#01 – One of our favourite towns on the south coast is Vila Franca do Campo. Founded in 15th Century, Vila was Sao Miguel’s original capital, until the great earthquake of 1522 devastated the town (Azorean priest and historian Gaspar Frutuoso wrote a contemporary account the tragic event is called ‘O romance de Vila Franca’).
Vila’s a small, friendly place with the Igreja Matriz de São Miguel Arcanjo at one end and Praia de Vinha d’Areia beach at the other. Probably my favourite place to eat is the Restaurante Praia Cafe. It’s light, modern décor has a menu to match – location-wise, it overlooks Praia Vinha so it’s ideal if you’re spending the afternoon at the beach. It’s also a lovely spot if you’re staying in Vila in the evening:
#02 – I should also quickly mention Bar Vinha d’Areia which is just next door – good for fresh lapas (limpets), shrimps, cold beers and marvellous sunsets:
#03 – Heading into the centre of Vila Franca, the Atlantico Restaurante is just beyond the marina, overlooking the boathouses and workshops at the southern end of town. Their menu’s for fish lovers – stick with the seasonal specials and you won’t be disappointed. If you’re reserving in advance, request a table on the roof terrace, overlooking the extinct ilheu de Vila Franca volcano just off shore:
#04 – Heading down to the marina, if you’re just looking for a quick bite to eat before heading to sea on a whale and dolphin watching trip, the Marina Bar serves freshly made sandwiches, soups, cakes and coffee all day long. They’re also handy for a take-away if you’re en-route to walk the Lagoa do Fogo trail:
#05 – Heading up the steps from the marina, lookout for the Do Morgado bakery where Sao Miguel’s most popular queijadas are made. Queijadas are a traditional Portuguese tartlet – the recipe varies from island to island, but one of my favourite variations are baked right here in Vila Franca. If you’re thinking of gifts for family and friends, a box of queijadas normally travels quite well. The distinctive green Do Morgado circular logo points the way to their café and bakery shop:
#06 – It’s short drive west along the coast road from Vila Franca to Casa do Abel in the town of Agua de Pau. You’re certainly in no danger of missing Casa do Abel – it’s conspicuous signage will make quite sure of that. Casa do Abel is beef all the way – a steakhouse that’s proved incredibly popular since opening it’s doors in 2017. It’s very much a family-affair, with owner Abel and his sons hands-on in the kitchen and front of house:
#07 – Before he began expanding his culinary empire, Abel’s main restaurant was Bar Caloura in the small fishing village of the same name. It’s still a big favourite of ours – one of the island’s best, sea-to-table fish restaurants overlooking the small harbour in this peaceful fishing village. If you’re staying at Quinta do Mar during your holiday, you’ll definitely spend some memorable evenings at Bar Caloura:
#08 –Continuing west – as you pass through Lagoa along it’s long tree-lined main street, take a left down towards swimming pools on the coast and you’ll findO Capitao. One of the newer fish restaurants on the island (I think they’ve been open three years now ?), they have a great roof terrace and serve a mean fish stew:
#09 – Just beyond Lagoa’s small harbour is the Restaurante Ondas do Mar. It doesn’t quite have the seaview of Bar Caloura or O Capitao, but if you’re staying at the beautiful Casa da Rocha Quebrada or at Whites Villas it’s a great restaurant right on your doorstep:
#10 – One Sao Miguel’s most popular beaches is at Praia da Populo, and it’s most popular restaurant isthe Sunset Beach. I haven’t eaten there in the evenings but if you’re spending a day at Populo, it’s an excellent option for lunch- especially if you have little one’s as you can walk in straight off the beach:
Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing,
This is a long email, so you might want to go grab yourself a cuppa before you start reading.
We just wanted to send you an email to say thank you so much for everything.
Our island hopping holiday to the Azores was absolutely amazing, it was far beyond our dreams and expectations, and that is certainly because of you and all your plans in putting this together for us. We just loved every second (apart from me and canyoning, we do not get along, but the boys absolutely loved it!) we just can’t believe all the things that we have seen, and done, and learned about! What an incredible place!
We have certainly been bitten by the Azorean bug and we can’t wait to get back there to explore the other islands. They’re very special places, each of them for their own right.
We felt as though we were treated like royalty from the minute we arrived in Sao Miguel, even the weather was kind to us (largely) we seemed to miss the adverse weather, either arriving somewhere that had had storms the day before, or leaving just before they arrived. We did have one morning of heavy rain when we went to the tropical gardens at Furnas, but we did manage to see some of the gardens before we gave up and went back to Caloura, where there was glorious sunshine, so we spent the afternoon at the pool and made the most of the Especial and fresh lemonade from the snack bar.
Every single person that we met, we were struck by how hard they work, and how happy they all are. Many of them never leaving the island they were born on, because, why would they want to?!
We love the Azorean people and their love and pride for their islands. Their sustainable way of living also struck deep with us. It’s the way we try very hard to live ourselves. Dave’s business is retrofit insulation, preparing old housing stock to a better more eco friendly way of conserving energy, so the way they live and respect their land, was of great interest to us.
For us all, Flores is a very special place. We went to the restaurant maresia while we were there and met the owner and his son. Although the restaurant itself is eclectic to say the least, after chatting to Vincent, we understood his dads way of living and the food was outstanding! We can’t wait to visit again.
All of our guides were amazing! Their knowledge and passion is admirable.
We just loved every second and can’t thank you enough for making our trip so smooth and completely stress free.
I will spend today writing reviews online for all the companies and guides that helped us on our trip.
A million thanks to you all Jake.
The Cole family
Personal service and efficient!
You really listened to what type of holiday we wanted and tailored our week accordingly. You understood what we were looking for and were so helpful and knowledgeable. Very personal service and efficient!
Linda from Norfolk
Professional and personal service!
Everything you do, you seem to do it professionally. I know I’m not your only client, but you make me feel like I am.
Bryan from Stoke
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.
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