33 spectacular things to do in the Azores

The Azores archipelago in the south of Portugal is in my opinion one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe. Spread over nine islands you'll find lots of things to do and see here.
I'll tell you more about the most spectacular sights of the Azores, but don't forget that it's all about the beautiful nature here.
I went to four of the nine islands myself. I tell you what you absolutely should not miss during a visit to São Miguel, Terceira, Pico and Faial.

things to do azores

Insanely beautiful things to do on four islands: São Miguel, Terceira, Pico and Faial

As you may already know, the Azores archipelago consists of nine islands. I visited four during my visit. I noticed how enormous the differences between all these islands were, but that shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Because the islands were all created at different times, some of them even have an age difference of several millions of years!
There is actually an overdose of things to do in the Azores, so I try to give you an idea of what you should not miss.

Are you only going to one island? Then jump straight to the most beautiful sights of that specific place:

Things to do in São Miguel – Things to do in Terceira
Things to do in  PicoThings to do in  Faial

Things to do in São Miguel

São Miguel is the largest island of the archipelago and probably also the place where you land during your round trip through the Azores. If I’m honest, I found this island the most beautiful island of the Azores.
The nature you see here looks almost alien! Thousands of hues of green, beautiful volcanic craters, pitch-black beaches and dramatic landscapes. São Miguel is one of those places that you will never forget.

Boca do Inferno – This is my personal favorite place of all the islands. From the Lagoa do Canario (a lake that is also very beautiful) you have to climb a little bit to reach this miradouro (viewpoint), but the view is so beautiful that you’ll soon forget about the climb! A narrow footpath takes you to a beautiful volcano crater that will make your jaw drop on the floor.

things to do sao miguel boca do inferno

The Boca do Inferno. I’m pretty sure you’ll love this sight just as much as I did!

Caldeira das Sete Cidades – This is another beautiful viewpoint. From the road you get a breathtaking view of this gigantic lake in the valley. The many colors of green and blue are a delight to the eye. Perhaps you also notice the deserted hotel right behind this viewpoint. Actually this is forbidden territory, but if you’re not such a scaredy cat I recommend to visit it too. It is quite nice to see how nature has taken over this dilapidated building in no time. In good weather you also get a nice view from the rooftop over the Caldeira das Sete Cidades.

caldeira das sete cidades things to do in azores

The Caldeira das Sete Cidades is one of the most beautiful sights of the Azores.

hotel monte palace sao miguel abandoned hotel

The Monte Palace hotel was once a luxurious place, but now it’s pretty creepy… Especially in foggy and rainy weather!

Lagoa do Fogo – Scotland isn’t the only country with many lakes! Another beautiful (and gigantic) lake that you shouldn’t miss is the Lagoa do Fogo. From up high you get breathtaking views over this valley. Especially when the sun is shining this is really a beautiful natural phenomenon, because then the water gets a beautiful turquoise glow. Although I have never been to Canada, it also reminded me a bit of that. The beautiful color of the water, the endless numbers of pine trees and the small pieces of beach. The only thing missing here are some playful bears who are hunting for trout!

lagoa do fogo sao miguel things to do in azores

Say so for yourself… This is gorgeous, don’t you think so?!

The Terra Nostra Gardens – This must be one of the most beautiful botanical gardens that I’ve ever seen. Plants and flowers from all over the world spread a wonderful scent from the moment you walk in. In the middle of these gardens there is also a natural swimming pool. At first glance the water seems rather dirty, but that is because the water contains a lot of iron and sulfur. That is apparently very good for the skin, so don’t forget to take your swimsuit with you! Bathing in such a beautiful environment is really quite an experience.

terra nostra gardens azores

This pool doesn’t look so clean, but it does (or so it seems) miracles for your skin!

