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The Azores, nine main islands and the smaller isles and atolls around them, are a mid-Atlantic treasure-trove of natural beauty just ripe for anyone with an adventurous spirit and a love to the great outdoors.
The volcanic landscape is dramatic, and there are three distinct biospheres. Plus the Azores have two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the old town of Angra do Heroísmo on Terceira and the vineyards of Pico.
The varied beauty of the islands does make choosing the best places to stay on the Azores a challenge. Beautiful Angra do Heroísmo is the historic capital, a charming, 18th century city on the island of Terceira, full of colourful cafes and bars and boutiques. Terceira is also one of the best places to stay in the Azores if you like a festival - between May and October a number of towns and cities on the island have a Spanish style tourada, when bulls are set free into the streets to join the party.
The Azores are also known for their wildlife - especially for whales, who grace the islands with their presence several times a year on their migrations. Almost every town of village with a marina will offer whale watching tours, but Pico Island is a good choice if this is one of the things you’re most looking forward to about visiting the Azores. Pico is also where you’ll find Portugal’s highest mountain, 2351metres above sea level, and a hike you can do in two or three hours if you’re fairly fit. from the very top you can see the islands of Faial and São Jorge.
Sailing, surfing, biking, hiking, paragliding and horseback riding are other popular ways to experience the landscape of the Azores. And you can expect to come across incredible crater lakes, steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and incredible caverns, volcanic underwater landscapes and pristine, white sandy beaches. Much of this beauty is protected in national parks and marine reserves.
There are numerous highlights, but there are a few real unmissable sights: the amazing blue and green caldera lakes of Setes Cidades - one of the lakes is blue, one green; the display centre of the Capelinhos Volcano, a spectacular underwater volcano which erupted in 1957; the springs at Terra Nostra Gardens on the island of São Miguel; and the Heritage Listed vineyards of Pico, which date from the 15th century and are laid between protective walls made of basalt.
- The Aldeia de Fonte is a 40 room eco resort on Pico Island offering accommodation in a collection of houses made of volcanic stone. There’s a popular bar and restaurant in the resort complex and there’s a relaxed vibe perfect for families and nature lovers. What with the whale watching and Tai Chi gardens.
- Furnas Boutique Hotel is a secluded and serene resort hotel on the island of São Miguel. There are 54 sharp, minimalist rooms and an extensive spa. The hotel’s restaurant serves local specialities.
Best Hotels in Azores
Aldeia da Fonte 40 rooms from $81Azores
A coastal eco resort with individual volcanic stone houses. Private suites feature summery yellow rooms and traditional furniture. A popular restaurant and bar. Pico island is a nature lover's paradise with whale watching and stunning hikes. A laid backed resort perfect for families.Total relaxation - A seaside resort complete with a whale watching tower, Tai Chi Garden and yoga sessions.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa 125 rooms from $88São Miguel, Azores
A stunning coastal property offering incredible sea views. Rooms are contemporary in style with chic minimalist design, luxurious bathrooms and large balconies. A superb spa and striking infinity pool are utterly spoiling. The perfect spot for a relaxing getaway.Hideaway - Set on a cliff-edge a mile from the nearest town, perfect for a secluded, isolated getaway far from the hustle and bustle.Back to Nature - Located on the north of the island, just a short drive from some of the island's most spectacular natural wonders.Families - The pool, sports and gaming facilities are more than enough to keep young ones entertained.Great walks - Take long walks along the picturesque coastline.
Furnas Boutique Hotel 54 rooms from $151Furnas, Azores
Secluded and serene, Furnas Boutique Hotel offers excellent accommodation in the Azores. The design is sharp and chic with minimalist rooms and an extensive spa. After a day's exploring, enjoy delicious Azorean cuisine in the hotel's stylish restaurant. A hillside wonder.Total relaxation - Elegant rooms, and a deluxe spa in picture perfect countryside- it's the ideal spot for a relaxing break.Local exploring - An excellent base for exploring the stunning Atlantic island of Azores.Great walks - Enjoy a range of great walks and stunning hikes in the surrounding forest land.Romantic - Good for couples.
Terra Nostra Garden Hotel 86 rooms from $159Furnas, Azores
A luxury art-deco hotel situated on the hidden gem that is the Azores Islands. Spacious rooms feature floor to ceiling windows, feather-soft beds and crisp white linen. Spend relaxing days lounging in the thermal water pool or for those looking for an active holiday there's plenty on offer.Hideaway - Head off on an adventure and discover the magical landscape of these volcanic isles.Great walks - Explore the unusual yet beautiful surrounds of the island.Full of characterSpaRecommended by - Johansens