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Azores
Discover the Azores

Sitting on the southern edge of Europe gazing toward North Africa, Spain beckons the traveler with a distinctive blend of European flair and Moorish mystique. Its sunny landscape and sparkling seas complement a vibrant and colorful culture with a deep, rich history. Pack your bags and come along to explore this spirited land that has captivated artists, authors and adventurers through the ages. The tips below follow our journey from Northeast Spain across the country and back, down the Iberian Peninsula, to the Southwest.

The Forgotten Land of The Azores

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Off the coast of Lisbon lies an archipelago of nine garden-like islands known as the Azores. Quiet, peaceful and filled with natural wonders, each island invites you to discover a different world, rich with diverse cultures, cuisine and customs. Join us for a quick tour of these magical lands.

São Miguel Island

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Known as “The Green Island,” São Miguel is the largest of the Azores. One of its most awe-inspiring sights is the Vale das Furnas (Furnace Valley), a lush garden at the bottom of a huge volcanic crater. Don’t miss the remarkable Furnas Lake, where the famous dish “cozido” is cooked in hermetically sealed pots buried in the volcanic soil.

Sete Cidades Lake

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Set in a massive crater on the island of São Miguel are Lagoa Verde, with its glistening green water and Lagoa Azul, a pool of sparkling blue water. The banks of Lagoa Azul are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a pastoral picnic. While you’re there, visit the picturesque village of Sete Cidades, with its quaint houses and 19th-century neo-Gothic church.

Pico Island

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This island, often called the “California of the Azores,” is a nature lover’s paradise. It offers sun, sea and plains, topped by the majestic Mt. Pico. There’s plenty to see and do here—hike up the mountain for a spectacular view of the other islands, bird watch, whale watch, dolphin watch, swim, fish, ride a bike and enjoy the local culture.

Faial Island

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Drop by Peter’s Café in the port of Horta and you’ll find seafarers from all over the globe swapping tales. Custom dictates that before departing the island, each crew leaves a picture of their yacht on the marina wall to ensure their safe return. Take a stroll along the piers to see the hundreds of colorful drawings left by these seafaring-artists.

Terceira Island

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This is the only island in the Azores that allows bullfighting, but it’s not the traditional style of the sport. This version is called “tourada à corda,” or “bullfighting on a rope.” Six men hold the bull with a long rope while a bullfighter playfully teases the animal. The bull’s horns are padded for safety and he is released at the end of the spectacle.

Whale Watching

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Get up close and personal with the world’s largest mammals. Instead of being on the deck of a boat with binoculars, in the Azores, you board a small inflatable craft with a guide and a few fellow whale watchers. Spotters on the cliffs radio the boats with the position and number of whales, so you’re almost guaranteed a sighting.

Festival Season

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May to September is typically festival season in the Azores. Most of these celebrations derive from religious traditions, but they are anything but solemn. Though events vary from island to island, you can count on lively parades, hearty feasts, folk dancing and music. The Sea Festivals in Horta include nautical events as well as colorful pageants.

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