The Azores – Europe’s Hidden Gem

Story by Rodney Tugwell

This winter, SATA Azores Airlines will connect Toronto to the Portuguese Island of São Miguel with 3x weekly service, non-stop, to Ponta Delgada. Passengers visiting the Azorean Archipelago are able to get to this magnificent destination in just over 5 hours flight time aboard the new A321neo. The aircraft can transport up to 190 passengers and provides a high level of comfort on the medium-long haul routes. You don’t have to fly half way around the world to be canyoning, cycling, hiking, soaking in natural hot springs, sailing, surfing, diving, golfing, bird watching, tasting amazing typical cuisine, and whale watching.

SATA Azores Airlines is the first Portuguese airline to connect Canada with Portugal using the A321neo, and the only carrier offering year-round non-stop flights to the Azores.

For golfers, surfers, cyclists etc, SATA Azores Airlines allows 1 pc of sports equipment free of charge, as long as the equipment meets the specifications outlined on the website Other carriers may charge for this service.

Laid out across the Atlantic, the Azores is made up of nine major islands. Flores and Corvo to the west; Graciosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial in the centre; and Sao Miguel, and Santa Maria to the east.

The Azores are often referred to as the Hawaii of Europe, or Europe’s Best Kept Secret and are an autonomous Region of Portugal. It is practically impossible to visit the Azores and not be completely amazed by every single thing you lay your eyes on. National Geographic considers this archipelago as one the the most beautiful and sustainable destinations in the world, and recently the Azores was awarded Europe’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination 2021 by World Travel Awards.

The Azores is also one of the European Safest Destinations in 2021.

For information on restrictions and mandatory procedures for entry into the autonomous region of the Azores visit

Karen Evans, National Manager – Discover the World Canada representing SATA Azores Airlines recently visited the Azores, and tells Travel Courier about the experience.

“Our trip to the Azores was amazing. The weather was wonderful, tropical feeling with moderate temperatures (low 20’s during the day), so no jacket required. The scenery was spectacular, so green, lush, with flowers like the poinsettia and some hydrangeas still in bloom. The views captured while walking through the parks were breathtaking. The food was fantastic, and the Azoreans were extremely hospitable.

Travelling to the Azores is easy. As fully vaccinated Canadians, we just had to show our proof of vaccinations upon arrival, to enter. On the return, we completed a COVID PCR test within 72 hours of departure, downloaded the ArriveCAN app, completed the questionnaire, which required us to upload the test results, our vaccine and passport information. Upon arrival In Canada, we just showed our ArriveCAN completed questionnaire code, in order to enter. The process was smooth and easy. Of course you should always check the entry requirements before travelling, as they can change at any time.”

3 perfect days in Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada, on Sao Miguel Island is the capital and biggest island in the Azores archipelago (population approximately 68,000).

Day 1 – Embark on an adventure for the entire family! Whale watching is a unique experience, which offers the opportunity to see the great mammals of the oceans, in the deep blue waters of the Azorean sea. The activity is carried out by a professional team of skippers, lookouts and biologists, who can answer all questions and provide information on the marine life.

Day 2 – SÃO MIGUEL EAST TOUR with Pure Azores. Discover Furnas, a fascinating town located entirely inside a volcanic caldera. Explore the most active geothermal fields of the Azores, full of boiling springs and smoking pools. Taste the famous “cozido”, a local stew cooked buried in the warm volcanic soil. Marvel with the view from Pico do Ferro over Furnas lake. Reach Senhora da Paz, a secluded chapel in the mountains with an amazing view over Vila Franca do Campo town. Be dazzled by the beauty of Ribeira dos Caldeirões waterfall. Be inspired by the impressive high cliffs on the Northeast of the island.

Day 3 – SÃO MIGUEL WEST TOUR with Pure Azores. Enjoy breathtaking views of Sete Cidades, the main postcard of the Azores, that you simply can’t miss. Get inspired by the untouched natural beauty of Fogo lake, a crater lake surrounded only by wild vegetation. Discover Caldeira Velha, a unique place of thermal activity and iron-rich waters. Explore the West and North coasts of the island, with their impressive cliffs, volcanic rocks and surf beaches.

