"A remote location — about a thousand miles west of continental Portugal – has helped limit tourist traffic and development in this unspoiled North Atlantic archipelago.

The nine major islands — connected by ferry service in summer, are home to green volcanic mountains, mineral hot springs, hydrangea-covered hills, rambling vineyards, white-washed seaside towns, cobblestone lanes, and traditional Flemish and Moorish windmills.

Terceira (“the lilac island”) is known for its weaving tradition and 50 brightly painted imperios (empires), ornate chapels of the Holy Spirit. São Miguel, the biggest island, includes Ponta Delgada (the Azores' largest city), secluded black and white sand beaches, and natural steam vent ovens at Furnas Lake where Portuguese cozido (stew) is cooked in earthen pots buried along the volcanic shoreline.

Faial, named “the blue island” for its abundant hydrangeas and blue-trimmed homes, features numerous grottoes, caves, churches, and museums, as well as the bustling Horta marina, a popular stopover point for transatlantic yachtsmen.

May to September is the island-wide festival season with numerous religious processions and cultural events celebrating patron saints, the sea, and the local whaling heritage."


in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER, 10 Best Trips of Summer 2011

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Credits to Visit Azores