Azores Islands Map & Guide | Wandering Portugal

Introduction to the tropical islands that are really volcanoes way out there in the Atlantic just 4 hours out of Boston. This just might be the paradise of which you search, dear reader.

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Why plan a vacation in the Azores? It’s the amazing lush green islands nearly in the center of the Atlantic rising dramatically out of the ocean waves. Add the promises of the very special pineapples and a cup of the island’s tea might entice you, as well as the spring bloom of flowers, the waterfalls, and the jagged shorelines. I could go on and on, and I’m sure the AI bots could, too.

Active travelers interested in island culture and activities will find a match here. Activities include trekking, boating and kayaking, golfing, paragliding, and diving. Here you’ll find islands with tropical characteristics but European character. You can swim and boat during the day, then sit down to a characteristic meal (sometimes cooked within the steaming fumaroles in a place like Furnas) with fine (and sometimes local) wines at night. And yet, the Azores aren’t one of those tropical places where you’re plopped down in a glamorous resort walled off from the poorer population that provides you food and services.

furas fumarole azores
Check out the volcanic fumaroles in Furnas, and have a stew called "Cozido das Furnas" cooked in one.

The Azores Island group is composed of 9 islands of volcanic origin, located about two thirds of the way between the east coast of the United States and Portugal. Politically, the islands form an autonomous region of Portugal. The main attraction of the Azores is the immense beauty of the natural and human-modified landscape. The green valleys provide milk from contented cows, and the dramatic seaside views entrance tourists.

Getting to the Azores

The nine Azores Islands are served by SATA Azores airlines. International flights arrive at Ponta Delgada on the Azores largest island, São Miguel, or San Miguel, in the town of Ponta Delgada. During the high season, SATA flies to the Azores from Boston, Oakland, Porto, Lisbon, Faro, Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, London, Amsterdam and the Canary Islands. If you are coming to the Azores from Lisbon, you can get direct flights to Horta, Terceira and Santa Maria as well as to Ponta Delgada. In the off-season, check SATA Azores for the latest information, as these departures change frequently.

Map of the Azores

azores Islands map
Map of the Azores Islands

Getting Around the Azores Islands

During the high season, there are flights between the islands. Ferry services are spotty, and many boats only run for a limited time in summer.

If you wish to travel to two islands, it’s best to make your airline reservations at the same time. In other words, the frugal will want a Boston-Ponta Delgada-Terceira ticket rather than separate Boston-Ponta Delgada and Ponta Delgada-Terceira round trips.

You can, of course, take the ferry between islands. Some, but not all, ferries also carry cars, so check. Here are the interisland ferries from Direct Ferries.

Getting Around within an Island in the Azores

Public transportation is aimed at Azoreans going to work, and the timetables are probably inconvenient for most tourists to the Azores. Hiring a taxi for a half day tour is reasonably inexpensive, and gets you exactly where you want to go. Rental cars are available, and are good to have on larger islands such as San Miguel. There are many walking paths on the islands, as walking is one of the attractions enjoyed by tourists in the Azores.

To get fares and information on finding a taxi, see: Azores Taxi Fare Calculator

You might try Uber, but services are quite limited, even in Ponta Delgada.

ribeira dos caldeirões Natural Park Azores
Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park. Does it seem like what you imagined paradise looks like?

What’s Not in the Azores That You Might Expect

It may surprise you to know that Atlantic beaches aren’t the primary attraction in the Azores. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t sandy stretches that attract bathers, but we’re not talking about Hawaii here, either. Still, swimmers (and divers) can make quite a time of it in the Azores; the water is warmed by the Gulf Stream, and there are many opportunities to swim in the “natural swimming pools” formed from the collapse of small volcanic craters.

And you won’t find as many backpackers tromping around the Azores as you might think.

What Might Surprise You on the Azores

The Azores used to be a prime supplier of oranges to the mainland. After a disease wiped out the crop, tea and pineapples were introduced. Today you can tour two tea plantations with tasting rooms on the island of San Miguel. You can also tour a pineapple plantation. Pineapple has become part of the cuisine of the Azores, most folks have a large slice after dinner, but it’s also served with small, grilled blood sausage as a typical appetizer. Cows, milk and cheeses are famous as well.

More articles on the Azores Islands

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Categories Azores, Travel Tips

Azores Islands Map & Guide originally appeared on , updated: Mar 07, 2024 © .