About 950 miles west of Lisbon lies the stunning archipelago of the Azores. It is a conglomerate of nine volcanic islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Often described as the tips of the lost continent of Atlantis, the islands have an Old World charm around them that cannot be found anywhere else in Europe. It seems as if Mother Nature has brought together nine worlds that share the same spirit of universal friendship. These nine volcanic islands are located about 1500 kilometres from the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula. The residents of Azores speak a variety of Portuguese that is very similar to the standard European Portuguese. Spread along a south-east – north- east strip, the Azores is home to about 246,746 people according to the 2011 Census.
Brought together in an archipelago, each Azorean island is different from the other. Be it the landscape, traditions, cuisine or architecture, there are no appropriate words to describe the majesty of these nine charismatic islands. Agriculture, fishing, ranching, livestock and diary farming are the chief means of livelihood for the Azoreans. Azores has a mild climate. The Koppen climate classification calls it the ‘dry summer subtropical’, commonly known as ‘Mediterranean’. The summer is warm and sunny and they do not receive frequent rainfalls. The Azores High, named after the islands have the highest atmospheric pressure in the region. This uninhabited region of the early 15th century is today packed with Portuguese settlers from Algarve, Alentejo and Minho. The Azores has been an autonomous region within the Portuguese Republic since the 70’s and has an independent government and legislature.
Santa Maria, Sao Miguel, Terceira, Graciosa, Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Flores, and Corvo are the nine islands that make the archipelago of the Azores. Santa Maria offers excellent water sports facilities. The Nossa Senhora dos Anjos Chapel where the Colombus’ crew prayed is also locate in this island. The largest among the nine islands, Sao Miguel offers the best visual treat to one’s eye. Filled with the traditions and culture of the Azores of the past, we can take a walk down the memory lane. The Terceira Island is famous for its forts, palaces and cathedrals. Angra do Heroismo, the historic centre of its capital has also found a place in the UNESCO International Heritage List. Graciosa on the other hand is the land of ancient streets and manor houses.
Horta, a famous yacht harbour of the Faial Island offers the best view of the beautiful tiles and carvings of the 17th century churches and cathedrals. The Sacred Art Museum, the Caldeira Natural Reserve and the caves Costa de Feteira are other interesting tourist destinations of Faial. The 7713ft high volcanic cone gave the Pico Island its name. The island is a must watch! The fishing town of Velas is the main town of the island of Sao Jorge. It is also one of the island of the ‘triangulo’ which also includes Faial and Pico. The Ribeira Grande Waterfall and the Lagoas (a conglomerate of seven lakes surrounded by flowers) are the major attractions in Flores. The smallest and the peaceful among all the nine islands is Corvo. The narrow cobblestoned streets in Vila do Corvo is incredibly amazing. Caldeirao, a street in Corvo is also famous for its two lakes that has nine small islands in them, like the archipelago.
The chief mode of transportation to these nine islands is via airways. Flights are available on a daily basis too. All the islands also have a different airfield thereby making it easy for the tourists. You can also take the inter island flights and ferries to travel between the islands of Azores. The Azores is also famous for its marine transport. The sea was the chief means of trade and communication during the 17- 18th centuries. From small shipping boats, today the shipbuilding industry has had a massive growth and even run large passenger services. Travel packages are also made available by The Azores Tourism Board. Once you arrive, rental cars, buses and taxi services can availed in almost all the islands. To have unlimited fun during your journey to the archipelago, planning is an important factor. The free guidebooks one gets at the airports and lodgings are always helpful.
Stay at Azores is an experience one could cherish for a lifetime. From self catering restaurants to boutique style hotels, Azores has a wide range of accommodation to offer to its visitors. We get to spend quality time with family and at the same time experience the beauty of traditional rural houses. The Azores Archipelago is also one of the first whale and dolphin watching sites in the world. From island exploration walks and sightseeing tours, the archipelago also offers its adventurous visitors challenging sports like mountain biking, trekking, kayaking and parachuting. It is also one of the most sought after golfing destination. Azores is indeed the seat of both beauty and adventure.
Visiting the Azores is an incredible experience. The way the nine islands carry themselves can make one lovestruck that one couldn’t resist that inner urge to visit the place another time or maybe more. The Azores is also the perfect honeymoon destination. It also stands out as a famous tourist attraction that respects environmental and socio- cultural values. This Portuguese archipelago is one of “the few unspoilt paradises on the planet”.