Car rental in Azores
Rent a car in Azores

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Discover the hidden delights of Portugal's nine Atlantic islands when you rent a car in the Azores. Small in size but big on beauty, this archipelago is a paradisical enclave of seemingly endless lakes, sweeping mountains, and picturesque harbours. Reaching many of the best places is only possible with a rental car due to their remote nature. However, the drives are short and the spectacular views upon arrival will simply take your breath away.

It's your choice: Where to go in the Azores?

The Azores islands are around a two-hour flight from the Portuguese capital Lisbon. The largest island is Sao Miguel, which is where the majority of flights both from mainland Portugal and the rest of the Europe land. Ponta Delgada is the capital and an excellent place to base yourself for exploring both Sao Miguel and the peripheral islands. Other notable islands worth visiting include Corvo, Faial, and Sao Jorge. While each island has its own distinctive feel, it's advisable to choose two or three to visit on a trip to the Azores, with Sao Miguel being at the top of your itinerary. Once you've got your general island itinerary planned, you can decide how you want to rent a car in the Azores. It's possible to rent a car on each island you visit, or take your rental from one location to another via the ferries equipped for cars.

What to do in the Azores?

Though your itinerary will be unique to your specific Azores trip, many of the best activities to enjoy are possible on most of the islands. Scuba diving, bird-watching, and off-road mountain biking opportunities are abundant on both the larger and smaller islands and you can enjoy glorious boat trips as you travel between them. Head to Pico Island to climb the tallest mountain in Portugal, which stands at an impressive 2351m. above sea level. The climb can be achieved in around two to three hours for those with a reasonable level of fitness. While on Sao Miguel take a drive to the Sete Cidades twin lakes. These breathtaking lakes sit in a stunning volcano caldera which is surrounded by steep mountains and is an excellent place to watch mesmerizing sunsets. Another popular activity on the island is a whale watching boat tour, during which you might spot these magnificent creatures leaping from the water. Bathe in the delightful hot springs in the town of Furnas, on the eastern side of Sao Miguel island, under an hour from the capital. And wherever you are, be sure to try local cheese. Over fifty percent of Portuguese cheese is produced on the Azores, with the cheese from São Jorge a particular local favourite. Deliciously tangy and slightly salty, the cheese is ubiquitous across all the islands and best enjoyed with some freshly baked bread and a pot of olive oil.

Important info about the Azores

The natural landscapes are the primary draw for visitors to the Azores, as their unique position makes for some quite remarkable sights, and this autonomous region has even been awarded for its role in promoting and encouraging sustainable tourism. The terrain on this archipelago includes lakes, tea plantations, and endless opportunities for hiking. Off-roading adventures are popular with visitors, which is something to keep in mind when you rent a car in the Azores and are deciding on the type (and insurance package!). It's a delight to visit the Azores at any time year, as the temperatures tend to range between 14°C to 25°C. However, November to March gets more rain, and the winter sees rougher sees—if you are interested in swimming and boating, summer is typically a better time to go.

Weather in Ponta Delgada
Country Portugal
Language Portuguese
Currency Euro
Time-Zones GMT
Country Code +351

Good to know

The roads are well-maintained and there is little traffic, even in the larger towns and cities. However, due to the changing terrains and steep hills you should take extra care when driving in the Azores if you are not familiar with the roads. Some of the more remote roads can also be quite narrow so always drive slowly and take extra care when you are exploring the islands. The Portuguese drive on the right-hand side of the road and all passengers in the car must wear their seatbelts at all times when the vehicle is in motion. The alcohol limit is 50mg per 100ml of blood but zero consumption is always advised, especially as the roads can be challenging if you're not familiar with them.

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Our tour suggestions for the Azores

Land at Nordela Airport on Sao Miguel, pick up your rental car, and then spend some time right in Ponta Delgada, the capital. From there take EN1-1A and EN9-1A to the group of lakes Lagao Verde, Lagao de Santiago, and Lagao Azul. Besides the scenic overlooks, take a look around Sete Cidades, a civil parish set in a volcanic crater, where you'll also find several restaurants. Continuing on EN9-1A, be sure to stop at the observation deck at Miradoura da Lomba do Vasco. Continue around the island to the town of Santo António, and from there, decide whether to head south back to Ponta Delgada, or continue eastward on your journey around the island.

What to bring to your friends from Azores

While travelling with fresh fish is ill-advised, you can pick up cans of skipjack tuna from shops on the islands or at the airport. Another foodie favourite which makes an excellent gift is Azores jam. The archipelago produces a wide array of flavours, from fig to pineapple, with fruit grown on the islands. You can buy jars of jams or preserves from souvenir shops but you'll also find the same products in the supermarkets for a fraction of the price. The supermarkets are also an excellent place to buy Portuguese wine. While this might be from the mainland, Portugal produces some exquisite wines, whether white, red, or green, which make wonderful gifts. You'll find bags, shoes, and home decorations made with this sustainable and versatile material. Other traditional Portuguese gifts include brightly coloured and intricately decorated pottery. For something even more unique, consider bringing your foodie friends a copper cataplana pan, used to steam seafood.