We traveled through the entire archipelago of the Azores for 2 months, getting to know its 9 islands, and still it was not enough. We tried to soak up as much as possible of the culture and beauty of each island, we understood how different they are from each other and the idiosyncrasies that make it seem more and more absurd to speak of “the Azores” as one and the same, especially when we were there. They are different loves and together they form a paradise that deserves to be unveiled slowly, without haste and with respect, and if possible from east to west, leaving, in our opinion, the best for last.
In this guide we try to summarize everything to see in each of the nine Azorean islands, with practical recommendations for those who are organizing the trip before arriving (from things to do, accommodations and even restaurants) and useful tips for those who are already setting foot on this paradise in the middle of the Atlantic.
- Basic facts about the Azores
- Which of the 9 Azorean islands is best to visit
- Best time to visit the Azores Islands
- How to get to the Azores Islands
- The Azores durinn the pandemic: Covid-19 measures for travel to the Azores
- Things to do in the Azores
- São Miguel
- Santa Maria
- São Jorge
- Oscars RandomAzores: our favorite places in the Azores
- Best swimming spots in Azores
- Best trails in the Azores
- Best restaurants to eat in Azores
- Best landscapes in Azores
- Azores islands with the nicest people
- Best museums / interpretation centers in the Azores
- Best lagoons of the Azores
- Most beautiful roads in the Azores
- The best places to say goodbye to the sun
- Best viewpoints in the Azores
- Best waterfalls in the Azores
- Best accommodations we stayed in the Azores
- Best experiences of the Azores
- Best volcanoes of the Azores
- Top 3 islands of the Azores
- Itineraries to the Azores Islands
- How to travel between the Azorean islands
- Transportation: rent a car in the Azores
- Useful Apps for traveling to the Azores
- Liked our guide? Save money and support us!
Basic facts about the Azores
The Azores islands are an archipelago of the Macaronesia (also formed by the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira and Salvajes islands) and a curiosity is that although geographically the Azorean islands are in Europe, geologically this is not true for the 9 islands of the archipelago. The islands of the western group, Flores and Corvo, are geologically in America since they are located on the tectonic plate of the American continent.
Number of islands: The Azores islands are 9 islands divided into 3 groups. The Eastern group is made up of 2 islands (São Miguel and Santa Maria); the Central group is made up of 5 islands (Terceira, Graciosa, Faial, Pico and São Jorge) and the last 3 – Faial, Pico and São Jorge – are known as “the triangle of the Azores” due to their proximity (they are usually visited together on the same trip); the Western group is made up of 2 islands (Flores and Corvo)
Currency: Euro (EUR). There are ATMs on all islands
Daily budget: It’s best to book everything in advance: rental car, accommodation and flights-boats between islands (in this order because cars are usually sold out). Here we give you all the transport info. The price of the rental cars rarely goes below 25€/day (we tell you more here). One night accommodation for 2 people is between 50€ – 60€/night for a room with private bathroom (and, in some cases with personal or shared kitchen) or apartment. We recommend specific accommodations inside the section of each island. A meal at a restaurant usually cost an average of 20€/person. So the daily budget is around 90€-100€/day for two people approximately.
Climate: Quite unpredictable although if you want to enjoy the highest probability of sunny days and enjoy its natural pools, the best time to visit the Azores is in summer, here we tell you better why.
Language: Portuguese (the Azores are part of Portugal).
Population: 237 000 (in 2021). The most populated island is São Miguel (half of the entire Azorean population lives in São Miguel) and the least populated is Corvo (about 400 people).
Time zone: UTC + 0. The time difference with Portugal (continental) is 1 hour.
Which of the 9 Azorean islands is best to visit
In order to visit the 9 islands and get to know them moderately well, you need at least one month, so if your trip is for a few days or weeks, you will have to choose which of the Azorean islands to visit.
