The Azores islands, all nine of them, are part of an overseas territory of Portugal. A location and destination most Americans have never ventured, it’s essential to realize exactly what we’ve all been missing – pure paradise. I recently planned a trip to the largest island, São Miguel, that houses the capital city of Ponta Delgada. Although I didn’t have time to visit all nine islands, I made the most of my time on the island and was so impressed, I truly cannot wait to return.
Getting here is easy. Azores Airlines flies directly from Boston and Toronto to São Miguel – and to Terceira from Boston seasonally. From Boston, the flight is four-and-a-half hours – about the same time it takes to fly to Denver, Colorado. Landing in the small airport on São Miguel is quick and easy – and, in just 15 minutes, you’re smack dab in the middle of Ponta Delgada – on of the most charming cities in Portugal.
When I planned my trip, I had many people ask me what exactly there was to do in the Azores. Well, don’t come here to party, or get caught-up in the hustle and bustle of city life. Things here are slow, very slow, which is a welcomed change of pace for a New Yorker like me. The exotic landscape – volcanic, lush and brimming with flora and fauna will take your breath away. If you love solitude or need fresh air and peace, even for a moment, choose the Azores. Over the course of four days I explored the island. I visited the famous green and blue lakes (two lakes side by side that are completely different colors – a stunning sight from above).
I visited hot springs in the thermal town of Furnas, hiked around the green hills, saw more wild-growing hydrangea than I’ve ever seen in my life and indulged in the award-winning local cheese, some of the best I’ve ever had. I also spent a lot of time at the spa, one of my favorites being at the Furnas Boutique Hotel.
I shopped for handicrafts in the old part of Ponta Delgada, and sipped Portuguese wine on the roof deck of the Azor Hotel. All in all, it was relaxing, refreshing and helped me decompress over the course of my time here. For anyone looking for a hidden gem to explore – the Azores are absolutely worth it.