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Azores Mini Guide
The Azores are an archipelago of islands which lie off of the Portuguese coast and are sparsely inhabited with only a quarter of a million inhabitants. They make for an exciting holiday destination where you can be surrounded by marvellous blue lagoons yet have all the comforts associated with a holiday in Europe. The Azores are also a fine place to get in touch with nature and you can relax there by doing a bit of deep sea sport fishing, going bird watching or even go swimming with a group of dolphins. You can also take boat trips out to watch the whales that breed in the ocean off the coast.
Comprising the Azores are nine major islands and eight smaller land masses known as Formigas (the Portuguese word for ants) which are islets. However, because the Azores are of volcanic origins they are actually extremely tall with most of their height being hidden under the Atlantic Ocean. Despite this, one of the Azores, Mount Pico is more than 2,000 metres tall, making it the tallest mountain in Portugal. The really active amongst you can even try to climb Pico as part of an expedition, but there are also more basic walking tours if this seems like too much effort. Climbing the mountain takes about three and a half hours to do an upwards distance of five miles.
The islands of the Azores are split into the Eastern, Western and Central Groups. São Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas Islets are part of the Eastern group, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial are in the centre and Flores and Corvo make up the Western group. There are five cities in the Azores. They are Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande on the São Miguel Island. Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória are on the island of Terceira and Horta is on the island of Faial. It takes around two hours to fly to the Azores from Lisbon
and TAP Portugal is one of the airlines which offer these flights.
Once there you can get around the islands easily by car, and if you want to do a lot of exploring you may even wish to hire a jeep. If you are not comfortable heading out on your own many tour operators will offer a jeep safari which includes transportation to and from your hotel as well as a lunch of traditional Azorean home made food. There are a couple of golf courses on the Azores, the Batalha and the Furnas, and you can order a pre paid golf package in order to guarantee your tee times.
- One of the best aspects of the Azores is its flora and many people are surprised to see hydrangeas growing wild there. There are many other unusual flowers growing on these remote islands that have developed separately from their cousins in Europe and Africa.
- The Azores are renowned for their festivals and the best island for them is Terceira. The Sanjoaninas Festival is the biggest non-religious one on the island and takes place from the 21st to the 29th June, opening a season of festivals. You'll find every entertainment possible there from bullfighting to gastronomy, processions to fireworks and music. Go there then and enjoy it!