21 Things to Know Before Visiting the Azores

📅 12 April 2021 | Guides, Portugal | ⌛ 25 mins

Sao Miguel hiking
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By the time you are reading this, probably the pandemic would be over and visiting the Azores islands would not just be a dream, but a reality. That’s why it is always good to be prepared…

To make your life easier I made this list of things to know before visiting the Azores islands. It has everything that you should consider before even thinking of going to this magical archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean…

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Renting a car in the Azores

Where are the Azores Islands?

The first thing you should know is where the Azores islands archipelago is. Well, it is pretty much in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. To be precise, I would say it is just between Portugal and New York. The Azores islands are a group of 9 islands that are quite different from each other in many aspects… but not when it comes to heavenly beautiful nature.

Each and every island is named after its most characteristic feature. Thus, it is not quite hard to guess what you can expect from each one of them. However, it might be hard to pick which Azores island to visit…

Sao Miguel Island

Sao Miguel island is mostly known for its heavenly beautiful nature and its green fields covering it. No wonder, it is called the “Green island” by the locals. The island of Sao Miguel should be on your list for sure, as it offers lots of things to do – from hiking to diving in the ocean, it offers everything that you might think of. The perfect amount of time to spend on the island is for sure at least 7 full days, so you can explore and enjoy everything it has to offer…

7 Days Itinerary for Sao Miguel
Learn the ins and outs for visiting the Azores Greenest islands...

Terceira Island

“The Third Island” is a small and quiet island close to Sao Miguel and is usually a stop for many of the people visiting the islands. If you want to learn more about the history of the Azores islands and deep dive into their culture, then you should head to Terceira for sure. Oh, and don’t forget to visit Algar do Carvao…

Pico Island

Well, Pico island is the highest of the Azores islands, if not the highest in the Atlantic Ocean?! The “Black Island” is known for having the highest peak in Portugal and in the Atlantic, plus the finest wine of Portugal is produced there… so why not visit it?

Flores Island

This “Flower Island” is home to some of the most divine waterfalls of the Azores islands! On top of that, you will be fascinated by its jaw-dropping scenery…

Faial Island

This island was known as the “Blue Island” due to the ever blooming blue hydrangeas. Well, that was until the volcano on the island erupted and made half of it uninhabited… If you want to do some moonwalking, you should definitely put it on your list!

Corvo Island

The “Crow Island” is the smallest island of the Azores archipelago. However, that does not make it less impressive than the rest. In fact, it is such a magical place, that you would like to spend the rest of your life there…away from all the CROWdS!

Sao Jorge Island

Known for its fine cheese produce, the island of Sao Jorge is perfect for every gastronome. In addition to that, you will get the chance to try as many water sports activities as you would like!

Graciosa Island

Graciosa island is probably the least developed island and there are rarely any tourists. However, the island is known for being overtaken by hydrangeas that are giving the name of the island. Plus, if you are into getting away from everything, you should definitely consider going to it!

Santa Maria Island

This island is one of the least visited islands of all of the Azores. However, the island is known for its nice beaches and serene atmosphere. Thus, if you are seeking peace and quiet – this is the place!

Santa Iria Viewpoint in Sao Miguel

Weather is UNPREDICTABLE

Weather in the Azores Islands is unpredictable. Let that sink in…

In general, the Azores islands have a pretty favorable weather. However, the best time to go to Azores Islands is during the summer months from June until September. Weather then is perfect for a sunny Azores vacation and you will rarely get to experience the famous “overcast” that covers the islands.

However, that does not mean that Azores in May are a bad option. I myself have been to the Azores at the end of May and it was the best option ever! Additionally, October and November in the Azores are also good options, especially if you plan to avoid the crowds…

Below you can check the best time to visit the Azores islands depending on your preferences:

Azores Climate AveragesMonthly Averages
Hottest Month August (25°C)
Coldest Month January/February (12°C)
Most Rainy Month December (14 rainy days on average)
Least Rainy Month July/August (6 rainy days on average)
Sunniest Month August (7 hours of sunshine per day)

Pack Smart Before Visiting the Azores

Yes, you should pack smart 🧐! As I already mentioned, and a couple of people before me did, weather in the Azores is quite unpredictable. Thus, you will need waterproof and windproof jacket to survive these beautiful islands.

Additionally, you might want to get some walking shoes or such for hiking and trekking. Don’t forget to add some sunscreen and a hat, so that you avoid sunburns 😵. Last but not least, make sure to bring with yourself your swimsuit as you will definitely need it 🌊

Azores Are Heaven for Avid Hikers

Many visit the Azores islands for their insanely beautiful hiking trails. The Azores islands offer more than 80 well-known and maintained hiking trails. On top of that, you will get to experience some of the most breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean…

Thus, if you love walking, want to go on some hikes and do some Azores hiking… wonder no more and check the table below!

