A Destination Guide to the Azores, Portugal

 

Join Your Tours Portugal as we explore one of Portugal’s most beautiful natural regions, the Azores archipelago.

This peaceful and pristine set of volcanic islands is found far out in the Atlantic Ocean, almost halfway between Europe and America. Whether you’re travelling solo, with friends, or with family, you’ll find endless enchantment in the Azores.

From whale watching to revitalising walks across idyllic landscapes, the greatest treasure of the nine islands comprising the Azores is unquestionably their natural magnificence. However, this is also a top destination for water sports, cultural activities, and indulging in world-class cuisine.

The following guide will offer practical tips for getting the most out of your stay in the Azores and recommendations for some must-see sights and experiences.

And if you feel inspired at the end of the article, why not consider joining us for one of our All-Inclusive Private Day Tours in Portugal

If you have any questions about any of our tours or services, please get in touch.

When is the Best Time to Visit the Azores?

It’s worth pointing out from the off that the Azores do not feature the kind of perfect holiday weather that many will associate with mainland Portugal. Due to the Azores being located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, they tend to experience mild to warm weather, with significant rainfall across the islands (especially between September and March).

That being said, you’re unlikely to meet extremes in the Azores. In the archipelago’s major cities, temperatures have never surpassed 30°C, and winters rarely see temperatures below 5°C.

June-August: This is the best time to visit. By travelling to the Azores at the height of the summer season, you’re likely to avoid the rain and enjoy a period of consistently sunny weather. Of course, this means you’ll encounter more tourists, but tourist numbers are still low compared to many other holiday destinations.

If you are averse to sharing spaces with other tourists, you could try visiting the Azores between September and October, when the weather is still pleasant, but the islands are quiet. However, the trade-off for avoiding any crowds will be an increased chance of rain, though temperatures will remain fairly warm.

What Should You Pack For Your Trip to the Azores?

We often get this question – what must be packed for your dream trip to the Azores?

  • A camera! You are about to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever encounter.
  • Shoes are suitable for a variety of terrains. You’re likely to do a lot of hiking/walking during your visit. You'll most likely be doing a lot of walking and exploring, so taking care of your feet is a good idea.
  • A good carry bag. You’ll be active on this trip, hopping islands and walking across beaches and hills.
  • Clothes for all weather! As we said, the climate in the Azores is temperate and changeable. Set out each day, knowing that it could be warm and cool on the same day. Dress in layers and expect to blend outdoor activities with relaxing in stylish restaurants and cafes.
  • Pack an umbrella or quality fold-up rain jacket for rainy days.
  • A reusable water bottle.It’s important to be green and environmentally conscious when exploring beautiful natural landscapes.
  • Power banks for your tech. You don’t want to miss out on taking pictures/recording videos due to a low battery when you come to such a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination.

How to Get Around the Azores

All you need to know about getting to the Azores and how best to explore once you’ve arrived…

Getting to the Azores

Given this unspoiled archipelago’s remote location, you will need to fly in. Most flight routes will see you taking a connecting flight from the Portuguese mainland (perfect for those planning some Self-Guided Tours in Portugal or All-Inclusive Private Day Tours in Portugal!). 

When planning your arrival, your best option is to fly to João Paulo II Airport (PDL) at Ponta Delgada. This is the capital city of São Miguel, the Azores’ biggest island, and from here, you’ll be free to hop to the other islands.

Travelling Around the Azores

If you’re a driver, renting a car is something of a must when exploring the Azores. Having access to a vehicle will significantly enhance your travel experience, giving you all the freedom to see the treasures dotted around each island.

As renting a car is standard for tourists in the Azores, we recommend booking the car in advance. If you have to rely on public transport, you’ll still undoubtedly have an amazing time, but do your homework. The more popular sections of the islands will be served by fairly regular bus routes, but quieter places typically have limited timetables.

Finally, if you’re stuck, taxis are safe and convenient. But costs will quickly run up! If making a longer journey by taxi, ask for a price quote being booked.

Island Hopping the Azores

Getting between the nine islands that make up this archipelago is relatively easy, at least during the tourist seasons. Ferries operated by Atlântico Line will connect you to all nine islands.

The islands are grouped into regions for the purpose of the ferry routes, with Santa Maria and São Miguel being the eastern islands, Pico, Faial, Graciosa, Terceira and São Jorge being the central islands, and Flores and Corvo the western islands.

You’ll find ferry access runs throughout the year for the western and central areas, but these boat routes to the eastern islands are limited to the high season.

For those willing to spend a little more money to cut down travel time between islands, you can take short flights with Azores Airlines (prices can vary, but you can expect to pay around 100 euros for a one-way inter-island flight).

How Much Spending Money Do You Need For the Azores?

How long is a piece of string? Your budget for the Azores will be determined by what kind of traveller you are, your accommodation preferences, the food you like to eat, the activities you’d like to undertake, and the amount of island hopping you have planned.

The good news is that Booking.com has more than one-and-a-half-thousand accommodation options listed for the Azores. You’ll find choices suitable for those with varying budgets, from the student backpacker looking for a dormitory room to the family traveller looking for a luxury option.

It’s the same for restaurants; you’ll find high-end dining and budget options. Our recommendation is to do as much planning as you can. Will you be making dinner reservations? How will you travel around and between the islands? What experiences are you looking for?

Must-Visit Sites on the Azores

Finally, here are our top 5 sights for your Azores adventure…

Whale Watching in the Azores

Lagoa do Fogo

(São Miguel)

The Azores are world famous for the whale populations that inhabit their waters. Thanks to the lack of pollution, relative seclusion, and protection given to the whales, around 24 species can be spotted here. Seeing these majestic creatures in such a beautiful setting is an unforgettable experience.

Lagoa do Fogo (pictured above) is a picture-perfect crater lake located in the centre of São Miguel. Walk the 13-mile São Miguel trail to enjoy a restorative day spent in nature. You’ll get to enjoy the peace of the forest, lush farmland, and the rolling green hills. And the views across the lake are sure to rank among the highlights of any holiday photo album.

Furnas Valley

(São Miguel)

Capelinhos

Another destination on São Miguel, the Furnas Valley, is a beautiful place to observe the volcanic nature of the Azores. Here, you’ll find geysers, fumaroles, and hot springs. In these dramatic natural landscapes, you’ll feel a million miles from modern urban life (which you basically are).

Observe the raw power of a volcano up close on Faial Island. When the Capelinhos volcano erupted in 1957, the 1,800 people were forced to abandon their homes and emigrate to the USA. The lava flow created an entirely new island which then became linked to Faial Island by an isthmus – yes, when you walk across this landscape, you’re exploring an island that didn’t exist a mere 65 years ago.

Azore Beaches

We could make a list many times the size of this one focusing only on the Azore’s epic walks – mountainous terrain, crater lakes, sweeping green vistas. But we know most visitors like to combine long walks with long days of relaxation on the beach!

Yes, the Azores are home to some splendid, pristine beaches. Across the archipelago, you’ll find a mix of black and white sand beaches and rocky pebble beaches. There are beaches ideal for sunbathing on warmer days and secluded beaches perfect for capturing magnificent pictures for your Instagram feed! Make your friends envious when they catch sight of the island paradise where you’ve been spending your holidays.

This brings our short guide to visiting the Azores – we hope we’ve inspired you to begin planning your dream holiday in Portugal!

If travelling across mainland Portugal is part of your plan, please browse our range of All-Inclusive Guided Tours of Portugal and our Tailor-Made Travel in Portugal option.

If you need any further advice regarding travel in Portugal or wish to learn more about our tours, please contact us.

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