The Atlantic islands of Portugal...

Nine volcanic, sub-tropical islands containing huge lake-filled craters on land and massive whales off the coast...

The nine islands that make up the Azores lie about a third of the way across the Atlantic from the Portuguese coast. On the same latitude as Lisbon, but positioned where polar and tropical air masses meet in the Gulf Stream, these volcanic islands contain a fascinating array of landscapes. Huge lakes formed in craters, waterfalls, bubbling geysers and intensely-rich vegetation.

Six of the islands have active volcanoes and measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean, the islands of the Azores are actually the peaks of some of the tallest mountains on the Earth.

São Miguel (The Portuguese for St. Michael) is the largest island, claimed by the Portuguese in 1432 and gradually settled with colonists attracted by the fertile soil, temperate climate and geographic position of the islands. Centuries of volcanic eruptions have left huge lake-filled calderas that are some the islands most striking visual features. Both volcanoes can be visited although Furnas is the only one still smoking. Local restaurants offer Cozido das Caldeiras (A mixed stew cooked in a volcanos crater - although if you are serious about trying it you will need to order in advance as it takes eight hours to prepare).

The smaller islands of Santa Maria, Faial, Graciosa, Pico, São Jorge, Terceira, Corvo and Flores can all be reached by plane and there is a boat service connecting São Miguel with Santa Maria.

The excellent weather and geographical location allow for a wide range of outdoor activities in the Azores. It is one of the worlds best whale-watching regions and the Atlantic waters off the coast offer rich marine life and some incredible lava formations for scuba-divers. Golf courses are surrounded by some stunning visual backdrops and the lush and varied vegetation makes walks across the islands a treat for the eyes.

Map of The Azores

To do in Azores

Related Reading for the Azores

Azores (Bradt Travel Guides)

Illustrated with colour photographs and line drawings, this title provides practical information and features on culture, history and festivals of Azores. It describes the best walks, along with information on where to eat and sleep and how to get around.

By David Sayers

Azores Travel Pack

A pocket-size guide that is packed with useful information, tips and recommendations, accompanied by colour photographs, charts and maps for the first-time traveller who wants to experience the major highlights that the Azores have to offer.

By Terry Marsh