12 months in: the Azores
Date Posted: 05/03/2015
The Azores give groups a reason to visit every month of the year. Here’s how you could easily end up spending a year in this destination…
The relatively undiscovered scenery of volcanic landscapes, flora and fauna is the main beauty on the archipelago of the Azores. Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Lisbon, the islands are just three and a half hours away from London.
Made up of nine islands, the Azores remain mild throughout the year, with temperatures reaching 22°C in the summer months and falling to a still pleasant 14°C in the winter.
Discovering the land and sea with exhilarating paragliding, hiking and volcano running, as well as natural events such as the Blue Whale migration, cultural festivals of ‘street art’, and native cuisine served by Michelin-star chefs, there is something to explore in the Azores throughout the year.
January – Thermal Spas
Two springs of volcanic thermal water are used to warm the thermal spa at Termas da Ferraria, making it the perfect place to relax.
Group packages are available for a Ferraria Wellness Experience, which offers the use of the sea water and thermal Jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish bath, thermic contrast corridor and indoor and outdoor swimming pools with sea and thermal water.
February – Paragliding
The views when flying over the volcanic craters of Furnas, the lakes of Fogo, or the beaches and cliffs of any one of the nine islands make paragliding a popular and entertaining activity when visiting the Azores.
Sete Cidades, on San Miguel Island, in particular is worth a paragliding trip as it has been voted one of the 60 most beautiful sites of free fly in Europe.
March – Blue Whale Migration
The Atlantic Ocean surrounding the Azores is home to 25 marine mammal species, making it one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries. In March, on the islands of Sao Miguel, Pico and Faial, you can expect to spot whales, 30 metres in length and weighing a staggering 170 tonnes, making their way from the warm waters of the south, where breeding occurs, to the colder waters of the north, for feeding.
April – Holy Ghost Festival
The Holy Ghost Festival is the most important religious festival in the Azores. Rooted in ancient tradition, a procession through the towns and villages takes place as food and wine is distributed to the needy. Celebrations with singing, colour and fireworks bring the islands to life from Easter Sunday, which this year is on 5th April, when the festival kicks off.
May – Azores Trail Run
The Azores Trail Run returns on 30th May on Faial Island. The course, which covers a distance greater than a marathon, is an opportunity for supporters to cheer along competitors while taking in the stunning views of protected landscapes, volcanic craters and beautiful coastline.
June – 10 Fest Food Festival
10 Fest Azores on Sao Miguel Island is one of Portugal’s largest food festivals and is the perfect place for food lovers. Caldeiradas de peixe (fish stews) and Massa Sovada (sweet loaf) are just a couple traditional Azorean dishes and Michelin Star chefs from around the world travel to the festival to offer their take on the local cuisine.
July – Walk and Talk Street Art Festival
Visitors are free to roam the Walk and Talk Street Art Festival, from 17th July to 2nd August on Sao Miguel Island, which offers exhibitions, workshops, lectures and demonstrations to promote contemporary artistic expression in public areas. National and international artists create impressive installations and street art transforming local buildings and the unique volcanic landscapes of the island.
August – Semana do Mar (Sea Week)
Semana do Mar (Sea Week) is one of the biggest events on the Azores calendar. On 2nd to 9th August the festival returns to the picturesque Marina of Horta on Faial Island and offers the chance for visitors and locals to see the waters filled with all types of sea craft.
Meanwhile, on land there are exhibitions, folklore groups and concerts that all combine to bring the community together in a festival atmosphere.
September – Volcano Visit
The Azores are founded upon 1,766 volcanoes. It offers a landscape filled with crater lakes, dry calderas and thermal water springs. Tours with local geologists are available to explore the volcanology and take in thescenery.
October – Angra Jazz Festival
The Angra Jazz Festival takes place from 2nd to 4th October in the city of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira Island. The main stage is the city’s Grand Auditorium, which is transformed into a huge jazz club as the festival celebrates the island’s great jazz artists.
November – Hiking
The Azores provide a plethora of hiking trails for all ages and abilities. Around lakes, through forests or along beaches, the biodiversity of the islands makes it an exciting adventure wherever you decide to explore. November, with the slightly cooler temperatures, is a preferable time to hike.
December – Jeep Safari
Jeep tours are an exciting way to see the Azores. Expert drivers allow you to enjoy the many mountain trails and take in the spectacular views of places such as Fire Lake and Furnas Lake on Sao Miguel Island. You can also enjoy a thrill seeking ride up to the rim of the 300m deep crater on Faial Island.
For more information on the Azores visit www.visitazores.com.