Vila do Porto Tourist Information and Tourism

(Vila do Porto, Azores, Portugal)

South-east anchor to the Azores archipelago, Vila Do Porto is the most important town on the island of Santa Maria. The island lies a little over 1,450 km / 900 miles to the west of mainland Portugal and is refreshingly devoid of overblown tourism infrastructure. However, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty for tourists to do here.

Vila Do Porto and its neighbours have beautiful beaches, a rugged volcanic landscape and offshore reefs that attract diverse marine life. In the past, the Azores was a leader in the whaling industry, but today's seafarers admire (rather than hunt) the whales, dolphins and manta rays found here. Local hotels have a wealth of tourist information on the subject.

Vila do Porto Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

Most holiday makers will agree that the beaches of Santa Maria are some of the best within the archipelago of the Azores. The Praia Formosa Beach is amongst the most popular around Vila do Porto and offers soft golden sand, steep cliffs and some nearby restaurants, being sheltered by a couple of large volcanic outcrops. During the summer season, many visitors to Santa Maria choose to make the most of the plentiful walking trails around the island, and just a short distance to the east of Vila do Porto are a number based around nearby Santa Barbara. If you are here for the whale watching, then you can join a cruise anytime between May and October, and expect to spot giant blue, humpback and minke whales, as well as the occasional sperm whale. More information about Vila do Porto Tourist Attractions.

Santa Maria is an island of much beauty and as such, very few man-made landmarks stand out, with the most obvious sights tending to have been shaped by the hand of Mother Nature instead. These include the Bay of St. Lawrence and the Pico Alto mountain, which forms the island's highest peak and boasts some superb views. To immerse yourself in native Azorean flora and fauna, a visit to either the Fontinhas Forest Reserve or the Valverde Forest Reserve is in order. If you have an interest in religious buildings and wish to check out the most impressive regional churches, then head outside of Vila do Porto and pay a visit to the neighbouring villages of Santa Barbara and Santo Espirito. In nearby Anjos, the Our Lady of Angels Chapel is of great local significance, being constructed on the very sight where famous explorer Christopher Columbus once led the first prayer in the Azores. More information about Vila do Porto Landmarks and Monuments.

Whilst Santa Maria may not be overflowing with culture, it does boast plenty of history and heritage. However, the Sao Brás Fort at Santo Espirito is the island's only museum and as such comes with a selection of artefacts documenting Santa Maria's past, as well as information relating to the lives and trials of the locals. If you are able to head over to the island of Pico, then the Whaling Industry Museum (Museu da Indústria Baleeira) is well worth searching out, as is the Centre for Arts and Science of the Sea (Centro de Artes e de Ciencias do Mar), both of which remember the past whaling industry, which ended as recently as the mid-1980s. More information about Vila do Porto Museums.

Vila do Porto remains relatively undiscovered and overlooked by many tourists holidaying within the Azores, and even those based here will likely be tempted by the offer of day trips and cruises. Many of the archipelago's islands are only connected by boat, although the largest and most visited, such as Sao Miguel, come with their very own airport facilities. Corvo Island is famed for its vineyards, Terceira Island for its summer 'running of the bulls' ceremony and Praia de Vitoria beachfront, and Sao Jorge for its regional gastronomy of seafood and pork, and its annual Semana Cultural celebrations at Velas town. The Azorean islands of San Jorge, Faial and Pico are separated by a 15-km / 9 mile strait and are often referred to as simply the 'Triangle' islands. More information about Vila do Porto Attractions Nearby.

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