By the way, if you yearn some good Azores hiking I would suggest you visit the island of Sao Miguel 🤩

Azorean IslandHiking Trails Count
São Miguel 29
Pico 14
Faial 10
São Jorge 9
Terceira 8
Santa Maria 7
Faial 5
Graciosa 4
Corvo 2
Lagoa do Fogo

It's the Place to Try New Things

What to do in the Azores, you ask?! Well, there are lots of things you can do. Whether you opt for some hiking or trekking, or you go for some diving, it is up to you! 🤿

Among the best things to do in the Azores is whale watching! The best time to go an observe the marine mammals is between May and August when they are passing through the Azores islands. More you can find below:

🥾Hiking in the Azores: The Azores islands are prominent for their hiking trails and they can be found everywhere on all of the islands. The islands have more than 80 hiking trails, which are well-maintained and offer views over some of the most scenic landscapes in Europe. The most famous hiking trails are the trail to Pico, the highest peak in the Atlantic Ocean and the hike to the Sete Cidades lakes, which offers utopian views over the island of Sao Miguel. Except for beautiful views, the hiking trails in the Azores are known to lead to the most beautiful lakes or gracefully mystical waterfalls…

🧖 Azores Hot Springs: The hot springs in the Azores are mostly located on the island of Sao Miguel. They are mostly known for their healing benefits and high temperatures. Some of the most famous hot springs in Sao Miguel are the Dona Beija and Parque Terra Nostra.

🏄 Surfing & Diving: The Azores islands are providing pretty good options when it comes to doing water sports. There are plenty of spots for surfing, such as the Santa Barbara beach in Sao Miguel or Cubres in Sao Jorge island. Furthermore, if you want to explore the depths of the ocean feel free to check out the diving tours at Vila Franca do Campo islet 🤿

🐋Whale and Dolphin Watching Tours: Additionally, there are plenty of tours for whale and dolphin watching, which make the Azores a very special place for both the animals and you. Keep in mind that the best time to see these mammals is from June to August when they pass through the islands 🐬

🏞️ Sightseeing: There are plenty of places to visit while in the Azores. Mostly they will be natural landmarks, but it is good to check out the cultural ones too. Angra do Heroismo in Terceira is for sure a city that is worth a visit for its rich history and cultural importance to the Azores. Back in the days, Angra do Heroismo has been of great importance for the islands. That is why, it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, it is also good to check the cities of Ponta Delgada, Furnas, Horta and the rest of the biggest cities on the island where small museums can be found to tell the story of the islands.

It Won't Hurt Your Pocket!

Spending your vacation in the Azores islands will not hurt your pocket at all! In fact, the prices all over the Azores islands are quite reasonable and not as near to being expensive. Thus, you can have your Azores islands vacation to be on a budget and pretty enjoyable 🌺

Nevertheless, during high season you might see some increase in pricing of the accommodation. But it is not unreasonable – this is what happens once there is a deficit of places to stay. Plus, with a couple of travel tips you might save while spending… 

Type of ExpensePrice
Meal in Inexpensive Restaurant 7 EUR
Alcohol (Beer) 1.00 EUR
Coffee 1.17 EUR
Water(0.33l bottle) 0.57 EUR
Gasoline per liter 1.45 EUR
Accommodation per day 15 EUR
Rent-a-car per day (+full insurance coverage) 20 EUR

Rent a Car = Save Time Commuting

Yes, you will need to rent a car to better explore the island! However, that does not mean necessarily that you have to spend a fortune on it.

First of all, there are no toll roads in the Azores islands. Second of all, gas prices are quite okay. Third of all, you don’t always have to pay a deposit! Usually, most of the well-known companies would ask you to pay one, but if you go and rent a car from a local rental company – deposits can be avoided.

Below, you can find all of the rental car companies that are available on the Azores islands:

Car Rental Company/ IslandHertzEuropcarSixtAvisBudgetThrifty
São Miguel ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Terceira ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
São Jorge ✔️ ✔️
Pico ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Faial ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Flores ✔️ ✔️

Inter-Island Flights Can Be a Bit Expensive

Probably, you are wondering how to travel between Azores islands? Unfortunately, there are not many options to fly in-between the Azores islands. The two companies that have regular flights between the islands are TAP Air Portugal and SATA Azores (Azores Airlines). Thus, it seems that getting to the Azores islands might be cheaper than going in-between them…

During the high season, there are usually a couple of flights in between the most visited islands of the archipelago. However, each of the flights can rarely be found under 80 EUR.