What your clients can expect when visiting Ponta Delgada:

  • The thermal water pools in Furnas are well known for their hydro-thermal resources. There are various springs of natural carbonic water, iron water pools and waterfalls.
  • While the official language in the Azores is Portuguese, most people involved in tourism speak English.
  • The cost of living in the Azores is reasonable. Despite being a remote location and a strong Euro the Azores are easy on the pocketbook.
  • There are two golf courses on the island, both certified and recognized internationally. The Furnas Golf Course (40km from Ponta Delgada) is a par 72 course with 18 holes. The Batalha Golf Course, 10 minutes from Ponta Delgada is a par 72 course with 27 hole.
  • A trip to the Azores would not be complete without a visit to the pineapple plantation. In the pineapple greenhouses it takes 2 years to raise a pineapple from flower to fruit. While far from tropical climate the rich organic soil is perfect for growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables.

SATA Azores Airlines will re-introduce non-stop service from Toronto to Terceira in June 2022 in time for the summer season.

Terceira, located in the central group of the Archipelago, is home to the Azores’ oldest city, Angra do Heroismo (population approximately 36,000), a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1983) steeped in history and capital of the archipelago. Located just 15 minutes from the airport this niche place is lined with cobblestone streets, churches, forts and gardens.

3 perfect days in Terceira

Day 1 – A walking city tour of Angra Do Heroismo (2-1/2 – 3 hours). This is a unique urban circuit which highlights the Sé Catedral de Angra do Heroísmo, Teatro Angrense, Palácio dos Capitães-Generais, Jardim Duque da Terceira (Public Garden) and Igreja da Misericórdia.

Day 2 – A full day tour around the island with Azores Getaways. A full-day tour will take you around the south, east, north and center parts of Terceira Island. Tour highlights include stops at Monte Brasil, Salga Bay, São Sebastião church, Serra do Cume viewpoint, Praia da Vitória, the ancient volcanic caves of Algar do Carvão, and the Wine Museum. The tour also includes lunch at a traditional restaurant where you’ll have the chance to try the beloved local dish of Alcatra de Carne (pot roast cooked slowly in a traditional clay pot.)

Day 3 – A day to enjoy an activity of choice, or a visit to the award-winning Queijo Vaquinha dairy farm & creamery to meet the happy cows of the Azores, and a tour of the factory for a behind-the-scenes look at the process of cheese from start to finish. Meeting the “vacas felizes” (happy cows) that produce the dairy, and trying our hand at milking a cow and feeding adorable baby cows is simply amazing.

What your clients can expect when visiting Terceira:

  • Culture – Terceira is the third stop of the archipelago recognized by Portuguese navigators in the early 1420’s.
  • Gastronomy – The cuisine of Terceira is marked by alcatra which comes from the the term “alcatre” the Portuguese word for “rump” which is the preferred cut of meat to pot roast. The Best of Terceira tasting menu at QB Restaurant is a delight to the pallet. Also check out the Dinner with live Fado at the Hotel Pousada.
  • Lifestyle – There is a Wine Museum in Casa Agricola Brum (Brum Agricultural House). A visit allows one to enjoy a taste of some of the best wines and liquers from the Azores.
  • Nature – Truly the destination is a travellers dream for nature lovers with the Atlantic’s mild winter climate – the islands of the Azores never get too cold or too hot which makes it a great destination to visit at most times of the year. During the winter months the average temperatures can hover around 14C while in the summer months 22C.
  • Azorean Hospitality – be sure to check out the Bensaude Hotel Collection

Combine the Azores with a visit to the mainland:

Key to the strategy of SATA Azores Airlines is the Stopover Azores Programme. Flying SATA Azores Airlines you can break the journey from one to seven days to see “two destinations for the price of one”. Touching the Azores provides an opportunity to hike to the rim of an ancient volcano, admire crater lakes of emerald green or deep blue, sip wine grown in lava fields, dine in a seaside village, or watch the sunset over the Atlantic before heading to mainland Portugal to discover the cosmopolitan cities of Lisbon and Porto.

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