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Why You Should Visit the Azores in Portugal

The Azores are a group of 9 islands in the mid-Atlantic Ocean distinguished by beautiful landscapes, fishing villages, lush greenery, and rows of colourful hydrangeas.

Caloura, Sao Miguel, Azores

High above the town of Caloura

These volcanic islands are a beautiful remote destination to get back to nature and simplicity.

 

The people are very helpful and friendly, and the vibe is laid back.

 

Furnas, Sao Miguel, Azores

Exploring the forest around Furnas, Sao Miguel

Our experience in Sao Miguel (The Green Island) was a positive one, so we wanted to share some of the highlights of our time there.

 

WHALE WATCHING

Dating back as far as the 1500’s, the Portuguese heavily depended on whaling for survival. Whale flesh was used for cosmetics, oil, soaps, fats, flour, and more.
Whale Hunting in the Azores

Whale Hunting in the Azores

The Azores were an important place for whale hunting until the mid 80’s, but now they are one of the best places in the world to view these beautiful creatures.

Dolphin Watching in the Azores

Dolphins swimming along side the boat

These islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are one of the best examples of how a violent, and unsustainable practice, can be turned into an ecologically balanced and sustainable activity and business for the locals, both human, and non human.

 

We are thrilled that whales are no longer hunted in the Azores for their flesh, but are respected for their beauty and existence.
Whale Watching in the Azores

Whale Watching in the Azores

Our tour with Furturismo was so great. they respected the Whale’s space, and went by the book.

Futurismo is truly a responsible tour company.

 

SETE CIDADES is a small village that sits in the middle of a large volcanic crater. The setting of the village is lush green, and situated in the centre, are two twin crater lakes, one blue, and one green.

The small church in Sete Cidades

The small church in Sete Cidades

The view from the highest tip is magnificent.

 

Cody, Michelle, my Mom, and I, were dropped off in town and spent the day drinking espresso’s, exploring deserted houses, and wandering the quaint streets.
Sete Cidades, Sao Miguel, Azores

There was beauty all around us in Sete Cidades

We also visited the abandoned hotel perched at the top of the hill. There are great views from any room facing Sete Cidades.

The view from the abandoned Monte Palace Hotel

The view from the abandoned Monte Palace Hotel

 

LAGOA DO FUGO is another area with an emerald green crater lake.

One of the largest bodies of water in the Azores, this spot is breathtaking, and a perfect place for a picnic.

 

Modern construction is not permitted to be built in this area, so there is no worry of the views being spoiled any time soon.

There is not much around Lago Do Fugo in walking distance, but after our stop here, our taxi driver dropped us off in Ribeira Grande, the small town where my mom was born.
Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel

Hanging out in Ribeira Grande

We enjoyed a pizza, visited a traditional tile shop, and hung out by Porto De Santa Iria for quite a few hours. It was difficult leaving with views like this.

Ribeira Grande, Azores

Make sure you don’t fall Cody

 

FURNAS is a civil parish of about 1600 people, that has a very special way of cooking an incredible Portuguese meal.

It is close to 3 active trachytic volcanoes, where several hot-springs, geysers, and fumaroles are scattered in the middle of town. There are 30 springs, each of different chemical composition, and temperature.
Furnas, Sao Miguel, Azores

Pulling out the food in Furnas

In the geysers is where the magic begins. We ordered a vegan meal to be cooked in this traditional Portuguese method of cooking called- Cozido.

On a Sunday afternoon, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, and collard greens, were all lovingly stuffed into a pot, and placed underground into a volcanic geyser until the food was ready to be unearthed.

 

Such delicious food

One of the best meals we had on the island

We can’t think of a greener way of cooking food, can you?

Once the cozido was ready, we made our way to Tony’s Restaurant and were served our amazing meal with some rice, fresh Portuguese bread, olive oil, and red wine. A-mazing!

 

These are all a MUSTย if you visit Sao Miguel.

 

Have you been to the Azores before? If so, what did you think?

 

 

 

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Comments To This Entry.
  1. Looks like we had a very similar trip! I did some dolphin watching, went to Sete Cidades to see family, and also went to the hot springs for a hot boiled lunch. So lovely to see someone else’s pictures of this amazing and beautiful island! I have been recapping my trip there as well at http://www.KatieWanders.com Thanks for the gorgeous pictures!

    Katie @ http://www.KatieWanders.com

    • Giselle and Cody June 8, 2015 Reply

      Hey Katie, thanks so much for commenting. Went and checked out your blog and have to agree that the Azores are becoming a popular place for travellers. The islands have so much to offer and they are so beautiful. Next time we go we have to make sure to visit some of the other islands as well ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Franca June 9, 2015 Reply

    I’d happily visit the Azores to see whales and dolphins in the wild and responsibly alone, they are such beautiful creatures! I have to say the idea of exploring abandoned buildings also appeals to me a lot, there is something about those places that fascinates me and every time I have the opportunity to sneak inside them I happily take it ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Giselle and Cody June 21, 2015 Reply

      Franca- We were pretty surprised with the amount of great things to do on such a small island.
      Tons of abandoned buildings to explore and some amazing hiking trails as well. We know that you and Dale would love it there.
      It’s a fairly cheap flight from the mainland as well and totally worth it.

    • hilda June 22, 2015 Reply

      Franca, so many abandoned places in all of Portugal. Hope you can check it out some day!

  3. Anne June 9, 2015 Reply

    That hair, Cody! That tripod headstand! Those VIEWS! Looks amazing – we can’t wait to get there someday. We love your recommendations! Beautiful post.

