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Tips for Planning Your Trip to The Azores

COVID-19 is again surging and many people are stuck at home. It's true that the internet has made our isolation easier — providing endless entertainment and apps for everything from deal-making to yoga practice. But it's important to remember that the pandemic won't always be with us. Now is a great time to plan your next vacation.

If you've been thinking about traveling to The Azores, the following tips will help you prepare.

1. Create an Itinerary for Your Visit

It's essential to develop an itinerary for your trip to The Azores as there are seven different islands available to explore.

São Miguel is the most popular and developed island. It is also the largest with an area of nearly 300 miles. On the west end, you'll find blue lakes and craters surrounded by lush greenery. Traveling to the east side brings you to an area familiar with geothermal activity. It is probably the default island for someone new to The Azores.

If you decide to travel to one or more islands, be sure to examine the logistics of ferry and plane schedules. With Azores Airlines being your only option for flights, it can get expensive quickly due to a lack of competition. Flying between groups of islands in the Eastern, Central, and Western areas is probably your best option.

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2. Pack Appropriately

Bringing comfortable clothing and hiking shoes is a necessity if you want to enjoy your excursion.

You'll probably want to pack a light jacket and shorts for the summer months and shoes appropriate for hiking as the trails can get slippery. During winter, it rains frequently. A rain jacket is recommended.

You'll also probably want to pack the following:

  • Action camera
  • Power bank portable charger
  • Travel adapter plug
  • Small backpack
  • Swimming suit and towel
  • Water bottle.

3. Participating in Outdoor Activities

There are plenty of outdoor activities you can participate in when you're visiting The Azores. Hiking is usually on top of the list as there are many trails available.

You might also be interested in riding a horse around one or more of the beautiful lakes. There is also kayaking and sailing. Other activities offered include surfing, diving, whale watching, and swimming with the dolphins (or even sharks). As a result, you should be kept busy for a significant amount of your trip.

4. Enjoying the Hot Springs

São Miguel Island is known for its relaxing thermal springs. Planning your visit when it's a cold or cloudy day is ideal. Even the evening can be a refreshing time to visit. Note that your swimwear and towels may get stained due to the water's high iron content. Similarly, do not wear any jewelry that might get tarnished. And don't enter the water after using nail polish or dying your hair.

5. Visiting a Black Sand Beach

There is another manifestation of the volcanic activity in the area. São Miguel offers a couple of beautiful black sand beaches.

If you decide to walk on the beach, know that the sand can get extremely hot due to its ability to soak up the sun. It's also a good idea to be aware of the beach flags in the area if you're going into the water. Strong currents and big waves make it dangerous to swim at different times.

6. Eating Delicious Foods

Visiting The Azores wouldn't be complete without sampling the local delicacies. The food in the area is based on a Mediterranean diet and is quite affordable.

If you make it to the Furnas Valley, you'll want to try some Cozido das Furnas, which is a dish cooked using the heat generated from volcanic steam. It's available in upscale as well as low-price restaurants.

If you're a meat-eater, you've got to try the steaks in The Azores. The flavor and quality are top-notch.

7. Getting Around

Traveling around one or more of the islands is best done by renting a car as using a private guide or taxis can be expensive or even unavailable.

Be sure to plan and book a vehicle when you set up your flights. During the summer, it can become difficult to find a car for rent, even on São Miguel. While the area's landscape can be a little dramatic, the highways are decent and not overcrowded.

8. Take It Slow

The last tip to remember is not to rush your itinerary. Take time to make little detours and enjoy the area's nature. This should make your adventure even more enjoyable. Doing less is the best plan of action to take when you're heading to The Azores.

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