Caldeira das Furnas – Near the Terra Nostra gardens lies the small Furnas. A village with a very smelly odor! In the middle of this village you’ll find a dozen steamy sulfur pools. From these small holes in the ground rises a smell that comes from the deepest crests of mother earth. This white mist is visible from afar and from far away it even looks as if the village is on fire!
The green-gray water that bubbles here smells similar to rotten eggs and occasionally you can also perceive a smell that reminds of iron. These sharp odors are due to the sulfur and iron that is so abundant in the bubbling water.

caldeira das furnas azores sights

Nice… But smelly!

Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas – This is another place with sulfur pools. The nice thing about this location is that you’re surrounded only by nature (and the beautiful Furnas lake). Even better is perhaps that you can try a delicacy of São Miguel here: a tasty stew, cooked in the sulfur pools!

caldeiras da lagoa das furnas

Another sulfur pool. On the left you see how your food is being prepared!

Visit the Gorreana tea plantations – There is only one tea plantation in Europe. And where would that be? Right. On São Miguel of course! During a tour in the Azores you shouldn’t miss this spot. The hills of this area are all occupied by beautiful tea plantations. If you’re tired, or if you return from walking through the tea bushes, you can also visit the tea factory. There you see how the Portuguese tea is made and you can of course try a sip of very fresh tea.

gorreana tea plantation azores sao miguel things to do

The Gorreana tea plantation is really special to walk through.

Gruta do Carvao – The Azores were made by wildly spewing volcanoes, so it’s logical that you can still see a lot of these (dried up) remainders. On the island you can see a lot of black rocks, but also underground you can meet the forefathers of this island. In the Gruta do Carvao you descend into a volcanic cave, where thousands of gallons of lava flowed through a long time ago. Be amazed by the strange stalactites, mosses that only grow here and be impressed by this unique spectacle that mother nature created here.

gruta do carvao sao miguel

And now let’s hope that the volcano doesn’t wake up again!

Mosteiros – There aren’t many beaches on São Miguel, but you should certainly visit this special place. It is (unfortunately) not a sandy beach, but a beautiful coastal strip with all kinds of rough lava rocks.
These natural formations protect you from the rough seas for a large part, so you can swim effortlessly between them and that is really a unique experience! Are you not so keen on the sharp rocks? Then just watch this spot from a terrace from one of the bars or restaurants. A sunset in Mosteiros is beautiful!

mosteiros sao miguel things to do

It might not be a sandy beach, but it still is damn beautiful!

Salto do Cabrito – It may not be the largest waterfall on the island (that honor belongs to the ‘Salto do Prego’), but the road to this place is breathtakingly beautiful and incredibly adventurous. You first have to drive to a rather deserted country road, and from there you need to walk down. Along the way you’ll pass a long pipeline where you also have to walk over at certain times. The most beautiful part of this walk was when you walk just above the waterfall (on a platform). You have to make a little effort, but it is really worth it!

path to salto do cabrito

The path to Salto do Cabrito. Under this platform you can already see the waterfall splashing down!

salto do cabrito waterfall azores

In good weather it really is blissful here!

Whale safari – You can’t leave the Azores without booking a whale safari. Around this archipelago live some of the most beautiful animals of this globe. Believe me: if you can see even only one from close by, then you’ll be happy all day long! If you prefer to see some of these creatures from up close, then you also have the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins. Super exciting and fun for both the animals and humans! Curious about my own experience? Then read this blog post too.

whale watching safari azores sao miguel

A whale safari in São Miguel is more than just whale and dolphin watching! The landscapes are also beautiful.

Pineapple plantation – There are two places on São Miguel where you can follow the growth process of a deliciously sweet pineapple. Under the different greenhouses you can see how the pineapple plant evolves and believe me… It’s quite cute to see such a small pineapple growing up! This is certainly not a must to visit, but if you’re in the area, it makes for a nice stopover.

pineapple plantation sao miguel things to do in azores

It takes more than a year for these delicacies to mature!

Nossa Senhora da Paz church – There are quite a few churches on São Miguel, but I really found this church worth a visit. It’s not so easy to get there (Google Maps shows you the wrong way, so you just have to drive up via the R. da Paz, under the EN1-1A highway), but I recommend to search a bit, because the sight is really quite impressive.
The church is spectacular and the view you get from this height is also amazing!

nossa senhora da paz sao miguel things to do

Climb all the way to the top and enjoy the beautiful view!

