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Attractions in the Azores three main islands | Private jet charter

An enigmatic group of nine volcanic islands located some 900 miles off the coast of Portugal, the Azores is a paradise for nature lovers. The islands are renowned for their whale and dolphin watching, dramatic lake-filled calderas, colonial architecture, beautiful natural landscapes, great surfing, and superb hiking and cycling routes. Here are the main attractions on the three most popular islands in the Azores.

São Miguel

The largest island in the Azores is also home to the archipelago’s capital, Ponta Delgada. São Miguel’s rich history and colonial rule is evident at São Brás Fort, whose 16th-century ramparts are superb vantage points for panoramic vistas of the city. The colonial theme continues at Gothic St Sebastian Church and the 18th-century City Gates. Explore the island’s abundant volcanic scenery at the twin crater lakes of Sete Cidades, and swim at Ponta da Ferraria after admiring the wildlife at Fogo Lake nature reserve. Renowned for its whale and dolphin watching, you’ll see cetaceans at any time of the year across the Azores. Underground attractions include the fascinating cave complex at Gruta do Carvão, while climbing Mount Pico (2,351 metres) on nearby Pico Island is highly recommended.

Terceira 

North-west of São Miguel, Terceira is the second most inhabited island of the Azores archipelago. The beautiful mansions in the island’s main settlement Angra do Heroísmo are a testament to the Age of Discovery. Visit the city’s main museum, housed in a former convent, and the 16th-century cathedral, before enjoying a walk in the beautiful Duke of Terceira gardens via the cobbled Rua da Sé with its whitewashed historic houses. Terceira is a nature lover’s paradise with natural rock-carved swimming pools at Biscoitos, adrenaline sports, hiking and biking, 4×4 island tours and of course whale and dolphin watching. Climb into a volcano at the amazing Algar do Carvão, just 15 minutes from Angra and ascend Monte Brasil for wonderful views across the city.

Santa Maria

The most southern island in the Azores, Santa Maria is just 15 minutes by plane from São Miguel and boasts the best beaches in the region for swimming and snorkeling. The most well-known is Praia Formosa which attracts windsurfers, divers and water-skiers. Sailing is popular here – hire a boat or join a guided tour around the island and enjoy game fishing, diving and spear fishing. Caving enthusiasts will head to Furna de Santana and the Furna Velha and enjoy the man-made grottos at Gruta do Figueiral. Volcanic activity – albeit ancient – is on view at the astonishing Ribeira de Maloas, a unique rock formation created when volcanic lava reached the sea and froze. For great views, climb Santa Maria’s highest point, Pico Alto at 590 metres high.

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