It’s been called “The Hawaii of Europe” and “The New Iceland”, yet neither of these nicknames do it the justice it deserves, for these islands isolated in the Atlantic are very much their own attraction.
Welcome to an island paradise in the middle of nowhere — welcome to the Azores.
Officially an autonomous region of Portugal, despite lying around 1,000 miles off the coast of its mainland, the Azores are nine islands sitting pretty in the Atlantic, almost halfway between America and Europe.
Travel to the Azores archipelago is trending these days, with more and more Americans discovering the region and with more flights available from the U.S., and before everyone else finds out about them, now is the best time to visit.
The Azores are popping up on lists for everything this year, from wellness travel, wine culture, affordability, nature, stopovers, and even less crowded options in budget-friendly Portugal.
Introducing The Azores
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@destinationinspiration The Azores is made of 9 beautiful volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. This autonomous region of Portugal is known for incredible landscapes, fishing villages, green pastures, and beautiful shores to explore. Azores is a beautiful destination, and if you do decide to travel there, please travel responsibly and take care of the land and trails while you’re there 💚 #traveltiktok #traveltips #travelinspo #bucketlisttravel #uniquetravel #airbnbfinds #azores Videography: @superazores @bunsandbites @tomhubacek @johan_drone_adventures IG @yuukiix ♬ Madan (King) – Bakermat
Where Is It?
Although technically part of Europe, the Azores archipelago lies far from the mainland, about 1,000 miles from any sign of land.
An autonomous region of Portugal, the Azores are made up of nine islands, and while each has its own unique landscape and charm, most tourists only have time to visit one or two.
The islands of the Azores are: Corvo, Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Pico, Santa Maria, São Jorge, São Miguel, and Terceira.
Why Visit The Azores?
Being located right between mainland Portugal and the United States, the Azores makes a perfect stopover on a trip between the two. The regional airline SATA offers a great stopover program, as well as an inter-island pass for those looking to see more than one island on their trip.
The region is easily reachable via daily direct flights from New York and Boston to Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, and Terceira. With a flight of around 5 hours and cheap deals to be found, it’s hard to pass up stopping here to explore before catching a low-cost airline to Lisbon.
The Azores have flown under the radar with most travelers for a long time, and it’s starting to look like this might change soon. Tourism is increasing, and the islands are starting to appear on many top destination lists recently.
Winning praise for adventure travel, eco-tourism, budget travel, and underrated destinations, it’s clear this region will soon become much more crowded. If you want to experience the Azores in its original state, going sooner rather than later would be your best bet.
@visit Visit the #Azores before the crowds do😍 These Portugese islands offer incredible lush landscapes, marine life, and volcanoes🌋 🎥IG: @francisco.travels #azoresislands #azoresportugal #postcardplaces #traveltok #traveltiktok #azoreswhatelse ♬ Bombastic Side Eye Criminal Offensive Side Eye – CasaDi
When To Go?
It should be noted that a trip to the Azores will seldom be a sunny island getaway. These are islands out in the middle of the Atlantic, and therefore the weather is unpredictable and often overcast.
While lounging in the sun is not the main affair here, the weather is perfect for hiking, enjoying the views, and exploring the tropical lush green islands. This is absolutely a destination where you will want to pack your rain gear and layer up to prepare for many climates in one day.
That being said, the best time to visit is June thru October, although November can still be warm as well. Even the low season months of October to April can be pleasant for hiking, and January thru March is when things really quiet down, and deals can be found for the adventurous traveler.
August is the hottest and sunniest month, and the occasional hurricane might occur from June to November.
What Not To Miss?
While there is much to love about each of the nine islands that make up the Azores, most people will have to choose one or two to explore on their trip.
With direct flights from the U.S., São Miguel, and Terceira are the most popular to visit.
Although renting a car is the best way to see as much as you can of the islands, there are numerous tours available to explore the main attractions.
Whale watching, hot springs, volcanoes, tea plantations, and many more opportunities await you as you explore São Miguel. Can’t-miss sites on this island include Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Fogo, and Furnas Lake.
@luxexperiences If you need help planning your trip >> send an email inquiry #azorestravel #travelplanning #azoresislands #travelmistakes ♬ Sleep On The Floor – The Lumineers
While the quiet and more laid-back Terceira offers visitors the chance to soak up the history and culture of the land and enjoy hiking and beaches as well.
The island of Pico is the place to head if you are a wine lover, as its nickname is “The Island Of Wine”. Home to nearly 80% of the region’s wine, Pico’s wine is famous for coming from grapes that grow on volcanic rocks, as vines cannot live in this somewhat harsh environment. If you visit Pico, make sure to explore the three main districts of Madalena, São Roque, and Lajes.
There is so much to see on the other islands, including wineries and natural wonders, so prepare accordingly to maximize your time here and map out what suits you best.
But do it quickly, before everyone else discovers this amazing destination as well!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com