Close your eyes for thirty seconds and listen to the sound of the ocean. A gentle Atlantic breeze with the smell of the sea. Open your eyes, see the green, feel the calm. For every part of landscape you look at, a perfect picture forms. Welcome to the Azores.
If this hasn’t yet convinced you to buy a one-way ticket, we can offer some more reasons for you to get acquainted with your next favourite place in the world. On the dream trip we will show you today, there are nine islands waiting to be discovered.
We’ll start, naturally, with some history. The Azores archipelago has five-hundred years of history and tradition, customs and practices you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Due to its strategic position in the Atlantic Ocean, it was a crossroads for ships coming from India, the Far East and other parts of Asia, Africa and Brazil that passed close to the Western Group, then crossed the archipelago towards Europe.
The Azores has been awarded all the major classifications by UNESCO. There are eight Biosphere Reserves in Portugal: Graciosa and Corvo (classified since 1997), Flores (since 2009), and the Biosphere Reserve of Fajãs de São Jorge (since 2016). The Azores Geopark is unique in the world in having 121 geosites on nine islands, covering the whole archipelago. The Region also has 13 classified sites, namely the Fajãs dos Cubres and Caldeira de Santo Cristo lagoons (São Jorge), the Caldeira da Graciosa, Caldeira do Faial, Caldeirão do Corvo, the Furnas, Sete Cidades and Fogo volcanic complexes (São Miguel), the Formigas islets, Dollabarat Reef, the Central Plateau of Terceira (Furnas do Enxofre and Algar do Carvão), the Paul de Praia da Vitória (Terceira) and the Central Plateaux of Flores (Morro Alto), São Jorge (Pico da Esperança) and Pico (Achada).
In terms of World, Cultural and Natural Heritage, Angra do Heroísmo and Pico Island’s vineyard landscape are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
You can experience all the seasons in one day in the Azores, which makes it perfect to explore at any time of the year, offering different experiences, on land, air and sea. And talking of sea, are you a diving fan? We’ve got some good news. The Azores is one of the best diving destinations. But why is that? First of all, because you can dive on all the islands in the archipelago. And second, on every one you get a different experience: from coastal dives, wreck dives or cave dives with sharks. It is even possible to dive down to remote seamounts, where you are sure to encounter shoals of manta ray and deep water fish.
As a result of its strategic position, the archipelago bears the cultural, artistic and architectural traces of various peoples. Above all, something very characteristic that you’ll find in the Azorean people is their hospitality.
Have we mentioned the fantastic food? The Azores boast a unique cuisine that uses prime ingredients, as the islands are the perfect place for producing high-quality fare. From fish to seafood, wonderful cheese, fortified wines and even tea. Who can resist a cup of wonderful Gorreana tea? As for meat, you must try the top sirloin: you can find our recipe in this edition.
We should mention two more things before you go: the Azores are on the list of European Safest Destinations, another valid argument considering the global situation we are currently experiencing.
They were the first archipelago in the world to be certified as a sustainable tourist destination.
For this edition of Soul, two backgrounds have been chosen. The islands of Terceira and São Miguel, which means there is still lots to explore. Meanwhile, here is a small itinerary of what to visit and where to stay.
Island of São Miguel
Where to stay: Hotel do Colégio, right in the city centre. Historical, a short distance from the mythical square at the city gates and the Church of St Sebastian
Where to eat: It is impossible to describe in words the entirety of Azorean cuisine and everything you can find. One thing is guaranteed, however; everywhere you go you will find food made from the heart. But here are some suggestions:
A Tasca R. do Aljube 16, 9500-018 Ponta Delgada
Where to stay: Terceira Mar Hotel. A sea view is guaranteed from every rooms. Between the tranquillity of the sea and the breeze from the hills, this is the ideal place for a dream stay.
Where to eat: The cuisine on Terceira is also created with feeling.
O Caneta Rua As Presas 13, Altares 9700-308 Angra Do Heroismo
Who can take you there?
You will need to hire a car during your stay in the Azores. Ilha Verde is an excellent choice, offering convenience and efficiency on both islands.
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