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Azores (Portugal)

São Miguel Island (Azores)

The images of the Sete Cidades Lagoon appear in all brochures and tourist promotions, so that it became the best known island of the archipelago...

Terceira Island, Portugal

Terceira Island is known for two things: the American air base in Lajes and Angra do Heroísmo, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a bit unfair because there is so much more to discover.
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The Azores are Europe’s best kept secret: tranquil, of rare beauty and always welcoming.

Religious and secular festivals are an integral part of its history and touch the lives of each island. Now there are also sailing regattas, golf tournaments, sport fishing tournaments, and other events that come as a surprise.

There is so much to explore, and this archipelago should be explored like a rare liquor. The Azores has a mild and uniform climate, surrounded by a huge expanse of sea and influenced by the warm Gulf Stream.

This means that the average temperature in winter is 12ºC, dropping to 5ºC at night; frosts occur only above 1 000 metres. In summer, the average temperature is 24 °C, with a maximum of 28 °C.

On the islands it is common to hear that you can have all four seasons in one day – and it’s true. If it’s raining in the morning, don’t despair – after three hours there can be sun and clear skies. There are nine islands and if you tried to see them all in one visit it would take several weeks to do them justice.

If you try to visit too many islands in a short period, you will end up spending an inordinate amount of time on these logistics alone. If you only have one week, it would be best to concentrate on the largest and most diverse island – São Miguel.

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If you have more time, combine São Miguel with Faial, Pico and perhaps Terceira, (these islands easily take two weeks) and then you can see the other islands on future visits.

Flights take about two hours from Lisbon to the Azores. From the rest of Europe, there are direct flights from London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris in addition to the other cities in Portugal: Porto, Faro and Funchal via SATA Internacional(www.sata.pt) or TAP Air Portugal(www.flytap.com).

From the USA and Canada there are direct flights (SATA) all year round to Ponta Delgada and more in the summer. As for tourist accommodation, it varies enormously, from standard comfort hotels, flat hotels, resorts to delightful manor houses. Apart from hotels, there are also flats, houses, small inns and camping parks.

São Miguel has seen the largest increase in hotels, mainly around Ponta Delgada, as well as in other areas of the island. Angra, on the island of Terceira, and Horta, on the island of Faial, have also seen an increase.

There is accommodation on all islands including Corvo. Many hotels now have suites, offering special rates for children, or with an extra bed.

A boarding house or guesthouse is usually located in the centre of a city or town and the furnishings can be rather spartan. However, in recent years many have been refurbished and offer good value. Generally, most restaurants are open at the usual hours: 12:00-15.00 and 18:30-23:00.

Depending on the city or island, they are closed all day Sunday (especially in Ponta Delgada) or Monday, but there is always one open.