Dan & I traveled to the Azores – specifically São Miguel Island – after our wedding in Portugal (!!) for a weeklong mini-moon (our real honeymoon is early next year…you really have to stretch out the wedding vacations!). When I told people that we would be going to the Azores, I received a lot of questions but my favorite, and the perfect response to sum up all of the responses, was “what is an Azore?” Well, this is an Azores!
The Azores are a strand of nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the cost a Portugal – just a one hour and fifty-five minute flight from Lisbon! Colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century, the Azores are an autonomous region of Portugal (like the Canary Islands are to Spain), but I found the Azores to be very close culturally to Portugal, much more so than the Canary Islands to Spain. Even its architecture reminded me of Portugal (and a bit of the Canary Islands…).
For those unfamiliar with the Azores, the Azores are volcanic islands and are generally not a beach destination. Instead, the Azores are beautiful, green islands (São Miguel Island is called the Green Island!) filled with lots of fun activities for people who love adventure and outdoors. While there are beaches, many of the black sand variety (a telling sign of volcanic islands), explore the Azores’ natural offerings are generally a better use of your time than its beaches.
We decided to visit the Azores after our wedding for a variety of reasons – we have traveled a lot in Europe, we wanted a relatively easy trip after our wedding, and we did not want to go too far with all of our wedding luggage. And, we have been meaning to check out the Azores for years! Also, Anthony Bourdain did a show in the Azores years ago and I have been intrigued ever since! Spoiler alert – the Azores are way better than Bourdain made them out to be…
When planning our trip, I had a difficult time finding reliable and complete information online. We went back and forth on where to visit, where to stay, what to do in the Azores. Since it was directly after our wedding, we decided to visit only the largest island in the Azores – São Miguel Island – and we spent a lovely and relaxing week on São Miguel Island! Since we did not have as much information as we usually do pre-trip, we found a lot of surprises!
On our trip to São Miguel Island, we visited Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Fogo, Furnas, Vila Franca do Campo, and Ponta Delgada! We based ourselves in Ponta Delgada and day tripped from there; however, we did spend one night in Furnas, which I highly recommend! I am going to write separate posts regarding each of these destinations but highlights were for sure Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Fogo, Furnas, and all of the hydrangeas, which are ALL OVER THE ISLAND!
I also enjoyed the culinary treats of the Azores! Almost everything served in the Azores is either from the Azores or from mainland Portugal. I particularly enjoyed Azorean cheese and white wine from Pico – a neighboring island that I absolutely must visit next time!
In sum, we had a lovely and relaxing trip to the São Miguel Island and I would love to return to explore more of the Azores. If you are planning to explore other islands, São Miguel Island is a good base, as its home to the largest airport on the Azores and lots of ferries going between the various islands.
STEAL OUR TRIP
The Azores: The Azores’ website. Lots of useful travel information in English.
Casa Hintze Ribeiro: 62, R. Hintze Ribeiro, 9500-049 S.Miguel, Portugal. T: +351 296 304 340. Our home base in Ponta Delgada.
Micauto: Avenida Infante Dom Henrique 109, 9500-150 Ponta Delgada, Portugal. T: +351 296 284 382. The rental car company that we used. Book EARLY for an automatic.
Azores Tours: The tour company that we used. Very responsive to email.
ON A BUDGET
To be such a remote and exotic destination, the Azores are incredibly budget friendly. Food and accommodation are very inexpensive, especially if you rent an apartment and cook for yourself. Even at restaurants, food is generally budget friendly. The one thing that you should probably splurge on is a rental car, for at least part of your time on the Azores (call way in advance if you need an automatic!).