As always, this is very subjective and depends greatly on the tastes and ways of traveling of each person, but here are some tips to help you:
- If it is your first time in the archipelago and your trip is 7 days or less, we believe that São Miguel is an excellent first contact and deserves those 7 days to get to know it well and calmly.
- Due to geographical proximity and ease of connection, it is also common to join the following islands:
- Triangle islands: Faial, Pico and São Jorge.
- Islands of the western group: Flores and Corvo
- Each island is unique and different from the others, they all have something that makes them special and worth a visit. Based on your tastes, you may have more interest in some or others, so to help you, in the following section you have the best places in various categories (swimming spots, landscapes, volcanoes, restaurants, etc.) that we chose after much debate in our RandomAzores Oscars.
If you want to get inspired, in this post we did the exercise of choosing those that are the jewels that you can not miss on your trip to the Azores: The 9 Wonders of the Azorean World .
And further down in this same post you will find our particular Oscars RandomAzores with our favorite places of the 9 islands in various categories.
Also as a guideline, we leave you the number of days we consider “ideal” to visit each island:
- São Miguel: 7 days
- Santa Maria: 3-4 days
- Terceira: 5 days
- Graciosa: 2-3 days
- São Jorge: 5 days
- Pico: 5 days
- Faial: 3 days
- Flores: 5 days
- Corvo: 2 days
Best time to visit the Azores Islands
Undoubtedly, the best time to go to the Azores is during the summer, June to September, although it is also the time with the highest influx of tourism. In any case, the weather in the Azores varies greatly (it is always said that you can have the 4 seasons in the same day, and we can confirm it), so there is no guarantee of good weather. July and August are the more touristic months, so we recommend you to go in May, June, September or October.
We traveled around the islands for 2 months (mid-May to mid-July) and had all kinds of weather on all the islands.
In summer it is easier to move between islands (more frequencies of flights and boats, in fact there are boat connections that only exist during the summer) although it is necessary to book everything well in advance (accommodation, flights, rental car…) because they are sold out quickly and consequently prices increase a lot.
How to get to the Azores Islands
There are several flights from Portugal and also some options from other european countries and from the US and Canada
- From Lisbon to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel), to Lajes (Terceira), to Pico or to Horta (Faial)
- From Oporto to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) and Lajes (Terceira)
- From Madrid to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) but, for the moment, only in summer.
- From Boston (US) to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) and Lajes (Terceira)
- From Toronto (CA) to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) and Lajes (Terceira)
- From London (UK) to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel)
- From Paris (FR) to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel)
The Azores durinn the pandemic: Covid-19 measures for travel to the Azores
Measurements updated on March 26, 2022
Currently these are the measures for travel to the Azores during the Covid-19 pandemic:
- With EU Vaccination Certificate: no test in any island neither to enter nor to leave.
- Without EU Vaccination Certificate: test digital certificate.
No further test (PCR or antigen test) will be necessary even if you stay more than 7 days in the archipelago (until August 9th 2021 you had to do an extra test based on the length of your stay).
Travel with Iati insurance with a 5% discount here
Things to do in the Azores
The Azores Islands are divided into 3 groups:
- Eastern Group: São Miguel and Santa Maria
- Central Group: Faial, Pico, São Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira
- Western Group: Flores and Corvo
In the central group, the islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge are also known as “the islands of the triangle” and are connected by boat throughout the year.
Here are the main places to visit on each island.
São Miguel is the largest and main island of the Azorean archipelago, and also the most touristic. It is an excellent gateway to the Azores, with lots of things to see and do and an incredible gastronomic and sleeping options. Take a look at our Complete Guide to São Miguel which will surely be useful to organize your trip. Also below we leave you the most popular spots on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the green island.
