Renting a car in the Azores path
Azores Islands,  Guidebook,  Guides,  Portugal

Azores Islands: Renting a Car

Are you wondering whether you should rent a car in the Azores? Or is it worth it to rent a car in Azores? Or is driving in the Azores difficult? Can US citizens drive in the Azores? I urge you to keep reading!

Renting a car in Azores is probably the best way to explore the islands. Furthermore, it is quite easy to rent a car in the Azores and is relatively cheap. On top of that, the car rental companies offer brand new cars, so that you feel like a king on the road!

Surely, getting a car will make your trip on the islands a lot easier and hassle free. However, it is always good to be prepared when you decide to rent a car in the Azores. Thus, I have prepared this detailed post for you to with lots of useful information and tips on renting a car in Azores.

Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Azores

International Driver’s License

Renting a car in Azores can be pretty easy for Europeans and you only need a valid license, but what about the rest of the world? Well, the rest of the world and the United Kingdom might need to provide a valid international driver’s license. An international driver’s license can be easily obtained in the Automobile Clubs across any country. However, the time to obtain one varies depending on the process established by the authorities. Thus, it can be just a few minutes or a few weeks.

When it comes to citizens of the United States, they do not need an IDP, as long as they are staying for less than 6 months. However, this might not be the case for other European countries, thus it is always good to check with the local authorities.

Deposits are a must

Unfortunately, whichever car rental company you choose, you will have to pay a deposit. The deposit for renting a car is required, so that it secures that you bring the car as it was.

In the Azores, the rental car companies usually charge anywhere from around 200 to 1200 EUR for a deposit to your credit card. However, this depends on many factors like the type of car, the insurance that you will choose and the rental car company itself.

Better buy the full insurance

Getting the full insurance package will save you lots of hassle in the future. Although, driving in Azores can be quite easy and a very pleasant experience, it might cause you troubles. From little car scratches to broken parts of the car, it is definitely not a pleasant experience for anyone. Plus, it can cost you as little as 10 euros per day!

Going for the full insurance will cover all of this and you will be able to enjoy your trip without any worries. Furthermore, some car rental companies in the Azores are willing to waive the deposit altogether if you pay the full insurance. So, go for it!

Book early to get a better car

The saying “First come, first served” is absolutely true when it comes to booking a car in the Azores. The Azores islands have become one of the most visited islands and with that, there might be a shortage of cars to rent. Especially, during the high season.

Thus, when planning your trip to the Azores, make sure to check the best options for renting a car. Doing so a couple of months before your trip will save you some money for sure. Also, a few headaches and you might even end up with a better vehicle.

Local rental companies provide better offers

The local rent a car companies surely have better offers. The prices of the cars are a bit cheaper, deposits are lower or there are none at all. Not to mention that they are more reliable when there is an issue and would gladly help.

Overall, speaking from personal experience, I would suggest to always opt for the local rent a car, instead of the well-known companies. It is way easier with them and there is less documentation to fill.

At the end of this article you can find all of the local rental cars companies available on every island in the Azores.

The smaller the car the better

I never thought I would say that, but the smaller the car the better. That’s quite true for the Azores, as having a smaller car will make your driving way more pleasant. You will be able to park everywhere and not worry that you might end up stuck somewhere.

Furthermore, going to the cities around the Azores islands with a bigger car might create some issues. Not only with parking, but with driving in general. The cities have very narrow streets that are not suitable for big cars. Especially, when there are lots of cars parked on these streets and it is very hard to pass by. So, opt for a smaller vehicle!

Manual is cheaper than the automatic

Most of the cars offered for rent in the Azores are manual. That is why renting a manual car is usually cheaper than renting an automatic one. The price of the automatic car can be around 2-3 times higher than that of its manual counterparts.

Furthermore, automatic cars are not that widely spread around the islands. There is always a shortage of automatic cars, especially during the high season. Thus, it is recommended to book your car in advance to save yourself all the hassles.

Pick-ups are not a luxury

If your flights to the Azores is late in the evening, probably none of the counters at the airport will be working. However, most of the car rental companies in the Azores offer a pick-up service, which is sometimes included in the price.

For example, if you have booked a car for a week, the pick-up service will be included in the price. Or if you haven’t, most of them are charging around 20 euros to pick you up from the airport.

Likewise, when it comes to dropping off your vehicle, you can do it pretty much at any place and any time. However, it is advisable to do it during the working hours of the rental company. That way they will be able to estimate the damages easily if any and with your conscience.

Oh, and don’t forget to wash the car upon returning it, as they might charge you a cleaning fee (20 EUR).

