The Azores are a beautiful subtropical archipelago off Portugal’s west coast, made up of nine main islands and a spattering of tiny satellite islets

These previously uninhabited shores drew settlers from various directions over hundreds of years, creating the ethnic melting pot that the Azores is today. Part of the region’s charm is its diverse pockets of culture defined by unique dialects, culinary traditions and nuances. Landscapes are arrestingly beautiful – soaring volcanic peaks, chrome green hills dotted with blooms of lilac hydrangea and lacy tree ferns, glittering lakes and deep blue bays. Sao Miguel is the biggest of the islands, dubbed the ‘Green Isle’ for its lush subtropical scenery. In the capital, Ponta Delgada, the ancient, narrow streets are graced with fine examples of traditional Portuguese architecture – stately whitewashed facades and beautiful old monasteries with opulent interiors. Other highlights of the archipelago include the pretty old port town of Angra do Heroismo on Terceira, the vineyards of Pico – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and Santa Maria’s golden coast. Popular area activities include whale-watching, scuba diving and sailing.