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  • Writer's pictureDanae Bianco

One week in the Azores - Complete Itinerary with Sao Miguel, Pico and Terceira Islands

If you're looking for something off the beaten path in Europe, but don't want to miss out on the best the continent has to offer - spectacular cuisine, charming historical villages, culture, welcoming people, and stunning natural landscapes - all without spending a fortune, how about visiting the Azores?


In the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1400km straight from the European continent, the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands: Sao Miguel, Pico, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Santa Maria, and Corvo.


On this trip, we visited the islands of São Miguel, Pico, and Terceira in one week.


Photo of a slope on São Miguel Island - Ponta do Arnel Waterfall.
São Miguel Island - Ponta do Arnel Waterfall
 

Here’s what you need to know to plan your one-week itinerary in the Azores:

 

A small village nestled between green fields with the sea in the background on a cloudy day. Santo Amaro village, Pico Island, Azores, Portugal.
Vila de Santo Amaro, Pico Island

Which Azores Islands to Visit?


That's the million-dollar question! 😂


My answer would be ALL of them, but if you're like me and don't have unlimited time or money, you'll need to make choices and visit only a few islands.


We had just one week and opted for the following islands:


1. São Miguel Island: It is the largest island and has the best infrastructure, the most attractions, and the best air connections. It's definitely worth visiting! I recommend including São Miguel in any Azores itinerary.


2. Terceira Island: For centuries, it was the main island of the Azores, and its largest city, Angra do Heroísmo, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The island has some incredible natural landscapes and also has great air connections with the mainland.


3. third Island to Visit: This was a more difficult decision. Pico, São Jorge, and Flores were at the top of our list. We chose Pico for its picturesque natural landscape and the feasibility of fitting inter-island flights to optimize our time in the archipelago.


In fact, for us, the availability of flights was a crucial factor in deciding which islands to visit and in what order.


Seven days was just enough to visit these three islands. If we had one more day, we could have spent more time on São Miguel Island or gone to Faial by boat from Pico Island.


With ten days and good planning of inter-island transport, I imagine you can visit 4 or 5 islands. Many of them are quite small and in a day or a day and a half, you can see the main points of interest.


Now, if you have unlimited time, they say that in a month you can get to know all the islands with the calm and dedication they deserve – I'm sure there will be no shortage of activities to keep you occupied during this period.



Where are the Azores and How to Get There


The Azores are in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1400km from the European continent and 3300km from the east coast of Canada. It is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge chain.


The main islands of the Azores are São Miguel and Terceira, and both are served by flights from both Europe (mainly Portugal) and the USA.


We arrived in the Azores with a low-cost Ryanair flight from Lisbon and returned to the mainland from Terceira Island, flying SATA (the Azores airline) to Porto. At the time of my research, these were the only islands with direct flights to Portugal.


Tip: When organizing your visit to the islands, the first and last islands to be visited should have direct connections to the mainland to optimize your time and, possibly, your budget. These islands will probably be São Miguel and Terceira, but check when planning as the flight network is always changing.


There are also flights from these islands to Madeira Island, another incredible Portuguese island worth visiting. I haven’t been there yet, but I always hear excellent references.



How to Get Around Between the Azores Islands


The 9 islands of the Azores are divided into 3 groups:


  • Eastern: São Miguel and Santa Maria Islands

  • Central: Terceira, São Jorge, Faial, Pico, and Graciosa Islands

  • Western: Flores and Corvo Islands


But don't be mistaken: the islands are quite far from each other. Only Pico and Faial are relatively close.


There are regular boat lines between the islands of the central group for much of the year, and from some of them to São Miguel. You can find all the information, schedules, and fares on the Atlantico Line website.

The best way to travel between the islands is by plane.


All the islands have airports, and inter-island flights are operated by SATA, using turboprop aircraft.


The flights we took from the islands to the mainland were on Airbus and Boeing jets.


Check the SATA website or Google Flights for available inter-island flights, play around with the dates and the order of the islands you intend to visit, until you find a combination that suits you.


A woman in black pants and a pink blouse at the Miradouro da Serra do Cume, Terceira Island, on a cloudy and windy day. The landscape features green fields and the sea in the background.
Miradouro da Serra do Cume, Terceira Island

How to Get Around on Each Azores Island


Rent a car! The attractions on the Azores islands are far from each other, and the best way to make the most of your time is by having your own car.


Driving on the islands is very easy; the roads are good, all single-lane, and well-signposted. Google Maps or Waze will get you everywhere without any issues.


On São Miguel Island, we rented a car from Sixt; on Pico Island and Terceira Island, we rented from Europcar. All the rental companies have counters inside the airports (which, by the way, are all very small) and the cars are parked in the airport parking lot, making everything quick and easy.


For Pico Island, since we were only staying for 24 hours at the island, we considered taking guided tours to avoid the hassle of picking up and returning the car. It didn’t work out due to the arrival and departure times of the flights, and in the end, it was really better to have rented a car: we were able to explore the island much more and with more flexibility than we would have if we had opted for a tour.



