Azores in a day.
San Miguel, Azores
This chain of nine small islands is located way off the coast of Portugal, due south of Iceland. Like its neighbor to the North, Azores are one of the most actively volcanic sites in the world. But don’t worry, it actually hasn’t seen an eruption for quite some time. It’s a short five hour flight from NYC’s JFK Airport, if you can find a carrier with service from the U.S. (Delta operated six times per week summer 2018 and we’re hoping they’ll bring the route back!). This place reminds me a lot of New Zealand so obviously it makes it in my top 5 fave. We stayed on the island of San Miguel, which is the only one with a commercial airport. You’ll find smaller island hoppers that offer service to the other islands, though we are unsure of how many are very inhabited or if there are more attractions to see. These are some we’ve picked out for San Miguel:
This is Azores version of the “hop on/hop off” bus service, and highly recommended if you are not renting a car. However, it only offers one direction most days, so take a look beforehand to make sure it’s going where you want to see or be flexible with your itinerary. You can buy a ticket at your hotel or online for about the same price (17 euro in 2018).
The “seven cities” are a cluster of small neighborhoods located less than an hour west of downtown San Miguel. These lush villas house only about 800 locals and were actually built in the middle of volcanic craters. Stop at the Green Cafe for some lunch and enjoy your vinho verde among the beautiful scenery next to Lago Azul and Lago Verde. If you brought your swim suit you can even rent a kayak for a practically private ride around the crater lakes.
Visto do Rei.
Perched high above the Sete Cidades you’ll find the best lookout point on the island. Stop here for some incredible panoramas of the lakes and the villages, walled just inside the coast from the Atlantic Ocean.
We didn’t get a chance to take the east run on the bus, but our next visit we’ll be sure to stop at the natural hot springs next to the Lake of Fire. You can even have lunch that is cooked underground using the earth’s geothermal energy!
Downtown San Miguel isn’t very large so its pretty easy to get around. No doubt you’ll drive by or perhaps stay at one of the hotels along the city’s sea port. There are plenty of things to check out just in this small area, including scuba dive tours (next time I’d love to dive here), a Maritime school, and even sailing lessons. Or join the locals on the dock for some sunbathing and a swim. Not a bad place to run along either for a morning jog before your flight home: they even have a small area with some public work out equipment on the east side of the docks (don’t forget to reward yourself with some local pasteis de nata, also good as gifts if you can keep from eating them on your way home).