Things to do in São Miguel
Here is our free complete guide to travel to São Miguel:
Main places to visit in São Miguel (organized by areas)
- Furnas and surroundings
- Lagoa das Furnas
- Terra Nostra Park
- Poça Dona Beija
- Eating cocido das Furnas
- Miradouros (Pico do Ferro, Salto do Cavalo…)
- Praia do Fogo (Ribeira Quente)
- West (Sete Cidades and Mosteiros)
- Lagoa das Sete Cidades and miradouros (Vista do Rei, Cerrado das Freiras…)
- Monte Palace Hotel Ruins
- Lagoa de Santiago
- Miradouro da boca do inferno
- Lagoa do Canario
- Serra Devassa Trail (Lagoa das Eguas, Lagoa das Empadadas…)
- Sete Cidades
- Miradouro Ponta do Escalvado
- Ponta da Ferraria
- Praia dos Mosteiros
- Mosteiros natural pools
- North and Center
- Caldeira Velha
- Salto do Cabrito
- Lagoa do Fogo and miradouros
- Lagoa do Congro
- Lagoa São Bras
- Tea plantations (Gorreana / Porto Formoso)
- Praia dos Moinhos
- Miradouro Santa Iria
- Ribeira Grande
- Santa Barbara Beach
- South, Ponta Delgada and surroundings
- Ponta Delgada (Portas da Cidade, Portas do Mar, Mercado da Graça, …)
- Ilheu de Vila Franca do Campo
- Beaches (Milicias, Populo, Amora, Baixa D’Areia…)
- Pineapple plantations
- Nordeste and Povoação
- Farinha Falls
- Poço Azul
- Ribeira dos Caldeirões
- Miradouros Nordeste (Ponta do Arnel, Vista dos barcos, Ponta do Sossego, Ponta da Madrugada…)
- Priolo Environmental Center
- Salto do Prego
- Miradouro Pico dos Bodes
Where to eat in São Miguel
These are our favorite restaurants on the island of São Miguel. More info in our complete guide to São Miguel
- Botequim Açoriano
- Villa da Tia Merces
- Tuka Tulá (where to enjoy the sunset)
- Tasquinha Vieira
- Associação Agricola
- O Galego
Where to stay in São Miguel
Although it is not our favorite Azorean city, Ponta Delgada is the most strategic point where to stay to explore the island. In addition, with the gastronomic offer it offers, it is perfect for not having to take the car and go far away after a good dinner. We stayed at Ladeira Loft (from 80€/night), a very spacious one-bedroom apartment, in the center (very close to Mercado da Graça) and overlooking the Atlantic.
With more affordable prices, the Nook Hostel(from 40€/night), in the historic center, has apartments with 2 rooms, private rooms and dorm beds. Also among the cheapest options is the Holy Cow (from 50€/night) a hostel with rooms with private bathrooms and dormitories. The Hotel do Colegio (55€/night), a nice hotel in a 19th century building, with swimming pool, in the center of Ponta Delgada, was the hotel where my mother, my sister and I stayed the first time we visited the island and we loved it.
The other suggested option is Ribeira Grande, also well located and connected. Here you can indulge yourself and stay in front of the sea in the surf capital (and with the option, of course, to have surf lessons) in the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort (120 € / night). If you want a more economical option in this area, take a look at the Mitós Vila (a villa for two people for 33€/night) or the Central House, a house that you can enjoy from 2 people (at 55€/night) to 6 people (at 75€/night). Find more accommodations in Ribeira Grande here
While we write the Santa Maria travel guide, we leave you the most popular places on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the island of white sand beaches.
Things to do in Santa Maria
Featured stories on our Instagram: Santa Maria
Main places to visit in Santa Maria:
- Vila do Porto (Forte de São Bras, Casa dos Fosseis, …)
- Praia Formosa
- Ribeira de Maloás
- Ponta do Castelo (miradouros and Gonçalo Velho Lighthouse)
- Maia (Cascata do Aveiro and Maia swimming pool)
- Poço da Pedreira
- Pico Alto
- São Lourenço Bay
- Barreiro da Faneca (Red Desert)
- Anjos (swimming pools, Christopher Columbus statue, sunset)
Where to eat in Santa Maria
Recommended restaurants in Santa Maria:
- Bar dos Anjos (where you can enjoy the sunset)
- Ponta Negra
- O Grota
- O Pacote
- Mesa D’Oito
- A Travessa
- Central Pub
Where to stay in Santa Maria
Santa Maria is not very big but, in our opinion, it’s best to stay in Vila do Porto (its capital, for example in the Azorean Stone Houses where we stayed) or, if you are two people, indulge yourself in the Casa da Fajãzinha.
