Tips on What to do in the Azores, Terceira

Angra do Heroismo, Terceira | What to do in the Azores: Terceira Island

Cover photo by Francisco Morais as found on Flickr.

“Tips on What to do in the Azores, Terceira” is the third installment of a series of nine blog posts about the Azores islands. The posts are meant to give you a detailed overview of each one of them to help you plan your trip, whether you decide to visit one, two, or all nine. If you have any questions or a specific request, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll do my best to answer it or to put you in touch with the right contact.

Island Overview

Perfect island destination for fans of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, History and underwater treasures.

Terceira is the second biggest island of the Azores, is known as the “lilac island”, and is home to the oldest city in the Azores and UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, Angra do Heroismo. By now, and as you will read further in the other posts, you’ve realized that every single one of the islands has a very peculiar and unique identity — one is not more important than the other, they’re simply different and the Azoreans live well with those differences (most of the time).

Initially called “island of Jesus Christ” upon its discovery in the 1430’s, the island was later named as Terceira (Portuguese for third, as a reference to it being the third island to be discovered). The settlers arrived later (compared to the first two, Santa Maria and Sao Miguel), in the late 1400’s, but in the next 200 years, the island quickly bloomed to become the official stopover for ships traveling between Europe, America, and India — in 1836 Charles Darwin stopped here to take a well-deserved 3-day break from his recent expedition to the Galapagos. (According to his journals there was nothing important here to see. Well… I beg to differ…)

Linked to the Portuguese Civil War between liberals and absolutists in the 19th century, and to the Second World War (as the chosen location for a British Military Base, later handed over to the United States) — the island is far from being a less important piece of a larger puzzle of world heritage and History.

If I had to find a new nickname for Terceira, I’d call it the “cultural island” — and I don’t mean it in a snobbish way. It simply is a way to sum up what the island does best. And with the background I just told you about doesn’t it make perfect sense? They own it!

#terceira #angradoheroismo #acores #azores #portugal #paulacabrinha

A photo posted by paula (@apsc64) on

Most Popular Activities

The Praia da Vitoria bay is perfect for surfing, bodyboarding, and windsurfing. The Angra do Heroismo bay is the perfect spot for those who wish to combine their love of diving with their enthusiasm for History, exploring the underwater Archeological Park. Full of surprises, isn’t it?

Recommended Local Companies

Please note that we’re not listing ALL the local companies. These are tailored suggestions that fit the editorial tone of this blog. To narrow down the list we used the following criteria:

  • (1) Local companies listed on We use the term “local companies” for companies that are owned by locals and/or operate locally only.
  • (2) A website in English where you can easily browse through photos and gather all needed data for an informed decision (such as prices and previous customers’ ratings).
  • (3) Easy to follow on social media and/or easy to contact from abroad (with a working email)

Rope Adventures

The company embodies the spirit of the island: “Terceira island is known for being an “amusement park” not only for its festivals but also for the sense of adventure.” Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor

Avenida Beira Mar
9760 Praia da Vitoria

Activities: Canyoning (40€/US $44, per person), rock climbing (35€/US $38, per person), coasteering (45€/US $49, per person), snorkeling (30€/US $32, per person), caving (40€/US $44, per person), sea kayaking (50€/US $54, per person for half day; 70€/US $76, per person for full day).

Arraia Divers

An international dive center with staff fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and French. Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor

Hotel do Caracol
Estrada Regional 1, Silveira
9700-193 Angra do Heroismo

Activities: Discover scuba diving – pool (35€/US $38), discover scuba diving – pool + sea (95€/US $103), shore dive (35€/US $38 + 60€/US $65 for equipment), boat dive (45€/US $49 + 70€/US $76 for equipment), night dive (45€/US $49 + 70€/US $76 for equipment)

Octopus Diving Center

A familiar school and diving center, with all the right facilities and know-how to meet customer’s needs.

Clube Naval da Praia da Vitória
Avenida Beira – Mar
9760 Praia da Vitória

Activities: special offshore dive – “Don Joao Castro” seamount (190€/US $207, minimum 6 people), special offshore dive – “Serreta” seamount (115€/US $125, minimum 6 people).


The company’s mission: “We do not just organize tours, we do not just guide people, our team really wants to share with you the wonderful experience of living in this magical place, this set of islands lost in the middle of the Atlantic. We want to show you everything we know because we believe that sharing is the best experience.” Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor

Rua de São Pedro, 32
9700-187 Angra do Heroísmo

Activities: walking tours (prices start from 35€/US $38, per person), bike tour – “Darwin in Terceira” (prices start from 55€/US $60, per person), bike tour – “Center of the Island” (prices start from 45€/US $49, per person).


