Best Things to Do in the Azores: 12 Coolest Places to Visit

by Jen
Best Things to Do in the Azores
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Are you contemplating a European getaway this year? Here are some of the most captivating, picturesque, and unique things to do in the Azores. These sights, events, and attractions are sure to make for a truly memorable vacation experience that you will be talking about for years.

Famed for its rich volcanic landscapes, the Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal, and therefore, boasts a vibrant cultural heritage. However, what really makes this archipelago an essential addition to any European travel itinerary is its affinity for adventure. There’s a wide variety of things to do in the Azores for thrill-seeking visitors to participate in.

From São Miguel to Pico, from the stunning crater lakes to the breathtaking volcanic peaks, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit in the Azores. There really is something for everyone. That, of course, makes it all the more important for you to know which places are best suited for your particular interests. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorite Azores attractions. Check it out! Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in the Azores.

The top places to visit in the Azores right now
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Best Places to Visit in the Azores

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in the Azores? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this magnificent vacation paradise. So read on to discover all these unique Azores places to visit.

Are you looking for some exhilarating fun and adventure? Or would you prefer a calm, peaceful and secluded getaway? Whatever you’re planning, the Azores can accommodate your desires. With a wealth of stunning natural beauty, there are countless Azores attractions that will appeal to nature lovers, thrill-seekers, photography enthusiasts, and even those who are simply looking for respite. Here’s all the best attractions in the Azores that you should know about.

1. Terra Nostra Gardens

If you’re looking for the best things to do in the Azores, the Terra Nostra Gardens in Furnas is a must-visit. This enchanting garden oasis spans over 31 acres and dates back to 1775. It’s a place where you can lose yourself in the beauty of nature. You’ll be surrounded by a diverse array of flowers, vines, and trees. The garden is a testament to centuries of careful cultivation and improvement, making it a living piece of history.

But the real highlight of Terra Nostra Gardens is its geothermal pool. Don’t be put off by its unusual golden-yellow color. This hue is a result of the iron-rich mineral deposits in the water, which are believed to have healing properties. So, after a day of exploring the garden, you can soak in the warm waters and let the natural minerals work their magic. Just remember to wear a dark-colored bathing suit, as the iron in the water can stain light-colored fabrics.

The Terra Nostra Gardens is a place where you can connect with nature and soak in the rich history of the Azores. You can also experience the healing power of its geothermal waters. It’s truly one of the best places to go in the Azores.

So, if you’re wondering where to go in the Azores, make sure to put Terra Nostra Gardens on your list. It’s a place that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Terra Nostra Gardens in Furnas is a captivating 31-acre oasis since 1775, boasting diverse flora and centuries of history.
Terra Nostra Gardens in Furnas is a captivating 31-acre oasis since 1775, boasting diverse flora and centuries of history.

2. The Natural Ocean Bath at Ferraria

Looking for unique things to do in the Azores? You can’t miss the natural ocean bath at Ferraria. This geothermal wonder is a testament to the island’s volcanic origins, where hot thermal waters from the ground mix with the ocean tide. This creates a bathwater feel that changes slightly and pleasantly with each ebb and flow. The smooth ocean rocks and the gentle but incessant tug of the current remind you that you’re in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, even though the water temperature feels like a bathtub!

The Ferraria experience is a natural and free phenomenon, but it requires careful planning. The hours right before and right after low tide are perfect: too close to low tide and the water can get way too hot, too close to high tide and the water will be Atlantic-cold and the water level too high to enjoy safely.

The Azores are a place of wonder and beauty, and Ferraria is a testament to that. It’s about the connection to nature, the sense of adventure, and the sheer joy of discovering something new and exciting. So, if you’re wondering where to visit in the Azores, make sure Ferraria is on your list. It’s one of the top places to visit in the Azores where you can relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with nature in a way that’s truly unique.

Natural Ocean Bath at Ferraria is one of the best things to do in the Azores.
Ferraria’s geothermal ocean bath blends volcanic warmth with Atlantic currents for a distinct, soothing dip.

3. São Miguel Island

This is one of the best things to do in the Azores, hands down. São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores, is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers. With its diverse landscapes, ranging from lush green pastures to volcanic craters filled with turquoise lakes, São Miguel offers an array of unique experiences that make it one of the best places to go in the Azores.

Start your journey at Terra Nostra Gardens, a beautifully landscaped oasis dating back to 1775. Here, you can soak in the iron-rich yellow waters of the thermal pool, which are known for their healing properties. Don’t be put off by the pool’s golden-yellow color; it’s due to the iron-rich mineral deposits in the water.