Driving in the Azores

The Azores islands have right-hand traffic

For better or for worse, the traffic in the Azores is on the right side of the road. So, you can rest assured that you won’t have any issues driving in the Azores. On top of that, driving in the Azores can be pretty relaxing, there is not so much traffic and people drive pretty good.

Sincere apologies to all the Brits and Aussies visiting the Azores, though! I know it might be quite stressful at first, but one can pretty easily get used to it. Plus, drivers in the Azores are pretty tolerant, so that is a huge plus.

Gas prices are affordable

The Azores are a very affordable vacation destination, which surely won’t hurt your wallet. Renting a car in Azores and filling up the tank should not cause you any worries. 

Gasoline prices in the Azores as of 2020 are 1.45 EUR for a liter, which is a pretty good price. Not to mention that if the car is new, it won’t be wasting lots of it. So, with as little as 30 euros you can go to lots of places around the islands.

There are no toll roads

Unlike mainland Portugal, there are no toll roads on the Azores. Thus, you can drive freely without worrying where you should pay or whether you will get fined for not doing so.

This is definitely a plus on the islands and surely makes ones vacation a bit better and more pleasant.

The road is great!

Having the chance to drive around the islands is great, but having amazing roads is even greater! The roads on the Azores islands are very well maintained and there is not a single dump.

Although, the roads in cities like Ponta Delgada can be quite bumpy, due to the original paved roads. As well, the streets in the cities can be quite narrow, so they might cause you some anxiety. Overall, even that is not so much compared to other places in the world. So, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride!

Always follow the roads signs

Navigation is usually useful, but in the Azores it can seriously get you lost! It happened a couple of times to me and it was not nice. Thankfully, the signs on the islands are pretty accurate and you can navigate by only following them.

However, I would suggest that you use, which is a very cool app full of maps you can use offline. While on the islands, you might not always have a good connection, so sometimes you will have to refer to offline sources.

There are lots of roundabouts

If you are coming outside of Europe, you will probably be shocked by the many roundabouts on the islands. I wouldn’t say that there are lots of roundabouts, but if you are not used to them, it will surely shock you.

However, it is not something to be worried about, as you simply have to follow the signs and apply common sense.

Parking is (usually) free

Parking in the Azores is free almost everywhere. In the small cities around the islands, the parking is free and you can park wherever you want. Although, in the big cities parking prices may vary they are not that high. 

For example, parking in Ponta Delgada costs around 4 euros for up to 4 hours, which is a pretty reasonable price. Then, on weekdays, it is free after 7 PM, so you should not worry about parking in the city.

The weather can be tricky

Weather in the Azores can be quite unpredictable. This is something you will have to be aware of and not play gamble with.

Even though, it might be summer, the Azores can still be a pretty rainy and foggy place. Thus, whenever you decide to drive always check the forecast for your final destination. Avoid driving where there is fog, as sometimes it gets so thick that you can’t see 5 meters before you. Also, if there is a heavy rainfall, wait for it to pass to avoid any troubles on the road.

Beware of the animals

Well, one might say that there are more cows in the Azores than people. And they can be right about it! The amount of cows grazing freely on the islands is fascinating. But they are not only grazing freely, but also walking freely… on the roads!

So, be careful when driving, as you might encounter a whole herd of cows on the road, which has no intention to move. So, you will have to wait for them.

Car Rentals Around the Azores

Before coming to the Azores, most of the people opt for a well-known rental company like Hertz, Europcar or Sixt. However, I would advise you to check the offers of the local rental companies, as they usually have better terms. Plus, it is usually cheaper to rent a car with them. 

Or simply, choose Discover Cars, which to me is the best car rental platform. It waives the car rental deposit for Azores car rental and is pretty easy to book your desired vehicles. Trust me on this one! You won’t regret it!

Most Azores islands offer car rentals at the airport, but local agencies often have better deals.

  • Renting a car in Sao Miguel: If you are planning on renting a car in Sao Miguel Island consider Discover Cars, a Car in Ponta Delgada. They offer good terms and low deposits if you are into car rentals to travel the island. They are definitely the people if you are have planned on renting a car in Ponta Delgada.
  • Renting a car in Terceira: MicAuto at the airport or Way2Azores in Angra do Heroismo offer competitive rates.
  • Renting a car in Pico: Rent-a-car Oasis and Pico Island Adventures provide good service, the latter with no deposit required.
  • Renting a car in Faial: Choose from many local options or try Tera Auto.
  • Renting a car in Flores: Look for deals in Santa Cruz das Flores.
  • Renting a car in Sao Jorge: Azores By Car in Velas is a reliable choice for new and affordable vehicles.

The biggest local car rental company is Ilha Verde Car Rental and it has offices on every island. So, you can never go wrong with that!

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