Cycling holidays in the Azores (2023)

They call Terceira ‘the Lilac Isle’. Why? Wait until sunset. Better still, head out to a remote part of the coast on your bike, and have one of those famously colourful sunsets all to yourself.

It’s not revealing any secrets to say that the Azores, a nine-island Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic, is one of the best spots in the world for whale-watching. But despite the fact that nearly two million people visited in 2019, come outside of the main season in July and August and you can still feel like an intrepid early explorer blazing a trail in a new destination.

“If I had to sum up cycling in the Azores using only three things,” says Carlos Santos of our specialist Portugal cycling operator Portugal A2Z. “I think I would say: ocean views, beautiful natural landscapes, and just plain idyllic.” He might just as easily have added: solitude. Visit in spring or autumn, as Carlos recommends, and you can quite easily ride for hours without encountering anyone else. If a genuine ‘escape’ is as important to you as a bit of challenge on a cycling holiday, you’ll find it in the Azores.

Trips focus mostly on Terceira, so-named because it was the third of the islands to be discovered by Portuguese explorers. Not the most imaginative of names, sure, but don’t take that as any reflection on Terceira’s beauty. A little over a fifth of the island is protected to conserve dense forests of juniper and laurel. The interior is criss-crossed with ancient lava flows and cave systems; you can stop off for a swim in a pool surrounded by black lava rocks, and watch smouldering volcanic chimneys at locations such as Gruta de Natal and Furnas do Enxofre in the Terceira Natural Park, where there is an excellent visitor centre.

And of course there is that coastline strung with pretty villages, with the opportunity to spot whales in nutrient-rich waters between March and October – a deep channel between Terceira and São Jorge lies on the migration route of blue whales.

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Highlights of cycling in the Azores

Most holidays follow a broadly triangular route from the historic capital Angra do Heroismo, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an old favourite of Portuguese royalty. Then it’s quiet meadows and pastures, lush green forest, pretty villages and panoramas over the Atlantic that practically insist you pause and get a photo, or take an invigorating dip. Carrying a swimsuit in your daypack is a must here.

In Biscoitos you can swim in a natural pool and visit a wine museum to try the local vintage. Grapes grow exceptionally well in this fertile volcanic landscape. You may catch sight of Ilheus das Cabras, an islet where shepherds would graze their goats, admire the unique Algar do Carvao, a 3000-year-old volcanic chimney, or stop off for a picnic by a lagoon.

These are typically tailor made cycling holidays, so a rest day can easily be factored into your itinerary, with the Praia da Vitoria area a pleasant place to spend it. Carlos Santos says: “Whale watching is a great idea to do on a rest day, depending on weather and sea conditions. I would also really recommend the Algar do Carvao volcanic area, which is a very interesting place to wander. The great thing about travelling by bike here is you can get to some really amazing natural spots.” Other options include windsurfing, sea kayaking or a more relaxed round of golf.

How fit do I need to be?

Although there is some flexibility in routes, given these are mostly tailor made trips, you will probably be covering around 20-45km each day. The terrain is not especially challenging, but it is hilly in places and exposed, so a degree of physical fitness is required. If you’re a regular cyclist you should have little difficulty. And of course, what goes up must come down. Katy Lee cycled around the island in 2018: “Terceira is a lovely, varied island. The cycle routes combined lots of different terrains. It’s quite hilly but there are some amazing downhill slopes to enjoy and some excellent places to swim too. Our representative Tiago was very informative of the island, places to eat, swim, visit and he really knew the routes too… Lovely rural scenery and quiet lanes for cycling.”

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Practicalities of cycling in the Azores

Cycling holidays in the Azores are usually around a week long, with a rest day built in. They are mostly tailor made, so if you’re after a more relaxed or more challenging route, your holiday company will likely be able to help. You can also work with them to include any particular activities you’d like to try, and naturally you don’t need to worry about fixed travel dates.

“I would say the best times of year to cycle in the Azores are between April and June, and September and November,” advises Carlos Santos. “Purely because then you get the best weather, less fog, and it’s not too cold. You also avoid the supplements of high season.” Not to mention, of course, that in these months tourist numbers plunge like the steep sea cliffs you often find on Azorean islands. Going in summer? Don’t forget that swimsuit! But also note that even in July the Azores is a real ‘four seasons in one day’ kind of place – pack a mac as well. Heady winds can be expected in winter too, so December through to March is best avoided for cycling.

