong or too sweet.
On Sao Miguel, they actually produce tea. We had a tour of a tea plant and saw the tea growing in the fields. We never saw any coffee production. The only island that produces coffee is Sao Jorge and we did not visit there during our 10 days in the Azores. They only produce enough for the island so we could not even find it when we asked for local coffee.
7) Learn About The Evolution of the Whaling Industry
The Azores had a long and rich history in the whaling industry. We visited the small port of Lages do Pico. This had been the most important whaling village in the Azores. We visited the Whaling Museum on Pico and learned quite a bit about whaling in the Azores.
When the whale hunting business finally closed up in the early 1980’s the new business of whale watching started in Lages do Pico. Today you can do whale watching from many of the Azores Islands. We did a whale watching trip from Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel.
We had wanted to do another whale watching trip on smaller boats when we visited Faial Island. But weather and timing did not work for us. We will certainly do whale watching from Faial or Pico Island on a return visit.
8) See The Street Art
Wherever we go, we are always on the lookout for great street art. On our 10 days in the Azores, we found some interesting examples when we stayed on Sao Miguel Island and visited Pico Island. The art reflected the local traditions and the significance of whales to these islands. Much of the street art was paintings on buildings.
But we also found a lot of blue Portuguese tiles decorating the outside of buildings. This was a first look at the beauty of tile work. We would find so much more fascinating tile decorations inside and outside when we visited Porto.
We even found the most interesting stone faces.
Keep your eyes peeled in the Azores and you will find lots of street art.
Enjoy A Visit To The Azores Islands
We had enjoyed our visit to Lisbon and our explorations of the Algarve. But we were excited when we boarded the plane for the Azores. We received such great inspiration to visit the Azores from fellow travel bloggers @RoarLoud. We wanted to see what they were so excited about!
It was so great that we planned 10 days in the Azores on our visit to Portugal. It was very busy with tours on Sao Miguel, Faial and Pico Islands. We had time to wander in the port towns. And made sure we found great places to eat.
We left the Azores wanting more. There was still much to see on the islands that we did visit. And there were many other islands in the Azores that we would see on a return visit.
We flew from the Azores to the city of Porto. This would be a very different experience than our 10 days in the Azores. But we would get a chance to taste the port that Porto is known for and to explore the Duoro Valley. We found much to love about Portugal during our 4 week visit!
What would you like to do for 10 days in the Azores? What did we miss that should be on the top of our list for a return visit?
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