Mão de Deus church and viewpoint – Above Ponta Delgada there is a beautiful Portuguese church: Mão de Deus. The white-and-brown church is beautiful in itself to see, but the panoramic view that you get from this hill really makes the short climb really worthwhile. Especially on sunny days it’s nice to see Ponta Delgada and the harbor from above.

Mao de deus church sao miguel azores

There are worse places to enjoy the sun!

Things to do in Terceira

If you fly to Terceira from São Miguel, you immediately notice a world of difference. The landscapes and sights are completely different here. Terceira is much quieter and sometimes it seems like you’ve stepped into a time teleportation device. Extraterrestrial landscapes, which you find so much in São Miguel, are not so common here. But still… Terceira is very cozy!

Algar do Carvão – Have you always wanted to walk inside a volcano? Then you should definitely not miss a visit to this cave. When you have stepped through the long hallway decorated with fake torches, you become acquainted with the power of mother nature. The gigantic hole in the ground is overgrown with mosses in more green colors than you can imagine. Go down the stairs and be amazed by the depth and the different types of lava rock that you see here.

algar do carvao terceira things to do azores

It seems like you’re setting foot in another world. Magnificent!

Angra do Heroísmo – For me this was the most cozy and beautiful village in the Azores. This is the only place of the entire archipelago that is also on the UNESCO list! Colorful houses and churches, cobbled streets that shake you up, a beautiful harbor and cozy cafes and restaurants. Right next to the harbor you can also find a beach where you can relax. There are not many sandy beaches in the Azores, so enjoy this one! A day of doing nothing in such a beautiful environment is also fun, right?

angra do heroismo terceira

Angra do Heroísmo is super cool!

Biscoitos – This small village in the north of Terceira isn’t very special, but the natural pools are all the more. Between the solidified lava rocks you can swim in the calm seawater or simply enjoy the beautiful views. There are more of these spots on the island, but Biscoitos is really super cozy.

biscoitos things to do in terceira

On a sunny day it really is great to come here. Don’t forget your swimsuit!

Serra da Cume viewpoint – From the moment you arrive at Terceira, you’ll notice that there is a lot of farmland. That creates a beautiful landscape, but this all gets even more beautiful if you see it from up high. From the Serra da Cume viewpoint you get the best view of this part of the island. Miles an miles of green fields on one side and the beautiful sea on the other. Oh yes: and you’ll get to see a lot of miniature cows as well!

serra da cume viewpoint terceira sights

There is a strong wind here. So make sure to take a coat or sweater with you!

Whale safari – Have you not been to São Miguel, or were you unable to book a whale watching excursion there? Then try to do a tour in Terceira. From here, too, there are a few boats every day that set sail to see the giants of the sea from up close.

whale watching azores terceira

Two sperm whales!

Driving around for a bit – Nature, the beautiful agricultural landscapes and the rugged coastline are all breathtaking. There is no better way to see all that beauty than with a rental car. Drive quietly along the undulating and twisting turns and be amazed by the vast landscapes. But don’t forget to keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel!

terceira car drive

The landscapes here are very different, but they are all equally beautiful!

Things to do in Pico

The second largest island in the Azores is Pico. This floating land mass is dominated by the gigantic mountain ‘Pico’ which makes it immediately one of the most beautiful islands in the Azores. I find this island a bit of a mix in between Terceira and São Miguel. You also have beautiful viewpoints, but also a lot of agricultural land and here, too, it sometimes seems as if you’ve stepped back in time.

Montanha do Pico – From the moment you arrive on Pico island, you can already see this mountain towering over the island. The Montanha do Pico is the highest mountain in Portugal and dominates the entire island. Whether you just take pictures of it or climb it: this mastodon is very impressive.

pico azores things to do mountain

Quite a bad boy, don’t you think so?

