The Azores

The Azores: a hidden gem of Europe (part 1)

When you’re telling people that you’re (thinking about) going to the Azores, most people will ask: “Where is it exactly located?” Or you will ask yourself the same question right now :-).

The Azores is an archipelago situated in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The distance between the Azores and the mainland of Europe is about 1370 km and the mainland of the American Continent is about 2340 km. It is an autonomic region which belongs to Portugal. In total there are 17 islands, but only 9 are inhabited. During the year, the temperature varies between 14 and 25 degrees Celsius, the seawater varies between 16 and 22 degrees and the warmest month is August.

I, guest author Lillian, visited the Azores and in three articles I’ll tell you about practical information, where to eat, sleep and what you must do when you’re visiting the Azores. In this first – out of three – article I’ll will give some tips and information based on my own experiences.

Sete Cidades, São Miguel

Plan your trip!

Normally when I travel, I like to just go somewhere and see what will happen. But before you will go to the Azores I think it’s necessary to plan your trip. I’ll tell where you should think about and explain why.

Think about when you want to go

Although the Azores has a comfortable climate and weather during the whole year, the best time to visit the Azores is between May and September. During the rest of the year there are less range of excursions. The Azores don’t really know a touristic season, although the most tourists visit the archipelago in July and August.

Together with my boyfriend Bas I visited the Azores for two weeks from September 21st to October 5th 2019. We choose this season, because the weather is still good, the most tourists are traveling in August and it’s cheaper to travel outside touristic season.

Vulcão dos Capelinhos, Faial

Think about which island(s) you want to visit

The Azores has 9 inhabited islands, it’s important to think about how much time you have to visit the Azores. Plan your trip based on how much time you have and what you want to see. Do you want to visit one island, then the planning is maybe less necessary than when you want to visit more than one island, especially when you have limited time. When you’re hopping between the different islands, it is important to know how you will travel between the islands. Some islands are easy to combine within one trip.

My boyfriend and I wanted to see as much as possible islands in those two weeks. Direct flights from Amsterdam were going to São Miguel and Terceira. So we checked the different islands on activities, things to see and to do and connections with the other islands. That made us decide to visit 3 islands (São Miguel, Faial and Pico) with an option to visit São Jorge in case we have time left.

Nordeste, São Miguel

Think about how long you will spend on the (different) island(s)

It’s good to think about how long you will stay at the different islands and what there is to see. Everyone has their own way of planning and organizing a vacation. But of course you don’t want to get bored, it is important that you know in advance what you want to see and do. Therefore you can, if necessary, schedule an extra day, to be sure that you have been able to see/do everything.

We had a late arrival and stayed four full days on the east side of São Miguel. Than departed in the late morning on September 26th to go to Faial island. Stayed one full day on Faial island to take the ferry September 28th in the late morning to Pico island. We stayed two full days on Pico island to depart in the morning back to São Miguel, but because of hurricane Lorenzo our flight was rescheduled in the afternoon. At October the 1st we had a late arrival again (which was not as planned) and stayed three full days in the capital of São Miguel island before we went back to Amsterdam in the evening on October 5th. If you only want to visit São Miguel, I would say 7-8 days are enough to see everything.

Vila Franca do Campo, São Miguel

Think about where you will sleep

When you decide to visit the Azores during the summer months July and August it can be hard to find a good place to sleep, because there aren’t unlimited hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts or Airbnb places. Especially at the small islands the places to sleep are limited, so be aware of that! It’s good to plan your trip and include the places where to sleep.

We slept at Airbnb places we picked based on the reviews. If you prefer to sleep in a hotel, be aware that there are limited options when you want to stay outside the capitals.

In my next article I’ll give advice about traveling around and between islands, where to sleep, where to eat and how long you will spend on the different islands based on my own experiences.

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