Azores: Local Travel Info
Europe's Best Kept Secret
Internal Flights and Major International Airports in the Azores
The Azores are served by several airports, of which the main is Ponta Delgada Nordela Airport (PDL), also known as João Paulo II Airport, on the island of São Miguel, 3 km from the city center. Santa Maria Airport (1km from Vila do Porto) is the other international airport of the Azores. Internal flights also operate from Horta Airport (9.5 km from Horta city center) Flores Airport (0.5 km from Santa Cruz) Pico Airport (4km from Santa Luzia) São Jorge (9km from Norte Grande) Graciosa (2 km from Santa Cruz de Graciosa) and a tiny airport on Corvo Island.
Getting to and from the Airport in the Azores
There are three ways to make the 3km journey from Ponta Delgada Airport to the city. A taxi stand is located outside the arrivals area, an hourly bus service goes between the airport and Avenida Marginal in Ponta Delgada and the airport also has three on site car rental companies: Ilha Verde, Hertz and Autatlantis. Santa Maria Airport has bus service, taxis and rental car. Horta Airport is serviced by taxi and is also on the public bus route, which takes 45 minutes for the 9.5 km journey to Horta. Car rental pick ups and drop offs can also be arranged. Flores has buses and taxis, Pico has taxis and rental cars, while the remaining airports are only ac-cessible by taxi.
Renting Cars in the Azores
The most convenient place to rent a car in the Azores is at the airport. Ponta Delgada Airport has several on site car rental companies to choose from as do the airports in Santa Maria and Horta. Prices do not fluctuate as much during high and low seasons as they do in the Algarve. Small economy cars start at 33€ per day, based on a week’s rental and go up about 20-25% in high season (July-September).
Drivers License Requirements in the Azores
To drive in the Azores and Portugal you must be of at least 18 years of age and have a valid drivers license from your country of origin or residence. Licenses from all EU countries are valid in Portugal and an inter-national or US driving license may be used for up to six months.
The Azores by Bus
Bus service in the Azores differs from island to island and from town to town, Santa Maria, Terceira and São Miguel being the most well-served with regular all-day service. Other towns are more sporadic, with buses every day or 3x per week, for example, to other towns or tourist spots. Contact or visit the local tourist offices for information and bus schedules.
The Azores by Taxi
A popular way for tourists to see the Azores is via taxi. Taxis may even be on par with car rental prices, with a driver who knows the island included in the price! English speaking taxi tours and trips are available to many spots in the Azores. Drivers tend to be very friendly, as the islands are more rustic and drivers depend on tourists and giving tours. Rates may vary but average 0.50-0.60€ per minute. Azores taxis are normally large Mercedes sedans/saloon cars, are metered and are cream in color. It is recommended to ask the driver and agree on a price before getting in. Tip between 10-15%.
Hitch Hiking in the Azores
Hitchhiking in the Azores is not uncommon, but road traffic in the Azores can be very sporadic in many locations, so don’t expect a lot of passing (or stopping) cars. However, the Azores are friendly islands and you may have little trouble finding a ride so long as someone happens to pass by. Of course, as with all locations, caution should be exercised while hitching a ride, though the crime rate in the Azores is extremely low.
Cycling in the Azores
Cycling is a great way to experience the Azores, especially if you like mountain biking, although road biking is also a viable option. Cycling package holidays are a nice way to see the islands and may or may not include flights, accommodation, airport transfers and bike rentals. Weather can be very inconsistent in the Azores, with brief periods of sun and rain during the same day, so make sure you dress accordingly.
Water Transport in the Azores
Water transport in the Azores consists mostly of ferry services between the islands. Ferries are operated by Atlanticoline and may not run every day. There are large ferries which accommodate cars, as well as smaller passenger ferries, so it is possible to keep your same rental car while visiting different islands in the Azores. All 8 islands of the Azores are served by water transport.