Nine islands. Nine worlds of graceful forms. Nine power places for your physical/mental health. How much do you know about them?
Azorean islands are unique and unforgettable, but they are still part of Portugal (a great benefit in terms of the favorable tax regime and opportunity to live in the EU country). You are utterly wrong if you think living in a natural paradise is just a daydream.
Azore and a Portuguese residency permit are fully accessible through a Portugal Golden Visa route. Right now, Azores is especially attractive because you can buy a residential property and still qualify for a program here. For now, these islands are one of the few exceptions, as, since 2022, a residence permit can be given only for purchasing residential property in low-density areas or commercial property anywhere in the country.
So, we are ready to say with confidence that no matter where you are with your studying of nature and the best places to live, this article will give you more than you expect.
The Azores is a great alternative to this beautiful tropical vacation hot spot and is often compared to it.
In fact, Azores not only have the same charms that have made Hawaii so famous among travelers but even leave behind the Pacific frontrunner. Just like Hawaii, the Azores also enjoys a moderate climate, and its climate is even much more temperate. Also similar to Hawaii, nine islands offer amazing landscapes, proximity to the Atlantic ocean, and a wide range of outdoor activities like whale watching.
The seafood here is especially incredible. Just taste an octopus stewed, and you’ll learn it by yourself! Some unique types of fish and dishes you’ve probably never tasted before. One major thing you won’t find in the Azores is the tones of tourists rivaling one another for a small patch of sand or the noise of big cities.
Some people also say that the Azores is the perfect combination of Hawaii and Iceland, as it takes the best of both worlds in one place. Why Iceland, you may wonder? Well, Bloomberg believes these places have a lot in common. The journalists even said that the Azores is a new Iceland. Like Iceland, this archipelago offers beautiful nature, beaches, a magnificent ocean, and even more.
The scientists say that the Portuguese may not be the first who discover the Azores. There is a hypothesis that Viking seafarers may have arrived 700 years earlier than de Silves and his crew (a little-known Portuguese explorer who allegedly explored the Azores). Despite leaving before the Portuguese sailors have come, some Norse rodent stowaways may have left the generic trace. Specifically, this suggests mouse DNA and lake sediment.
Azore islands are not only a great place for nature lovers. It’s also an interesting destination for golf players all year round.
Portugal, as a whole, enjoys some of the best golf courses in the European region. In 2017, the World Golf Awards named Portugal the World and Europe’s Best Golf Destination. Here it is worth mentioning Algarve, which has over 40 golf courses and golf resorts.
Azores golf courses have a special charm that attracts mass attention. While the main São Miguel Island has two golf courses, the neighboring Terceira can boast the last one.
The weather bows to the players, and the lush nature inspires, again and again, making nine islands a sought-after golf destination among winter-averse Europeans.
For example, the famous landscape architect Philip Mackenzie Ross made the amazingly beautiful Furnas Golf Course, perhaps one of the best golf courses here. Furnas is nestled in the heart of a grand volcanic landscape, the largest and most attractive lakes on the island. At the same time, The Vila Nova course on the island of Terceira is located near the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angra do Heroismo.
A long time ago, inhabitants of the Azores decided to name the Azores after colors based on the characteristics of each island. For example, Terceira is purple because of the purple facades of buildings on the island. Faial is commonly called a blue island because of the hydrangeas covering its landscapes. Graciosa is white, as it has a lot of whitish rocks. This is volcanic trachyte that changes its color due to the various geological processes.
In the past, the island was also inhabited by Spaniards, Flemish, French, enslaved Africans from Guinea, and Moorish prisoners. This led to the change in the genetic material of the Azorean population, which explains the difference between them and the Portuguese.
Enjoy tax exemption on almost all foreign source income due to the NHR, one of the most favorable and competitive European tax regimes. A special draw of the NHR regime for high-net-worth individuals is that it is granted for 10 years!
Not everyone knows that the Azores are underwater mountains’ peaks. Basically, they originated from 1766 volcanos, only nine of which are active. Like the tips of the icebergs, these islands rise from the Azores Platform at a depth of 2000 m. So if measured from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, these peaks are among the highest mountains worldwide!
If you want to know more interesting facts about the Azores, you might want to know that the mount Pico is the highest point on these islands and the highest mountain in Portugal!
The most likely scenario is that the Azores were named after an astor, a bird considered widespread in the archipelago but confused with the common buzzard. However, it is also possible that the origin of this name goes back to the discoverer Gonçalo Velho Cabral to Santa Maria of Açores.
Not everybody knows that Mark Twain was in the Azores. This unusual event happened in the nineteenth century while he was traveling on a ship and had to anchor in the port of Horta on Faial island in order to avoid the storm. He liked the islands so much that mentioned them in his new travel book. In his work “Innocents Abroad,” the famous author talks about the Azoreans and their living.
The Azores is a perfect fit for any traveler. Whether you are an adventure enthusiast passionate about great outdoor activities or just prefer staying in the lap of luxury, we bet you will not get bored. Here you can literally do everything – spelunking, hiking, mountain biking, canyoning, canoeing, and much more!
Lajes Field is a Portuguese Air Base, which is located on the island of Terceira. Known as the “Crossroads of the Atlantic,” Lajes air base is a necessary link between Europe’s allied forces, the US, Africa, and the Middle East, which is intended to support moving personnel, aircraft, and supplies. Actually, Lajes Field is the biggest runway in the European region, being 300 feet wide and 10,800 feet long. The US presence here is a so-called barrier to major Chinese involvement in the Azores.
One of the interesting facts about the Azores is that the Iraq war began just a few days after the crucial pro-war meeting on Terceira.
