I fell in love with Azores, the nature, the ocean, the food, the people and the night sky. What is there not to love? It used to be one of those destinations I dreamed of visiting and as I finally did, I was not disappointed. I would like to see myself back in the Azores one day still.
In the meantime, as I am not there, I think you should be. So here is a guide on How, What and Why. This is an additional part to the previous posts Green Paradise and Volcanic Beauty, which describe our holiday more in the detail.
Terceira is not at all difficult to get to. Especially if you manage to get to Porto or Lisbon in the mainland Portugal. From there you can fly to Terceira with Tap, Sata or Ryanair with rather cheap prices and usually with direct connection. There are island linking connections as well, but by plane that might get pricey. Good thing to remember is, that Terceira has no boat connections to other islands during the winter season.
Once you have reached the island I do recommend renting a car. The car rentals are plentiful and you won’t loose much more than a 100 euros per week, plus of course the fuel. The traffic is nothing to be afraid of, although the rules seem to bend a little with the locals, the roads are calm and biggest causes for jams are cows. Theft and criminality is apparently minimal.
The island has an adequate offer on hotels, hostels and other accommodations. Also, the picnic and camping sites are gorgeous and easy to be found, some of the campings are also free to use! It is more or less tolerated to camp wild on the island, if you prefer that.
What to do there then? For us the main goal was of course hiking. The nature is amazing. The amount of green stuff sprouting from the rich volcanic ground is just ridiculous. Trails are mostly well marked and relatively easy, they are clearly investing into that area. The remnants of the volcanic past offer a lot of interesting sites all around the island. The volcanic caves and furnas are definitely worth visiting, as well as the coast.
The sea surrounding Terceira is full of life, so whale watching tours are offered widely. Some companies do better than others, so better keep your eyes open and read some comments. Usually you get a tour for 50 euros a pop. In the winter season it is not certain that you can sail, thanks to the storms, this is what happened to us. Might be better to not book online, but to confirm with the company first, whether it is even possible to have a tour.
The island also has the honor or having allegedly the most beautiful city in the Azores. That would be Angra do Heroismo. It is cute. Bigly cute. The houses are painted in pretty colors and they are decorated from top to bottom. Even the tiling on the streets is beautiful. I can’t compare with the other cities in the other islands, but I am convinced, it is difficult to get any prettier.
Angra is not the only beautiful place of civilization. Most of the smaller villages are also cute as candies. Terceira is known as the island of the Holy Spirit, so churches and chapels – or Impérios – can be found in every village. They are often painted in magnificent colors, to compete with the surrounding houses. During summertime there are also bull fights. On the streets, with a bull on a leash. Crazy people.
And the food! Fresh seafood is of course available, except for when the fishermen can’t sail, especially lapas and cracas. Look them up. Since cows are everywhere, you will expect nice milk and meat products. You most definitely won’t be disappointed.
Are we still wondering why on earth would I want to go to a small piece of land in the middle of the raging ocean? Well there you have a reason. It is a special place with a micro climate, nature like nowhere else and night sky to die for!
The people. They are great. Friendly and helpful, creating a welcoming atmosphere. They are proud of their home, proud of who they are and what they do. And they have every reason to be.
A unique experience. That was Terceira for us. That should be a reason enough to go there. If Terceira is not the number one for you, there are plenty of other islands to go around in the Azores. All special and unique in their own ways. We are planning to get all the way to Flores the next time.
The cost for our trip in total was about 700 – 800 euros. This includes the flights from Brussels (180€), to Porto and Terceira – and back. The car rental and fuel (200€), food and the occasional hotel (250€) plus some extra goodies here and there. You can do it cheap, if you like camping outdoors.