The largest and most important city in the Azores, Ponta Delgada is rich in history and culture and a key site in understanding the islands’ heritage and lifestyle. Walking the streets with a local guide, you’ll learn about its design, architecture and defenses, hear about significant residents in times past, and gain an understanding of the foundations of island life. A visit to a local market brings an introduction to island foods and traditional cooking, while the botanic gardens offer a glimpse of the wide range of plant species that thrive in the volcanic soil here.
Your guide will pick you up at your hotel in Ponta Delgada on the morning of your tour and take you on a three-hour walk through the streets pointing out the most significant sights as well as elaborating on the city’s history.
Once a simple fishing village, during the 16th century Ponta Delgada grew to become a major port for São Miguel and the Azores as a whole. Much of the architecture from this time is Baroque, with distinctive black-and-white buildings composed of whitewashed walls flanked by dark basalt edgings.
Your guide will explain how the abundance of basalt made it an easy and practical resource for construction and will take you to visit some of the city’s most significant buildings including the Church of San Sebastian, the Convent of Our Lady of Hope and the city hall.
You’ll also visit the bustling Mercado da Graça, the city’s covered market where you’ll get to sample local produce and cheese. From here, you’ll head out of central Ponta Delgada and make your way up to the José do Canto Botanical Garden, home to over 3,000 species, many of which you will be able to spot as you tour further around the islands.
At the end of your tour, your guide will take you back to your hotel or, if you prefer, offer suggestions of ways to continue exploring on your own.