The Azores is a stunning archipelago of nine volcanic islands in the mid-Atlantic, roughly 870 miles off the coast of Lisbon, Portugal. Known for its lush green rolling hillside landscape, lively culture, and impeccable cuisine, the Azores is commonly referred to as a combination of Hawaii and Ireland.
In this article, we look at why the Azores is a must-see destination, the best time to visit the Azores, and everything you need to know to plan your trip effectively.
Why You Should Visit the Azores
For an island destination, the Azores is relatively affordable to travel to. Direct flights to the Azores can be as low as $130 from London, UK or $317 flying in from New York, USA.
Alternatively, you can take a connecting flight from Lisbon. Lisbon is one of the most affordable airports in Europe, where flights can be found for as cheap as $20 from London or $120 from New York. You can grab a flight to the Azores from Lisbon for as low as $20!
A quick Expedia search for accommodations in the Azores will leave you delighted. On average, accommodations can range between $30-$200/night, with plenty of high-end luxury options in the $100 range and entire villas or houses available for under $100/night.
Big-time penny pinchers can enjoy greater savings by booking a hostel instead of a hotel for as low as $20 a night. Alongside accommodations, car rentals are also crazy affordable. You can get a compact vehicle for as long as $24 a day, an SUV for around $50 a day, or a minivan or luxury vehicle for around $100 a day.
The climate in the Azores is incredible. All year round, you can expect high temperatures of 60°F to 77°F and low temperatures of 54°F to 66°F. It’s never too hot or too cold to enjoy the Azores!
The Azores has it all and more: Sprawling green landscapes, beautiful quaint villages, pristine beaches, and great lagoons. This stunning constellation of islands features both natural and manufactured beauties.
The Azores has tons of fantastic architecture that you can admire from afar or up close. You can even explore some abandoned old buildings that once served as stunning architectural marvels. The small towns and villages in the Azores add to its serene and peaceful ambiance.
For nature lovers, the Azores has hundreds of lagoons, beaches, hot springs, and hiking opportunities. The majority of the Azores’ natural beauty is due to the geothermal activity in the island constellation. There are three active volcanoes and four hot springs in Sao Miguel alone.
Azura is an incredibly fertile island with numerous amazing crops for consumption.
If you ever explore a supermarket in Lisbon, you’ll often see stickers marking produce from the Azores. Because the Azores is a self-sufficient island constellation, it doesn’t need to import foods from mainland Portugal and can keep the food cost low.
With that said, the food is not only cheap, but it’s also delicious. For a truly Azores experience, try Cozido das Furnas, a local stew cooked inside an active volcano. While on the island, you should also try the high-quality Azorean cheese and wine.
Overall Best Time To Visit the Azores
For those looking to experience the best of the Azores, you must plan your visit for the summer months from June through August. These are the sunniest and warmest days that the Azores experiences.
On average, temperatures remain at a steady 77°F. Precipitation is also low in the summer months, with average precipitation being about 1 inch per month. Even though precipitation is low in the summertime, the Azores can still experience rain any time of the year, so pack some waterproof shoes and an umbrella.
Good weather is one of many reasons why summertime is the best time to visit the Azores. Summer is also one of the best times to spot wheels on the coasts of the Azores.
From June through August, you can expect to see Atlantic spotted dolphins, striped dolphins, and pilot whales. You can also expect to see Sel whales from June to the first half of July.
With that said, plenty of other dolphin and whale species can be spotted throughout the year, such as the common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, Risso’s dolphin, and sperm whale.
Summer is also a fantastic time to visit the Azores if you’d like to experience some of the major cultural events on the island constellation. The Red Bull Cliff diving competition on Sao Miguel Island occurs every year in June.
From May through September, Terceira Island hosts the running of the bulls, where every day or both let go to chase people racing on the streets.
Santa Maria Island hosts Mare de Agosto, or the August Tide Festival, which features several international artists and musicians under one roof. The Walk&Talk street art festival in Sao Miguel island takes place every year in July for over two weeks.
The best part about visiting the Azores in the summertime is that you don’t have to worry about the island overcrowding with tourists. In 2015, the Azorean government put up measures to prevent over-tourism.
Cheapest Time To Visit the Azores
If you’re looking to get the most out of every penny when visiting the Azores, plan to stay in the winter months between November and March. This is the cheapest time to visit the Azores.
If you plan your trip so it doesn’t coincide with any holidays (like Christmas or New Year’s), you can save significant money on flights, accommodations, and car rentals.
With that said, if you want to visit the Azores during these months, you should remember that the temperatures will be significantly cooler and have more precipitation. From November to March, temperatures tend to remain on the cooler side, with an average of 63°F.
The coldest month is February when temperatures dip to 62°F. This month is also the rainiest in the Azores. You can expect roughly 4-5 inches of rain from November through March.
If you visit the Azores in the winter, you can still enjoy beautiful hiking trails. Still, you will need to pack plenty of rain-safe outerwear, such as rain boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella. You’ll have to forgo any water-based activities or adventures if you plan on visiting the Azores in the winter months.
Fortunately, the Azores is a group of islands with tons of geothermal activity. If you’re visiting in the winter months, make sure to take advantage of the incredible hot springs. You’ll develop a deeper appreciation for them when experiencing hot springs in a colder climate!
