Where to eat, sleep and play in the Azores
You’re pretty much guaranteed the best time on the remote little islands in the Atlantic, but these gems will take your trip from amazing to “let’s move here.”
Tasca das Tias, a stylish little restaurant in Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, has great seafood options – try the limpets (sea snails), a local fave. For afters, the unassuming tarte de amendoa (almond tart), with its dense texture and just-sweet-enough filling, is a surprise standout. We’re still thinking about it months later…
There are a lot of dairy cows in Terceira, and they have the cheese to prove it. Vaquinha Cheese Factory, just outside Angra do Heroísmo, is the place to get stuck in. Creamy and delicious samples greet you as soon as you walk in the door – gorge a little, then decide which type you want to take home with you. (The Tradicional is a good bet.)
The nautical-themed decor in Restaurante Genuino, in Horta, Faial, is pretty legit – much of it is souvenirs from owner Genuino’s solo sailing trips around the world. (He has done it twice.) The man himself does the rounds, chatting with tables and making wine recos. They serve only seafood here, and it’s super fresh (of course) and beautifully prepped.
Casa Âncora was opened by a young Russian couple who went to Pico on holiday and decided to never leave. The menu is more current and globally influenced than you normally find in the Azores (a tomato and strawberry gazpacho sounded a little suspect but was delightful, while the stone crab pâté was perfectly balanced). The bright, contemporary space overlooks the harbour and has a lovely ocean-view terrace to boot.
Vegetable soup sounds boring, but at À Terra, in Furnas, São Miguel, it was anything but. And it was the harbinger of more delicious food to come: an Azorean staple of fish and potatoes deconstructed and elevated with a delicately flavoured tomato sauce and veggies. Fun extra: A bread stick with the word “reserved” baked into it awaits you at your table in a stylish space that wouldn’t look out of place in New York or London.
For a marshmallow-y soft bed, make Azor Hotel in Ponta Delgada your home while in São Miguel. Open for just under two years, this cool property has a popular rooftop bar and pool, and the buffet breakfast has EVERYthing. Including champagne.
The cute volcanic-stone lodges at Aldeia da Fonte, on the south coast of Pico, sit in clusters near a high rocky edge overlooking the ocean, and they feel peaceful and secluded. The viewing platforms are perfect for sitting with a coffee and a book, or make your way down to the water, where there’s a partially enclosed natural swimming pool.
Conversion properties always have lots of character, and Pousada Forte de São Sebastião in Terceira is no exception. The 16th-century fortress is now a contemporary hotel overlooking the sea, and it’s walking distance to everything in Angra do Heroísmo, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
ADVENTURE (& POST-ADVENTURE)
Whether you’re after an adrenalin high or you prefer to have your adventures while comfortably seated, Futurismo Azores Adventures can sort you out – from scuba diving to jeep tours. We went whale-watching in Pico, and lovely guide (and actual research scientist) Rui made it his mission to find us some whales. (He succeeded.)
Hurray! Between March and June, migratory whales make their way through the Azores arquipelago! It is the best time to see fin whales, blue whales, humpback whales, sei whales and others (apart from the already resident species). More details in our ?blog: azoreswhales.blogspot.pt Photo by Miranda van der Linde . . . #futurismoazores #azoresadventures #visitportugal #visitazores #travelmore #oceanlife #whalegram #humpback #natgeo #wildlife #biology #migratory #epicnature #amazingwhales #deepbluesea #whalewatching #instagood
If you’re not prone to claustrophobia, tour Pico’s Gruta das Torres, a cave system of interconnected “lava tubes” formed 1,500 years ago. You can only go in with a guide, so there’s no fear of winding up lost in the depths of the earth.
For one of the most spectacular views in the Azores (and that’s saying something), take a drive up winding rural roads (which you might be sharing with cows) to the lookout point over volcanic lake Lagoa do Fogo. Try to go on a clear day, but if it’s overcast, cross your fingers, do a sun dance and wait for the clouds to part.
Although spending time indoors in the Azores is depriving your eyes (and your camera), it’s worth it for the treatments at Thermal & Spa at Furnas Boutique Hotel. Get the anti-aging Prodigy of the Ocean facial (if only for the name) then relax in one of the hot-spring pools (inside or out).