My ancestral home is northern Portugal, so it will come as no surprise that I am very passionate about this country. Therefore, when I was offered the opportunity to visit the Azores, exploring the islands of Sao Miguel, Pico and Faial, I was delighted.

The Azores has been described by Bradt Travel Guides as representing a bite-sized piece of national identity. The islands, entwined in their own unique Atlantic geography and geology, offer a real taste of my homeland.

Sao Miguel is the most known out of all three islands and the largest. It has a varied landscape and is acknowledged as ‘The Green Island’. It is also home to the largest town in the Azores – Ponta Delgada.

Sao Miguel, The Azores Sao Miguel, The Azores

Faial is recognised as the resting place of transatlantic sailors and has a cosmopolitan flair to it. Horta, the main port is bustling with bars and restaurants and Peter’s Café is renowned for encapsulating nautical adventure.

Faial, The Azores Faial, The Azores

Pico - nicknamed the ‘Grey Island’ is dominated by its volcano which stands at 2351m and is the highest point in Portugal. Its peak and the multiple black lava flows in various parts of the island, make Pico the most distinctive of all in the archipelago.

Pico, The Azores Pico, The Azores

After visiting all three islands, I am happy to disclose to you my preferred accommodation, activity, viewpoint and meal - along with my favourite trip highlight and conclusions.

My favourite accommodation and why?

Throughout my trip, I had the pleasure of staying and viewing so many beautiful and unique hotels it’s difficult to choose a single one - which is why I have chosen two.

The properties of White Exclusive Suites & Villas and Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, both tickled my fancy for various reasons. One is contemporary and boutique (White Exclusive Suites & Villas), perfect for those wanting a bit of luxury, and the other is rural, located in a prime position for a range of activities (Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort).

I particularly liked the White Exclusive Suites & Villas for its great cliff top location, allowing for wonderful views of the ocean. Whereas, the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort gave me direct access to the beach. I would recommend this property as ideal for families wanting to escape busy city life and to enjoy taking the time out to make memories. 

White Exclusive Suites & Villas, Sao Miguel, The Azores White Exclusive Suites & Villas, Sao Miguel, The Azores
Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, Sao Miguel, The Azores Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, Sao Miguel, The Azores

My favourite viewpoint and why?

My favourite viewpoint has to be at the top of the iconic lighthouse in Faial. In 1957 a volcanic eruption destroyed the surrounding village of ‘Capelinhos’ and today the area is covered in volcanic ash.

The panoramic view is amazing and like nothing I have ever seen before.

Lighthouse, Faial, The Azores Lighthouse, Faial, The Azores

My favourite activity and why?

The Azores Tourist Office claims that among resident and migrant species, common or rare, more than 20 different types of cetaceans can be spotted in the Azores. So, where better to go on a whale and dolphin watching excursion?

In Faial, the whaling specialist Zodiac offer a whale and dolphin watching experience on a rib boat. During the 3-hour boat ride you are taken to different spots north of the island, allowing for plenty of opportunities to see both whales and dolphins.  

During the excursion I was lucky to have the privilege of seeing 3 sperm whales, a group of striped dolphins and many common dolphins.

Whale and dolpin excursion, Faial, The Azores Whale and dolpin excursion, Faial, The Azores

My best dining experience and why?  

‘A Tasca’ - located in the town centre of Ponta Delgada offers a hospitable dining experience with a lively atmosphere.

Having heard many good things about this restaurant I decided to opt for a two-course meal. For a starter I ate a home-made cheese and apple pastry, for my main the grilled tuna steak with sesame, vegetables and sweet potatoes sounded like a good option. I was not disappointed.

If you fancy the full three courses, expect to pay around 20 euros.

Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, The Azores Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, The Azores

My trip highlight

Definitely, the highlight of my trip was visiting the island of Pico. The reason being that I did not expect it to be so unique in comparison to other destinations I have visited before.

Pico, also known as the ‘Grey Island’, is covered by lava landslides and volcanic rocky soil - like being immersed in a completely different world.

Conclusions of the trip

I love how each island is different from the other. There is something for everyone in the Azores, whether it’s for people who are active or for those just looking to relax and see something new.

Evenings on the larger islands are lively and the locals are very welcoming. There is always an amazing view wherever you go. The Azores are simply beautiful and a great place to visit.

Pico, The Azores Pico, The Azores

Talk to our Portugal expert

Cristiana da Silva
Cristiana da Silva

With its lush valleys, vine-clad hillsides, historical towns and a National Park, it is easy to understand what Cristiana is so passionate about northern Portugal, her ancestral home. Fluent in Portuguese and conversant in Spanish, she has been able to scratch under the surface of these countries on her travels and loves nothing more than sharing her findings with our guests. Recently Cristiana has returned from Swedish Lapland, a destination which was on her own bucket list and which did not fail to impress.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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