The Azores are a world-their-own of countless adventures, activities and experiences. The different landscapes make it a perfect location for active travelers. For Americans who visit, retire or relocate here, you can hike in the morning, whale watching in the afternoon and surf by the sunset. But traveling is all about discovering new cultures and ways of thinking. And what is the best way to get to know a place? Hanging out with the locals! Find out some of the best typical places to sip an espresso or a glass of wine and take in the local culture.
“If you sail to Horta and you don't visit Peter, you have not actually been to Horta”
Entering Peter Café Sport is like traveling without leave the same place: the walls are full of yacht flags and ensigns that make you want to depart on the next boat. If you’re a sailor crossing the Atlantic, Peter Café Sport is a mandatory stop; if you’re a traveler visiting the Azores, this is also a place that you can’t miss!
Everyone around can point you the way to the historic center of Horta, in Faial Island, where you can find this historic and cultural milestone café. Over the years, ship’s crews and sailors have passed by Faial and left behind gifts and photos that contribute to make this café such a unique place.
Run by Azevedo family since the 19th century, the café changed location and name several times. During the First World War, in 1918, Henrique Azevedo, one of the owner’s son, called it “Café Sport” because he was a sport enthusiast.
When the Royal Navy’s HMS Lusitania II from was docked at the island a petty officer in charge of munitions and maintenance, said that the young José Azevedo looked reminded him of his son, Peter. He started to call him “ Peter” - as he missed his son. The nickname stuck, and he was known by that Peter for the rest of his life, adopting the name for the café.
Today, Peter Café Sport is run by José Azevedo, “Peter’s” son, and is recognized as a magic place full of stories, photos, flags and memories from those who passed in Faial Island. In 1986, the Newsweek magazine named it as one of the best bars in the world.
Nowadays, more than a place to drink and eat some delicious fresh fish, this is the perfect spot to hang out with the locals, play draughts and dominoes or gather information about the sea conditions and the weather! And if you’re feeling like sailing the world, check at the board if some crew needs a plus one!
Anchored at Peter Café Sport, the Scrimshaw Museum displays a collection of precious items made from the teeth and bones of sperm whales with engravings and bas-reliefs. And don’t leave without trying the famous Peter gin tonic.
Discovering Ponta Delgada’s historic center
The Tabacaria Açoriana is a traditional café of social gathering in the historic center of Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel Island. Back in the day, the locals used to meet here, mainly on Sunday mornings, to discuss news and life. It was always a very special place because it was the store where the locals could buy books and newspapers from the mainland. The draw of cultural and political news was an attraction to the youth – who often filled the Tabacaria.
The owner, Mr. Fernando, transferred his passion for culture to his children, who continued the business. Nowadays, they organize each year a Christmas Book Fair that is already a tradition in Ponta Delgada. Tabacaria Açoriana is a great place to try a ‘café (espresso) and much on a light meal, while reading the national and international magazines and newspapers.
Walking around the historic center, you may also find other traditional cafés that are considered important leisure and cultural places, where the locals meet and socialize. One of that spots is the Café Central, reopened in 2006. With a contemporary design and cozy atmosphere, it has an outdoor esplanade and it remains a central meeting point for locals and travelers. The Café Mascote and Café Royal are also famed places in Ponta Delgada where you can enjoy the traditional sweet treats.