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The Azores Islands

From hot springs to high-octane adventures, Portugal's archipelago has it all.
  While the Canary and Balearic Islands might be more frequently visited by tourists, a trip to the Azores can offer variety and excitement for a fraction of the cost. Hopping between these nine characterful volcanic islands allows you to experience everything that the Azores have to offer. 
  Whether you prefer leisurely ambling around historic towns or hightailing through volcanic vistas on an adventure tour, these colourful destinations deliver memorable experiences at every turn.
  Most journeys through the Azores begin on its largest island, São Miguel. Nicknamed 'the green island' (ilha verde) for its abundance of natural beauty, this is a land where volcano biking tours can be interspersed with luxurious dips in the naturally heated waters of thermal springs and serene walks around hydrangealined calderas.
  Sete Cidades is a particular highlight, with 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) of trails bordering two impressive lakes. It's said that these waters contain the tears of two lovers a green-eyed princess and a blue-eyed shepherd, whose forbidden romance and reluctant separation led to the formation of lakes matching the colours of their eyes.
  Elsewhere on São Miguel, it's worth spending some time in Ponta Delgada, the Azores' largest city and economic capital. Immerse yourself in the local culture while you meander between bars and restaurants, sampling affordable plates of petiscos (Portuguese tapas) and cocktails while bobbing along to the beat of live bands.
  Ponta Delgada happens to be an ideal base for some of São Miguel's best day trips. A 20-minute westward drive will take you to Caldeira Velha, a waterfall and hot spring where you can take a dip in the surrounds of jungle-like foliage. After your geothermal bath, continue west to Furnas and try the local delicacy. Cozido das Furnas, a warm meaty stew cooked using volcanic steam.
  You can easily fill a holiday with the fun that's to be had on São Miguel, but doing so means missing out on the Azores' eight other bountiful islands. Santa Maria is the southernmost, boasting warm weather and beautiful beaches. If you plan on visiting in August, be sure to stick around for Portugal's oldest music festival, Maré de Agosto.
  Angra do Heroísmo is among the most impressive historic attractions on the island of Terceira. The whole city is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - you can easily spend a day here marvelling at the architecture of palaces, churches and museums dotted around its patterned streets.
  The Azores is one of the best locations in the world for whale watching Guided tours are available throughout the islands, but Faial features some of the most renowned ones. Board a boat in Horta and keep an eye out for some of Earth's biggest beasts, including sperm whales and blue whales.
  Weather in the Azores can be unpredictable. While generally mild, the archipelago's oceanic climate can result in clouds and rain throughout the year. Bring a raincoat along with your bathing suit to ensure you're equipped to handle whatever the islands throw at you.