Looking back on my trip last year to the Azores, I fit a ton of activities into seven days and was exhausted after each.
But in case you don’t want such a crazy trip, I wanted to share my top 5 things to do in the Azores! This is in no way “the list” as I was only able to visit four islands, but I do think these are some of the best things you can go do! You can also see many of these experiences in the newest cinematic travel video from my trip to the Azores!
Okay now for the list!
Number 1: Lava tubes!
If you have never been inside a lava tube, I’d highly recommend making this one of your things to do in the Azores. There was a lava tube tour on Sao Miguel; however, we went on one in Pico Island called Gruta das Torres with TriPix Azores. If you are claustrophobic or afraid of the dark, skip this one, but to be inside of a cave system created by the flow of lava was terrific. Some of the world’s most unique, oldest, and unknown bacteria only exist in the Azores’ lava tubes, and such, there are strict rules about touching the tunnels. Also, the tubes’ conditions are so otherworldly that different science organizations conduct experiments to see how things will react in these conditions. The craziest thing about the experience was the moment when our guide had everyone turn off their flashlights and stay quiet. With no light coming in being so deep in the cave system and no wind, it was like a sensory deprivation experience, the only sound being each other’s breathing. Nothing like I’ve ever experienced before.
Number 2: Whale watching!
I’ve talked about this on the blog and Instagram, but the Azores are known as one of the world’s cetacean capitols. Over 20 species of aquatic mammals travel these waters throughout the year, and there is always a chance to see one of these fantastic creatures. I hear that whale watching tours from Pico Island are the best; however, we went from Sao Miguel, using Picos de Aventura. It was a 30-40 minute boat ride (I think I fell asleep somewhere between leaving and arriving at the whales) to get to where the whales were. The way that companies spot whales is an old whaling technique from the Azores past, which you can learn more about in my blog post about Ponta Delgada. Once we arrived, it was amazing seeing these massive Sperm whales breach the surface, dive, and repeat. We didn’t see any other whales that trip but check calendars if there are specific ones you’d like to see!
Number 3: Outdoor Exercise!
There are so many ways to explore the Azores! From hiking to biking, to doing crazy things like coasteering! The Azores formed from volcanoes has many crater-made lakes or Lagoa in Portuguese. These lagoas are some of the most picturesque bodies of water I’ve ever seen. And if you enjoy hiking, many of these lagoas have trails either to scenic viewpoints (like Sete Cidades) or around the perimeter (at the beautiful Lagoa do Fogo). My trip with Harmony Trails took us to both of these amazing sights, so check them out if you’re interested!
Another fantastic way we explored the Azores was by taking a coasteering trip. Coasteering, most popular in the UK, is an activity where one scrambles across rocky coastlines, swims from bluff to bluff and jumps into the coastal water! Coasteering was one of the most fun things to do in the Azores, and with our guides at Azorean Active Blueberry, it was incredibly safe! If you are on Sao Miguel, I highly recommend trying this activity in the Azores’ beautifully blue waters or trying their other excursion, Canyoneering! More info is on their website!
Number 4: Hot springs!
Remember how I said the Azores were formed from volcanos? It also has natural formations called fumaroles, where hot sulfurous gas comes up the earth’s surface. The fumaroles create an excellent environment for hot springs! On Sao Miguel, there are quite a few hot springs that we visited, including the Furnas’ orange springs! These massive hot springs are a great way to relax after a long day of hiking, and if you’re hungry, you can buy food that is cooked by the natural heat of the fumaroles! It is one of the only places in the world that an entire restaurant cooks food this way for its patrons. The other springs on Sao Miguel that we visited were; Ponta Da Ferraria, which is actually on the coast, so a mixture of cold ocean water and hot spring coexist in the same pool. And Caldeira Velha, where various springs at different elevations have different temperatures and a beautiful waterfall to cool down, is accessible.
Number 5: The Cuisine!
The final thing you need to experience when in the Azores is the fantastic cuisine. I’ve dedicated a whole blog post, and I have even made a few recipes inspired by the food from there. But what is also very unique is the way food is grown, harvested, and prepared. From the hot spring prepared food, some of the world’s best dairy products, Europe’s only tea plantation, grapes that are grown on the side of the volcanic terrain, and even coffee and pineapples are cultivated and produced in these fertile islands. Whichever island you decide to visit, be sure to find a way to experience and taste one of these notable aspects of Azorean food and, of course, try the fresh seafood straight from the Atlantic Ocean.
And like I said, there are so many novel ways to experience the Azores. I wish I had had the chance to go to Sao Jorge and the other islands, but hopefully, another trip will be in store soon to make my second top 5 things to do in the Azores. None of the companies I talked about paid me for my review; this is unbiased praise! Full disclosure, I did some video and photo work for some of them, but in no way impacted my review!
Hope you enjoyed, and as always, DFTBA