Find accommodations in Vila do Porto, Santa Maria
While we write the Faial travel guide, we leave you the most popular places on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the blue island.
Things to do in Faial
Main places to visit in Faial:
- Horta (Marina, Porto Pim, Monte da Guía, Miradouros, Peter Cafe Sport…)
- Caldeira (trail around the crater)
- Levadas (trail)
- Vulcão dos Capelinhos (Interpretation Center, Lighthouse, miradouros)
- Porto Comprido
- Praia da Fajã (Rocha da Fajã trail)
- Miradouro Ribeira das Cabras
- Ribeirinha (earthquake remains: Lighthouse and Church)
- Almoxarife Beach
- Nossa Senhora da Conceição Viewpoint
- Poça da Rainha
- Ponta do Morro
- Varadouro Swimming Pools
Where to eat in Faial
Our favorite restaurants in Faial:
- Atletico (meat and fish in wood-fired oven)
- Ah Boca Santa! (the best hamburger of our life)
- Peters: the mythical bar-meeting-point for sailors to have a gin and tonic at the end of the day.
- Porto Pim Café, to end the day in front of the sea
Where to stay in Faial
The best area to stay is Porto Pim, right in front of the beach, or in the capital Horta. They are very close walking distance from each other and there are several accommodations (and restaurants) in the area so you just have to choose. We stayed at Monte da Guia and loved it: comfortable rooms with the sea as soundtrack and views to Pico, common kitchen and living room and friendliness and professionalism assured.
Find accommodations in Horta, Faial
While we prepare the Pico travel guide, we leave you the most popular places on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the island with the highest point of Portugal.
Things to do in Pico
Main places to visit in Pico
- Climb Pico Mountain (with Atipico)
- Longitudinal road (EN3)
- Madalena (municipal swimming pool, Cella Bar…)
- Paisagem da Vinha de Criação Velha (trail from Madalena, Moinho do Frade)
- Gruta das Torres
- MiratecArts Costa Gallery
- Lajes do Pico (Whale Watching)
- Calheta de Nesquim (natural pools)
- Ponta da Ilha (Faro, Oleiro)
- Santo Amaro (walk and Magma restaurant)
- Prainha (natural pools, Ponta do Misterio)
- Sao Roque (natural pools)
- Lajido and Cachorro
Where to eat in Pico
Recommended restaurants in Pico:
- O Petisca
- Taberna do Canal
- Caffe 5
- Cella Bar
- Fonte Tavern
- Aldeia da Fonte
Where to stay in Pico
Our favorite area is between vineyards, in Lajido, where we stayed at Baco’s and next to where one of the most beautiful trails of the island starts and the photogenic mill: Vinhas do Calhau, where we enjoyed 4 incredible nights. If you stay at Madalena or nearby you will also be in a strategic point, although not as nice.
While we prepare the São Jorge travel guide, we leave you the most popular places on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the island of the “fajãs”.