Next, head to the stunning Lagoa do Congro, a tranquil green lake surrounded by a lush forest. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but the serene atmosphere and the lake’s mesmerizing color make it worth the visit.

Finally, visit the town of Furnas, known for its geothermal activity. Here, you can see the abandoned chapel at Furnas Lake, stroll around the lake’s perimeter, and even laugh at the quirky Casa Invertida, an electrical power station designed to look like an upturned house.

This is one of the best places to go in the Azores that connects you with the island’s natural beauty and unique character. So, pack your sense of adventure and get ready to explore São Miguel, a gem in the heart of the Atlantic. There’s so much to see at São Miguel, that it’s no wonder this is among the most fun things to do in the Azores.

São Miguel is a nature lover's and adventurer's paradise with diverse landscapes and unique experiences.
São Miguel is a nature lover’s and adventurer’s paradise with diverse landscapes and unique experiences.

4. Whale and Dolphin Watching in Ponta Delgada

Attractions in the Azores come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! If you’re an animal lover or simply enjoy the thrill of spotting majestic creatures in their natural habitat, then whale and dolphin watching in Ponta Delgada is a must-do activity in the Azores. The Azores are renowned as one of the best places in the world to spot whales, with blue whales, sperm whales, spotted dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins all frequenting the waters around the islands.

The peak season for whale watching runs from April to October. During this time, marine mammals make their annual migrations past the Azores. Ethical operators ensure that the animals are not chased and that internationally-recognized guidelines are adhered to. While breaching (when a whale ‘flops’ on its back acrobatically through the air) is rather rare, the sight of spouting and tails as they make their dives is a spectacle in itself.

The journey out to sea also provides an opportunity to appreciate the stunning Azorean coastline from a unique perspective. So, A seasoned whale watcher or a first-timer? This experience is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. It will also deepen your appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

The Azores are a gateway to an underwater world teeming with life. Whale and dolphin watching in Ponta Delgada is one of the most unique things to do in the Azores. It guarantees an adventure that combines excitement, beauty, and a touch of the wild. This is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Witness majestic blue whales, sperm whales, and dolphins in their natural habitat through whale and dolphin watching in Ponta Delgada.
Witness majestic blue whales, sperm whales, and dolphins in their natural habitat through whale and dolphin watching in Ponta Delgada.

5. The Enchanting Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort

Experience Macaronesia in style at this unique place to visit in the Azores that offers a blend of luxury, nature, and tranquility. The Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort is a 4-star resort, nestled amidst the rugged Atlantic surroundings, offers an unforgettable experience. The resort’s design is rustic yet elegant, with wooden walls, floors, and ceilings that seamlessly blend with the natural topography of the hills.

Each of the 14 villas offers a breathtaking view of the city, mountain, or sea. The villas are divided by concrete walls and each has a huge sliding window that also serves as its main door. They have private tubs where you can soak and relax after a day of exploring the Azores. Some villas even feature an outdoor Jacuzzi.

The outdoor infinity pool is simple yet elegant. The deck is a perfect spot to watch seabirds flying or to simply enjoy the sea breeze. The resort’s staff is known for their outstanding service, making your stay even more enjoyable.

The Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort offers a nostalgic feeling of living in the countryside, while still providing world-class service. It’s one of the coolest Azores things to do for the most discerning tourists.

Discover luxury and nature at the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort: An elegant 4-star escape seamlessly integrated with the Atlantic landscape.
Discover luxury and nature at the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort: An elegant 4-star escape seamlessly integrated with the Atlantic landscape.

6. The Unique Pineapple Plantation at Plantação A Arrudas

If you’re wondering what to do in the Azores, consider a visit to Plantação A Arrudas, a unique pineapple plantation. This isn’t your typical tropical fruit farm; it’s the only place in Europe where these delicious fruits are grown. The Azorean pineapples are distinctive in taste, far sweeter and more concentrated than their larger counterparts due to their smaller and more compact size.

The plantation is conveniently located just outside of Ponta Delgada, making it an easy visit for tourists. The entrance is free, but the gift shop is a treasure trove of pineapple-themed goodies. From pineapple toffee to pineapple liqueur, it’s hard to leave without a bag full of treats.

Visiting Plantação A Arrudas is not just about the pineapples; it’s about understanding the unique agricultural practices of the Azores. The plantation offers a glimpse into the island’s innovative farming techniques. These have been adapted to the region’s unique climate and soil conditions.

