The islands of The Azores, Portugal, offer an unbelievably beautiful backdrop for engagement photos, weddings and honeymoons. It is a great fit for an adventurous couple looking for a destination off the beaten path. Only a 5 hour direct flight from Toronto, the islands offer a scenic alternative to the Caribbean. Keep reading for some of my top picks for where to go, what to eat, and what to see while in The Azores. I just came back from a fun trip to The Azores, Portugal, and I can’t wait to share highlights with you!
A huge thanks to Rhythm Photography for helping me capture our trip so beautifully!
The Azores overview
The Azores is made up of nine islands, with the biggest being São Miguel (this is where I visited). Daily direct flights from Toronto to São Miguel will take about 5 hours with Azores Airlines (previously known as Sata Airlines). Stopover in São Miguel on the way to Lisbon for a well-rounded trip!
With a huge collection of natural landscapes and wonders, delicious foods and lots of outdoor sports activities, The Azores is a unique spot for couples looking for an adventure. This is not a destination for couples wanting to party (there really is no nightlife). But if vacation to you sounds like bathing in hot springs, taking in views and exploring outdoor activities, this is for you. It is also not that expensive while on the island, since it is not overrun by tourism.
Where to stay
With few large hotel chains on São Miguel, most accommodations offered will feel local, charming and boutique. Map out what you’d like to do while on the island before deciding where to stay, as there is no easy way to get around without a driver.
I had the pleasure of staying at Azor Hotel, the only five star hotel in São Miguel. Boasting views of the harbour, quirky decor and a warm, modern aesthetic, this hotel offers comfortable amenities to start off your trip.
Location: Located just outside a small town and a car ride away from local attractions, you can enjoy some privacy while being very conveniently located.
Amenities: Each room is well appointed with everything you need. The ‘secret’ rooftop bar offers a beautiful spot to relax by the outdoor pool while watching the sunset (I call it secret, because it is not easy to find!). A new spa is being built off their rooftop bar.
Dining: Food at their restaurant is very delicious. The breakfast buffet spread is very generous, offering made-to-order eggs, fruit, pastries and local delicacies.
Getting here: Any destination with water and mountains are going to be a little remote. Fly into Sao Miguel Airport and hire a driver to get you to the hotel. Taxis are unfortunately really expensive here, but it is the only way to get anywhere.
Checking in at the quirky reception desk.
View from the rooftop bar. Wearing a custom romper from Toronto designer, By Catalfo.
Hotel room at Azor Hotel in the Azores, Portugal. Wearing a comfy floral robe from Toronto designer, By Catalfo.
View from my room at Azor Hotel in the Azores, Portugal.
What to eat
If you love seafood and meat, you will love the Portuguese cuisine here! Octopus, sweet potato, bread and cheese, tuna, steak… all are popular, local eats. Dairy and beef are the main industry, with tuna and tea following closely behind. Expect to eat a lot of this!
Just around the corner from the hotel is a hip seaside restaurant called Cais Da Sardinha. The food and hospitality here are fantastic, and they have the capacity to host a wedding reception on their terrace with a covered tent.
At Azor Hotel’s resident restaurant, A Terra, you will be delighted with tasty food and a great view. Dining here for breakfast gave me a hint of what was to come for dinner, and I was not disappointed! The restaurant is beautifully appointed, and offers a modern take on Portuguese cuisine.
On the east coast of the island is a small restaurant called Saca-Rolhas Taberna that offers generous portions of really delicious local eats. The garlic bread is to die for and the octopus was especially tasty.
What to do
If you love the outdoors, you will a happy camper in The Azores! There is plenty to do outdoors. Aim to travel in May and June or the shoulder season, when the weather is at its best. Here is just a taste of what you can do while on the island of Sao Miguel, in The Azores.
Kayak among scenic landscapes and waters.
Brave the oceanic volcanic thermal pool of Ponta Da Ferraria, located just inside the rocks you see above (so cool!).
If you want something quirkier, bathe in the natural iron pools in the Royal Botanical Gardens. It is also a beautiful park to stroll.
If you want something more luxurious, bathe in the indoor/outdoor salt water thermal pools at Furnas Hotel (guests from Azor Hotel receive a discounted rate here).
Catch some whales and dolphins on a whale watching trip.
Surf on the northern side of the island in the surf center.
Take (lots of) photos
Beyond the delicious food and outdoorsy activities, you really have to take a driving tour and take in the scenery. This island is beyond stunning everywhere you turn. The higher up you go, the better the views.
If you are thinking of getting married here or nearby, you must make a day trip for a photoshoot at the multitudes of beautiful spots for photos. The natural lakes formed from the craters are the quintessential Azorean backdrop, and it is a must for photos!
Fire Lake (or Lagoa do Fogo) on Sao Miquel, Azores
Visit one of the famous crater lakes, like Lagoa de Santiago
The best views of all the nearby lakes is Miradouro da Lagoa do Canario.
Take a photo next to this waterfall in Parque Natural da Riberia dos Caldeiroes. So so beautiful!
Visit the park and viewpoint at Pico Longo for lovely views of both the water and the manicured public park.
Take a drive through the island and you will see views like this everywhere. Just remarkably scenic!
It was so much fun to visit The Azores and see all it has to offer with these ladies by my side! If you are interested in The Azores as a potential wedding or honeymoon destination, don’t hesitate to connect. I’d be happy to plan it with you!
Rebecca Chan is a Toronto wedding planner and day of wedding coordinator providing sophisticated planning for the style-savvy couple. Whether you need planning assistance or wedding day coordination, Rebecca can help you create your dream wedding day. Contact her today, she'd love to hear from you.