Things to do in São Jorge
Main places to visit in São Jorge:
- Fajã do Ouvidor (Poça Simão Dias, natural pool, Miradouro)
- Fajã da Ribeira da areia (Natural Arch)
- Fajã dos Cubres
- Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo (trail from Serra do Topo)
- Pico da Esperança
- Urzelina (natural swimming pool, windmills, craftsmen’s workshop)
- Fajã das Almas (natural pool, miradouros)
- Fajã Grande (natural pools)
- Fajã dos Vimes (coffee plantation, miradouros)
- Fajã de São Joao
- Topo (natural pool, ilheu do Topo, Faro)
- Velas (natural pools, jardim municipal)
- Sete Fontes Forest Park
- Ponta dos Rosais (Farol, Vigia da Baleia)
Where to eat in São Jorge
Recommended restaurants where to eat in São Jorge:
- Fornos de Lava
- Calhetense (ideal for watching the sunset)
Where to stay in São Jorge
If you want to sleep some night(s) in the Caldeira de Santo Cristo itself, book in advance at Casa da Caldeira, Casa da Fajã or Casa da Lagoa. To explore the island, we recommend staying at Fajã do Ouvidor where we stayed or around Velas, the capital. For something different, the Intact Farm, 10 bungalows between the sea and the mountains where you can recharge your batteries.
While we prepare the Graciosa travel guide, we leave you the most popular places on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the white island.
Things to do in Graciosa
Featured stories on our Instagram: Graciosa
Main places to visit in Graciosa:
- Furna do Enxofre
- Caldeira (Furna do Abel, Furna da Maria Encantada, Miradouros…)
- Termas do Carapacho (natural pool)
- Associação de Criadores do Burro Anão
- Porto Afonso
- Poceirões (natural pool)
- Ponta da Barca (ilheu da baleia)
- Barro Vermelho (beach and natural pools)
- Santa Cruz (Museu da Graciosa, Ermida da Nossa Senhora da Ajuda)
- Beach (Praia de São Mateus, Molinos, Miradouro do Ilheu)
Where to eat in Graciosa
Recommended restaurants in Graciosa:
- Costa do Sol
- Estrela do Mar
- Grafil (for breakfast or a drink at the end of the day)
Where to stay in Graciosa
Unless you stay overnight in one of its mills (an experience that has to be incredible) like Boina do Vento or Moinho Mó da Praia, it is best to stay in Santa Cruz de Graciosa. We stayed at the Boa Nova Hostel, a modern hostel that we wouldn’t miss in a cosmopolitan city but that was a pleasant surprise on the white Azorean island.
Find accommodations in Santa Cruz, Graciosa
A capital that is a Unesco heritage site (Angra do Heroísmo), a blanket of green-grass patchwork woven inside the largest crater of the Azores (Serra do Cume) and a unique volcano in the world that we can enter and look at the sky from inside (Algar do Carvão). Just because of these three attractions it is worth visiting the third largest island of the archipelago, but Terceira offers much more to those who visit it. There are dips in clear waters between lava flows in Biscoitos, biodiverse trails between mistérios negros, steaming cauldrons and the largest areas of endemic vegetation of the whole archipelago, and all these plans are combined with delicious gastronomy, good wine and festivities, lots of festivities.
In our complete Terceira travel guide we try to reflect all that Terceira has to offer with practical tips, itineraries from 2 to 7 days, where to sleep and even where to eat to make your trip as incredible as ours was.
Things to do in Terceira
Here is our complete and free guide about Terceira:
Main places to visit in Terceira (divided into two zones):
- South and interior of Terceira:
- Angra do Heroismo (historic center, Marina, Monte Brasil, …).
- São Mateus
- Serra do Cume viewpoint
- Algar do Carvão
- Furnas do Enxofre
- Cave of Natal
- Mistérios Negros Trail
- Serra de Santa Barbara Viewpoint
- Porto Judeu (Miradouro da Cruz do Canario, natural pool)
- Gruta das Agulhas
- Ponta das Contendas
- North, East and West of Terceira:
- Mata da Serreta (Miradouros and Faro).
- Biscoitos (natural pools, vineyards, trenches)
- Escaleiras natural pools
- Miradouro Humberto Delgado and Base das Lajes
- Praia da Vitoria
- Porto Martins
Where to eat in Terceira
Recommended restaurants in Terceira. More info in our complete Terceira travel guide
- Caneta (meat alcatra)
- Ti Choa
- O Pescador
- Boca Negra (fish alcatra)
- Garoupinha Wine Bar
- Taberna do Teatro
- Tasca das Tias
- Beira Mar
Where to stay in Terceira
The island’s capital, Angra do Heroísmo, is a Unesco World Heritage Site for a reason, look no further. Stay among colorful alleys at the My Angra Boutique Hostel. If you prefer rural tourism, book in advance at Quinta do Martelo and if you want to stay closer to the incredible natural pools of Biscoitos, at the Caparica Azores Eco Lodge you will find tree houses but with comfort.
