How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?
The Azores is an archipelago of the Portuguese territory constituted by nine islands and these islands are organized in three groups accordingly with their relative position and proximity: Oriental Group, Central Group, and Occidental Group.
Oriental Group: Santa Maria Island and São Miguel Island
Central Group: Pico Island, São Jorge Island, Faial Island, Graciosa Island and Terceira Island
Occidental Group: Flores Island and Corvo Island.
There are lots of websites where you can retrieve geographical information about the Azores so I won’t spend much time on this subject. Also to know its geographic position you can go to Google Maps.
In spite the Azores being part of Portugal is totally different from the mainland and is far from sufficient to say that you will find there a unique environment, is like visiting a different country but with the same language although with a specific accent.
In between the several Azorean islands you will also find huge differences. While some islands are green, with a dozen lakes and waterfalls, others give you dark landscapes colors with impressive mountains.
These differences between islands are not only in the landscape but also in their traditions and ways of being. At São Miguel island you will find a considerable size island, all green and quite exuberant, with an architecture based on black and white buildings and,on the other hand, just to give an example, Pico island is dark and dry because of the volcanic dark stone and the locals love to paint their dark stone houses doors with red colour … the result is fantastic.
With nine islands and also considering the difficulties of access to some of them once in a while due to weather conditions, is totally impossible to visit them all in one week, at least it doesn’t worth your while to do it like that.
If you’re planning a one week tour, or 9 days for that matter, you will need to make choices regarding what islands to visit.
In this post, I will focus myself in a 9 days tour but later I will write another post considering a two weeks tour and these two possibilities will be very different.
Naturally that the answer will be that this will depend on your personal preferences. However, in case you are more willing to go trekking the answer will be to go visiting islands like Flores or São Jorge but if you are more of a general tourist maybe plan to spend more time at São Miguel and Terceira.
For the sake of the explanation I will divide the people that are interested in visiting the Azores in two big groups knowing that I’m taking the chance of leaving many possibilities out of this division:
Relaxed Group – Those that are more like a general tourist. Want some cultural activities, not too deep, some walks, not too far or not taking too much time, take some pictures, have some relaxation moments but get to know the place.
Active Group – Those that are interested in knowing the place while doing some physical activities like walking, maybe trekking, or scuba diving, photography, sea kayaking, etc, although are also interested in getting to know the place.
Note that, things like local food and wine tasting, getting to know people and some relaxing are included in both groups, naturally.
I know that splitting the people into two groups like this is probably not even fair but this is a blog post, not a scientific study … give me a break.
So, the question is now “How to divide the time to spend nine days visiting the Azores?”
Please bear in mind that I don’t like to travel with too much tide schedules or be all day long rushing but I also need to feel that I’m taking the most of my time in a balanced way. What is good for me is not necessarily the best for you so you will do your own decisions.
Relaxed Group: mix tour with some cultural activities, some photo opp’s and some walks
3 days at São Miguel island + 2 days at Pico island + 1 day at São Jorge island + 3 days at Terceira island
Active Group: plenty of opportunities for walking, scuba diving, serious photography, surf, rock climbing etc – two possibilities
3 days at São Miguel island + 2 days at Pico island + 2 days at São Jorge island + 2 days at Terceira island
3 days at São Miguel island + 3 days at Flores island + 2 days at Pico island + 1 day at São Jorge Island
This is only an idea of how to split time in between islands, you will decide what is best for you.
The Azores is in my short list of favorite destinations, I’ve been traveling there for many years and I know deeply all the islands.
There are infinite possibilities to do a wide variety of activities like walking, photographing, lay down on the beach, jumping from cliffs, cultural visits, you name it.
Is really difficult to select some islands to visit in one week, leaving out of the choice so many other wonderful places but this is real life with its limitations of time and money.
In this post I did not consider the logistic difficulties you can find when booking flights to the Azores, that will always depend on where do you come from. Although I consider how hard/easy is to move from one island to the other also taking into account how far in time are they from each other.
Later I will write a series of posts regarding each island and with some ideas of what can be done here and there adding some information to what can be already found on the internet. Also, I will also explain the reasons for the above selections.