May is the best time to see hydrangeas in bloom © Henner Damke, Shutterstock
Gardeners escape winter nakedness
Glorious camellias. Blooming from November, at their best in January/February, the literally hundreds of different varieties in the Terra Nostra garden in Furnas make a spectacular show.
Discover the world’s best geothermal casserole
The famous Cozido, a substantial dish of various meats and vegetables slowly cooked for at least five hours in a hole in the ground heated by thermal energy on the shores of Furnas Lake, a great meal after an invigorating long winter walk in the hills.
Celebrate Easter with a festival
Easter festivals dominate all the islands this period, some going back to medieval times. Colourful street processions, special foods, music, flowers all play their part, each has its own character and every town or village its own interpretation.
There she blows
Whale-watching season begins. The Azores is a world hot-spot for cetaceans. The exhilaration of being in a small boat in the middle of the Atlantic can be exciting enough, but to be close to a pod of whales and able to stop and quietly watch these huge and intelligent animals makes the experience a memory of a lifetime.
Lookout – highway flowers!
In May the winter azaleas and camellias adorning the beautiful roadside hedges and verges that are a feature of the islands give way for the summer to red São João roses and sub-tropical flowers, later to be dominated by the famous blue hydrangeas – on Faial alone there are 56km of hydrangea hedges!
Meet the locals at a barbeque
In beautiful places on headlands with dramatic coastal views or in tranquil forest glades the local municipalities on all the islands have built barbecues and pretty picnic sites, a great way to meet and mix with the locals.
Romantic walks in timeless scenery
July brings perfect days for walking in the mountains, when rare native plants are flowering and the late afternoon light throws shadows across the pastures while farmers’ full milk churns go rattling down the cobbled bye-ways on pony carts.
Nautical high jinks on Atlantic waves
Sea Week, exciting days of sailing regattas, inter-island races, parties, music and much else followed by the Week of the Whalers, a riotous last week in August with a whaling boat regatta and a great chance to see those elegant open whaling boats under sail and even take a ride in one.
Bacchus in all his glory
September is the best time for grape picking, and if you feel like helping, you will be welcomed by families harvesting and making wine for their own consumption. You may see grapes being trodden by the traditional bare feet, and in Biscoitos (Terceira) there is a Wine Festival celebrating the harvest, along with traditional foods.
Jazz it up in mid-Atlantic
The Angra Jazz Festival on Terceira in a former bullring where over 500 people get close to top bands playing mainstream jazz, regarded as one of the best in all of Portugal.
Look out for wayward birds
New bird records for Europe on Corvo as American migratory species are blown off course means this tiny island becomes a major birdwatching centre for amateur ornithologists from all over Europe for three months starting in September.
Christmas with a difference
Christmas in the Azores is wonderfully romantic, especially in Ponta Delgada where their festive lights and decorations in the small and intimate streets are most charmingly displayed, and an evening stroll ending with a coffee or a glass of Pico wine in the square completes a perfect day, while in Furnas the most captivating nativity, probably the largest anywhere, is set up on the hillsides around the hot springs, together with carol singing in the evening.