When traveling to the Azores, you want to make sure you're taking advantage of the many aspects of these lush islands. A stay on São Miguel or Terceira will put you in the center of the attractions, with options both in the city centers and out in the natural world, along with volcanic springs, lively city squares, and bay views.

The Azores includes a total of nine islands, but two of the most popular are São Miguel and Terceira, where you'll find our picks.

Hotel do Colegio

Photo courtesy of Hotel do Colegio 

Located in the center of São Miguel's capital of Ponta Delgada, within walking distance of the town's main spots, the Hotel do Colegio was once a 19th-century manor house. During the peak of the orange trade with England, it served as a school, and was later the home of the Regional Conservatory of Music of Ponta Delgada. They've now brought that history forward into the decor, and a 2017 renovation themed one wing around the school and the other around music.

Touches from the past, like the original stone arches, enhance the hotel's character in both shared spaces and inside the 39 rooms. Where children once ran around in the schoolyard, you'll now find an outdoor pool for some frolicking of your own or just basking in the sun. When your internal dinner bell rings, head to Cantina do Colégio restaurant to sample their signature gastronomy. Each dish has a story around it, based on Azorean folklore.

Terra Nostra Garden Hotel

Photo courtesy Terra Nostra Garden Hotel

São Miguel's Terra Nostra Garden, in the volcanic Furnas Valley, is emblematic of the Azores and one of the most beautiful gardens in Portugal. Stay amidst its lush foliage at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel. Enjoy Art Deco history from the 1930s in the original Art Deco Wing, or opt for the contemporary Garden Wing added in the '90s.

Furnas is known for its volcanic hot springs, which you can experience in a variety of ways. Access to the Terra Nostra Garden is free for hotel guests, who can also enjoy the property's thermal bath in the evenings. Enjoy the outdoor thermal pool and jacuzzis, or head to the Wellness Place for a spa treatment. You can also try out the Furnas Cozido experience, where you'll enjoy a meal cooked fully underground with the heat of the hot springs. Go for a more conventional style at the Terra Nostra Restaurant, which serves Azorean classics alongside contemporary cuisine. If you're just looking for a drink, The Gardener bar and terrace serves up unique cocktails inspired by the botanical setting.

Azoris Angra Garden

Photo courtesy of Azoris Angra Garden

Over on the island of Terceira, right in the center of the UNESCO World Heritage historic city Angra do Heroísmo, sits the Azoris Angra Garden. The hotel is within walking distance of the city's top sites, surrounded by the Duque da Terceira Municipal Garden and directly adjacent to the lively Municipal Square.

The 118 simple, contemporary rooms come in a range of sizes from single to deluxe suites, alongside a set of amenities. Stop in the Garden Restaurant for local cuisine in a tranquil setting, or the Plaza Bistro & Wine Bar serves light food and drinks alongside the square year-round and on the hotel's fourth-floor terrace in the summer. Chill out with the indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and spa treatments before you head out into the city.

Hotel do Caracol

Photo courtesy of Hotel do Caracol

If you want to be on Terceira between the city and the sea, the Hotel do Caracol is your best bet. The hotel is a 15-minute walk from Angra do Heroísmo while also overlooking the Bay of Silveira and surrounded by the greenery of the Monte Brazil extinct volcano. Bonus: The bay is one of the city's favorite swimming spots.

The hotel aims to capture the Azores' spirit as a destination for "discerning visitors seeking a place where calm, nature, comfort and animation combine to the preservation of the environment and sustainable management practices." Its simple rooms are decorated in natural and blue hues. Taste local flavors at the Caracol Restaurant or relax in the Monte Brazil Bar, both with impressive views of the sea and mountain. The outdoor semi-circular swimming pool and sun deck offer equally expansive views of the bay.

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