Set on a sandy beach, Praia da Vitória is Terceira’s second city. And, the beach with its black sand looks out on the clear and Atlantic ocean. It is lined with small eateries and fishing boats, and is bathed in sun year-round in the mild climate of the Azores.
Archeologist Jorge Alarcão said the pools appear to be mikvah, or ritual Jewish baths, predating the 14th century – or the reign of King D. Fernando I. The remarkable state of preservation, as well as intact frescos, led the team to conclude that these were mikvah for Jewish women. “This could be the only discovery of its kind made in Portugal.”
The Azores have a depth of caves, but on a volcanic set of islands – caves are really lava tubes. These are natural caves formed by lava flowing beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow long ago.
Created by dramatic volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago, the Azores exists as an unusual and varied environment. And, in those nine islands the 7,700-foot peak of Pico island rises above the green, sculptured landscape to the highest peak in all of Portugal.
From hotels built in palaces to love stories that span the ages Portugal is home to numerous places perfect for igniting (or reigniting) the flames of love. One of those is the Madeira Island. Known as the island of flowers, Madeira has unforgettable sunsets, fantastic scenery and romantic restaurants. The island of Madeira is the perfect place for a romantic honeymoon. Wander hand in hand through the Botanic Gardens or the Orchid Gardens.
The Laurisilva is found primarily at an altitude between 900 and 4,200 feet and protects a wide variety of rare flora and fauna including the rare Priolo bullfinch. The Laurisilva Forest laurel tree is conical tree that can grow as high as 60 ft. tall. Today, the Laurus azorica is only found in the archipelago of the Azores.
"P. azorica is arguably Europe’s rarest bona fide orchid species," their report says "and the almost equally rare Platanthera micrantha is one of the best indicators of semi-natural Laurisilva habitats remaining on the Azores."
Several outfitters offer Jeep tours to the crater lakes of Sate Cidades, the central mountain crater lake of Lagoa do Fogo, the Furnas Valley and the rugged Nordeste region.
The wine islands of the Azores
Porto is also Portugal's cultural capital, with an amazing riverfront of stores, eateries and nightlife. Its rich monuments, nearby seaside towns and Port wine houses make it a wonderful place to explore.