However, you can save on some cash by checking the free flight options provided by SATA Azores if you are flying within the Azores from mainland Portugal.

Nevertheless, you can always check the ferries that travel between the Azores islands. It might be slower to get to your desired destination, but is cheaper. And you might get the chance to see some dolphins or whales on the way! 🤪

Sete Cidades Lakes

Finding Accommodation Might Be Hard...

The Azores islands can be quite over-occupied, especially during the high season, which is from June until September. However, that does not mean you won’t be able to find where to stay. Exactly the opposite, you will find a place to stay in the Azores islands, but your options won’t be many.

If you want to have a strategic location, it is best to get a house in the middle of Sao Miguel island and explore the island from within. Otherwise, you can fight for the best spots in Furnas city or Ponta Delgada. Same rule applies for the rest of the island…

However, if you are wondering where to stay in Azores islands or which are the best places and hotels to stay in the Azores – CHECK BELOW 🏡

Food in the Azores is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Cuisine in Portugal is truly delicious, but Azores cuisine is absolutely TERRIFIC!

Whether you want to try something traditional like the Lapas (grilled limpets), some fish, beef or go for the vegetarian vegetable options… you will not regret any bite of everything you tried!

In addition to that, you can try the red wine produced on Pico islands, as well as the famous São Jorge cheese known for its divine flavor and taste! Azores food is simply divine and it is advisable to try everything that you can!

Anyways, below you can check all of the things you have to try for sure:

🧀 Azorean Cheese: The cheese of the Azores is so good that it holds 50% of the cheese market in mainland Portugal. Thus, if you decide to try the Azorean cheese make sure it is produced in Sao Jorge island

🍍 Azores Pineapple: This pineapple is simply ambrosial… Trust me with that! It is absolutely divine 🤤

🍾 Azorean Wine: The Azores have 500 years of history in wine making and are one of the biggest wine suppliers of mainland Portugal. The most famous wine producer of the Azores is the Azores Wine Company, which is holding the vineyards of Pico island and produces the finest white wine… 🥂

Azorean Tea: Well, I wasn’t quite aware of that, but the Azores are also producing their own tea. In fact, they are home to the only tea plantations in Europe. If you are a tea junkie, don’t miss the free tour at Gorreana Tea Factory

🍲 Azorean Dishes: The Azores are well-known for their delicious food, which includes seafood, fine beef and lots of home-grown vegetables. Some of the most unique meals you have to try in the Azores is the Cozido das Furnas. The meal consists of meat and vegetables cooked in holes in the hot volcanic soil. You can also try out the baby corn boiled over the geysers in the city of Furnas, which is prominent for its sweet taste. The Azores are also prominent for their seafood meals and mainly for the so-called “Lapas”, which are very juicy grilled limpets 🦪

Tap Water is Okay to Drink

Generally, drinking tap water is absolutely okay in the Azores islands. I mean, come on… all of the islands have their occasional rain that renew the water all the time. Having this in mind, how can you not believe that the tap water is safe to drink?!

If, however, you don’t want to drink tap water, you can always stock up on some mineral water from the stores. It’s also packed on the islands…

Hot Springs are in Abundance...

Hot Springs are in abundance on Sao Miguel Island…

If you want to have some spa retreat, the island of Sao Miguel offers exactly that! There are lots of hot springs on Sao Miguel island surrounded by tropical forests. However, to the most famous hot springs in Sao Miguel are those in Furnas city.

To experience the peaceful setting to the fullest, I would suggest to stay in Parque Terra Nostra Garden. There you will find not only the best hot springs on Sao Miguel, but also the beautiful park that surrounds them.

Volcanic Beaches are Normal in the Azores

Beaches in the Azores are not the typical beaches you would expect when going on a vacation. The Azores islands are volcanic islands, which are gifted with marvelous black sand beaches.

Some of the most famous beaches in the Azores are Praia Formosa, Santa Barbara beach, Villa Franca beach and Caloura beach. The island with the nicest beach water and lots of sandy beaches in Santa Maria island. Thus, if you plan to go to the Azores to sunbath, better consider this island in advance…

The islands are not very populated

Yes, the Azores islands are not very populated… but that is not a bad thing! The archipelago of the Azores islands has a population of around 250 000 people! And most of the Azoreans are living on Sao Miguel island, which makes it the most densely populated island of the archipelago.

