The 7 must-do things to do in the Azores

Visiting the Azores: What are the best things to see and do in this archipelago lost in the Atlantic?

The Azores are a group of 9 islands located 1450km off the coast of Portugal – of which they are an autonomous region. These volcanic lands, untouched by mass tourism, offer a wealth of activities for those who love the great outdoors: to visit the Azores is to marvel at the power of nature and the serenity that reigns in this little corner of Europe.

Populated by 250,000 inhabitants, the archipelago also boasts a rich culture, and numerous clues remind visitors that it was discovered by Portuguese explorers in 1427, and is indeed one of the remnants of the Portuguese colonial empire.

Wondering what to do in the Azores during your stay? Here are the 6 must-sees to make the most of this volcanic archipelago!

1. Discover Lagoa do Fogo

The Lake of Fire, located in Ribeira Grande, is the highest on the island of São Miguel, the largest in the archipelago. It is the crater of a volcano, filled by rain over the centuries. Its heights offer the most beautiful panorama of the island of São Miguel; but beware, if this is one of the prettiest escapes to make in the Azores, the volcano is still active and jets of fumaroles can burn the most reckless of visitors (up to more than 60 degrees)!

For a moment of relaxation, head for the « Caldeira Velha ». This natural pool – or crater formed by one of the island’s three volcanoes – is a veritable jewel of nature! You’ll enjoy basking in its warm waters while taking in the scenery.

2. Climb Pico, Portugal’s highest mountain

Pico, montagne, Açores

Photo credit: Flickr – Viv Lynch

Numerous hiking trails lead up to Ponta do Pico, at an altitude of 2351 meters. This volcano, which last erupted in 1720, has now calmed down enough to allow you to admire the islands of Faial, Terceira, São Jorge and Graciosa.

The sometimes capricious weather (the oceanic climate being unpredictable by nature) can be a hindrance to budding adventurers, but the walk is well worth the detour if you’re in good physical condition.

3. A boat trip

Les açores

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Roman Sulla

Visiting the Azores archipelago without taking the time for a boat trip would be a real mistake… Indeed, renting a boat in the Azores to enjoy the sublime Portuguese coastline for a day is a blessing!

Alone or accompanied, take an afternoon to discover the Portuguese coastline.

4. Meet the whales

The archipelago is the world’s largest cetacean sanctuary! Many agencies offer to take you to meet them: visiting the Azores gives you the chance to see over 25 different species.

The best time to visit is from March to May, especially if you’re hoping to spot blue whales: they can grow up to 30 metres long, and the sight of them is a real thrill!

5. Stroll the narrow streets of Ponta Delgada

Église à Ponta Delgada, Açores

Photo credit: Flickr – Viv Lynch

It would be a shame to visit the Azores without a visit to the archipelago’s largest municipality: this historic town, witness to the legacy of the Portuguese colonists, offers a beautiful walk full of discoveries with its many popular tourist spots such as typical churches and Baroque monuments.

6. Discover the « King’s Point of View

Mirador Point de vue du Roi, Sete Cidades, Açores

Photo credit: Flickr – Robert Cutts

Around Ponta Delgada, hiking enthusiasts will love the roads that border the island’s natural lakes. If you choose to take a walk during your stay, the island’s viewpoints will make it unforgettable! The « Miradouro Vista Do Rei » or « King’s View Bridge », for example, is a breathtaking sight in its own right.

One of the most beautiful in the Azores, the mirador boasts a breathtaking panoramic view of the Caldeira das Sete Cidades: a picture postcard of natural lakes, including the famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades, which offers guided tours.

7. Visit the Parque Terra Nostra

Jardin botanique Terra Nostra, Açores

Photo credit: Flickr – Hugo Cadavez

For those still wondering what to do in the Azores: Parque Terra Nostra is a 12-hectare botanical garden where visitors can discover, alone or with their families, many varieties of hydrangea and numerous species of endemic plants.

You can even bask in a pool of ferruginous thermal water at 37°C.

How to get to the Azores

If you choose to travel by plane, the Azores are not served by direct flights from France. As a result, your trip will include a stopover in Lisbon or Porto before taking another flight to the archipelago (for a flight from Paris, allow between 6 and 8 hours for a flight to São Miguel). Of the various airports available on the 9 islands of the Azores, João Paulo II (located on the island of São Miguel near the town of Ponta Delgada) remains the main one, and therefore one of the first choices for visitors.

Whatever your departure city, in France or Portugal, you’ll find a cheap flight on the website of our partner Ulysses.

Ferries also link the islands by sea. Using this means of transport is ideal for those looking to visit the Azores while enjoying a pleasant boat trip.

And because enjoying nature is definitely one of the best things to do in the Azores, many car rental agencies allow you to use a vehicle to roam freely. Rentalcars , the car rental comparison service , offers the best prices.

Where to stay in the Azores?

In the Azores, you’ll find several types of accommodation to choose from, depending on your desires and your budget. The archipelago is home to over 70 hotels and, particularly on the islands of São Miguel and Terceira, this is obviously the easiest and most flexible solution for the occasional traveler looking to visit the Azores; you’ll find your ideal establishment by consulting the offers on this hotel comparator.

You can also immerse yourself in Azorean culture by renting a quinta, an old mansion converted into a guest house, often attached to a sumptuous estate. Or stay with farmers, who can even offer seasonal work in the Azores for young adventure-seekers.

While some twenty campsites offer pitches for unforgettable nights under the stars, it’s worth remembering that wild camping is forbidden in Portugal!

Now you know how to make the most of the charms of the Azores archipelago and take advantage of the best activities on offer on its islands. But which ones will win you over?

Map of hotels and accommodation – Acores