I, guest author Lillian, visited the Azores and in this article I’ll will tell you what you definitely need to do or see when you are in the Azores.
1. Visit a tea plantation
São Miguel is the only place in Europe where tea is grown on a commercial basis. Chá Gorreana is the oldest and most famous tea plantation. Another option is to visit the tea plantation of Porto Formoso. There are different hiking trails between the tea fields which have typical views such as tea plantations in Asia. Tea plantation Chá Gorreana has a museum where you can try the tea. If you like it, you can buy it in the (local) store.
2. Swim in hot spring water
How often can you swim in a hot spring? In the Azores there are several places where you can swim in a hot spring. The water is heated by the hot vapors from the earth. The minerals are very healthy and the temperature is pleasant for your body. In some places it comes out of the ground boiling, so be careful! You can’t swim everywhere in the hot water.
Is a botanical garden and one of the many places where you can swim in hot spring water. There are showers and changing cubicles are available. Please note that the water here has an iron color, this color will remain behind in your swimming clothes, throw it away after swimming. The entrance to the bath, the two hot tubs and the botanical garden costs €6,00 per person (October 2019).
Caldeira Vehla waterfall
In the middle of a nature reserve you’ll find Caldeira Velha. The various hot water springs have different temperatures. Entrance costs you €6,00 per person (October 2019).
Poça da Dona Beija
In the hot spring center of Furnas you’ll find Poça da Dona Beija. This is one of the more luxurious hot springs. The temperature is 39 degrees, with different depths. There is a bath to cool down, which is 26 degrees. Locals mainly come here in the evening when the sun is down. Entrance is €6,00 per person (October 2019).
3. Whale and dolphin watching
How often is it possible to watch whales!? You should take your chance and go on a whale watch trip! In the summer season you have bigger choice in various boats, off season they often go by zodiac boat, which is less comfortable. It is a fantastic experience but keep in mind that nature stays nature, it’s possible that you don’t see any whale during the spotting. Bigger chance is that you’re spotting dolphins, in the oceans around the Azores are a lot of species. The spotting of different animals and species depends on the season. The price of a whale watch trip is around €65,00 per person.
The Azores is a loved destination by hikers! There are many different routes, varying in difficulty and duration. There are walking routes that last 1.5 hours and there are routes that last 12 hours, so a lot of diversity and something for everyone! With the hikingtrail app you can see different hiking routes, and you won’t get lost.
I walked around Lagoa Verde, a beautiful hiking trail which will take about 1.5 hours. Be aware that this hiking trail can be slippery because of the humidity.
Around Lagoa do Fogo there are different walking trails. My boyfriend and I walked a trail and missed one sign and we accidentally got into a different hiking route. It was a warm day and a farmer picked us up and showed us around and dropped us somewhere further in the hiking trail, you can call it quite an experience. The hikingtrail app would then offer a solution.
At Faial you can walk around Caldeira, this is about 2 hour hiking. But there is also a trail from Vulcão dos Capelinhos to Horta which is about 12 hour hiking. Depending on how long you want to walk and how difficult you also can walk parts of it.
Enough to hike at the Azores, so don’t forgot to bring your walking shoes!
5. Climb mount Pico
Pico is the highest mountain in Portugal. It’s a hike which will take from the visitors center about 3 hours to get to the top and 4 hours to get back down. When you’re at the top you’ll have a fantastic view when the sky is clear. If you’re lucky you can see all of the islands of the archipelago.
You can also try to get up Pico da Vara, the highest point of São Miguel when you’re only visiting this island.
6.Visit the pineapple plantation
At pineapple plantation “Ananases A Arruda” they grow pineapples. The Azorean pineapples are unique because they are grown in whitewashed greenhouses with the “hot-bed” method. It takes about 18 to 24 months to eat the pineapple. Next to the plantation there is a store with souvenirs and A. Arruda Pineapple Liqueur which you can taste for free.
7. Swim in a piscina natural
Typical Azorean way for cooling down is to swim in a piscina natural. Most of the piscina natural are for free, some have facilities to change clothes, toilets or a lifeguard and others don’t have any of those. Be aware that the sea can be rough and that it is dangerous to swim when there are high waves.
At São Miguel you can swim at Caloura Agua de Pau this piscina doesn’t have facilities to change clothes. The swimming pool is latterly in the sea, so be careful with high waves. If you prefer toilets, showers and a lifeguard you can swim at “Piscina Natural Da Boca de Ribeira” in Ribeira Grande. This piscina has two swimming pools with salt water and the option to swim in the sea as well. I can recommend this place. There are options to rent a beach bed and the entrance is just 2,00 per person.
At Faial there is “Piscinas Naturais do Varadouro” which is a nice swimming pool next to the sea. The piscina is naturally decorated by lava and stones. This place is perfect if you like snorkeling.
At Pico there is “Piscina Natural Lajes do Pico” which is very basic and has no lifeguard, flags or toilets. There is also “Piscina Naturais São Roque also a basic piscina which have a small bar where you can buy a drink.
8. Picknick or BBQ
All of the Azorean islands have viewing points where you can watch the great view. Some have seats and some even have barbeques. So if you’re hungry go to the store and buy some food and eat it at one of the “Miradouro” viewingpoints! Oh and be kind for the nature, don’t leave your waste!
9. Eat Cozido
When you’re at São Miguel island you definitely need to eat Cozido. This is a mix of meat and vegetables which are cooked in the boiling volcano craters. The most popular place to eat this dish is “Tony’s” in Furnas. If I need to be honest I don’t really like this dish, it tastes exactly the same as how it smells… I would recommend to order one plate of it when you’re with 2 persons and choose another meal so you can share.
10. Visit a cave
The largest cave is the “Gruta das Torres” at Pico which is a lava cave of 5 kilometers long. The entrance for this cave with included tour is €8,00 and is definitive worth the money. Bring your walking shoes, it can be slippery!
A very cool hidden cave can also be find at Pico island. The “Furna de Frei Matias” is a hidden cave where you have to search for. There are two entrances, but it is totally for free.
At São Miguel there is the volcano cave “Grutas de São Miguel” I didn’t go there but if you’re not visiting Pico this can be an option to visit.