In business since 2004, this company has a wide variety of activities to do in the island.

Pontão C
9700-000 Angra do Heroísmo

Activities: one-day boat tour of the island (120€/US $130, per person), boat trip to Angra’s bay (60€/US $65, per person), city tour of Angra do Heroismo (25€/US $27, per person), trip to the Natural Monument “Furnas do Enxofre” (22€/US $24, per person), trip to the 90m/295ft deep lava tube “Algar do Carvao” (22€/US $24, per person).

Ocean Emotion

OceanEmotion is a company operating in the Azores, Terceira Island specialized in marine activities. Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor

Marina de Angra do Heroísmo, Loja 1
9700-154 Angra do Heroísmo

Activities: whale watching (50€/US $56, per person), swimming with dolphins (65€/US $73, per person), Angra by boat (20€/US $22, per person), guided inter islands trip (85€/US $95, per person).

#angradoheroismo #terceira #acores #azores #portugal #paulacabrinha

A photo posted by paula (@apsc64) on

Cultural Events

It’s safe to say, and I believe the locals won’t mind me saying it, that Terceira is the “party island”. Something is always happening and everything can be an excuse to celebrate; if not, they’ll find one.

Satire comes out on the streets in the “Carnaval dances”, following an ancient tradition, where carefully written songs are meant to critique, but not offend, the current local and National events — during this season lighthearted mockery is allowed, it is “Carnaval” after all. Later in June the popular festivities celebrating St. John are more fun and games than religion, with a special focus on the “popular marches” — every year there is a different theme for the “Sanjoaninas”, highlighting a special date or event. These local dance groups showcase the best of local talent in choreography, original music and costume design. Yes, they take it very seriously!

For the Jazz music enthusiasts, AngraJazz happens in October (the first edition was in 1999). Don’t expect an elitist festival only appreciated by jazz connoisseurs. Its purpose is to spread knowledge and jazz music to the whole island.

The bullfights are also a big tradition in Terceira but recent events and discussions about whether or not “animal cruelty” should continue as a tradition is a tricky topic I don’t have time to discuss here. Nor this is the right forum to do so. It is a cultural event that’s important to the majority of the local community, so I’m mentioning it here for what it is.

And the music plays. Jeff Denson Trio and Lee Konitz. Who needs the moon? #angrajazz #azores #terceiraisland

A photo posted by Simone Duarte (@simoneduarte2016) on

Traditional Cuisine

Let me introduce you to the most famous version of “alcatra”: local tender beef, with a sauce enriched with onions, garlic, bay leaves, pepper, and wine, slowly roasted inside a clay pot. The secret weapon is the clay pot. To dip in that thick sauce, there is nothing better than some slices of “massa sovada” (a typical local sweet bread). “Alcatra” doesn’t need a side dish fancier than that.

Desserts and pastries are simple but rich like the famous “donas amelias”, with a hint of cinnamon. Well, after a meal of “alcatra” you kind of have to take things down a notch — or go for a hike. Rice pudding and “coscoroes” are also great choices; not exactly light, but when in Terceira…

Perfect Local Souvenir

A box of “donas amelias” is mandatory, whether you’re a foodie or not. For the advanced local cuisine enthusiasts, if you manage to get a hold of a local “alcatra” family recipe, you can’t leave without the dish’s secret weapon: the clay pot.

The local embroidery work in white, raw or red linen, which show some English influence in the design and in the technique, is also a popular souvenir. Probably not something you’d think of as a souvenir, but still a fine way to support the local handicraft, and step away from the same old same old fridge magnets.

