Azores travel tips

Advice from our friends in The Azores

Getting back to nature

Amanda Stafford of Whale and Dolphin Connection is one of our suppliers. She feels you haven’t really experienced the Azores until you’ve been out on the water by boat: “The Azores are really inspiring because they’re remote, pristine and un-spoilt. There’s a special energy in the archipelago – it’s a place where I feel touched by nature and the elements. The marine environment is remarkably unpolluted and the coastlines are so little developed, it’s like going back to a bygone time!”
Lesley Woodward of our supplier Azores High shares her Azores travel tips: “I just love that you can really experience the lack of human-generated noise! Go for a walk in the countryside and you can honestly say that the only things you can hear, most of the time, are noises of nature. If you allow yourself to relax and just be, this is a fantastic place to wind down. Bring your snorkel and mask – the coastlines have superb places to snorkel with amazing visibility and an abundance of underwater life to enjoy. The more adventurous can even go offshore and see blue sharks!”

Tips on meeting the locals

Lesley Woodward shares her Azores travel tips: “Out in the countryside, where most people only speak Portuguese, the local people are friendly, but will not speak to a foreigner unless you speak to them first. Try to learn just a few words of Portuguese, so that you can break the ice – a friendly Boa tarde as you walk past a farmer milking his cows helps to keep the relationship between visitors and locals warm.”

Food tips

Amanda Stafford, of our supplier Whale and Dolphin Connection, shares her Azores travel tips for foodies: “There are some fantastic places to eat popping up on São Miguel. But Cozido de Furnas, the dish which is cooked in a pot over a geothermal spring, can be a bit of a gimmick with lots of wastage. Traditional island food can be heavy.”
Lesley Woodward says: “The islands produce excellent wine, cheese, butter, milk, jam, honey and tea – black and green. You can find these in most stores. The popular Loja Triangulo in Horta which just stocks produce from Faial, Pico and São Jorge.”

Budget tips

Kay Cliffe of our supplier Saddle Skedaddle shares the following Azores travel tip on planning your budget:

“The cost of living in the Azores is low in comparison to the UK and many European destinations. You’ll need surprisingly little spending money to cover things like coffee or beers in a bar.”
Lesley Woodward’s Azores travel tip: “A cheap solution for lunch is to try the prato do dia (dish of the day) at a local restaurant – it’s generally a simple meal of meat or fish and potatoes, rice etc.”

Island time

Lesley Woodward shares her Azores itinerary tips: “Get everything booked ahead. Arriving expecting to wing it can result in disappointment, especially during the height of the season. For example, if you book your hire car well in advance, you can get the size you want, but if you leave it until you arrive you may be driving a pickup or nothing at all! And don’t make your itinerary too rushed. The islands look small on a map, but there is plenty to do and so much to explore. Many people arrive thinking three days is enough for Faial, then wish they had more time.”
Kay Cliffe says: “Be flexible! On an activity vacation in the Azores, the local team may switch the order of your itinerary around to ensure you head out on a boat trip when the weather conditions are most suitable. This ensures you have the best chance of spotting whales. You won’t miss any activities – they may just take place in a different order during the week.”

Health & safety in The Azores

Travel safely in The Azores


  • Summer temperatures in the Azores tend to be moderate compared to mainland Portugal, but sunburn is always a risk when you’re on the coast or out on the water, even on cloudy days, so be prepared with plenty of sunscreen.
  • While mineral water is available in restaurants and shops, it’s safe to drink the tap water in hotels and homes in the Azores, so remember to bring refillable water bottles and keep your family hydrated round the clock.
  • As part of Portugal, the Azores are in the EU, so European nationals should bring a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
  • There are modern hospitals in Ponta Delgada (São Miguel), Horta (Faial) and Angra do Heroísmo (Terceira). The main urban areas on all the other islands have medical centres and pharmacies. If an emergency occurs in a remote region, medical cases are flown to Faial or Terceira.
  • Speak to your tour operator if you have back problems - some of the smaller boats may not be suitable, especially if out in rough seas. They can also advise you on how to minimize the impact of waves.



The Azores is a peaceful, rural destination where crime rates are low.

Traffic is minimal but some streets and country lanes can be very narrow, so you may need to take care when walking or cycling.

The Azorean waters have very little pollution and several marinas and beaches have successfully applied for Blue Flag status: the Forno da Cal tidal pools at Ponta Delgada (São Miguel), Baixa de Areia (a sandy beach on the south coast of São Miguel), Horta Marina and Porto Pim (Faial), Quatro Ribeiras (a surf beach on Terceira) and Vila do Porto Marina (Santa Maria), amongst others.

If heading out on a boat tour, check that your company has life jackets (adult and child-sized) and appropriate health and safety procedures in place - with specific guidelines for children if necessary.

The islands are exposed to the full force of the Atlantic and weather conditions at sea, on Mount Pico and in the canyons can become dangerous with little warning. Always take local advice.

Azores tips from our travelers

Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Azores travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
"São Miguel… is beautiful, the hot springs are amazing, the people very friendly and the food available to buy was excellent quality and good value." – Jane Sutherland

"The Azores is in the Atlantic not the Med. No beaches with 24/7 music and drinking. It’s perfect for nature lovers." – Julie Harris

"The vacation was good value for money and gave a great opportunity to see the marine life at close quarters. My one regret is that I didn’t give myself enough time to explore more of the Azores." – Martin Drake

"We had not done any snorkelling before but it really wasn’t a problem, we took to it like – erm – a dolphin to water." – Chris Wooding

"Go to the gym before you go – the sea swimming is wonderfully easy, getting out and back into the boats takes exertion." – James Bromley

"Come prepared! We were very lucky with the weather but it is so changeable. Wet suits and layers, sun cream, hats, quick drying towels. You might need them." – Amanda Kirby

"This isn’t Disneyland, if you are expecting to get touchy feely with wild dolphins, you’ve picked the wrong vacation." – Kate Blackman

"I went with the hope of seeing maybe one or two whales but what I saw each day surpassed that expectation. I had a fantastic time and have to admit to having a lump in my throat when I saw my first blue whale. If I was asked would I do it again – YES! In a heartbeat." – Barbara Watt
Photo credits: [Top box - Back to nature: Abspires40] [Food tips: Carlos PachecoBy: Carlos Pacheco] [Island time: Guillaume Baviere] [Camera: liz west]
Written by Emma Gregg
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