THESE ISLANDS ARE ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST-KEPT SECRETS; Ciara Rickard; Elle Canada
See it now before the hordes arrive.
Consider the Azores that familiar-sounding place that you just can’t…place. The remote Portuguese islands are a little under the travel radar, so it’s not surprising that their coordinates don’t immediately spring to mind. An archipelago of nine verdant, rocky islands about 1,500 kilometres west of Portugal, they are the result of volcanic activity millions of years ago and now home to around 250,000 people. They’re also the stuff of legend: Before science proved otherwise, some thought the Azores were the lost civilization of Atlantis. (There are still a few diehard believers.) While the islands each have their own distinct character, all are green and lush and rife with waterfalls, hot springs, flowers, volcanic lakes and rolling hills, with nary a buffet-tastic all-inclusive in sight. The pristine towns are full of historic buildings, vibrant fruit and veg markets, beautifully maintained cathedrals and chill sidewalk cafés. It’s everything you love about Europe, only on windswept little islands in the middle of the Atlantic.
FOR THE STOPOVER CROWD: SÃO MIGUEL