THE AZORES: BASICS

 

The Basics | Car Hire

The Basics

Getting to the Azores There are flights to the Azores from the US, Canada, Europe and the UK. You can also take internal flights (or boats) between different islands. We can help you with travel ideas and we have a local travel agent and concierge who can help with any requests you may have. For more information on flights please click here.

What are the beaches like Despite the islands’ extensive coastline, this is not a destination for a beach holiday. Most of the coastline is made up of black volcanic rocks, although there are a few white sandy beaches, including Praia de Formosa on the south coast of Santa Maria. Saltwater swimming-pools have been created at various points along the coast to make swimming more appealing. Usually, some kind of jetty has been built so that it is easy to get into the water, and the pools are sheltered from the waves.

What cultural attractions exist in the Azores? There are many wonderful sights on the Azores, from the main town of São Miguel to Angra do Heroismo on Terceira, which has been granted World Heritage status by Unesco. You can read about each island here in our guides section or book a tour here.

How to island hop: The easiest way to get from one island to another is to fly; each island, even tiny Corvo with its single village, has its own airport. Fares vary, but an Azores Air Pass is available. This costs around £150 for flights to two islands and can be booked through SATA (0870 6066 664; www.sata.pt). There are daily ferry services (00 351 292 200 380; www.transmacor.pt) between Faial and Pico, which take half an hour and cost €3 (£2.15). Several days a week these connect with crossings to São Jorge, and there are daily sailings on this route from mid-June to mid-September.
Hiring a car is the best way of getting around the islands. Buses operate on each island, although services are often infrequent. An alternative is to hire a half- or full-day tour. Contact us for more details.

The weather One of the most commonly asked questions! The weather in the Azores is generally very pleasant, in summer it generally does not go above 26c (78f) and in winter it does not drop below 10c (50f.) The Azores is a beautiful, green place so that means it does rain (happily when it does we have 1/2 price on gin & tonics!)

How much do things costs in the Azores The Azores is quite cheap compared to other cities such as London, Barcelona, and Paris for example. A coffee is less than €1, a beer is around 60 cents and a glass of wine is €2 (a nice bottle will be around €10+ in a restaurant.)

Are taxis expensive Taxis are very reasonable, honest, helpful and freely available in all major towns. The taxi fare from the airport to Solar Branco 1885 is around €10 and all fares are set by distance (there is no meter.) We can provide you with numbers but we do not take on bookings as part of your stay.

Safety in the Azores The Azores is an incredibly safe place and crime is extremely low (but of course not unheard of.) Practice common sense as you anywhere else.


Car Hire


We recommend hiring a car in São Miguel The easiest way to get around the island is by car. The estate has plenty of parking on the property. We are still easily accessible by taxi but a car is still highly recommended.
We are more than happy to book a hire car by using our recommended company. Please contact us directly and we will organise this for you.

Automatic vs Manual Transmission It is important to point out is that most of the cars available on the islands are going to be a manual transmission. If you are not comfortable driving manual I would not recommend renting a manual car in the Azores. The roads can be windy, bumpy and narrow in places. The motorways however on São Miguel are the best in Europe! Brand new and hardly used. Automatic cars can get booked up in advance. If you want to avoid issues, then book ahead of time.

Picking Up / Dropping Off Cars Now that you have figured out which car you want to drive around the island, you need to pick up the car once you land. Thankfully this was a very easy and efficient process to go through. In Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) there are several car rental companies both at the airport and in town.

Driving & Parking in Ponta Delgada A quick note for just Ponta Delgada as it is the most popular place to stay in the Azores – the driving and parking situation can be a bit tricky. Some of the roads are very narrow with barely enough room for cars to get through, especially with parked cars and pedestrians walking around. When you are driving in the city center itself, just be aware of this as you will not have the wide roads that you may be used to.
Unless you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb with parking spots, you will have to find a spot on the street. Due to how narrow some streets are don’t be surprised to need to have two wheels on the curb in order to leave enough room for cars to actually drive through. Always keep your mirrors in when leaving your car parked too!

Petrol prices When it comes to the Azores, most things are comparably cheap but that is not the case when it comes to fueling up your car. Gas prices as of August 2018 are ~ 5.50 Euro per gallon / 1.50 Euro per litre. Most rental companies expect you to fill up the tank before you drop it back off at the end of your trip.

Do I need a car on the other islands? No question having a car will make your trip much easier and give you the freedom to explore at your pace.

Taxis in the Azores Taxis can also be a great alternative to renting a car for the day. Ponta Delgada will have plenty of options and you can take a look at prices for different tours around the island with a taxi driver. This is a great alternative to car rentals if you are only there for a couple days and do not want to go through the car booking process, or if you are just not comfortable driving a car in the first place.
If you are staying on Pico for example and plan to island hop to São Jorge or Faial, it might not make sense to rent a car on Pico. There are plenty of drivers with pretty flat rates for tours around the island (based on 4 people around 70-120 euros depending on the number of hours.)

Foggy Roads / bad weather The weather is the Azores can be pretty inconsistent at times with fog and clouds coming in and out of view during the day. You will find this more often at higher points of the islands.

Animals on the Road When driving on the more rural roads, you can come across animals that just wander the streets. Mostly cows and goats blocking the roadways at times. It makes for a fun story and picture but just always be on the lookout for any animal crossings.

Google Maps Can Be Wrong Last but certainly not least, Google Maps can be wrong at certain points. From people putting their AirBnB in the wrong place to roads that you cannot go down (despite what Google says) you just need to be mindful that the Azores is quite rural in places.


We have written these guides to help our guests and visitors to the Azores with curated tips and suggestions. While we have visited each place, these are just our opinions. Should you have any feedback or places we have not discovered please do email us so we can improve the guide for future visitors.

Guests can download this guide here