You will be riding from place to place, staying somewhere different every night. Your luggage will be transferred between accommodations so that you can get by with just a daypack. You’ll stay in a series of locally owned hotels, ensuring that tourism income reaches the island economy while also giving you a taste of Terceira culture, with welcoming hosts happy to get to know you.

These are usually self guided trips. On arrival in Angra do Heroismo you’ll be met by someone from your holiday company and given a detailed briefing, with instructions on how to use your GPS device, maps and route notes – essentially all the information you could possibly need. And there will be 24/7 support available, naturally. High-quality mountain bikes are provided, as well as helmets if you don’t want to bring your own. And then it’s off into those wonderful, under-explored landscapes where encountering another cyclist is such a rarity it will inevitably spark a friendly greeting.

Happy trails…

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Cycling Portugal


Are the Azores good for cycling? ›

Cycling in the Azores has really taken off in recent years, making it one of Portugal's most popular biking destinations. The larger islands of Sao Miguel, Terceira and Pico are great for road biking.

Where is it good for cycling holidays? ›

  • Girona, Spain. Girona is very popular with professional cyclists. ...
  • The Dolomites, Italy. The Dolomites has it all for cycling. ...
  • Algarve, Portugal. There's more to the Algarve than the beaches. ...
  • Northern Scotland, UK. ...
  • Mallorca, Spain. ...
  • French Alps. ...
  • Tuscany, Italy. ...
  • Julian Alps, Slovenia.

How do I prepare for a cycling holiday? ›

11 helpful training tips
  1. Consider your trip grading. ...
  2. Get miles on your legs. ...
  3. Train consistently. ...
  4. Practice climbing hills. ...
  5. Be flexible. ...
  6. Push yourself. ...
  7. Train in a variety of weather conditions. ...
  8. Get familiar with handling your bike.

What is the meaning of cycling holiday? ›

(ˈsaɪkəlɪŋ ˈhɒlɪdeɪ ) a holiday in which one cycles between destinations.

How many days is enough in Azores? ›

Seven or eight days is an ideal amount of time to spend in the Azores. Travelers with only a week to explore the Portuguese archipelago can focus their time on the island of São Miguel, adding on a trip to Terceira for whale watching if they have an extra day or two.

Which Greek island is best for cycling? ›

Naxos island, Paros island and Mykonos island are nice islands for cycling, while very impressive is Santorini island with the route along the caldera. Ithaca, Kalymnos, Lefkada and Meganisi also offer great chances for cycling tours. Crete is best suited for advanced cyclists because routes are longer.

Which country in Europe is most bike-friendly? ›

Europe's most cycle-friendly city

Famously, the Netherlands counts among the world's most bike-friendly countries. If you're a first-time visitor to Amsterdam, remember to look both ways before stepping into cobbled cycle lanes that clank and rattle with masses of bicycles.

Which country likes cycling the most? ›

Where is Cycling Most Popular? With 90% of it's 16.8 million population being regular cyclists, it's no surprise that the Netherlands is considered the most popular place for cycling.

What should I eat on a cycling holiday? ›

Healthy, ready-to-eat snacks
  • Nut butter.
  • Nuts, seeds, and trail mix.
  • Crackers, bread, and tortilla chips.
  • Dark chocolate (it's a superfood, it gives you energy, and … it's chocolate)
  • Protein or energy bars.
  • Dried fruit and dehydrated veggie snacks.
  • Canned fish or chicken.
  • Jerky or cured summer sausage.
May 16, 2019

What should you not do when cycling? ›

10 Cycling Mistakes To Avoid
  1. Saddle height. ...
  2. Not fuelling for a ride correctly. ...
  3. Braking in corners. ...
  4. No spares or tools. ...
  5. Grabbing hard on the brakes. ...
  6. Riding too far, too hard, too soon. ...
  7. Poor bike maintenance. ...
  8. Unsuitable clothing.

Do and don'ts after cycling? ›

Here are the do's and don'ts for recovering from a long bike ride.
  • Rehydrate with water, not beer. ...
  • Refuel with clean nutrient dense foods, not processed junk. ...
  • Stretch or do some foam rolling, don't fall asleep on the couch. ...
  • Sleep, don't waste time clicking through the channels.
May 9, 2019

What is the main purpose of cycling? ›

Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout. You will breathe deeper, perspire and experience increased body temperature, which will improve your overall fitness level. The health benefits of regular cycling include: increased cardiovascular fitness.