The Azores is much more affordable than other island destinations like Hawaii and Bora-Bora. This is because the Azores is a fertile and self-sufficient island. You can plan a cheap trip to the Azores in the shoulder or peak seasons.
Least Busy Time To Visit the Azores
If you want to visit the Azores at the least busy time of the year, you should see the Azores during the off-season from September to May.
Maybe you love experiencing new places and cultures but can’t stand crowds of tourists. In that case, the Azores in the off-season is your ideal destination.
As mentioned earlier, the Azorean government put measures to prevent over-tourism in 2015. Some of these measures include limiting accommodations available on the islands. As a result, you can technically visit the Azores any time of the year without worrying about being clustered by tourists.
During September to May, however, the weather tends to be a bit cooler and with more precipitation. That being said, if you plan your trips for the shoulder months of April, May, September, and October, you can still experience relatively warm weather with less precipitation than you would in the winter months.
For the warmest weather, visit the Azores in September when the temperatures are expected to be around 76°F. To avoid precipitation, plan your visit for May when rain is expected to be roughly 1 inch per month.
Keep in mind that with an island as vibrant and interesting as the Azores, you may still run into tourists even during the off-season. For instance, during the spring months of April and May, you may see a small crowd attracted to the island for whale watching and nature photography.
Worst Time To Visit the Azores
The worst time to visit the Azores is during the winter months, from November to March. During the winter, there’s less demand to travel to the Azores, so flights will only operate to the Azores at a partial capacity.
This also means that many tourist locations, such as restaurants and accommodations, will be closed for the season, making it even harder to find accommodations.
Additionally, the cold and rainy weather makes hiking and exploring outdoors much less enjoyable overall. Nobody wants to get rain in their boots!
The only bright side to visiting the Azores during the winter months is that you will experience significantly discounted prices for flights, accommodations, and car rentals. However, considering how affordable the Azores is, the savings might not be worth sacrificing key aspects of your trip.
Things To Consider
The Azores islands make for a fantastic vacation destination. Even so, to get the most out of your vacation, you still need to do your research and come prepared. Take a look at these things to consider before visiting the Azores.
- You need to plan ahead and book early. The government of the Azores takes measures to prevent over-tourism, such as limiting the number of accommodations available on the islands. This means that if you want to visit the Azores, you must plan and book well in advance if you are planning to visit the Azores during the busier summer months.
- Consider island-hopping when you go. The Azores consist of several small islands, each with its attractions and things to do. When visiting the Azores, you’ll have to plan an itinerary with all the places you want to go to, all the transportation you need to get there, and any accommodations. You can go island hopping, but you will need to ensure that all your transportation and accommodations are set well in advance so that you can visit as many islands as you wish without any hiccups.
- The Azores islands need better public transportation. As a result, you will need to rent a car while on the island. If you don’t drive, getting around can get very challenging. Fortunately, you still have options, as some groups will transfer you from destination to destination. However, if you want to see the Azores with your itinerary, you need to rent a car.
- Prepare to pony up for attractions. Although the Azores has many free sites, some areas may charge an admission fee. If you’re sticking to a tight budget, look into what are some of the free and paid sites to visit so you’re not hit with any unexpected expenses.
- The official currency of the Azores is the euro. However, if you don’t have time to exchange money beforehand, most major credit cards are accepted throughout the islands. You can also find an ATM in most towns and large villages, and most banks and hotels can also exchange your currency.
- The Azores is a relatively affordable destination. Especially when compared to many other European places and island destinations, the Azores is pretty affordable. You can expect accommodations for two to cost roughly $100 a night. Meals will probably cost around $15 a meal. Additionally, you can tip if you want to, but it’s not expected. If you wish to tip, 15% is usually a good number.
- Portuguese is the official language of the islands. Azores is a part of Portugal, so Portuguese is the official language here. With that said, English is still widely spoken. If you encounter a situation where you can’t effectively communicate with someone, you can always use Google translate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Let’s take a look at common questions people ask about the Azores.
What are the Azores famous for?
There are plenty of incredible things to see in the Azores. However, what is most notably known for is whale watching and dolphin watching.
Whales and dolphins can be spotted in the Azores year-round. A third of the world’s cetacean species view the Azores as a stop on their migratory pattern or as their year-round home.
Are the Azores like Hawaii?
Not quite. The Azores is a combination of Hawaii and Ireland. Like Hawaii, the Azores has amazing beaches, hikes, and fantastic cuisine. However, Azores’ lush green rolling hillsides, culture, and locals are more reminiscent of Ireland.
What race are the Azorean people?
For the most part, the local Azoreans are white and Portuguese. The Azores were uninhabited until they were colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century. That means there was no native population beforehand.
So, What’s the Best Time To Visit the Azores?
To get the best experience possible visiting the Azores, make sure to visit sometime between June and August. Really, anytime between the spring and summer is an ideal time to go!
If you prefer to go whale watching while you’re at the Azores, go in late spring. On the other hand, if you like to indulge in outdoor adventures, summertime is the best time to go.
While you really can’t go wrong visiting any time of year here, November through March are the worst times. It’s colder with fewer attractions and restaurants open during the off-season.
When you’re ready to plan your trip to the Azores, make sure to get your plans in order and book your trip early! This way, you’ll get the best selection for accommodations and flights and ensure the best trip possible.