Our One-Week Itinerary in the Azores


On this one-week trip to the Azores, we visited 3 islands, following this itinerary:


Day 1️⃣ 10:45 am Ryanair flight from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel Island)

Day 2️⃣ Sao Miguel Island

Day 3️⃣ Sao Miguel Island

Day 4️⃣ 7:30 am SATA flight from Ponta Delgada to Pico Island

Day 5️⃣ 10:30 am SATA flight from Pico Island to Terceira Island

Day 6️⃣ Terceira Island

Day 7️⃣ Terceira Island

Day 8️⃣ 11:00 am SATA flight from Terceira Island to Porto


In this post, I’ll detail our days on São Miguel Island: what to do, what we liked the most, what we missed, and other tips.


In this post, you’ll find our experience on Terceira Island: what we did, what we liked and didn’t like, and what we would do differently.


And finally, the post with everything you need to know about Pico Island – here’s a spoiler: don’t miss visiting the most picturesque wineries you never thought you’d see!




Where to Stay in the Azores


In the posts about each island, I include other accommodation options we researched, but here are the ones we chose:


Where to Stay in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island


For our first stop in the Azores, we chose the Vila Gale Collection São Miguel, perfectly located in Campo de São Francisco Square, in front of Forte de São Brás. We even got an upgrade to a room with a view of the fort and the sea. It was the most expensive accommodation of the trip, but it was worth it: a large and comfortable room, delicious breakfast, and unbeatable location.


Where to Stay on Pico Island


We stayed in the region of Madalena, the largest "town" on the island, at Porto Velho Boutique Hostel. Pico Island has fewer accommodation options compared to the other islands we visited, and our choice was driven by location: the hostel is right in the town center, a few meters from restaurants and shops. The room was simple but clean and pleasant, with a side view of the pier. Great value for money.


Where to Stay on Terceira Island

Our accommodation was in the charming Angra do Heroísmo, a UNESCO World Heritage town, with all the typical infrastructure of any destination with this designation. We chose the BayView House, a two-bedroom house that can comfortably accommodate up to five people, and again, the location was perfect, a few meters from the city marina and the Igreja da Misericórdia.


Gases amidst the green vegetation at Furnas do Enxofre, Terceira Island, Azores.
Furnas do Enxofre, Terceira Island

Climate and when to visit Azores


The weather in the Azores is quite unpredictable. As a guide once told us during a tour, "If you're not happy with the weather in the Azores, wait half an hour." It's absolutely true! Be prepared for everything – you might even encounter snow while climbing Pico!


The temperature doesn't vary much throughout the year – you'll likely experience temperatures between 15°C and 25°C all the time. It rains a lot and is very windy, which can make it feel colder. A raincoat and waterproof shoes are essential.


We went in early April and experienced a bit of rain almost every day. Some days it rained more, others less. But every day also had several sunny moments, cloudy periods, and almost always a lot of wind.


View of the city of Angra do Heroísmo at sunset. Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal.
Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira Island

What to Pack for the Azores


The Azores is a nature-focused destination. Bring comfortable clothing suitable for all weather conditions.


For a week there, my carry-on suitcase (I only travel with a carry-on) included:

  • 1 pair of leggings

  • 1 pair of jeans

  • 5 t-shirts (3 of them dry-fit, my favorites for this kind of trip)

  • 1 cardigan

  • 1 lightweight down jacket (UNIQLO)

  • 1 raincoat

  • 1 scarf

  • Socks and underwear

  • 2 pajamas

  • 1 swimsuit

  • 1 pair of flip-flops

  • 1 pair of sports shoes

  • Toiletries (in containers of up to 100ml, always)


If it were summer, I would have included a pair of shorts; everything else would have remained the same.


On Terceira Island, we stayed in an Airbnb with a washing machine, which I used to wash everything (especially since our trip continued for another week in Douro, and I had the same suitcase). But honestly, if the trip was only to the Azores, the washing machine wouldn't have been necessary: it’s very easy to wash dry-fit t-shirts in the sink, and they dry quickly.


Check here for more tips on traveling with just a carry-on.


Map of our one-week Azores trip


Here's the Google MyMaps link with our detailed itinerary. Just click and save it to your Google account. When you plan your next trip to Azores, you’ll already know where to start ;-)


In this post, I explain how to use Google MyMaps to plan a trip. It's a very useful resource and worth getting to know!



 

 

Other Posts About Traveling in Europe:

 

 

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Explore the best of the Azores with our complete one-week itinerary:islands of São Miguel, Pico, and Terceira. Discover which islands to explore, how to get there, the best modes of transportation, accommodation options, ideal weather, and what to pack. We include a detailed map with the trip itinerary to facilitate planning. Immerse yourself in volcanic landscapes, historic villages, and the unique hospitality of this Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic, all without spending a fortune!


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