Find accommodations in Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira
The days on Flores island are of constant amazement. It starts from the moment you get in the car and want to stop every few minutes to enjoy the green and flowery roads (yes, Flores – flowers in portuguese – lives up to its name) and continues when you get into some part of that green and you expect a tyrannosaurus rex to appear anywhere. If we tell you that Flores is the Portuguese Jurassic Park, we would not be completely honest because it is all that together with natural pools with turquoise waters where you can greet fish of a thousand colors with imposing waterfalls in the background, colorful lagoons surrounded by a thousand shades of green and orange sunsets with an Azorean gin&tonic in hand saying goodbye to the sun in the sea.
In our Flores travel guide we try to reflect all that Flores has to offer with practical tips, itineraries from 2 to 7 days, where to stay and the best restaurants so that your trip through this “Portuguese Jurassic Park” is as incredible as ours was.
Things to do in Flores
Here is our free and complete Flores travel guide:
Main places to visit in Flores:
- Natural pools Fajã Grande
- Poço do Bacalhau
- Poço da Ribeira do Ferreiro
- Its 7 Lagoas (lagoons)
- Rocha dos Bordões
- Fajã de Lopo Vaz
- Lajes das Flores
- Santa Cruz das Flores and its natural pools
- Ponta Delgada
Where to eat in Flores
These are our favorite restaurants on the island of Flores:
- Maresia (more than a restaurant, an experience. We recommend a local Rocha Negra gin while the sun says goodbye).
- Papadiamandis (good grilled fish)
- Aldeia da Cuada
- Casa do Rei
- Pôr do Sol (typical tapas but especially ideal for a glass of wine at sunset)
More information on Where to Eat on the island of Flores in our island guide.
Where to stay in Flores
The best area to look for accommodation on the island is in or around Fajã Grande since, apart from being the most beautiful area (in our opinion), it is where some of the best restaurants and accommodations are located. We highlight the Aldeia da Cuada accommodation (from 70€/night), an old abandoned village converted into a rural complex of several stone houses. As they tend to sell out quickly, there are other options such as Palheiro da Assomada /55€/night) or Casa Via d’Água (from 80€/night). Find more accommodations in Fajã Grande, Flores
If, like us, you can’t find accommodation in Fajã Grande due to lack of availability, remember thateverything in Flores is about half an hour away by car so it’s ok. We finally stayed in the capital of the island, Santa Cruz, very close to the amazing Piscinas Naturales and Poça das Salemas, and we loved it. Here we recommend Casa da Cruz (62€/night), Casas da Quinta (from 75€/night) or Casa Vicente (from 120€/night).
Finally, Lajes das Flores is another very good option to stay and base, with excellent restaurants nearby. Both Casa das Pedras Brancas (from 62€/night), Vivenda Joaquim (from 70€/night) and Casa das Flores (from 110€/night) offer terraces with sea views. The point that seems to us to be more remote for you to look for accommodation on the island of Flores is Ponta Delgada.
More information about where to stay in Flores Island in our guide.
While we prepare the Corvo travel guide, we leave you the most popular places on the island and our featured Instagram stories where you can see in detail our passage through the smallest and most isolated island.
