Off-the-Grid Adventure During an Azores Vacation in Portugal

Fogo Lake on Sao Miguel
Fogo Lake on Sao Miguel

The Azores off the coast of Portugal are one of Europe’s best-kept secrets — mass tourism has not hit this archipelago yet in the same way it has the Portuguese mainland. Known as “Europe’s Hawaii,” the Azores islands (all 9 of them) are shaped by volcanic activity: beautiful black sand beaches, incredible caverns, craters and fertile soils. Add to that countless waterfalls, thermal pools, hot springs and geysers; flora and fauna not seen anywhere else; and guaranteed whale, dolphin and porpoise-spotting … Mother Nature is definitely in charge here. For families who love adventure paired with world-leading sustainable tourism, an Azores vacation ticks all the boxes.

Azores Family Travel
Fogo Lake on São Miguel

Azores Family Travel 101

The best island to visit with a family is São Miguel (one of the most easterly of the group), as it is the biggest and easiest to get to, and has loads to see and do. Flights here — only three and a half hours from London and two and half hours from Lisbon — are frequent. So don’t be daunted from visiting the Azores if you’re traveling from the United States.

Seven to ten days are adequate for families to get acquainted with the island’s volcanic side and the culture of the towns, as well as to lose yourself in nature and partake in fantastic adventures like sailing, diving, surfing, paragliding and more. A typical itinerary, with a home base in Ponta Delgada (the Azores’ capital), might be built around active pursuits like kayaking, a mountain bike tour in the hills, whale-watching over the Atlantic waters and lagoon snorkeling.

We can help you plan an amazing Portugal family vacation

Ciao Bambino's expert Family Vacation Advisor Team can book accommodations, arrange kid-friendly tours and guides, and more. Click here to send us a request >

Round those out with a trip to Furnas Lake, a Jeep tour of the island, swimming with dolphins and canyoning in the Azores’ national park (Ribeira dos Caldeirões). At the geysers in Furnas, home to one of the most active volcanoes in the islands, steam escapes from deep under the ground, and you can try your hand at using it to cook a traditional cozido stew.

Natural thermal pools like Poça da Dona Beija, Caldeira Velha and Terra Nostra are surrounded by wild forests of palms and conifers, creating a surreal landscape perfect for relaxation after a long day of sightseeing.

Tip: Pick the gloomiest day of your trip to go to the hot springs; warm water feels better when it’s cold and rainy outside.

Azores Family Travel
The old city of Angra do Heroismo on the island of Terceira

Farther Afield

If you want to venture to another of the isles, explore the Capelinhos volcano on Faial, where you can walk on the apocalyptic lava remains of a recent eruption (walking on the moon springs to mind). The Azores also hold two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the old town of Angra do Heroismo on the island of Terceira; and the vineyards on Pico island. For those who love exploring the historical side of a location, the Azores can tick this box too.

When to Go

Sao Miguel is at its best in the summer months of June to September (although be aware that the weather can be unpredictable, as the island sits in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean). Temperatures in May through July are from 16-20 degrees C (60-68 degrees F), and August is a temperate 20-26 degrees C (70 to 80 degrees F). The subtropical climate and watery surroundings make it prone to occasional thunderstorms.

Azores Family Travel
Caldeiras das Furnas, a hot spring on São Miguel

Families Should Know

• There is no perfect age to visit the Azores, but older children will definitely get more out of the amount of activities on offer. They also may better appreciate the beauty of the changing landscape and the sustainability of the region.

• Locals are very proud of their islands and eager to educate travelers about conservation issues; they have deep respect for nature and the ocean in particular. The people are a huge asset and are some of the friendliest in the world. Their English is impeccable, thanks to Portuguese TV not dubbing American movies into Portuguese.

• Public transportation is not the Azores’ strongest point, so getting between the islands can be time-consuming. Flying between them is definitely quicker (but costlier) than taking ferries — even a trip between São Miguel and Santa Maria, the two islands in the Eastern Group, takes at least three hours.

• Try and get here before mass tourism does. Enjoy the silence and beauty of your surrounds before you are having to queue for that Kodak moment! It also means it is more common for families to rent guest houses as opposed to splurging on luxurious 5-star hotels, which are hard to come by here.

An Azores getaway will be one for the memory book, even if it isn’t a top-of-mind family destination. It’s not a matter of if it’ll someday become more popular, it’s when. Let us help you navigate the trip planning.

Relevant Links:

Browse all family-friendly vacation ideas and accommodations in Portugal on Ciao Bambino

The perfect Portugal road trip with kids

Great kid-friendly things to do in the Algarve, Portugal

Best things to do in Lisbon with kids

Editor’s Note: Photos by Turismo Açores.

Start a Discussion

  • Hi
    We are a family of 2 adults and 2 teenagers 15 & 12. We are looking to come to the Azores end July for 10 days. We ideally want to visit 2 or maybe even 3 islands. We would like advice as to how we can do this and what to see without trying to achieve too much.
    General advice please

    • Hi Danielle – We’re glad to help! I will have a Family Travel Advisor reach out in email to explain how our planning service works. Happy travels!

  • We are looking at potentially going to Sao Miguel next summer. I’ve worked with a CB travel guide before. Was hoping we could get some ideas and suggestions of how easy it would be to do this vacation with 3 children… they will be 13, 12, & 10 next summer when we are looking at traveling there. THANK YOU!!!

    • Hi Stephanie, thanks for using Ciao Bambino! We’d be happy to help with your plans. One of our Family Travel Advisors will reach out in email with next steps. Happy travels!

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let Ciao Bambino! Plan Your Dream Trip with Kids

Get the latest family travel news, exclusive deals & more!

Sign up for our newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about special promotions, perks, tips and hot destinations.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sign In

Want to save all the great intel and tips you are finding on Ciao Bambino? My Trip Planner allows you to bookmark articles, family-friendly hotel reviews, and family vacation packages. Simply click the heart icon on anything you want to save. Site registration is required to get started. Happy planning!

Create an Account

Please fillout the form below to create your free My Trip Planner account.