These 9 volcanic islands are reputed to be part of the legendary lost continent of Atlantis and were discovered in the fifteenth century by Portuguese navigators on their way to the New World. They were named "Açores" after the hawks that constantly circle the islands which the sailors mistook for vultures.
Set in the middle of the Atlantic 1000 odd miles West of Lisbon, for five hundred years the Azores have remained almost totally unspoilt, the tranquillity is ideal for those who wish to escape from the pressures of modern day life. The leisurely pace of agriculture and fishing has only recently been interrupted by the Autonomous Government’s realisation that tourism can also bring financial benefits.
So holidaymakers to the Azores are relatively few although, in the height of the summer Portuguese from the mainland rapidly fill the small number of beds available.
The cuisine of the Azores is rich and varied. The fish dishes, seafood, meat and cheese, pineapple and the famous Verdalho wines of the islands of Pico and Graciosa (once the table wines of the Tsars of Russia) form an enviable basis for regional cooking. Newer wines include the excellent Terras de Lava.
Not to be missed is the excellent "cozido" at Furnas on São Miguel, where sealed cooking pots containing a mixture of meats, vegetables and spicy sausages are buried in the ground for 5 or 6 hours and the food is slowly cooked by the steam from the ground near the sulphurous springs.
Traditional handicrafts reflect the folk law and activities of the Azores and include scrimshaw, (ornamental objects made from whale bone and theeth ) usually miniatures of whaling boats, artificial flowers made from fish scales, or wicker work, glazed earthenware and delicate carvings made from fig pith.
Daily flights connect the Azores with Lisbon with two flights per week to Madeira about 600 miles to the South East. SATA, Air Azores now has a direct flight from Gatwick to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel and this is the preferred means of access. Inter-island communication is quite sophisticated with British Aerospace ATP fifty seater turbo prop aircraft flying regular shuttles.
Two Ferries, "Cruzeiro das Ilhas" and "Cruzeiro do Canal", each about 80 feet long with seats on deck and below, a bar and TV lounge operate scheduled trips between Faial, Pico, São Jorge and Terçeira, taking just half an hour between Faial and Pico, 50 minutes between Pico and São Jorge and about five hours to Terçeira.
Day trips are therefore an attractive proposition and a considerable saving over the inter-island air fare is achieved by using these services as part of the holiday itinerary.
The climate of the Azores is equable all year round. Temperatures range from a mild 14 degrees Centigrade (57 Fahrenheit) in winter to a comfortable 22 degrees Centigrade (71 Fahrenheit) in summer. However the climate is, as one would expect, very much a maritime climate: one can therefore expect a wide variety of conditions within a very short period. A single day can produce wind and calm, and hot sun and showers in any combination! It is said that if you don’t like the weather in The Azores – just wait 10 minutes!
These temperatures are average temperatures in the shade and ignore the strength of the direct sun.
Hire cars are available on most Islands but are relatively expensive compared with the mainland.
In many ways it is more instructive to take the scheduled excursions available from our Representatives or better still take a car and guide/driver which can be arranged on request.
We felt that in the past the cost of taxi transfers have reflected an unacceptably high level of cost in relation to the flight and accommodation content. We have therefore omitted the cost of all taxi transfers from our price examples. These are now shown separately for you to add if you require us to arrange them.
As an alternative, it is a simple matter to take a taxi from outside the relevant Airport to the Hotel and vici-versa and a good deal cheaper.
Having said this, we are delighted to offer a quotation for any itinerary our clients would like to travel.
Our programme is totally flexible: you will note that Flights, Accommodation, Transfers or Hire Cars are shown separately. This allows you to create the exact itinerary to suit your requirements. Obviously if you need help in constructing such an itinerary, we are here at the end of the phone to offer advice and personal opinions.
A fully detailed itinerary which includes full details of flight times, our Representative’s telephone contact numbers, arrangements for excursions, and general instructions including a full set of service vouchers are included in our travel pack which also includes the relevant air tickets and is sent out approximately two weeks prior to clients departure.