First up, if you’ve heard about The Azores, go you, you’re way ahead of most! I, among many of my friends didn’t even know they existed until the beginning of 2021 and a few months later I booked a plane ticket to go. The aim of this blog post Visiting The Azores; what you need to know is to help you prepare for your trip.

Here you can find individual blog posts on both São Miguel Island, and Flores Islands – my two favourites!

#1 Book your accommodation in advance (and I mean months…)

I am one of the most spontaneous travellers out there, booking things the day before, and even the morning of. However, on this trip, my spontaneity really bit me in the bum and caused a lot of chaos.

There is a very limited amount of accommodation available in The Azores. I spoke to many locals who said that it will probably never improve. For 8 months of the year, nobody goes to visit the islands. There is heavy rain, seriously strong winds, and most people don’t leave their houses during this time. Therefore, there is no need for extra tourist infrastructure to be built.

Finding accommodation in The Azores

If you are able to plan ahead before visiting The Azores, I HIGHLY recommend it. I honestly spent hours and hours of my time trying to find places to stay. We couldn’t even go to 2 of the islands like we had originally planned because there was no where for us to go. I mean it, no where.

We got lucky when looking for somewhere to stay in Flores, simply because the hotel we called knew a person, who didn’t have their property listed online.

#1B If you’ve left it too late and can’t book ahead…

So, if you’re like me and love to travel freestyle (it’s the best, let’s be honest!) you may have already left things a little late.

If you have, here’s my advice:

  1. Call EVERYONE.

    Any contact number you can find online, call it. Everyone knows someone and this really is the case on these islands. A lot of locals can’t afford the and AirBnB fees and so they choose to operate on word of mouth.

    I made friends with one of the owners of an apartment in Flores and I explained how crazy they were to not put them online. It turns out though, they know everyone and so they still manage to be fully booked throughout the summer.

    If you are visiting The Azores and are looking for somewhere to stay in Santa Cruz, Flores – give Pedro a call. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met and will be sure to look after you! His property is called Santa Cruz Villas and this is his phone number +351 965 292 921

    P.S. Tell him I said hi!! 🙂
Visiting the Azores

2. Be brave, take the risk and go anyway.

So, our back up plan for Flores was going to be buying a tent from Decathlon and camping wherever we could find. If you have seen pictures of this island you’ll understand our desperation to visit it. As long as you have a tent, you’ll be fine.

Once you arrive you can also talk to the locals down at the port, in a restaurant, etc and you never know, you might get lucky and find a house to stay in.

Visiting The Azores

#2 Book a Car in Advance

If you have a driving licence, you’re going to want to hire a car. There are many things to see on the islands and most of them are spread out in different locations.

If you have the option to book a car in advance (and we’re talking months…) DO IT! Holy moly I can’t even tell you the sh*t we pulled to get a car. Let’s just say it involved some shady stuff.

In all seriousness, there are barely any cars on the island and the numbers have reduced significantly since COVID hit. It’s the same reason why there is hardly any accommodation, there is no-one to use the cars for 8 months of the year!

During COVID 75% of the cars were shipped back to Portugal’s mainland and so now it’s practically impossible to find something.

You can check this company for available hire cars: Azores Rental Cars

Hiring a car in the Azores

#2b If you’ve left things too late.. here’s a few options

Again, talk to people. Call people, talk to locals, heck, talk to everyone you bump into. Somebody will know someone.

Another option is to add your name to a waiting list at the car rental shops.

We did this the day we arrived to Flores and 2 days in to our holiday they called us to tell us that someone had cancelled their car and that we could have it for 4 days. You can’t begin to imagine the smiles on our faces!

If you really can’t find anything, there are buses available and also organised tours. Obviously that is less convenient and may take away your freedom a little, but it’s still possible to see things without a car.

#3 The Inter-island Ferry Routes have changed

Unfortunately due to COVID (shocker) the yellow line ferry route that connected all of the islands has been removed. This line was seriously handy for travellers visiting The Azores because it meant cheap travel to all the islands.

Now, the only ferry routes available connect the middle islands (Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial).

If you want to visit Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and Flores, you will need to fly. This is a lot more expensive than the cheap ferry tickets.

Sao Miguel and Flores are both definitely worth a visit so you should bite the bullet and book the plane tickets.

#4 You can only fly to Portugal mainland directly from Sao Miguel and Terceira Islands

When planning your route, think about the fact that you can only get back to the mainland on a direct flight from either Sao Miguel or Terceira. The other islands have flights available but you will need to make a stopover.

We ended our trip in Flores, which, I’m grateful for in a way because it was definitely the most beautiful island out of them all! However, we then had to wait 5 hours in Sao Miguel airport on the way back to Lisbon.

If I were to give you some advice re the route to take…

I’d say fly into Terceira. From here, take advantage of the ferry routes and visit any of the smaller islands that you have your eye on. I’ve heard that Sao Jorge and Pico are worth a visit.

Visiting the Azores

From the smaller islands, you can take a flight to Flores.

From Flores you can fly down to Sao Miguel and then fly back to the mainland from there.

If you want to make a pit-stop in Santa Maria, you will need to fly from Sao Miguel as the ferry has also been removed.

#5 The weather is very unpredictable

Have you ever been to Melbourne in Australia and you look out of your window and it’s a beautiful sunny day, so you put on your shorts. You step outside and a few moments later there’s torrential rain…

Well, Melbourne is worse than The Azores, however, be prepared for the weather to change in a heartbeat.

The mobile weather apps are pretty useless but a local guy told me to download this app which worked way better. It’s based on clouds and wind so it’s more accurate. You can download it from the app store – it’s called WindGuru.

Anyway, my advice is to pack for all weather conditions. We’re not talking extreme winter sports here, but take a jacket and long trousers with you, and definitely take a rain coat!

That being said, you’ll also need sun cream, a hat and your sunglasses ;)!

TIP! There are live webcams in most tourist spots in the Azores so you can check them before you head to a location!

This is awesome as you can tell if a spot is worth visiting or not depending on the weather. Simply type in ‘live webcam [location]’ into Google!

#6 Visiting The Azores: You should always have some cash on you

Unlike Portugal’s mainland (mostly the Algarve) The Azores do actually accept card in a lot of places. However, there were a few times when the ‘card machine was broken’ and we had to pay cash.

There are ATM’s on the island but I always prefer to get it out beforehand just in case the machine were to eat my card and then I didn’t have any way of getting money.

Contact Me

If you find this blog post helpful or use any of the tips, I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below or send me a message on Instagram 🙂

I’ll be writing a ton of blogs re visiting The Azores in the next few weeks. For now, check out my Canary Island blogs for some inspo on another AMAZING group of islands.