On Graciosa in The Azores we stayed in a windmill! Luxury hotel it was not, but unique it certainly was. And much bigger than I was expecting.
There was a great view from all those windows. And a spiral staircase up into the cupola, where we could look out between the sails. For more information see Boina de Vento, which is situated just outside the small town of Praia.
If you would prefer a more conventional hotel, the modern Graciosa Hotel just outside Santa Cruz would be a good choice. Lunch in the restaurant was excellent – one of the best meals we had in the holiday. The hotel looks straight out to sea and there is access to the beach, but a car might be useful here.
Graciosa is less visited than some of the other islands, but is quite idyllic. It has lots of windmills, stone walls and gentle slopes.
Praia is an attractive little town with well kept white houses along the shoreline. There is a small choice of basic restaurants (to be honest you don’t really visit the Azores for the restaurants), and it was very peaceful strolling into Praia in the evenings.
Sunrise here was spectacular. It felt a world apart from the busy life we are so used to.
Furna do Enxofre
Like the other islands, Graciosa has a caldera. Unlike the other islands, Graciosa’s caldera has a huge hidden cave with a subterranean lake, known as Furna do Enxofre. There are steps leading down to the cave, a visitor centre, and a small entry fee to go in. Unfortunately the day we visited the cave was closed because of a build up of sulphurous gases, which sometimes happens in the summer.
Even if you cannot enter the cave, the walk to it is still hugely interesting. It passes through a really impressve lava tunnel and there are great views inside the crater. To do the walk you take the Luz bus from Santa Cruz (which stops in Praia) and get off at a stop named Canada Longa. The return is by the bus from Luz. For full details seethe book Landscapes of The Azores.
Peaceful Graciosa is definitely worth a visit for a night or two to experience its solitude and gentle charms.
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