Gruta das Torres – There are more than 300 volcanic caves and tunnels in the Azores, but more than half of them are found on Pico. Personally, I also liked my visit to this tunnel. You descend into this pitch-black tunnel together with your guide. The only thing you get is a flashlight and a headgear so you won’t get hit by falling stones (and water drops). Only the beginning of this lava tunnel was slightly modified to make it easier for visitors to descend. Fifty meters (164 ft) deep in the tunnel and you walk into a cave where no artificial lights or paths have been laid. Maybe that scares you off, but believe me: it’s much more fun. It just feels like you’ve discovered the cave for the first time! The formations that the guide shows you on the way are also much more impressive here than in most other caves that you can visit in the Azores.

gruta das torres pico things to do in the azores

The Gruta das Torres must be one of the most impressive sights of the Azores.

The Capitão lake – You’ll also find a lot of nature on Pico. One lake that is very nice in good weather, is the Capitão lake. You’re always greeted by cheerful ducklings, but what makes this place so beautiful is the gorgeous background. The Montanha do Pico makes this a perfect photo location.

capitao lake pico island things to do azores

Nice, don’t you think so too? And certainly with the Montanha do Pico as the background!

Museu dos Baleeiros – Personally, I thought this was the most interesting museum in the Azores. Here you learn everything about whales and how they used to be hunted. View the sharp harpoons and spears with which these giants were murdered, art made from whale bones (there is even a nativity scene made for Christmas from the remains of a whale!) or watch the interesting film about the former importance of whaling in Pico.If you also like to see where these caught whales were towed and how they were ‘processed’, then visit the former whaling factory in the Museu da Industria Baleeira. Right in front of this building is also a beautiful monument in honor of the former whalers.

museo dos baleeiros pico things to do

The museo dos baleeiros in Pico is very interesting. On the photo you see a traditional boat that was used for whaling.

azores attractions pico musea da industria baleeira

The place where the captured whales were processed is now a museum: the musea da Industria Baleeira.

Criação Velha vineyard – Do you like Portuguese wine? Then go and see where they are coming from! At the foot of this mountainous island you see that volcanic stones are stacked mile after mile. On these walls, the grape bushes grow from which eventually the delicious wine is made. Be sure to look for the red windmill in the middle of this vineyard. Nice for photos, but also great to climb.

criacao velha vineyard pico island azores

The Criação Velha vineyard is very extensive and dominates a large part of the Pico coast.

Whale safari – Have you still not clambered in a boat to see some wild whales? Then it now really is the time! From Pico you can also meet these big animals and if you really can’t get enough of Flipper and Free Willy, you can also swim with wild dolphins here.

whale watching pico island azores

A whale safari is a great experience. On whatever island you do it.

Things to do in Faial

Faial is one of the smaller islands of the Azores (and is only six kilometers / 3,75 miles from Pico), but still has some beautiful sights. If you would like to visit different islands, I definitely recommend to spend one day in Faial. The cozy atmosphere, the delicious food and the beautiful beaches (I think the most beautiful of the Azores!) make this island really worth a visit.

Capelinhos volcano – My favorite activity in Faial (and perhaps even one of my favorite things to do of the entire Azores) is without a doubt Capelinhos. By car, you’re driving through the green nature of Faial one moment, but when you approach the final hill to reach your final destination, it seems as if all the color has been sucked away from the area. This gray-black desert is the result of the most recent volcanic eruption in the Azores. In 1958, an underground volcano first began to simmer slightly, but a few days later it already spewed dust and lava upwards. The accumulation of all this gravel made Faial a bit bigger, but it also changed the surrounding environment into a kind of lunar landscape. The lighthouse, which was located barely one kilometer (0,6 miles) from this violent volcanic eruption, remained unharmed. You can even climb this elongated building to get a panoramic view of this beautiful area.

capelinhos volcano faial azores

Capelinhos. One of the most beautiful landscapes in the Azores in my opinion!