So, if you’re looking for unique places in the Azores to visit, don’t miss out on Plantação A Arrudas. It’s a testament to the island’s agricultural ingenuity and a chance to taste some of the sweetest pineapples you’ll ever find. It also offers a unique insight into the local culture and way of life. This makes it one of the most fun things to do in the Azores.

Visit Plantação A Arrudas: Europe's sole pineapple plantation, producing uniquely sweet and concentrated fruits due to their compact size.
Visit Plantação A Arrudas: Europe’s sole pineapple plantation, producing uniquely sweet and concentrated fruits due to their compact size.

7. Ribeira dos Caldeirões

If you’re wondering about the best places to go in Azores, Ribeira dos Caldeirões is a must-visit. This natural park is a haven for those who love the great outdoors. Nestled on the northeastern coast of São Miguel Island, the park is a testament to the island’s volcanic origins, featuring lush vegetation and stunning waterfalls cascading down steep cliffs.

The park is easily accessible, with a parking lot just a short walk away from the main attractions. As you stroll through the park, you’ll be surrounded by azalea bushes, palm trees, and a landscape that feels like it’s straight out of a Jurassic Park movie (minus the dinosaurs, of course).

The highlight of the park is undoubtedly the waterfalls. The sight of water cascading down the cliffs, surrounded by lush greenery, is a sight to behold. The largest waterfall is just outside the entrance to the park, and it’s a sight you won’t want to miss.

The park is also a place to learn about the Azores’ history. It is home to several old water mills, a testament to the island’s agricultural past. Some of these mills have been restored and are now open to the public. So, if you’re looking for unique things to do in the Azores, make sure to add Ribeira dos Caldeirões to your list.

Ribeira dos Caldeirões is one of the best things to do in the Azores.
Ribeira dos Caldeirões is a natural park with lush vegetation, stunning waterfalls, and volcanic origins on São Miguel Island.

8. The Black Sand Beaches of Mosteiro

As far as things to do in the Azores go, this activity is among the coolest! The Azores, a group of volcanic islands, are renowned for their unique black sand beaches. The result of lava rock breaking apart over time, these beaches offer a distinctive and mesmerizing experience. One of the best places to indulge in this black sand bliss is Mosteiro, located just outside of Sete Cidades. The sand here is incredibly fine, and the view of the sea stacks in the distance adds a touch of magic to the already stunning landscape.

But the allure of Mosteiro doesn’t end at the beach. The town is also home to the Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado, a viewpoint that offers a breathtaking look over the sea stacks and the rugged coastline. This spot is often overlooked by tourists, making it a hidden gem in the Azores.

While in Mosteiro, don’t miss the chance to visit the local graveyard. It might seem unusual, but exploring graveyards in different countries can provide a unique insight into local traditions. This is particularly related to honoring the deceased. The graveyards in the Azores are particularly striking, with photos of loved ones prominently displayed and adorned with flowers, adding a personal touch to the experience.

In the Azores, you’ll find that the best places to go aren’t always the most obvious. So, if you’re wondering where to visit in the Azores, consider the black sand beaches of Mosteiro. It’s a unique place in the Azores that offers a blend of natural beauty, local culture, and tranquility. As such, this Azores attraction is one of the most popular sights in the Macaronesia region.

Discover black sand beaches like Mosteiro, where volcanic origins create a fine ebony shoreline and enchanting sea stack views.
Discover black sand beaches like Mosteiro, where volcanic origins create a fine ebony shoreline and enchanting sea stack views.

9. Lagoa do Congro

If you’re looking for a serene and tranquil experience, a visit to the stunning Lagoa do Congro is one of the best things to do in the Azores you don’t want to miss. This hidden gem is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s well worth the journey. The lake is surrounded by a lush forest, and its calm waters reflect the surrounding greenery, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

The journey to Lagoa do Congro is an adventure in itself. The road leading to the lake is a bit challenging, but the reward is a peaceful and picturesque hideaway. The hike to the lake is a short 15-minute walk through a beautiful forest. When you reach the lake, you’ll be greeted by a sight that seems straight out of a fairy tale.

The lake’s calm and still waters create a mirror-like reflection. This makes it a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts. The tranquility of the place allows you to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of the Azores in its purest form.

So, if you’re wondering where to visit in the Azores, make sure to include Lagoa do Congro in your itinerary. It’s a unique place in Azores that offers a peaceful retreat away from the usual tourist spots. With so much charm and personality, Lagoa do Congro is one of the top places to visit in the Azores.

Uncover tranquility at Lagoa do Congro: Azores' hidden gem reflecting lush forest surroundings in its serene waters.
Uncover tranquility at Lagoa do Congro: Azores’ hidden gem reflecting lush forest surroundings in its serene waters.

10. Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado

The Azores are a treasure trove of natural beauty and unique experiences. One such gem is the Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado, a viewpoint that offers a breathtaking look over the sea stacks of Mosteiro and the rugged coastline nearby.

This is one of the coolest activities in the Azores that you can indulge in. As you stand at the viewpoint, the azure blue of the Atlantic stretches out before you, punctuated by the dramatic sea stacks. The rugged coastline, with its black sand beaches and lush greenery, adds to the picture-perfect view. It’s a sight that will make you feel like you’re standing at the edge of the world. You’ll be looking out into the vast unknown.

But the Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado offers more than just a stunning view. It’s a place where you can feel the power and beauty of nature, where you can breathe in the fresh ocean air and feel the wind in your hair. It’s a place that reminds you of the grandeur of the world and your small place in it. A stop at the Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado is one of the coolest things to do in the Azores that will leave you with memories and photographs that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

In the Azores, every turn reveals a new wonder, a new sight to take your breath away. There’s always something to discover, something to make you fall in love with this beautiful archipelago all over again. So, pack your bags, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore the best places in the Azores. You’re in for a trip that you’ll never forget.

Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado is one of the best things to do in the Azores.
Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado—a viewpoint unveiling the awe-inspiring sea stacks of Mosteiro and the rugged coastal panorama.

11. The Volcanic Vineyards of Pico Island

History lovers will love this top thing to do in the Azores. If you’re wondering where to go in Azores that offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, look no further than the volcanic vineyards of Pico Island. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Azorean people, who have cultivated vines in the crevices of volcanic rock for centuries.

The landscape is a patchwork of small, rectangular plots, known as “currais,” bordered by black basalt walls that protect the vines from the salty sea winds. The result is a unique microclimate that produces distinctive, high-quality wines.

Visiting these vineyards is one of the coolest activities in the Azores for wine lovers. You can stroll through the vineyards, learn about the unique viticulture techniques used here, and of course, sample the delicious wines. The Verdelho wine, in particular, is a must-try, with its crisp, aromatic flavors that perfectly capture the essence of the island.

The vineyards also offer breathtaking views of the nearby Mount Pico, the highest peak in Portugal. So, bring your camera along to capture the stunning contrast of the lush vineyards against the backdrop of the towering volcano.

Visiting the volcanic vineyards of Pico Island are among the best things to do in the Azores. It promises a unique, immersive experience that combines nature, culture, and gastronomy. Don’t miss out on this Azores attraction when you visit!

Embrace history at Pico Island's UNESCO volcanic vineyards—a testament to Azorean resilience and cultural heritage, nestled in natural beauty.
Embrace history at Pico Island’s UNESCO volcanic vineyards—a testament to Azorean resilience and cultural heritage, nestled in natural beauty.

12. Miradouro da Boca do Inferno

Yearning for a getaway like no other? This thing to do in the Azores has got you covered: Miradouro da Boca do Inferno. This viewpoint is one of the most breathtaking places in the Azores to visit, offering a panoramic view of the Sete Cidades caldera, the blue and green lakes, and the Atlantic Ocean.

The journey to the viewpoint is an adventure in itself, as you traverse through winding roads surrounded by lush greenery. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a view that seems to have been plucked straight from a postcard. The contrast of the verdant landscape against the azure waters of the lakes is a sight to behold.

The Miradouro da Boca do Inferno is a testament to the Azores’ volcanic past. The caldera was formed due to a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, and the lakes were created as a result of rainfall over the years.

This spot is a haven for photographers and nature lovers alike. The tranquility of the place allows you to connect with nature and soak in its beauty. It’s one of those Azores attractions that you must see.

So, if you’re looking for unique things to do in the Azores, a visit to the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno should definitely be on your adventure list. It’s a place where you can witness the raw beauty of nature and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Visit Miradouro da Boca do Inferno in the Azores for a breathtaking panoramic view of Sete Cidades caldera, lakes, and the Atlantic.
Visit Miradouro da Boca do Inferno in the Azores for a breathtaking panoramic view of Sete Cidades caldera, lakes, and the Atlantic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to do in the Azores

Looking for more content on the top things to do in the Azores? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Azores:

Is there much to do in Azores?

