15 Incredible Places to Visit in the Azores, Portugal
No matter how many times I visit the Azores, I can never get enough. Since 2015, the year I visited São Miguel Island for the first time, I have returned to the Azorean islands at least 5 more times, having now visited all the 9 islands. The question “What is your favourite Azorean island?” is still not an easy one to answer.
In each and every island I discovered something unique: Terceira Island, known as the “festival island”; Flores Island and its unbelievable natural sceneries; Faial Island and the almost esoteric atmosphere of the Capelinhos Volcano; Pico Island and the highest mountain in Portugal; Santa Maria Island and its white sand beaches and crystal clear water; Graciosa Island and its simple beauty and peaceful environment; São Jorge Island and the magnificent “Fajãs”; Corvo Island and its peaceful environment and, finally, São Miguel Island, which brings together the best of all its sister islands.
In this article I’ll show you 15 incredible places to visit in the Azores, so that you make your next trip to Portugal a perfect one.
1. Poça Simão Dias (São Jorge Island)
Located in Fajã do Ouvidor, on São Jorge Island, Poça Simão Dias is one of the most fascinating natural pools in the Azores. The contrast of the surrounding black volcanic rocks and the crystal clear blue waters is one of the features that causes an immediate impact upon first sight. The path to get there, although not considered difficult, is also not the easiest, but it’s worth every step.
2. Caldeira Velha Park (São Miguel Island)
The Caldeira Velha Natural Park is located on the northern slope of the Água de Pau Mountain, in the municipality of Ribeira Grande, on the island of São Miguel. After walking along a path surrounded by dense vegetation, you will end up on a series of thermal water pools of thermal naturally heated by volcanic activity , where you can bathe.
3. Ponta da Ferraria (São Miguel Island)
Ponta da Ferraria Beach is also located in São Miguel Island. Here, you can bathe in a natural pool whose water is heated by 2 thermal springs of volcanic origin. To avoid being taken by the waves that refresh the pool, you’ll have to hold on to the ropes that go across one side to the other. This place is also known for the alleged therapeutic benefits of its waters.
4. Lajido da Criação Velha (Pico Island)
The Criação Velha Vineyards, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004, are undoubtedly one of the most incredible places to visit in the Azores. Vines have been planted here for centuries on small lots of black soil surrounded by walls of volcanic stone that protect them from the wind, following ancestral techniques.
In Lajido da Criação Velha there is also an old traditional mill extremely well preserved (Moinho do Frade), whose red colour offers an extraordinary contrast with the black and green of the surrounding black and green landscape, and an amazing view over the vineyards.
5. Gruta das Torres (Pico Island)
If the idea of visiting the largest lava tube in Portugal sounds appealing to you, then Gruta das Torres, in Pico Island, is a mandatory addition to your list of the most incredible places to visit in the Azores. Stretching over 5150m, it is estimated that its formation dates back 1500 years.
For 1 hour you’re taken on a 450m walk inside the cave, in total darkness (except for the light of the head lanterns they lend you on the way in), while admiring the traces of the lava that once passed through and gave origin to this amazing tunnel.
6. Vila Franca Islet (São Miguel Island)
Vila Franca do Campo, once the capital of São Miguel Island, is a peaceful city with a rich cultural and historical heritage. From here you can admire and access (from June to September) the Vila Franca Islet, located about 1 km from the coast, in the crater of an extinct volcano. It has been considered one of the most popular tourist attractions in São Miguel, especially since it started hosting one of the stages of the Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship .
7. Algar do Carvão (Terceira Island)
Algar do Carvão, one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, is located inside a volcanic cone about 90 meters high, in the Guilherme Moniz caldera. It was the first volcanic cavity to be open to visitors, back in 1968, as is considered one of the most impressive ones in the entire archipelago. Located at 583 meters above sea level, the Algar ends in a lagoon with crystal clear waters, fed by rainwater.
8. Serra do Cume Viewpoint (Terceira Island)
From the top of Serra do Cume, on Terceira Island, you’ll find an incredible view over the island’s rural fields, which resemble a patchwork when viewed from above. I recommend that you visit this viewpoint at sunset, for an even more magical view.
9. Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro (Flores Island)
The Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro (also known as Alagoinha), in Flores island, is a magical and peaceful place where dozens of waterfalls fall from the mountain slopes into a lagoon. To get there you’ll have to park your car by the road, in the car park, and walk the rest of the way. Take a good pair of walking shoes with you. The path is not really difficult, but it has many stones and pebbles, and it will take you about 15 to 20 minutes in total.
10. Caldeirão (Corvo Island)
Corvo Island is the smallest island in the archipelago of the Azores, but that definitely doesn’t take away any of its beauty and charm. Here, at Monte Gordo, you’ll find the Caldeirão, a large volcanic crater, 3400 meters wide and 300 meters deep, with a lagoon in the middle: the island’s main tourist attraction.
11. Capelinhos Volcano (Faial Island)
It’s impossible not to feel a different energy when visiting the Capelinhos Volcano, on Faial Island. This inhospitable area was originated from the eruption of the Volcano that took place between 1957 and 1958.
To visit is to discover an extensive black soiled stretch of land, with a lighthouse that stayed behind as a witness of pre-eruption times. It is one of the places that I was most fascinated by, so I just had to add it to this list of incredible places to visit in the Azores.
12. Formosa Beach (Santa Maria Island)
When I thought dark sand beaches was all I would find in the Azores, here comes Formosa Beach, on the island of Santa Maria. With white sand and clear, mild waters, there’s no way not to consider this beach as one of the most incredible places to visit in the Azores. In August you can also attend the Music Festival “Maré de Agosto“, held here every year, featuring some of the biggest names in World Music.
13. Sete Cidades Lagoon (São Miguel Island)
You’ll find dozens of volcanic lagoons in São Miguel, but for me, the most beautiful one is Sete Cidades Lagoon. Located at the top of the Caldeira das Sete Cidades, this freshwater lake stretches over 4.3 km at a depth of 33 meters. Despite being technically just one lagoon, its waters have different colours, which has divided it into Green Lagoon and Blue Lagoon.
14. Pico Mountain (Pico Island)
Pico Mountain is, undoubtedly, the biggest tourist attraction on Pico Island. The ascent (and descent) to the top of the mountain attracts thousands of visitors each year who go there either moved by the need to test their limits, or by the thought of having a unique experience, watching the sunrise in a really special place.
15. Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo (São Jorge Island)
The Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo was the place I most enjoyed visiting on the island of São Jorge. I recommend the trek starting at Serra do Topo, which offers unparalleled views and a unique experience for all nature lovers. At the bottom, the ocean offers supreme conditions for water sports and the lagoon is the habitat of its famous and delicious clams.
So, what do you thing? Were these suggestions enough to dream about visiting the Azores? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Just leave them on the comments section below!