When you first see Vino Verde, you might think: “Hmm..It is not green!” But why is it called so? The answer is simple. In fact, the name Vino Verde refers not to the color but its age. This wine is made from the local wine grapes and bottled shortly after harvest, being designated to be consumed right away! That is to say that green wine is young. The experts say that Vino Verde can be produced only from a protected region Denominação de Origem Controlada.
Do you feel the spirit of Spain? Yes, you heard that right, this outstanding entertainment and Azores are a unified whole! Bullfighting, matadors, and emotions are hitting over the edge!
All this is due to Tourada à corda. This is a type of traditional bullfighting common to an autonomous region of Portugal, particularly Terceira, where bullfighting was one of the oldest traditions.
Just like the mainland, the Azores recognize Euro as the official currency (much to tourists’ happiness). And yes, you can pay here with MasterCard, American Express, or Visa!
According to 2017 data, the Azorean life span is 77.45. While the average life expectancy is 72.6 years, it’s a pretty good result! Well above average.
Perhaps an easy and relaxed pace of life and a healthy diet this land offers. The absence of big cities is also for good, as it can give a so-called sense of renovation and a new state of mind. The Azores are ready to welcome with friendly Azorean people, fresh dairy products, beautiful wine and meat, and a tea plantation.
Only imagine… Real, fresh tea has been only recently collected and prepared specially for you. Being a “Europe’s secret tea capital,” Azores have been growing tea since 1820!
Actually, tea is produced in many places, but in Europe, you will find tea plantations only in the Azores. In fact, the Azore Islands are actually the only part of Europe where tea is grown commercially.
A homemade organic coffee? I’ll take two!
Interestingly, coffee grows just in ordinary gardens, and all production is done manually. The inhabitants do not resort to chemicals. If you come here in May, you’ll probably see how people collect the harvest, which can also be a must-see on your list.
The official time on the islands has only one hour difference with the UK, two hours with Germany, three hours with the East Coast of Brazil, and four hours with the East Coast of the USA. This will benefit business people who need to negotiate in different parts of the world. Usually, in such cases, the time difference is quite big, and all business decisions have to be made inconveniently for one of the parties (either too early or too late).
If you’ve seen one, you definitely haven’t seen them all.
For example, the smallest island of the Azore group covers just seven square miles, while São Miguel, the largest one, is definitely not for a one-day tour (293 square miles). The same goes for the age of each island: the youngest island, Pico, is just 250.000 years old, and the oldest — somewhat between 8 and 15 million years.
Each island has its distinctive culture and personality, which its remote relocation has shaped.
All islands are divided into three groups:
While São Miguel, Terceira, Pico, and São Jorge are among the biggest in the group, Santa Maria, Graciosa, and Corvo are smaller islands.
So, choose which Azores Island you want to discover first?
Option 1: By air. Use a local airline SATA Air Azores in order to make island hopping easy and trouble-free.
Option 2: Use ferry services for the short trips in inter-grouping islands.
Important note: It is always better to ensure you have an Azores itinerary that makes sense. While you can decide on one island, it is always better to add a few more to your list, just in case. Also, study the logistics and determine the schedules of planes or ferries to other islands beforehand.
The Azores is a honeypie for business people or travelholics. With the Azores, you have direct flights to the US, Canada, and a few European countries like the UK and Germany. You can easily get there and back.
Check the full list of visa-free countries for Portugal passport holders.
Five international airports, as well as the maritime ports on all of the islands, are additional competitive advantages that the islands offer.
On the Azores, you won’t find either vast shopping malls or high-rise hotels.
Instead of the glitz and glitter so common today in the western world and so useless at the same time, the islands largely focus on sustainability. This tactic brought its fruits. In 2007, UNESCO named Corvo a Biosphere Reserve of international importance. Later UNESCO also designated Flores and Graciosa.
Enjoying time in the Azores is more than just a lazy sunbathing.
Since the Azores have a volcanic origin, these nine volcanic islands are just a thermal paradise!
The core set of the hot springs & thermal baths can be found on one of the archipelago’s largest islands, São Miguel. Here you can also enjoy calderas, volcanic heat, volcanic craters, and plenty of other geothermal activity. And don’t worry about proximity to volcanic units. The last volcanic eruptions in the Azores were in the mid-twentieth century, so the risk of repetition is minimal.
The water here is helpful from a medical standpoint. It can relieve stress, pain and benefit your physical and mental health simultaneously.
What comes to mind when thinking about pineapples? Probably, hot Africa or exotic Asia… And here you might be wrong. The Azores should be added to this list as well!
São Miguel is the only place worldwide where pineapples are grown in greenhouses. Now the industry is booming here.
Reminders of Catholicism are here everywhere. Each town has a large church. Pictures of Jesus or the Holy Mary are built into the walls of many homes. Many celebrations are linked to religious holidays.
As an example, one can note the Feast of Santo Cristo, which takes place on the fifth Sunday after Easter. This celebration involves a long procession where people hold a statue of Jesus Christ.
It is also interesting that one of the islands can boast about 70 small chapels known as “impérios”, which translates as “empires.”
The executive branch sits on the island of São Miguel with its capital Ponta Delgada. At the same time, the juridical unit is located on Terceira island. The last legislative branch you can find on Faial.
Portugal Golden Visa is a government-approved program that awards investors with residence permits in case of qualifying investments made to the country’s economy.
The Azores are a part of mainland Portugal, so if you are inspired by the beauty and unusualness of these islands, there is high time to know more about how to relocate there and what additional bonuses you get with this route.
The Azores is famous for many things. For example, São Miguel can boast a few golf courses, springs & thermal baths, and much more.
The theories vary, but one of the most popular Azores was named after a bird, which was confused with a buzzard.
The age of islands varies between 0.3 and 8 million years.
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