Recommend December 2017 - 46

iNSiDERTIPS

Sao Miguel island in the Azores.

An Unspoiled European Paradise
The AzorEs, those nine mid-Atlantic islands, spanning more than 370 miles, lying 900
miles west of Lisbon, are said by some to be the Lost Continent of Atlantis, and cited by
others as the untrampled Hawaii of the Atlantic. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1427,
they are volcanic in origin, and today steep-sided beautiful and wild. The international air
gateway to the archipelago is the handsome capital Ponta Delgada on sao Miguel
island, which has no shortage of places to stay, including the 123-room Azor Hotel, a
member of Design Hotels.
Connected by ferries and local air, each of the islands has a distinct character, offering
adventures that take in Portuguese colonial heritage, high-rise vistas, lava ruins, hot
springs, intriguing cuisine, and even vineyards and tea farms. Activities abound-worldclass whale watching, hiking and biking, canyoning, swimming with dolphins, diving with
manta rays, kayaking, surfing, and horseback riding. For nature lovers and adventure
seekers, the Azores are high-octane.
Highlights include a visit to the Lake of Fire, a caldera lake located in the very center
of an extinct volcano. Or how about checking out two of Portugal's UNESCO World
Heritage sites: Pico Island's unique wine country-the area has been producing wine since
the 15th century-and the old town of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira, with its wellpreserved architectural gems, including cathedrals, churches and convents. If hiking is on
the agenda, then do consider Sao Miguel's rocha da relva, a remote trail dotted with
vineyards and offering striking views of the coast. In the village of Furnas in Sao Miguel,
you'll want to take a dip in Terra Nostra Garden's thermal pool, and you can't leave The
Azores without visiting sete Cidades, one of the destination's most beautiful sceneries. ♦
24

> Rent a car from Lisbon and
head for the southern coast. You
can either take the 2-hour express
highway to get to the bottom tip
of Portugal, or you can take the
west coast scenic highway, with
stops for photos and taking about
4-5 hours of your day, to get to
the southern coast. On the scenic
highway, you can find jaw-dropping
cliff views, sites of shipwrecks and
cozy Portuguese towns scattered
about. But once you get to the
southern coast, head to the city of
Lagos. Try the delicious seafood
and other delicacies this region
has to offer. Take a walk around
the inner historic city and notice
just how cozy the little pedestrian
streets and restaurants are. Be
careful when you're eating dinner
on the street however, because on
the off chance a car has to pass
through the street, you will have to
stop your dinner and pick up your
tables and chairs to make way for
the car (while this is not common,
it isn't unheard of). After spending
your day here, head to a location
called Ponta da Piedade. Once
here, enjoy the stunning views
of rock formations and sandy
beaches mixed in with each other
making for a fun boat ride along
the coast or for semi-private and
not-so-crowded beaches divided by
beautiful rock formations. Try taking
a walk along this coast; if you're
lucky, you might even find one of
those caved hidden beaches and
have it all to yourself as the waves
slowly wash away your worries.



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Recommend December 2017 - 1
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