#angrajazz #terceira

A photo posted by Garcia (@garciaffilipe) on

Where to Stay

Please note that we’re not listing ALL accommodation possibilities. These are tailored suggestions that fit the editorial tone of this blog. To narrow down the list of places to stay in the island, we used the following criteria:

  • (1) Properties listed on as local accommodation and/or rural tourism (AL, CC, TH, TR). We excluded chain hotels.
  • (2) A website in English and/or a listing on* where you can easily browse through photos and gather all needed data for an informed decision (such as prices and previous customers’ ratings).
  • (3) Easy to follow on social media and/or easy to contact from abroad (via a working email)

Quinta do Espirito Santo

A traditional two-storey building within an 18th-century property classified as a historic landmark since 2010. Carefully restored and decorated. All furniture and decorations are original. All accommodations have a private bathroom and Internet. Breakfast is included. Rated as Excellent on TripAdvisor

Quinta do Espírito Santo
Rua Dr. Teotónio Machado Pires 36
9700-517 São Bartolomeu dos Regatos

Casa Pequena
Low season (October to May) – 80€/US $87
High season (June to September, and Holy Week) – 100€/US $109

Low season (October to May) – 60€/US $65
High season (June to September, and Holy Week) – 80€/US $87

Casa Grande
Low season (October to May) – 60€/US $65
High season (June to September, and Holy Week) – 80€/US $87

Quinta do Martelo

Four different rural houses with different styles and different back stories. Premises include lots of different areas that recreate the traditional farm life. Local cuisine restaurant also in the property. Rating of 7.3 on*

Canada do Martelo 24
São Francisco das Almas – S. Mateus
9700-576 Angra do Heroísmo

Casa do Meio
Single room – 72€/US $78, per day
Double room – 79€/US $86, per day
Book this on*

Casa do Povoador
100€/US $109, per day
Book this on*

Casa dos Velhotes
100€/US $109, per day
Book this on*

Casa do Quinteiro
110€/US $119, per day

Quinta das Merces

This farm’s roots go back to the 16th century. The house is located in the protected area of Monte Brasil. 9 Double rooms, 1 suite, 4 rooms with private garden and 2 rooms with sea view. Free Internet. Rating of 9.0 on*

Low season (November to March) – prices start from 85€/US $92
Shoulder season (April, May, and October) – prices start from 95€/US $103
High season (June to September) – prices start from 120€/US $130

Quinta do Rossio

A mystical combination of modern and rustic atmosphere with a VIP treatment. Daily rates include a traditional breakfast.

Lugar do Rossio, 20
9700-301 Angra do Heroismo

Double room – 80€/US $87
Single room – 60€/US $65

Quinta dos Figos

Three traditional rural houses fully refurbished using locally sourced materials. Two gardens with endemic plants. The farm had different uses through time, including a public elementary school. Rating of 7.9 on*

Quinta dos Figos
Cabo da Praia da Vitória

Low season (October to April):
Single room – 45€/US $49
Double room – 60€/US $65
Apartments – prices start from 75€/US $81

High season (May to September):
Single room – 55€/US $60
Double room – 70€/US $76
Apartments – prices start from 85€/US $92

Basic Information

Territory: Terceira is one of the five islands in the Central Group (Grupo Oriental) of the Azores Archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal.
Language: Portuguese
Time zone: GMT -1 hour
Currency: Euro (€)
Banks and ATM machines available? Yes.
Post office? Yes.
Visa Requirements*: Same as other Schengen area territories. Click here for detailed information.

* Please note that this information may change over time. Refer to the Portuguese Embassy or Consulate in the country of your departure for updated information.

Special vaccinations needed? No.
Health facilities: pharmacies, Hospital and health centers (known as “centro de saude”).

Voltage: 220 volts (round two-pin plugs)

Public transport: Buses and taxis.

Area: 401.9 Km2
Distance from Lisbon (approx.): 1567 Km
Population (as of 2011): 56437

How to reach: By plane – between islands, SATA Air Acores; from the Portuguese mainland and other countries, SATA Azores Airlines, Tap Air Portugal,  and via Ponta Delgada (S. Miguel) Ryanair, EasyJet. By boat – between islands (seasonal, from June to September – Purple Line): Atlanticoline SA.

Weather: Climate: Mild temperate. Temperature: average high 19°C/66.2°F. Average low 11°C/51.8°F. For up to date information from the Azores Weather Institute, you can download the free app Meteo IPMA for iOS* or for Android (Downside: unfortunately, all the information in the app is in Portuguese.)
Best time to visit: June for the high peak of local cultural events.
Seismic activity*: Some activity, mostly in the Ocean. (Source)

*Note: seismic activity is constantly monitored in the Azores.

WiFi coverage: Yes.
Cell phone coverage: Yes.

Really missing this place this summer. 😩😥😞 #takemeback #terceiraazores #beach #beauty

A photo posted by Kristine Silva🌙 (@shortn_sassi) on

When will you start planning your trip to the Azores? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not much of a talker, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for your daily dose of travel inspiration.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>