Living in the Azores

Location, Climate and Nature

The Azores is an Archipelago composed of 9 volcanic islands located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between North America and Europe. The archipelago is organized into three groups of islands: the Eastern group – Santa Maria and São Miguel; the Central Group – Terceira, Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge and Faial; the Western Group – Flores and Corvo.

 

 

The moist in the air and the multiple ancient volcanoes have differently shaped the landscape of the islands. Green pastures and high mountains, breathtaking lakes and craters, beautiful coast lines and fajãs make each island a unique place to visit and live. The climate of the Archipelago is essentially dictated by its geographical location. Temperatures range from 14ºC to 28ºC. The seawater temperature, higher than in most European coastal regions on the same latitude, ranges from 15ºC to 23ºC.

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History and Culture

Discovered in 1427, the Azores have, from early on, attracted the attention of people from all over the world, a fact that has given way to a sustainable demographic growth since the first settlement (in the XVI century). The Azores has now around 246 772 inhabitants.

The geostrategic position of these islands turned them into a notable migration area: first, as an immigration point, attracting people from Mainland Portugal, Madeira, Europe, Africa and even from the Far East; second, as an emigration point mainly to Brazil, Canada, USA, and Bermudas.

This mixture of influences and civilizations originated an extremely rich architectural patrimony, materialized in lovely churches, manors, rural houses and gardens. This history is also echoed in a rich subaquatic archeological patrimony, part of which still lies hidden in the depths of the Azorean sea.

The religious soul of the islanders and natural events shaped many cultural activities in the Azores such as the Holy Spirit Celebrations, the Procession of the Lord Holy Christ of Miracles or the Cavalhadas.

Nevertheless, the joyful spirit and a peculiar sense of humor of the Azoreans have originated traditional carnival folk dances and parades, bullfights, music, food and wine festivals all over.

These are only some of reasons why the azores have been nominated for the European best destination of 2016.

Watch our foreign students as they discover the islands.

 

Living in São Miguel

São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores. Its landscape testifies to its volcanic origin and agriculture based economy. It is known as the green island, because green is the predominant color. From East to West, the island offers mountains and valleys, breath taking lakes, dense woods, natural hot water pools and dark sand beaches. Its picturesque villages, spreading around churches and chapels, testify to the local´s religious faith.

São Miguel holds the largest urban centre in the Azores, the city of Ponta Delgada. Classified in 37nd place in the "City Brand" ranking on life quality in Portugal, from 308 cities total. Ponta Delgada enjoys the cultural and social advantages of a middle-sized town, and the peacefulness and safety typical from a small town. Its streets and squares reveal both manor houses and modest attractive homes. Its pleasant parks and gardens, including the one on the university campus, are a tribute to nature and allow locals and visitors to enjoy long quiet walks and learn about the varied botanic specimens.

You can visit the city in ancient horse carriages, sightseeing trains and tuk-tuk taxis or walk around on foot, rent a bicycle or use the inexpensive mini bus system. Ponta Delgada´s central location allows you to easily visit great many beautiful sites in the island and take nice long walks by the ocean and to the beach.

Finding accommodation is easy and the city’s indoor and outdoor restaurants and bars offer you the traditional Azorean food at reasonable prices and a nice, joyful ambiance.

Come and enjoy Ponta Delgada. We will be thrilled to welcome you here!

Living in Terceira

Terceira is the lilac island. Its landscape resembles a huge quilt in different shades of green and brown, and its roads are sided by lilac hydrangeas.

Its small villages, volcanic caves, and endemic vegetation offer you diversity and beauty.

Its joyful locals rejoice in Carnival's plays and dances, gaily celebrate the Holly Ghost festivities and bullfighting, dress in color and joy for St. John's festival (Sanjoaninas), and cheer in music and wine festivals.

Terceira holds the city of Angra do Heroísmo, which is considered by UNESCO a World Heritage site since 1983 for its architecture and historical heritage. Its bay tells tales of English and French pirates, memories of the Portuguese and Spanish fleets that sailed to the Indies and of the battles between American Civil War ships. Angra do Heroísmo has probably the largest Spanish fortress in the world, with an area of 3 sq. km.

Leaning on the sea, the city goes up and down the hills, showing its beautiful churches, proud museums and pleasant gardens, full of secrets for you to explore and discover.

In Angra do Heroísmo you can taste good food and rich pastry in the numerous restaurants around.

Living in Faial

Faial is the blue island due to the beautiful blue hydrangeas bordering the roads. From there you can easily go by ferry to Pico island, and climb the highest mountain in Portugal (2351 meters) or go to São Jorge island and explore the exquisite Fajãs, where ancient huge landslides created shelter for people and special clams.

Faial offers you a testimony of the most recent volcanic eruption in the Azores, in the intense blackness of the volcanic ash of Capelinhos. Faial drives you up to a surprising landscape of a sleeping crater or “caldeira” and helps you get a nice tan in a beautiful beach inside a volcanic cone.

Faial holds the beautiful city of Horta, which has the 3rd recreational port in Europe and 4th in the world. Its marina tells you stories of sailors and sea adventures. Before departure, each yachtsmen draws in its walls and floor wishes of good luck and a fair journey.

Peter Café Sport, a local bar known all over the world, welcomes you to Horta. At Peter´s you can enjoy the most famous gin in the Azores or visite an interesting scrimshaw museum that displays memories of the ancient whaling industry in the Azores. Peter´s is also a post office and a currency exchange office for tourists and sailors.

Horta is famous for its maritime activities. It offers you many opportunities to practice different sea sports:  line fishing, deep sea diving, regattas and whaling canoe races. In August, the Maritime Week brings visitors from all over the world to experience music and food festivals and all sorts of maritime competitions.