The Azores Honeymoon Guide for Beauty at Every Turn
European excursions are a dime a dozen, and many make incredible spots for a honeymoon. There's the cosmopolitan feel of a London or Paris getaway. The Almalfi Coast offers beaches and Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, offers a bit of both with its sweeping Atlantic views, cobblestone streets, and ample dining and nightlife options. Less than three hours from Lisbon lies one of Europe's hidden gems: the Azores.
The archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean feels like a world away from a city (and reality in general). The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is comprised of nine islands and boasts one-of-a-kind views of seemingly untouched landscapes and plenty of opportunities to combine adventure with relaxation.
That said, the Azores can literally feel like a world away when you're en route. Direct flights are rare. Expect a 16-hour flight with a connection from New York City and nearly a day in the air—22 hours—from the West Coast. Relatively speaking, it's under 13 hours from Atlanta to the Azores, with at least one layover.
Are the Azores Good for a Honeymoon?
The Pros of an Azores Honeymoon
Simply put, the destination is stunning and a must-visit for adventurous couples who love beautiful landscapes. "The Azores are perfect for nature lovers," says Filomena Brás, a Portugal-based Reco trip designer. The geography is diverse and breathtaking. Honeymooners can experience hot springs, lagoons, volcanos, lakes, and mountains. Relaxing in hot springs sounds luxurious—and it is—but Brás says that an Azores honeymoon is ripe for adventure, like hiking and swims with some of the archipelago's water-bound residents.
The Cons of an Azores Honeymoon
The archipelago simply isn't the type of destination for couples who want to park themselves in a chaise lounge by the beach or pool. That alone is a fundamental difference from Hawaii. "It isn't tropical islands with resorts on golden sandy beaches," Brás says. In fact, many beaches are rocky. Newlyweds looking for a more laidback, "shoes-optional" getaway might be better suited for a honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean.
While the off-the-beaten-path nature appeals to some, others may find it lonely. "The Azores aren't suitable for travelers who don't like to be isolated, want to spend time in big cities, or want to stay only in five-star luxury resorts," says Steven Vigor, a Portugal-based Reco trip designer.
The Best Times of Year to Go on an Azores Honeymoon for Good Weather
Mother Nature is full of surprises in the Azores, so expect the unexpected when it comes to honeymoon conditions. "The weather is always unstable, and it can either be great in the winter or raining in the summer," says Brás. However, the best chance for good weather occurs between May and September when temperatures usually fall between 50 and 70 degrees.
Things to Do During an Azores Honeymoon
Ascend Pico Mountain
Vigor recommends climbing this mountain, the tallest in Portugal at 7,800 feet. It's also a volcano, and you'll find the crater, Pico Grande, at the peak. Small-group night climbs are intimate and get you closer to the stars for an unrivaled experience with your partner.
Luxuriate in Hot Springs
There's plenty of adventure to tackle during an Azores honeymoon, but newlyweds should carve out time to relax. Vigor suggests doing so in a hot spring. Private and small-group tours, like those in Sao Miguel, combine sightseeing and relaxation, giving couples a chance to explore breathtaking volcanoes and valleys before bathing in the Azores' notable hot iron pools. The water is hot (about 102 degrees), yet soothing after days of hiking and climbing.
Peruse a Pineapple Farm
Pineapples thrive in the Azores' tropical climate, and local farms are ripe for exploration. Tours offer travelers a chance to learn more about the area's history. Tastings of local cuisine and a dip in a hot pool or jacuzzi—which comes highly recommended by Vigor—are also on the table.
Swim With Marine Life
Fun fact: the destination is one of the world's top places for whale watching, yet it remains largely under-the-radar. The Azores boast nearly two dozen species of whales and dolphins, including sperm whales and bottlenose dolphins. Whale-watching tours from Ponta Delgada or to Vila Franca do Campo take you around the southern coast with experienced captains who can help you spot marine life. Want to dive in? Some tours allow guests to swim with dolphins.
Hike Around Lakes
Lakes in the Azores are simply stunning, and hikes offer a way to take in the pristine blue-green waters. Legend has it that Lagoa das Sete Cidades formed from the tears of star-crossed lovers—stemming from a "forbidden" romance between a shepherd and a princess. Vista do Rei Lookout offers sweeping views. Lagoa do Fogo, situated in Sao Miguel, is another popular and gorgeous volcanic lake. You can see both in one day on a jeep tour.
Do Go Chasing Waterfalls
With plenty of lakes to explore, the archipelago is also home to gorgeous waterfalls worth checking out, too. Salto do Prego offers a 2.5-mile loop trail that's a fairly easy hike, though Salto do Cabrito is simpler to access. It's nestled in the middle of Sao Miguel. Despite its popularity, it looks untouched.
Enjoy a Beach Day
White-sand beaches aren't the Azores' calling card, but time by the water is certainly in order. Black sand and rocks are more common in these parts—pack shoes or sturdy sandals. Vistas include volcanoes and cliffs that have to be seen to be believed. Praia dos Mosteiros and Praia de Santa Bárbara, both in Sao Miguel, are small but gorgeous. (Tip: If you prefer sand, opt for Praia de Santa Bárbara.)
Explore the Tea Capital of Europe
Move over, British royalty. It's time to spill the tea (not literally). Sao Miguel is actually often known as the Tea Capital of Europe. It's home to Gorreana Tea Factory, a family-run producer that's been in business since 1883. Tea tours typically include tastings.
The Best Hotels and Resorts in the Azores for a Honeymoon
Brás loves this waterfront resort that sits between the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Villas offer more space to unwind from adventures and fun features like hammocks and deck hot tubs. And anyone can take a dip in the outdoor pool in between adventures. Breakfast with an ocean view is served daily in the on-site restaurant.
Vigor recommends this hotel situated on a pineapple farm, calling the accommodations "cozy." Herdade do Ananás only has eight rooms, making it a more intimate spot to stay, and it offers easy access to horse riding, canoeing, and windsurfing nearby. On-site tours of the grounds are also available.
Vigor loves the rustic-chic design of the villas at Pocinho Guesthouse. It gains bonus points for its outdoor pool and ocean views. The six individually decorated rooms are favorites of honeymooners, as is the ability to walk the 13 acres of gardens (or simply cuddle up in a hammock).
This centrally-located hotel's stunning oceanfront views make it feel like a retreat. But its location—in the center of Sao Miguel—provides convenience and prevents honeymooners from feeling too far-flung. A rooftop bar is a perfect spot to mix and mingle with fellow awe-strick travelers, and a full spa offers massages and facials.
One of the most sought-after hotels in the archipelago, Terra Nostra Garden boasts a spa, garden and hot pools on-site. Easy access to off-site fun, such as the Poça da Dona Beija hot springs and Furnas Golf Course, are equally lauded. Plus, room rates include a breakfast buffet and private balconies.
For a true paradisal escape, book a stay with Azul Singular. The accommodations (tents in the lush woods) are described as perfect for a honeymoon by experts.
What to Pack for an Azores Honeymoon
As the weather can be unpredictable, Vigor says honeymooners will want to pack a raincoat and sunscreen. Hot pools have iron, which can discolor swimsuits and a darker swimsuit can prevent this issue.
Comfy clothing and shoes are essential for adventures. Sneakers, long and short pants, and T-shirts are perfect. Bring some layers, such as sweatshirts and cardigans, in case it's chillier than you expect. Many adventures serve as day or half-day trips. A backpack helps you stash layers and other necessities, like rain gear and sunscreen, to ensure you're ready for anything Mother Nature throws your way.