These islandsincluding Flores (pictured)lie about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) west of continental Portugal.
The Azores are home to green volcanic mountains and picturesque townsattributes noted by one of 522 experts who helped judge 111 islands for National Geographic Traveler magazine.
The archipelago was ranked second because the Azore's strong culture and healthy ecosystems are likely to last, especially since the islands' "capricious climate probably impedes the flow of tourists," according to another expert participating in the ranking.
Early signs of inappropriate development, however, were a concern.
(Both National Geographic News and Traveler magazine are part of the National Geographic Society.)