Why is cycling so happy? ›

Cycling Benefits Our Wellbeing

Cycling helps keep people happier by promoting a healthy, positive shift in mental wellbeing. As we mentioned above, cycling is a type of aerobic exercise that can increase levels of serotonin (our happy hormones) in the brain.

Why do we celebrate cycle day? ›

Cycling and Sustainable development

World Bicycle Day draws attention to the benefits of using the bicycle — a simple, affordable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation.

What is the best month to visit Azores? ›

For many, July and August are the best time to visit the Azores. Being the hottest months, it's peak season and the most popular time to visit all the islands – particularly Sao Miguel and Terceira as they're both well-connected to the outside world by direct flights from the UK, USA, Canada and mainland Portugal.

Which is prettiest island in Azores? ›

Of the islands that make up the Azores archipelago, São Miguel is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. Its heavenly beaches and lush vegetation have earned it the nickname “the Hawaii of Europe.” Measuring almost 750 km2, it is the largest island in the Azores.

What are the best months in the Azores? ›

The best time to visit the Azores is late spring to early autumn (Fall), June-October, but the sunshine and warmth can often run into November. Saying that, October-April, (Low Season) can be the perfect time for hiking in cooler temperatures.

Which city is the cycling capital of the world? ›

The Dutch and their bikes are inseparable. It's not a form of transportation, it's a way of living.

Which Mediterranean island is best for cycling? ›

Sardinia is truly one of the best places to spend the summer. There are at least a dozen awesome bike routes for every level and preference. Whether you prefer to have a leisure ride along gorgeous beaches or you are more into hard climbing and enjoying picturesque views from afar, Sardinia has it all.

What is the most popular cycling destination in Europe? ›

10 Best Cycling Destinations In Europe
  1. Loire, France. The Loire Valley is a favourite amongst Cycling for Softies clients. ...
  2. 2. Provence, France. ...
  3. Bordeaux, France. ...
  4. Champagne, France. ...
  5. Tuscany, Italy. ...
  6. Normandy, France. ...
  7. South Tyrol, Italy. ...
  8. Sardinia, Italy.
Apr 20, 2022

In which European city do almost everyone get around by bike? ›

Amsterdam, Netherlands

This is probably the most famous cycling city in the world. There are about 880,000 bicycles in a city of 800,000 people and 58% of locals older than 12 cycle daily.

What country do they bike everywhere? ›

A nation of cyclists. In Denmark, people bicycle in all types of weather and at all times of day. Bicycles are used for pleasure, commuting, transport of goods, and family travel. In the bigs cities in Denmark, it is often easier to commute by bike than by car.

Do bicycles have right of way in Europe? ›

Traffic with "right of way" always has right of way, and the law does not distinguish based on speed - so cyclists have the same right as other vehicles.

Which city is known as the city of bicycles? ›

Cyclists rule in Amsterdam and great pains have been taken to accommodate them: the city is equipped with an elaborate network of cycle-paths and lanes, so safe and comfortable that even toddlers and elderly people use bikes as the easiest mode of transport.

What is the most bike-friendly city in the US? ›

Portland, Oregon

Bike lanes abound in this Pacific Northwest metropolis that's consistently ranked as the number 1 most bike-friendly city in the US. Why does it take home that accolade so often? Well, it boasts the aforementioned wealth of bike lanes and almost 385 miles of bikeways.

What is the most bike-friendly state in the US? ›

The 2022 Bicycle Friendly State ranking includes a ranking of each state, but crucially also includes a report card. In each report card you will find: Feedback based on survey data and suggestions from state advocates and agencies.
2022 RankState
46 more rows

What is the most famous cycling in the world? ›

Tour de France, the world's most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race. Of the three foremost races (the others being the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España), the Tour de France attracts the world's best riders.

Where do people bike the most in the US? ›

  • Portland, Oregon. Portland has long been the king of cycling in the US and has inspired cities all across the nation to follow in its footsteps. ...
  • Chicago, Illinois. ...
  • New York City, New York. ...
  • Washington, D.C. ...
  • San Francisco, California. ...
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota. ...
  • Tucson, Arizona. ...
  • Austin, Texas.

What city and country is the most bike friendly place in the world? ›

1 most bike-friendly city in the world: Utrecht, Netherlands. Utrecht, Netherlands, is ranked as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. According to the index, the city counts about 51 percent of the population as cyclists.

