Azores: 10 useful things to know...
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Well hello everybody,
Thanks to @asadventure I had the great privilege to take over their Instagramfeed! While doing that, the questions came in... So, here are some recommendations and tips, travelling to the Autonomous Region of the Azores.
The Azores region exists out of 9 islands. If you have time you could visit all of them but our experience is to choose wisely, so you can indulge your time exploring to the fullest. A good website to do some travel research is www.visitazores.com.
They have an app for IOS and Android too.
Did you know hitchhiking is still the number one choice by locals? We did it a lot in the Azores and it’s one of the best ways to meet locals, our opinion.
Hitchhiking is very easy and safe on the Azores. It is also commonly done by locals. As there are not too many main roads, it is fairly easy to get a lift to where you want to go. Locals are extremely friendly and will bring you directly to your destination just to help you, even if they hadn't planned to go there. Speaking Portuguese obviously helps, but many people also speak English and are happy to "practice English", especially on São Miguel. Most towns are very small, so walking out of a town and waiting at main roads or bus stops (with few or no buses passing by) is a good option. The public transport system is not very well developed, especially when trying to get to natural sites outside of towns. This means people in general are more willing to pick you up. It is quite common to get offered rides on the back of pick up trucks, so be prepared to get a little adventurous.
Obviously hitchhiking could be time-consuming when you have limited time of travel. Still, there are other options to get around. No discussion, car-rental is by far the most flexible way to get around from place A to location B on an island. Keep in mind, renting a car is possible but you have to do that in advance. You could get surprised by the answer that all cars are booked! Nevertheless, a mob could bring the solution. You have to admit, that's a way of real travelling 😅.
When you are willing to travel from one island to the other, you just have two options. When having more time you could choose to take the ferry: Atlanticoline. The other option is to take an inflight: Azoresairlines .
I am not the kind of blogger thats gives you all the locations for granted and so helping encouraging the social-media-trigger hyping places. Nevertheless, I am still willing to help you. A good application is Mapify. I use it on almost all my travels. It is still a young application but it is so helpful! You can use the desktop-version too! Mapify supports a global community of globetrotters sharing their travel experiences with each other. You can discover the world's most beautiful places and save them to your personal travel wish-list. You can find my Mapify, including some locations I photographed in the Azores, via Wilderlicht's Mapify .
Swimming is a good option to get to meet locals, especially while taking a splash into the many natural pools, the piscinas naturais. Some of the locations of these spots are via Geekyexplore .
Experience the tranquility of the Islands through SUP – Stand Up Paddle board. With so many options available to you, whether your’re a beginner, intermediate or pro, young or old, this activity is one to add to your bucket list for your Azores trip. We hired our board at the Azores Surf Center. At the surfcenter, we also got all the information we needed. Especially where to go and what rules you should follow. No need to book in advance! An extra helpfull tip: ask for a surfboard-car-rack to transport the board(s). You will get it for free...
If you are headed to the Azores, odds are you will be hiking one or more of the hundreds of trails that these islands have to offer. Hiking in the Azores is one of the top things to do when visiting this beautiful group of nine islands spread across the Atlantic. So no matter which island you are headed to, you will be able to take part of some awesome hiking opportunities.
First of all and when possible we will go to the local visitor centra to get informed about the hiking-trails. Together with an application on our smartphone we will start a hike. Just be sure you have an extra portable battery with you on trail. You never know.
About those app's. In the past we used a very good application called Wikiloc. This is a virtual place to discover and share the best outdoor trails for hiking, cycling and many other activities. You also can create your own trails and you have this software also on a desktop-version. Nowadays we use, it was a damn good recommendation of a friend, Komoot. This application makes it easier for you to experience authentic outdoor adventures. Whether road cycling, hiking, bike-packing or mountain biking, komoot’s superior planning and navigation technology allows you to easily discover more of the great outdoors. I love this app that is also very helpful in desktop-version. I bought the worldwide map and it is awesome! Komoot is an absolute recommendation!
Do you want to climb to the highest point of not only the Azores, but in all of Portugal? Well, Mount Pico, also notedly 'the roof of Portugal, is situated on the island of Pico and gives you that once in a lifetime opportunity. At 2351 Altm. the dormant volcano of Mount Pico stands above the rest and is one of the most prominent sites among the Azorean islands. It's a tough climb but anyone with a good fitness can do it!
Very important, reflect before you start! You have to prepare this adventure well! First of all, check the weather-conditions over-there. It can get very tricky! You can check the local meteo by calling the Casa da Montanha (+351 967 303 519). I insist you to visit the Mountain’s House first. They will give you all the information needed. When deciding to climb you will need to register your climb (±€20pp) before making your way up the mountain. They will give you a sheet to fill out and sign with all necessary personal information. At this point they will also give you a personal GPS tracker. In case of emergency this tracker will help them locate you on the mountain. An evacuation off the mountain does not come cheap (±€1000) so be careful up there! Once they give you a tracker, simply put it in a safe spot so it doesn’t get lost or broken. There is also a hefty fee if you do not return the GPS tracker.
The climb itself can take up to ±7 hours. So calculate when to start your hike. You already can get the idea when to start if you want to see the sunrise, like we did 😅.
A very good blogpost to prepare your adventure before and to get lots of information about climbing Mount Pico is this one: 'Climbing Pico Azores' .
The Azores are currently one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries. Among resident and migrant species, common or rare, more than 20 different types of cetaceans can be spotted in the Azores. It is an impressive figure and it corresponds to a third of the total number of existing species. This is an an ecosystem with unique characteristics. With majestic whales and friendly dolphins, the blue Atlantic Ocean becomes even more magic around these nine islands. And it brings to the present, when preservation is the keyword, an old cry: “How she blows!”
A trip to these beautiful islands in the north Atlantic Ocean is well worth it, with colonial architecture, pristine beaches and impressive natural wonders unique to volcanic regions as well as abundant sealife. This is island-hopping at its best.