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Azores Travel Tips

Azores Entry requirements

A valid passport is the only requirement for US citizens. All other nationalities, please contact the nearest Portuguese Consulate in order to obtain any information regarding entry requirements.

Going to the Azores – Airlines

International commercial airports are Ponta Delgada (PDL) (São Miguel) and Lajes (TER) (Terceira). The national Portuguese airlines are TAP-Air Portugal and SATA. SATA connects all nine Azores islands.

Azores Customs

Residents or non-residents who leave or enter Portuguese territory are free to take with them national and foreign currency in coins and notes, travelers checks and other securities intended to pay for the travel expenses, but are obligated to inform the customs authorities if the values involved exceed 10,000 Euros (approximately US $12,000.00).

Travelers over 17 years old, may bring in the following items, duty free: 2 bottles of table wine, 1 bottle of hard liquor, 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, 1.75 ounces of perfume, and small quantities of tea or coffee for personal use. Bringing fresh meat into Portugal is forbidden. For further information, contact the Embassy Services or the Portuguese Consulates.

Azores Time

Continental Portugal and Madeira Island are on Greenwich time – five hours ahead of Eastern Time USA and eight ahead of Pacific Time USA. The Azores Islands are GMT-1, one hour behind the Portuguese mainland. Daylight savings time begins the last Sunday in March (clocks are turned one hour ahead) and ends the last Sunday in October (clocks go back one hour).

Azores Climate

The climate of the Azores is mild, being oceanic subtropic throughout the islands. Winter temperatures range from 11-18°C (52-64°F) while Summer temperatures range from 17-24°C (63-79°F).

Getting Around the Azores

Urban public transport – in the main towns, there are a complete public transport networks.

Ferry services are always available for travel between the islands of Faial, Pico and Sao Jorge.

Taxis are painted mostly cream with a roof-light to identify them. However, there are still some taxis which keep the old colors, green and black. In towns, they use taximeters, but once outside urban boundaries the service is charged by the kilometer, and includes the price of the driver’s return trip to his starting point. From 10 pm to 6 am, the rate increases by 20%. It is normal to give a tip of 10% on top of the fare. Luggage is charged according to a fixed rate. All taxis have an updated chart in two languages.

Azores Business Hours

Banks are open from 8:30 am to 3 pm on Monday to Friday and are closed on bank holidays. Shops are open from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm (working days). On Saturdays, most shops close at 1 pm. In the shopping malls located in larger towns, shops are normally open 7 days a week and on holidays from 10 am to 11 pm.

Museums open from 10 am to 12:30 am and from 2 pm to 5 pm. Closed on Mondays. Some palaces also close on Wednesdays.

Pharmacies open from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 7 pm, Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings. There are also 24 hour pharmacies which operate according to an official chart displayed on Pharmacy windows.

Top 10 Azores Travel Tips

Here are the top 10 travel tips for visiting the Azores Islands:

1. Pack for Variable Weather: The weather in the Azores can be unpredictable, so pack layers and be prepared for both sunshine and rain.

2. Rent a Car or Book a Private Tour: Renting a car is the best way to explore the islands at your own pace and reach remote locations that may not be accessible by public transportation. Booking a private single or multi-island tour is also a great choice.

3. Respect Nature: The Azores are known for their pristine natural beauty. Respect the environment, follow designated trails, and avoid disturbing wildlife.

4. Try Local Cuisine: Taste the unique Azorean dishes, including fresh seafood, cozido (a traditional stew), local cheeses, and pineapples grown on the islands.

5. Book Accommodation in Advance: Especially during peak seasons, it’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance to secure the best options.

6. Stay Flexible: Weather conditions can change rapidly in the Azores. Stay flexible with your plans and be prepared to adjust activities based on the weather.

7. Explore Beyond São Miguel: While São Miguel is the largest island, consider visiting other islands in the archipelago like Terceira, Pico, Faial, or São Jorge for a diverse experience.

8. Engage in Outdoor Activities: Take advantage of the Azores’ natural beauty by hiking, whale watching, diving, or enjoying water sports like surfing and kayaking.

9. Respect Local Customs: Learn a few basic Portuguese phrases and familiarize yourself with local customs to show respect for the Azorean culture.

10. Purchase Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers unforeseen circumstances like flight cancellations, medical emergencies, or trip interruptions.

Following these travel tips will help you make the most of your visit to the Azores Islands and ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions about Traveling to the Azores

1. When is the best time to visit the Azores Islands?
The best time to visit the Azores Islands is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is mild, and the islands are less crowded. However, the Azores have a maritime climate, so it’s possible to visit year-round.

2. How do I get to the Azores Islands?
You can reach the Azores Islands by flying into one of the major airports, such as João Paulo II Airport (PDL) in São Miguel or Lajes Airport (TER) in Terceira. Direct flights are available from mainland Portugal, other European cities, and some North American cities.

3. What are the must-visit attractions in the Azores Islands
Some must-visit attractions in the Azores Islands include Sete Cidades Twin Lakes, Furnas, Lagoa do Fogo, Nordeste, Ponta Delgada, Caldeira Velha, Gorreana Tea Plantation, Pineapple Plantations, and Miradouros (Viewpoints).

4. Are there any specific travel restrictions or entry requirements for visiting the Azores Islands?
As entry requirements can change, it’s essential to check the latest travel advisories and entry requirements, including visa regulations, COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements, and any specific restrictions for travelers.

5. What outdoor activities are popular in the Azores Islands?
Popular outdoor activities in the Azores Islands include hiking, whale watching, swimming in natural hot springs, exploring volcanic landscapes, and enjoying water sports like surfing, diving, and kayaking.

6. Is it necessary to rent a car to explore the Azores Islands?
Renting a car is highly recommended for exploring the Azores Islands, as it offers flexibility and allows you to reach remote locations that may not be easily accessible by public transportation.

7. What is the food scene like in the Azores Islands?
The Azores Islands offer a diverse food scene with fresh seafood, traditional Azorean dishes like cozido, local cheeses, and delicious pastries. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the local pineapples and teas.

8. Are there guided tours available in the Azores Islands?
Yes, there are various guided tours available in the Azores Islands that cater to different interests, including nature tours, cultural tours, food tours, and adventure tours.

9. What are the transportation options for getting around the Azores Islands?
In addition to renting a car, you can also use taxis, buses, and organized tours to get around the Azores Islands. Public transportation is available but may be limited in some areas.

10. What are some safety tips to keep in mind while traveling in the Azores Islands?
While the Azores Islands are generally safe, it’s essential to be cautious when hiking in remote areas, respect natural habitats, and follow local regulations. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and stay informed about any safety advisories or warnings.