Even though the Azores islands are not so densely populated, that does not mean that you won’t meet any people. In fact, the Azoreans are quite outgoing and they might the first ones to start a conversation 🤗 You can also expect them to invite you over for a dinner with their family and try some traditional food. Trust me, that is their way of showing you their hospitality!

Knowing Portuguese Is Not Necessary

Knowing Portuguese is not necessary… but does wonders if you do!

Well, let’s be real here – not all of the Azores people know English! Especially, if you are on some of the most remote islands, you might not be able to get things right, due to the language barrier. 

Nevertheless, it is not their obligation to know it, so a word or two in Portuguese might be useful to you:

🗣️ Useful Portuguese Phrases:

🌞Bom dia. = Good morning

🌅Boa tarde. = Good afternoon

🤪Meu nome é Alex. = My name is Alex

😊Muito prazer em conhecê-lo. = I’m pleased to meet you.

😏Como vai você? = How are you?

😎Bem, obrigada. E você? – I am good. And you?

🍻Gostaria de uma cerveja. = I’d like a beer.

🙏Desculpe – I’m sorry/Excuse me

The Azores Are Not a Party Destination

The Azores islands are definitely not a party destination. So, if you are looking for party swipe to the left…

However, if all you are looking for in your vacation is some peace and quiet – the Azores islands are the perfect place. You will get to experience lots of tranquil places around the islands and will be able to forget about the real work for a while.

My personal favourite tranquil place is the Lagoa do Congro on Sao Miguel island! It’s one of the lesser-known places on the islands, thus it’s crowd free and you can even have it all by yourself.

Cities In The Azores Are... TINY

Yes, cities in the Azores islands are quite small. Streets are narrow and sometimes it might be hard to navigate easily with a car. However, you can always opt for some walking and exploring of the city itself. You will discover lots of beautiful places, parks, colourful neighborhoods and last but not least, charming seaside cafes!

Some of the bigger cities in the Azores islands are Ponta Delgada, Angra do Heroísmo, Horta, Madalena and Velas. These cities are usually the most populated and full with lots of options to stay, eat and do various activities on the islands.

Lagoa do Congro Forest

Wi-Fi and 4G Are Pretty Good

Well, the Azores islands might be quite remote, but that does not make them less developed in that sense. Whether you prefer Wi-Fi or 4G, you won’t have any trouble connecting to your loved ones easily. Plus, connection is pretty stable even in the deepest tropical forest on the islands. So, don’t you worry about a thing and enjoy your trip… 🌍

Some of the bigger cities in the Azores islands are Ponta Delgada, Angra do Heroísmo, Horta, Madalena and Velas. These cities are usually the most populated and full with lots of options to stay, eat and do various activities on the islands.

SIM Cards Are Not a Must

If you are an EU national, well, you are lucky, because you will be able to use your mobile data freely, as well as call your loved ones with ease 📱.

However, if you need to get a SIM card, you should check MEO, who has the best coverage in the Azores islands. The rest of the suppliers are Vodafone and NOS, so you can check them if nothing else works.

Some of the bigger cities in the Azores islands are Ponta Delgada, Angra do Heroísmo, Horta, Madalena and Velas. These cities are usually the most populated and full with lots of options to stay, eat and do various activities on the islands.

Insurance is (NOT) Necessary

Visiting the Azores islands is quite safe and staying there is even safer. There, I said it! It is truly safe!

The islands are this tranquil place where you will for sure forget all of your worries. However, it is always nice to have your travel insurance, especially if you are coming outside of Europe like United States, Canada or United Kingdom. In case you are coming from the Europe Union, you can obtain the European Health Insurance Card . It will give you access to emergency assistance in case you need it… 

The Azores Tourism Has... BOOMED!

The Azores tourism has been blooming and booming recently! 3 years ago nobody even heard about the Azores islands and look at them now…tourism in the Azores has EXPLODED!

The Azores islands have become this heavenly beautiful vacation destination that makes dreams come true. Lush tropical forests, tranquility everywhere you go, peaceful tiny colourful cities, abundance of water activities to try and even explore the depths. What else you might ask for? This is what I call an adventure…

Hey… don’t spend a lot of time wondering if you should go! Just do it! I guarantee you no regrets 🥰

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EarthOSea
EarthOSea

Hi, I'm Alex. For the past years, I have extensively travelled around Europe. In 2019 I have moved to Portugal where I spent a couple of months learning about the Portuguese culture, traditions and language.
My speciality is mainly in travelling in a sustainable and less harmful to the environment way. I am focusing more on ways to travel on a budget or money-for-value.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article about visiting the Azores islands! Let me know if you found it useful or would like to add something below 😉

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