Things to do in Corvo
Corvo’s featured stories on our Instagram: Corvo
Places to visit in Corvo:
- Caldeirão (views from the lookout point and trail inside the crater)
- Cara do Indio Trail
- Vila do Porto:
- Areia Beach
- Artesanato do Corvo
- Moinhos do Corvo
Where to eat in Corvo
Restaurants where to eat in Corvo:
- BBC (Bar dos Bombeiros do Corvo)
Where to stay in Corvo
Oscars RandomAzores: our favorite places in the Azores
After our 2 months traveling around the 9 Azorean islands, we set ourselves the exercise of choosing the places that for us were the most incredible, the ones that surprised us the most or where we enjoyed the most. We have divided them into several categories, and although the selection is completely subjective, we believe it can help you organize your trip and decide which islands to visit based on your tastes and preferences:
Best swimming spots in Azores
Best trails in the Azores
- PR01 SJO – Caldeira de Santo Cristo (São Jorge)
- Climbing Pico Mountain (Pico)
- PRC04 FLO – Fajã de Lopo Vaz (Flores)
Best restaurants to eat in Azores
Best landscapes in Azores
Azores islands with the nicest people
- Tie among the other 7
Best museums / interpretation centers in the Azores
Best lagoons of the Azores
Most beautiful roads in the Azores
- Road to Fajã Grande (Flores)
- Longitudinal Road (Pico)
- Road to Fajã dos Cubres (São Jorge)
The best places to say goodbye to the sun
Best viewpoints in the Azores
- Miradouro do Portal (Flores)
- Miradouro Baia de São Lourenço (Santa Maria)
- Miradouro da Serra do Cume (Terceira)
Best waterfalls in the Azores
Best accommodations we stayed in the Azores
Best experiences of the Azores
- Night climb to Pico Mountain (Pico) – With Atipico
- Diving with manta rays (Santa Maria) – With Mantamaria
- Whale watching (Pico) – With Espaço Talassa
Best volcanoes of the Azores
Top 3 islands of the Azores
- São Jorge
- Tie between Corvo and Santa Maria
Itineraries to the Azores Islands
Here we leave you our route through the Azores that we did during 2 months and in which we visited the 9 islands. We will soon update this guide to include suggested itineraries for 4-5 days, one week and two weeks.
Our 2-month route through the 9 Azorean islands
- Days 1 to 5: Faial
- Days 6 to 17: Pico
- Days 18 to 23: São Jorge
- Days 24 to 26: Graciosa
- Days 27 to 36: Terceira
- Days 37 to 42: Flores
- Days 43 to 44: Corvo
- Days 45 to 57: São Miguel
- Days 57 to 60: Santa Maria
How to travel between the Azorean islands
To move between islands, there are two options: boat and plane, although not all islands are connected to each other and frequencies are limited.
Inter-island flights with SATA
The 9 islands of the Azores archipelago have airports, ensuring the flight connection between them. The frequency of flights is higher in summer, and for some islands it is necessary to make a stopover (usually in São Miguel or Faial). All flights can be bought in SATA official site
If you want to fly to one of the “not main” islands, SATA gives you free connecting flights as long as they are within 24 hours of your flights in/out of the archipelago (only valid for flights from Portugal).
Free inter-island flights (encaminhamentos inter-ilhas de SATA)
The free flights are no longer available to tourists since November 2021, so the following information is no longer valid. Check the updated terms for free flights here
If you fly from Portugal (either from the mainland or from Madeira) to any of the Azores islands, you can get free connecting flights from the island you enter the archipelago (or from which you depart) to any of the other islands, as long as there is no more than 24h difference between the flight you enter (or the flight you depart) and the connecting flight.
For example, if you want to visit Flores, you can buy a flight to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) (for example from Lisbon) and get round-trip flights between Ponta Delgada and Flores if you choose any flight within 24h after your arrival (and 24h before your return) to/from Ponta Delgada. If you do that, you will have only a few hours in São Miguel. If you want to combine São Miguel and Flores in your trip, ideally you should choose one of the flights between Ponta Delgada and Flores in that 24h range upon arrival/before your return and then you will only pay for one of the flights.
How to apply for the free SATA “encaminhamento” flight? You have two ways:
- By phone, by calling +351 296 20 97 20 (they attend in Portuguese or English). This is the fastest option and the one we recommend.