    • Giselle and Cody June 14, 2015 Reply

      Thanks so much Anne. Hopefully one day you will be able to make it to the Azores and see how beautiful the islands are.
      We had such an incredible time in Portugal ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Elizabeth June 15, 2015 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Sao Miguel.. It looks absolutely beautiful and peaceful.. I’m looking forward to going back to Sao Miguel to experience the whale watching, which we did not get around to..

    • Giselle and Cody June 21, 2015 Reply

      Elizabeth- We now understand why you were so excited for us to head to the Azores.
      Such a beautiful and magical place and the next time you go you have to go Whale Watching ๐Ÿ™‚
      Family getaway??

  5. Monika June 19, 2015 Reply

    I look forward to trying cozido! I was trying to find some great veggie/vegan experiences on Sao Miguel and I learnt it would be difficult considering traditional Azorean/Portuguese food is full of meat. Iยดm glad to know about this option! I hope to visit tea and pineapple plantations, too – the only place in Europe where these plants are grown.

    • Giselle and Cody June 26, 2015 Reply

      Monika- There are not much Vegan/Veggie restaurants but if you are able to get a place with a kitchen then the market is a goldmine for food. Even the supermarket had a great selection of things to eat (Bought Seitan and made Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches) Also, the pineapples are absolutely delicious in Sao Miguel and can even be bought at the airport to take home with you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Giselle and Cody June 30, 2015 Reply

      Hey Monika,

      The Cozido was sooooooo good and satisfying, especially with a glass of Portuguese red wine and some fresh bread and olive oil!
      You will be just fine eating plant based in the Azores. There is a very sweet veggie/vegan restaurant in Sao Miguel called Rotas De Ilha Verde that you should try out!

      Yes that’s right, they grow baby pineapples in green houses on the Azores. They were so fragrant and sweet!

  6. hilda June 22, 2015 Reply

    my lineage is from the Azores. My parents and husband are from Sao Miguel. I’m happy to see the amount of coverage these islands are getting. They are unspoiled and magnificent islands. Still the place to go as it’s not as fast paced as others. Great article!

    • Giselle and Cody June 26, 2015 Reply

      Thanks so much for commenting Hilda. Giselle’s family is all from the Azores so it was interesting to go back and see where her family came from. We really enjoyed our time on the slow paced islands and would definitely love to head back and explore some of the other islands. Have you been to other islands in the Azores besides Sao Miguel?

  7. As I’ve had a real passion for the Portuguese language ever since college (so much so that I ended up with a BA in Brazilian Language and Literature), I’ve always been curious about the Azores and other little Portuguese-speaking enclaves dotted around the world. Do you know how Sete Cidades got its name? Seven cities seems like a funny thing to call a small village. In any case, it looks amazing, and I LOVE it that you got a traditionally-cooked vegan cozido! That’s one more destination added to the list.

  8. Great post guys. I went out on a boat to see dolphins in the wild in New Zealand – it was the most amazing experience, such beautiful animals. Seeing whales in their natural habitat is something i’m absolutely desperate to do. So pleased to hear that the whales are now respected in the Azores. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy travels!

    Gabby

    PS. That is a fine head of hair you have there! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Nikki July 8, 2015 Reply

    Gorgeous! Your photos are incredible. Now we’ve got another place to add to the ever growing list! Cheers guys ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Giselle and Cody July 14, 2015 Reply

      Thanks so much Nikki. The Azores are definitely a place you should check out!

  10. Cathy RoarLoud September 3, 2015 Reply

    The Azores are number one on my wish list right now! My grandparents were born there so the family history component is there. The beauty of the islands mesmerizes me also! Next up Africa to climb Kilimanjaro this month then planning for Azores can begin!

  11. Francisco Ortiz January 22, 2016 Reply

    Just added the Azores to my next Eurotrip this year, I had never heard of them before, but your pictures and the research I just did convinced me in 2 minutes. And there are low cost flights to get to the islands, so there’s no excuse. Thanks for the info!
    Im looking forward to having a geyser cooked cozido!

    • Giselle and Cody January 22, 2016 Reply

      Hey Francisco, glad you managed to find and our blog and glad you have decided to add the Azores to your itinerary.
      It is such a beautiful and unspoiled paradise. We really loved our time there and if we ever make it back to Portugal, the Azores will definitely be on the list. Would love to check out some of the other islands. ENJOY THAT FOOD!!!

  12. valerie January 31, 2016 Reply

    I am happy to read that there are some vegan options for dinning and that there is a market too. The cozido vegan prepared meal looks amazing – thanks for posting!

    • Giselle and Cody February 5, 2016 Reply

      Hey there Valerie, Thanks so much for commenting.

      The cozido meal was absolutely amazing and a must do if you are heading to the area.
      Enjoy the islands!

  13. Tiago Lopes April 18, 2016 Reply

    What a wonderful experience you had there. I’ve been there as well and it was amazing. Sรฃo Miguel was the island I visited and it was great to discover this island, its people, the landscape, the gastronomy – all worth it. My suggestion is to rent a car and go to the several viewpoints around the island to be amazed by the views – you won’t regret it! If you want to know more about my experience in the Azores, visit my blog at http://gotoportugal.eu/en/the-places-to-visit-in-the-azores/.

    • Giselle and Cody April 19, 2016 Reply

      Thanks for writing Tiago and we are glad to hear you had a great time in the Azores.
      We agree that renting a car is a great way to explore more of the island. We really wanted to make our way to Nordeste but ran out of time.
      It is definitely a place people need to explore NOW before it gets really popular.

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