The main islands of the Azores Each island is unique

Time slows down here: the locals count it in hundreds of thousands of years, in terms of the volcanoes that together have formed the Azores. Being at the junction of the Eurasian, North American and African tectonic plates, the Azores are a geological hotspot: when seen from its highest point, each island is a Clanger-land of chimneys and craters where you could believe entire civilisations of sprites and elves live among the fat, dappled cows.

The islands’ beauty is rare, and timeless; the volcanoes bring to mind the Miocene epoch, but in human terms there is a sense of 1950s-era innocence. The continuing restless volcanic activity seems to fill you with radiant energy and the salty, clean winds treat you to the world’s best free facials. There’s whale watching, swimming with dolphins, and diving with manta rays to be had, plus canyoning and kayaking. You can walk inside volcanoes, and around them, and drive along empty roads fringed with millions of azaleas and hydrangeas.