- By internet, on this website: https://encaminhamentos.sata.pt/. There you can fill in the form with the requested information and request the desired flight.
Advice based on our experience:
- Check the availability of SATA inter-island flights before buying your flight to the Azores: if there is no “encaminhamento” flight available in those 24h windows, you will not be able to enjoy the free flight.
- Organize your flights in advance, especially if you are visiting the Azores in summer.
- If you are fluent in Portuguese or English, do it by phone, it is faster and they will send you your reservation immediately.
Boats between islands with Atlânticoline
The other option to travel between islands is by boat. All the existing boats are managed by the company Atlânticoline and you can buy tickets in advance online at their website: https://www.atlanticoline.pt/.
Boat connections are limited and since the beginning of the pandemic some of them have been cancelled, so for some islands you will depend on air travel. Currently (2022), the existing boat connections are:
- Islands of the triangle (Faial, Pico and São Jorge): they have connections all year round, with more frequencies during the summer.
- Central Group: the other two islands of the central group (Terceira and Graciosa) are connected to each other and to the triangle only during the summer:
- The purple line connects Terceira with the triangle, from 06/15 to 09/15, two days a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays).
- The white line connects Terceira and Graciosa with the triangle, from 11/06 to 04/10 two days a week (Monday and Friday).
Please note that frequencies and schedules are subject to change, you can check and confirm schedules here: https://www.atlanticoline.pt/horario-2/. Sometimes schedules are updated only for a certain period, so if your trip is going to be in some months it is possible that there may not be schedules yet and you won’t be able to buy your tickets until the new schedules are announced.
In case of any unforeseen event and if you have expenses involving a quarantine (hotel, meals, etc.) as a result of Covid-19, we recommend you to travel with the Iati insurance that covers it. With this link you get a 5% discount when hiring the insurance.
Transportation: rent a car in the Azores
The best option to explore the islands is to rent a car. We did it with Autatlantis and we loved it: cars in good state, the best excess policy we found in the islands, no small print to stick to and everything was great throughout the 2 months we traveled around the 9 islands. Rent your car here.
Car rental prices in the Azores are somewhat more expensive than average, and it is difficult to find something for less than 25€ per day. It is very important to book as soon as possible because prices go up as the date approaches and demand increases, especially during the summer (in the summer of 2021 due to the demand it became very difficult to find a car with less than a month in advance and prices reached 100€ per day).
During our trip (May to July 2021) the price of gasoline was 1,50€/liter.
Useful Apps for traveling to the Azores
We recommend some applications that will be useful for your trip to the Azores:
- SpotAzores: (Android / iOS / Web): here you can see all the existing webcams in different points of the islands to see how the weather is. Because the weather is very changeable and it can be raining in one area of the island and sunny in another, this app is the fastest way to make sure and avoid unnecessary trips.
- Windy (Android / iOS / Web): essential app in our trips, even more so in the Azores. It allows you to see forecasts for rain, clouds, wind, etc. to help you plan your days based on the weather (as there are places that lose a lot depending on the weather). Obviously the forecasts are not 100% reliable. It also shows the available webcams
- Google Maps (Android / iOS): is the one we use to save / classify all the places we want to go / have gone and as GPS in rental cars. You can see other people’s opinions of the places, photos, restaurant menus, telephone numbers to contact them, etc.
- Maps.me (Android / iOS): application similar to Google Maps but that works offline (although Google Maps can also work online) and in many cases has information that Google Maps does not have, especially trails. Useful whenever you are going to do a trail, to orient yourself, download the route from the official Azores trails website (click on Downloads->GPS), etc.
Obrigada Açores. You gave us more adventure, more beauty and more smiles than we could imagine in this 2021. You made us very happy. And since we like to return to the places where we were happy, you know what to do….
Disclaimer: Autatlantis helped us explore six of the nine Azorean islands with one of their vehicles but all opinions and information expressed in this post are our own.
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