At one time thought to be part of the legendary lost continent of Atlantis, the islands were discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese navigators en route to the New World and became the link between Europe and the Americas. In fact, they belong to Portugal and are part of Europe. The volcanic formation of the islands has endowed them with a spectacular natural beauty. Vast craters nurturing glistening blue lakes, sheer black cliffs falling into the ocean, lush rolling valleys, rugged mountains and hot mineral springs and geysers combine to form a truly diverse scenery found nowhere else in the world. The climate is temperate, which ensures an abundance of flowers strewn across hedgerows and fields throughout the summer season, and the deep greens of the lush grasslands contrast markedly with dark volcanic stone walls and neat whitewashed houses. Because of their remote location, the traditional lifestyle of the Azores, outside the main towns, has remained virtually unchanged. The population stands at just under 250,000, architecture is typically Portuguese and the towns contain many elegant buildings from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is hardly any industry apart from agriculture and fishing and pollution is unknown. The pace of life is slow and tourism is in its infancy.
Health: No vaccinations are required for entry in to the Azores. However, it is recommended that all travellers obtain the standard triple typhoid/ tetanus/polio inoculation prior to any departure abroad. Food: Portuguese cuisine: delicious soups are popular as a starter; main course is either fish (including excellent seafood dishes) or meat (mainly local beef, spicy sausage or pork) accompanied by potatoes and vegetables. Salads are not very exciting and vegetarian dishes rare (although the Aldeia da Fonte in Pico does offer more choice than others). The desserts are mainly fruit (exquisite pineapple), flavourful cheeses, mousse and sweet cakes. Average cost of a 3-course meal with wine is 20 Euros per person. Climate: The weather in the Azores is mild and quite changeable. The average temperature ranges from 14 to 22 degrees centigrade. Sea temperatures range from 15 to 23 degrees centigrade. It is not uncommon to experience four seasons in one day! If it is overcast in the morning, by early afternoon the sun will be shining. By late afternoon it may rain and be windy late evening. Be prepared for mixed weather on walks. Disruption to flight schedules and ferry crossings may occur, especially in winter, due to adverse weather conditions. Should flights/ferries be delayed or cancelled our local agent would be on hand to assist with alternative arrangements and overnight stays (if required).
When to go: The Azores are delightful any time of year due to the favourable climate. May to early Oct are the best months for activities relating to the ocean such as whale watching, swimming with dolphins & sitting on the beach. Please note that the Azores is not a traditional beach destination. The beaches are mostly volcanic black sand beaches, except on Santa Maria where the sand is white. Swimming in the ocean is possible all year (no less than 15 degrees in winter and up to 23 degrees in summer) and natural rock swimming pools can be found on all the islands. April is a quiet, peaceful period on all islands and the month for Azaleas, especially in Furnas on Sao Miguel. The area around Furnas lake is wonderful at this time of year.