The Azores condensed

… or how to make the most of it on very little time 😉

The motivation

Our last trip to the Azores was just a long weekend, but a very long one. Still, it was a 5 day trip, visiting 4 islands: São Miguel, Faial, Pico and Terceira.

How could we do that?

First of all, we are a young couple and like to make the most of our trips.

Secondly, we managed to get a promo from “Sata” (now “Azores Airlines“) which allowed us to take the second flight  to another island only paying the taxes on our tickets. So we flew:

Porto > Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada > Horta > Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada > Terceira > Porto

If you are crossing the Atlantic, they have an interesting stop-over option.

The run-down

“Sata” has a late flight to Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, in their main island, São Miguel. The flight leaves Porto at 20:00 on Friday, and arrives around 23:20 due to the time difference as the Azores are on a different Timezone.

We overnighted near the airport and flew next day to Faial early morning.

On Saturday morning we rented a car in Faial and visited part of the Island (Capelinhos and Porto Pim), still being able to catch the ferry for lunch in Pico, bringing our car with us. After lunch we started our ascent to Pico, where we overnighted at the top, after an amazing sunset over the clouds and a light dinner we brought along with us. Next morning we got up early to see the sunrise.

On Sunday morning we came down the mountain and made a short car ride to visit the UNESCO World Heritage wineyard sites. We still had some time in Faial after lunch in “Peter’s Cafe” and a stroll around that part of the island (Harbour, Lagoa da Caldeira).

Before dinnertime, we caught a flight back to Ponta Delgada where we didn’t rent a car right away and walked around the city center for dinner at “Tasca” and some sightseeing.

On Monday morning we rented a car and started our two day touring of the island. Monday was dedicated to the east of the island (Caldeira Velha with a hot bath, Caldeira do Fogo, Caldeira das Furnas, Fumarolas, Parque Terranostra and the Gorreana Tea Factory). On Tuesday we took a boat trip to catch a glimpse of some dolphins and whales and used the rest of the day to visit the western side of the island (Caldeirão Grande, das Empadas, Rasas, and Canário; Caldeiras das Sete Cidades; Ponta da Ferraria; Miradouro do Escalvado; ocean water pool in Mosteiros).

Wednesday was a national holiday, St John’s day, which is a major festivity in Angra do Heroísmo. It was the day of our trip back, with a 5-hour layover in the Terceira island, where you find Angra do Heroísmo. We had already rented a car, so, from 07:40 till 12:40, we took it from the airport and drove around to take in breakfast, lunch and the most important views of the island (Gruta do Algar do Carvão, Furnas do Enxofre, Monte Brasil, Angra do Heroísmo, Biscoitos).

Would we do it again?

Having been in the Azores before, and knowing the lifestyle that the islanders lead, we certainly pushed it a bit. If we had more time we would certainly had been able to enjoy a little more of some of the places. The ascent and descent from Pico took a bit longer than we expected, had we gotten fit or taken the appropriate gear and we would have certainly shaved some time there. But we did manage to also trek near the Capelinhos Volcano. 

All in all, it was a nice experience and we really didn’t skip anything meaningful, but we always had the notion we would come back one day to visit other islands and revisit our favourite spots.

Some ideas to linger on…

If you have kids, you should extend the itinerary and let them soak in the natural water pools and the amazing beaches. If they are younger, maybe you’ll need to account for longer stops for diaper changes, food supplies, etc.

If you are not a nature fan you might even be able to shorten on some of our visits. We did include a couple of treks that weren’t that hard, but they took a lot of our time. But if you aren’t, why are you thinking of visiting?

You might want to skip the car rentals, and there are a couple of companies that can offer you some package trips, but rent-a-cars are easy to deal with and usually you can rent on the spot.

Mind you, the low-cost airlines have been let in, so we had some trouble finding accommodation in Ponta Delgada. Tourism picked up too fast and the island wasn’t ready for that avalanche of tourists. Things are steadier since, but you do need to book early, in case you want a good price at that special location.

If you have any specific doubts, want to share your own experience, or have something else you want to say, do drop us a line below in the comment sections.

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