Yes, the Azores is filled with a wide array of activities and attractions for tourists and adventurers alike. Here’s what you can do and explore in the Azores:

  1. Whale and dolphin watching: The Azores are one of the best places in the world to see whales and dolphins, with tours available almost year-round.
  2. Hot springs and geothermal pools: Visit locations like Furnas and relax in natural geothermal pools, enjoying the volcanic activity that shapes these islands.
  3. Hiking and trekking: The Azores offer numerous hiking trails, ranging from coastal paths to mountain treks, such as the trail around Sete Cidades’ volcanic craters.
  4. Water sports: From surfing and kayaking to snorkeling and scuba diving, the Azores offer a variety of water activities, thanks to their stunning coastline and clear waters.
  5. Bird watching: The islands are home to unique and rare bird species, making it a paradise for bird watchers.
  6. Local gastronomy: Experience Azorean cuisine, famous for seafood and unique dishes like cozido das furnas, cooked underground with geothermal heat.
  7. Jeep and bike tours: Explore the islands’ landscapes through various guided tours, available on jeeps or bicycles.
  8. Caving and spelunking: Explore unique volcanic caves and lava tubes such as the Algar do Carvão on Terceira Island.
  9. Golfing: The Azores offer beautiful golf courses set in picturesque locations, a perfect way to relax and enjoy the game.
  10. Gardens and parks: Visit beautiful gardens like Terra Nostra Garden, filled with exotic flora, or explore the islands’ natural parks with their unique biodiversity.

What are some of the must-see places in the Azores?

The Azores is a paradise for nature lovers. Some of the must-see places include the stunning Lagoa do Fogo, the charming city of Angra do Heroísmo, the volcanic vineyards of Pico Island, the beautiful Lagoa das Sete Cidades, and the unique Algar do Carvão.

What are some unique things to do in the Azores?

The Azores offer a plethora of unique experiences. You can explore the volcanic landscapes, visit the tea plantations, go whale and dolphin watching, or relax in the natural thermal pools.

What is the best time to visit the Azores?

The best time to visit the Azores is during the summer months (June to September) when the weather is warm and the islands are lush and green. However, the Azores have a mild climate year-round, making it a great destination any time of the year.

Vibrant summer scene in the Azores.
Vibrant summer scene in the Azores.

Are the Azores a good destination for families?

Absolutely! The Azores offer a variety of activities that are suitable for all ages, from hiking and wildlife watching to exploring historical sites and enjoying local cuisine.

How many days is enough for Azores?

The number of days required for a trip to the Azores depends on what you want to see and do. Here’s a general guideline that might help you plan:

  1. Quick getaway (3-5 Days): Ideal for a short escape, focusing on one or two islands. You can explore some of the main attractions, enjoy the natural beauty, and indulge in local cuisine. This is perfect for relaxation and enjoying a few selected activities like whale watching or visiting hot springs.
  2. A week (7 Days): A week allows you to explore 2-3 islands in more depth. You can hike, visit volcanic craters, take part in water sports, and even join guided tours. You’ll have a balance of adventure and relaxation.
  3. Two weeks (14 Days): With two weeks, you can explore 4-5 islands and immerse yourself in the unique culture and nature of the Azores. This time frame allows for a mix of planned activities and spontaneous exploration, and you’ll have the opportunity to experience the diversity of the archipelago.
  4. Three weeks or more (21+ Days): If you have the luxury of time, spending three weeks or more in the Azores enables you to visit most or all of the nine islands. You can take your time to explore each one’s unique charm, join multiple tours, try a variety of water sports, hike different trails, and truly engage with the local culture.

Remember, the Azores consist of nine distinct islands, each with its unique attractions and character. The more islands you want to visit, the more time you’ll need. If you have specific interests such as hiking, diving, or exploring the local culture in depth, you might want to plan additional days accordingly.

How can I get around the Azores?

The best way to get around the Azores is by car. Public transportation is available but can be infrequent, especially in more remote areas.

Which is the prettiest island in the Azores?

Choosing the prettiest island in the Azores is like picking a favorite star in the sky – they all shine brilliantly in their own way. However, many visitors are particularly enchanted by the lush landscapes and stunning blue-green lakes of São Miguel, often referred to as “The Green Island.”

Is the Azores worth visiting?

Absolutely, the Azores is a treasure trove of natural beauty, offering everything from volcanic landscapes to lush greenery and stunning coastlines. With its unique culture, delicious cuisine, and a plethora of outdoor activities, it’s a destination that’s more than worth the journey.

Closing Thoughts on Visiting the Azores

The Azores, with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and unique activities, is a destination that promises an unforgettable experience. A nature lover or an adventure seeker? The Azores has something for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the coolest things to do in the Azores!

The top things to do in the Azores for all types of travelers
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