Azores Travel Guide
Azores Local History
This island chain is one of the most isolated in the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is divided into three groups of islands. The first (Eastern Group) includes Santa Maria, with sandy beaches and green hills, and São Miguel, where the most important economic center of this Autonomous Region, the city of Ponta Delgada, is situated. The central group, five islands (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial) offer the visitor a variety of interesting sights, from the hot steaming geysers in Terceira to the volcanic peak in the island of Pico, and the well known yachting port of the city of Horta, in Faial.
The last (Western) group includes the more remote islands of Flores (whose name comes from the variety of flowers growing in a mountainous scenery) and Corvo, the smallest island, on top of a marine volcano with calm lakes and a green crater. Historically, the Portuguese came to the area in 1427 when the islands Santa Maria and São Miguel were discovered.
The archipelago became an important waypoint on the main routes between Europe, the Orient and America during 16th and 17th centuries, due to its strategic geographic position. This period saw major naval battles around the Azores, while the islands were set upon by pirates.
Subsequent centuries saw the development of the islands, introduction of a new agriculture and the development of cattle breeding and fishing. In Azores, life still goes on at an unhurried pace and Nature offers its best, the two main ingredients for some relaxed holidays.
Whale watching in Azores - Whale watching is an experience that you might only get once in your lifetime and it promises to be an unforgetful one. On Azores there plenty opportunities to experience this. Several companies arrange excursions out to the open ocean. The price per person is about 50 EUR. The excursion lasts about 3 to 4 hours, and the big inflatable boats or fishing boats carry about 8-14 people. Some companies arrange a talk before the excursion, informing you about the lives of the whales around the Azores Islands. The companies are situated Pico, Faial Sao Miguel and Santa Maria. The best excursions are from Pico and Faial. On these excursions all possible precaution are taken not to disturbing the whales, and other animals you may meet. It is important to reservations at least 8 days in advance. There are whale related museums on Pico and Faial.
Azores bullfighting - Terceira, (with a few other islands ), is well known for bullfight by the rope (Touradas á corda). This special event is unique to Azores, and has been practiced since the 16th century. From May to October there are about 250 of these bullfighting events in Azores. The bull is let loose with a very long rope around its neck, usually in the main road in a small village. This signal, of a rocket being launched, indicate that there is a bull on the street, and the game is ready to begin.
The bull is guided by several experienced men, keeping a grip at the rope. The whole idea is that the local young men must try to get as close to the bull as they dare. Although it can be amusing it is very dangerous. After a while the bull is taken back to the wooden box as it arrived in, and another rocket will be launched, announcing a break in the game. Now everyone move around, have something to eat and drink. This outstanding local event, gathers many people, local and visitors. As a tourist you should arrive early to find a secure place with a good view. There are usually 3 to 4 bulls in every event. To find out where and when this event takes place, ask the tourist office or at the local bar.
Caldeira das Sete Cidades ("Cauldron of the Seven Cities") - Ponta del Gada. This giant volcanic crater with a 12 kilometer (7 miles) circumference and sheer walls rises above several lakes. The most beautiful of these are the Blue and Green lakes with tranquil waters framed by hydrangeas.
Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz - Angra do Heroísmo on the Island of Terceira. This eroded crater, the largest in Azores, has Furnas do Enxofre (sulphur), hot steaming geysers where the vapours are transformed into colourful formations.
Furna do Enxofre - Angra do Heroismo on the Island Terceira. This is the main attraction of the Island. Visitors go down into the bowels of a volcanic crater, with a huge cave and sulphurous lake at the bottom.
A Lota Restaurant A nice small restaurant nearby a fishing harbour. Very nice food, very nice service with very nice people attending. You just can not miss going to the Azores Islands and you must not miss this restaurant. It made my trip to the azores memorable.
submitted by Adele Roberts, 14/11/08
A Lota restaurante Lots of sense appealing.
Good food, good feeling.
submitted by Charlie, 09/09/06
Terra Nostra, Furnas, Sao Miguel Do make the effort to go to the botanical gardens in Furnas, better yet stay at the attached Terra Nostra hotel and benefit from the longer park opening hours. These gardens contain a fascinating array of plants and animals, but remember to make time for the spring-fed pool, be assured this warm mustard coloured water has a fantastic effect on your skin.
submitted by Kirstin Barnett, 10/10/05
Hydropolis, Furnas, Sao Miguel This is one of the world's few hydropolises, an are where a variety of different waters rise in the same location. There are not only the normal hot mud springs bubbling away there are also copper coloured. Get everyone involved and taste all the different waters. Some are a little like drinking rusty water, some are hot and a couple are even fizzy!
submitted by Kirstin Barnett, 10/10/05
Porto Pim, Horta, Faial Porto Pim, the site of Horta's old harbour is a fantastic place to swim. If you are feeling particularly Portguese head down in the evening when the bay is busy with all the local families. The water here is warm and the beach very gently shelving, perfect for children. Most importantly head to this beach if there has been bad weather recently as the surf at other locations may contain jelly fish tentacles.
submitted by Kirstin Barnett, 10/10/05
Azores Parks & Gardens
Walks - Walking in the unspoiled nature is a must while visiting Azores. On all the islands you will find marked trails which are easy to follow. Before starting out one these wonderful walks, buy the book " Percursos Naturais - Nature Walks " at the tourist Office or at the local bookstore on Azores. It contains detailed descriptions and maps covering the trails. Don't leave without a map covering the area in detail, at least 1:75.000.
Apart from very few places on Santa Maria, Faial, Terceira and São Miguel, the coastline is all made from lava. Although these fantasy formations are beautiful to watch it also means a lack of long white sandy beaches. At some places locals have build natural pools with the use of only minimal concrete.
Azores Restaurants and Bars
Hocus-Pocus - Aldeamento Turístico Aldeia da Fonte - 9930-177, Lajes do Pico, Tel (292) 672 777. Average meal: 15.00 EUR. Open every day.
Restaurante Torre do Pópulo - Edifício Pópulo, 7º - São Roque - 9500-609 Ponta Delgada, Tel (296) 642 723. Average meal: 25.00 EUR. Closed on Tuesdays.
Quinta do Martelo - Canada do Martelo, 24 - São Mateus da Calheta - 9700-576 Angra do Heroísmo, Tel (295) 642 842. Average meal: 14.00 EUR. Closed on Wednesdays.
Marcelino´s - Rua Conde L. Menezes, 6 - 9760-439 Praia da Vitória, Tel (29) 542 010. Average meal: 15.00 EUR. Open every day.
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