Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal

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More than the archipelago’s capital and administrative hub, Ponta Delgada is an ambassador of the Azores to the world. Embellished with lacy iron balconies, the 17th-century architecture of whitewashed walls is framed by the local volcanic basalt. Hydrangeas and grazing cows add splashes of color to the evergreen background. Ponta Delgada presents itself as a gateway to discovering the Big Island of São Miguel and the best of the Azores on one island. 

One of the top places to see is Furnas, where you can find natural hot springs that will cook your lunch, as well as Gorreana Tea Factory, the only tea plantation in Europe. Another popular destination is Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lagoon) with its impressive volcanic landscapes, and Ribeira Grande, a picturesque fishing village where time seems to stand still. São Miguel is also known for pineapples, so trying this fresh fruit, either from a local market or from a roadside vendor, is a must.

Sete Cidades and its "heaven on earth" scenery of Lagoa Verde (Green Lagoon) and Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon) should perhaps be saved for last, as you’ll want to hold on to these memories when you sail on from the Azores to your next port.

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