HIDDEN GEMS: unique and special destinations we love – The Azores, Portugal

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Portugal is a country that has gotten quite a bit of attention from travelers in the past few years and for good reason.  There are so many places to see on the Azores, in this tiny, oceanside destination that are worth exploring, so many historical cities, wonderful cuisine, spectacular beaches and amazing hospitality that are making Portugal a rising star in traveler dream lists. 

Of all the places in Portugal to explore, though, there is one particular destination that is sure to become your favorite, especially for those who love the outdoors  – the amazing Azores.

The past few weeks, we’ve shared with you some “hidden gems” in the countries that Bella Vita travels to that are great additions to your itinerary and just the right amount of off the beaten path.  The Azores are the epitome of a place like this, and are almost always a fixture on lists of travel’s best kept secrets.  An archipelago of 9 volcanic islands, all relatively close together and all inhabited, lie in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a little more than halfway from the east coast of the United States and mainland Portugal.  For travelers coming from North America, it’s an easy addition to an itinerary on your way to the continent but one that many have yet to discover – only 2 hours from Portugal and about 4.5 hours from the east coast of the USA.  

For more active travelers, the Azores offer almost endless options for excursions and tours.  Whale and dolphin watching is spectacular here due to the mid-ocean location – there are over 25 different species that you can see, and there are also excellent opportunities for scuba diving and snorkel trips.

Kayaking, paragliding and surfing are activities for those a little more adventurous, but for those who prefer to relax, there are also a variety of natural hot springs and pools nestled in the lush island scenery of the Azores.

These volcanic islands are often compared to a warmer Iceland, or also called the Hawaii of Europe.  Dramatic scenery like cascading waterfalls, lush greens, exotic and bright flora and fauna and natural lakes in volcano craters are a few of the sites you’ll see exploring any of these islands.  Beach lovers will find a variety on all of the islands that make up the archipelago, from rocky to smooth black sand.  

All of these amazing reasons are paired with typical, warm Portuguese hospitality, incredible food, and prices that are much lower than more visited destinations.

The Azores are a destination that not many travelers have heard of but one that first time visitors will never forget, and travel secrets like this destination are great additions to your tailor made itinerary.  

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