Capelinhos museum – Even more interesting than the lighthouse is the Capelinhos museum that lies beneath it. Partly underground, partly above ground, this informative center tells you about the explosion of Capelinhos and other documented volcanic eruptions from all over the world.
By means of videos, photos and scale models you are perfectly made aware of how a volcano works and how such an eruption can manifest itself. In this modern building you’ll also find some beautiful collections. My favourite? The hardened lava cannonballs, which were spewed on the land at an astonishing speed and cooled down so quickly that they promptly turned into stone.
Would you like to know more about the origin of the Azores or volcanoes in general? Then you shouldn’t skip out on this activity when you’re visiting Faial island!

capelinhos museum faial things to do azores

Such a volcano is really interesting! You should definitely visit this museum.

Peter Café Sport / Scrimshaw museum – If you’re looking for a cozy place to hang out in the harbor of Horta, then you must come to this café. On the inside you’ll see hundreds of flags that brighten up this authentic tavern. An even better reason to come here is the small museum that you find on the top floor. After all, there is one of the world’s largest (and most beautiful) collections on ‘Scrimshaw’. This English term refers to objects that whalers used to make during their (very long) voyages at sea.
The ivory teeth of the sperm whale were carefully saved, and after the surface was polished, beautiful drawings were applied. The bones of whales too were used to make quite beautiful items from! A ticket for this museum costs five euros. If you find that expensive, remember that one such an artful whale tooth normally costs about €2000 or more…

peter cafe sport faial things to do

Peter café sport: very popular with locals and tourists.

scrimshaw museum faial things to do azores

The scrimshaw museum. At the front you see an original whale tooth. Quite big, don’t you think so too?

Porto Pim – It’s not easy to find a paradise sandy beach in the Azores. Fortunately, you no longer have to search, because this beach seems to have been plucked away from the Caribbean.
The golden sand is flooded with transparent and calm seawater and when it gets too hot you can cool down under the gigantic, dark lava rocks that keep this beach a bit hidden. Sun, sea, beach and a beautiful view. Yes, this really is paradise!

porto pim faial

Porto Pim. The most beautiful beach in the Azores (in my opinion)!

Espalamaca viewpoint – Chances are that you visit Faial by boat (From Pico it takes only 30 minutes to get here). If you leave the port, it takes about five minutes to drive to the Espalamanca viewpoint. From here you also get one of the most spectacular views of the island. You see the beautiful harbor of Horta, but also the other side of the island. As if that isn’t already enough, you always get a beautiful background behind the island. Because you can see Pico and its impressive volcano from here.

espalamaca viewpoint things to do azores faial

The Espalamaca viewpoint on Faial Island! Come here for an exceptional panorama!

Caldeira – One of the most impressive things to do in Faial is the Caldeira. A gigantic volcanic crater that you can view from up high. In the deep abysses you see beautiful green and earth tones that alternate and if you know that the walk around this crater is eight kilometers (5 miles) long, then you really start to realize how gigantic this Caldeira is! Don’t forget an extra sweater or jacket, because the wind is quite fierce here!

caldeira faial things to do azores

One of the largest volcanic craters that I’ve ever seen! The Caldeira of Faial.

Praia do Almoxarife – I said it before: Faial has some nice beaches and this is definitely another one of them. This beach with pebbles (well… More like boulders if you ask me!) is really beautiful to see. The rounded, black lava stones stand in sharp contrast with the green environment of the country and the azure blue ocean that makes these ‘pebbles’ slowly roll over each other. Around this beach you can also find some nice cafes and eateries where you can quietly enjoy all this natural beauty.

praia do almoxarife faial island

The Praia do Almoxarife is wonderfully quiet and exceptionally beautiful. And in the distance you can see Pico!

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  1. Easy Trav says:

    Reading this and loving every part of it. I am blown away by the section on Caldeira das Furnas, reminds me of back home in my countryside where we live next to Mt. Longonot a dormant volcano, and we have hot water springs. Nature and Mother Earth have their ways! Nice pictures.

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