What should you not eat before cycling? ›

Avoid high-sugar-added foods such as pancakes with syrup, because they can cause a high rise in blood sugar, followed by a high rise in insulin, followed by a drop in blood sugar that will make you feel tired. The extra sugar you ate just gets stored as fat and does nothing to help you during your ride.

What should I eat on a 100 mile bike ride? ›

While bars and gels can do the trick, it's tastier and more nutritious to fuel your century ride with real food like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, bananas, fig bars, Peanut M&M's, trail mix and other food you like.

What is the most important rule in cycling? ›

To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road. Bicycles in many States are considered vehicles, and cyclists have the same rights and the same responsibilities to follow the rules of the road as motorists.

What are the unwritten rules of cycling? ›

Never ride more than two abreast. Never allow more than six inches distance between your front wheel to the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. Maintain a distance, no more than 12 inches from your shoulder to the shoulder of the rider next to you. It only takes one person to call things out.

What is the most common injury in cycling? ›

Head Injuries

One of the most common injuries suffered by cyclists is a head injury, which can be anything from a cut on the cheek to traumatic brain injury. Wearing a helmet may reduce the risk for head injury by 85 percent.

Why do cyclists drink coffee? ›

Caffeine has some clear and obvious benefits to bike riders, it's a mild central nervous system stimulant so can improve your alertness and concentration and perk you up if you are feeling tired or lethargic, so says the British Coffee Association.

What is the best recovery food after cycling? ›

Meal idea: lean protein such as eggs, chicken, tuna or tofu along with complex carbs such as whole grain pasta, rice, or sweet potato and some fat - try avocado. However, says Simpson, to really speed up recovery there is some evidence that it's better to eat little and often.

Is cycling reduce belly fat? ›

Besides being a recreational activity, cycling is an excellent cardio workout that helps one shed weight and lose belly fat.

What are the effects of cycling on female body? ›

Cycling improves cardiovascular health by increasing lung capacity and burning fat across your whole body, reducing cholesterol and blood pressure and therefore improving blood circulation. Riding a bike strengthens the muscles of the legs and glutes.

Does cycling burn belly fat? ›

It is a massively effective way to torch calories and melt off belly fat while strengthening your muscles, heart, and lungs. Compared to other forms of cardio equipment, cycling puts minimal stress on your joints and offers an excellent aerobic workout (1).

What cycling does to the brain? ›

Cycling can grow your brain in the same way it can grow your muscles. Blood flow to the brain increases just as it does with the muscles, bringing in more oxygen and nutrients that can improve its performance. Riding increases the production of proteins used for creating new brain cells by two or three times the norm!

Does cycling give you a nice body? ›

As an endurance sport, cycling can be exceptionally good for cardiovascular fitness, as well as toning muscles, improving physique and boosting body image. And it can help to improve the muscle tone of your legs, glutes and core.

Why do men love cycling? ›

The researchers concluded that the 11 men's cycling experiences could be summarised in three main ways, which they labelled: mastery and uncomplicated joys; my place to escape and rejuvenate; and alone but connected.

What is the symbol of bicycle day? ›

The original UN Blue and White #June3WorldBicycleDay logo was designed by Isaac Feld and the accompanying animation was done by Professor John E. Swanson. It depicts bicyclists of various types riding around the globe.

What is a bicycle seat called? ›

A bicycle saddle, often called a bicycle seat, is one of five contact points on an upright bicycle, the others being the two pedals and the two handles on the handlebars.

What is the theme of Bicycle Day 2022? ›

The theme for the year 2022 for World Bicycle Day is to celebrate the bicycle's originality, diversity and endurance being utilised for more than 200 years.

Where is the best cycling in Portugal? ›

The Rota Vicentina is one of the most popular routes in Portugal, and in the whole of Europe. The route follows the Atlantic coast through rice paddies and marshes, rolling hills, farms, fields and numerous villages.

Are the Azores Hilly? ›

Most of the land is hilly and covered by cropland, pastures, and forests of introduced cryptomeria conifers and acacia trees and native cedars and dogwood. Because of the proximity of the GULF STREAM, the climate is humid and temperate, with an abundance of rain throughout the year.

What is the most bike friendly city in Portugal? ›

Porto, an underrated destination for cycling holidays

Yet the country's warm, sunny climate makes it a rewarding European city to explore by bike. Central Porto has more than 50 kilometres of cycle paths.

What is the bicycle capital of the world? ›

The Dutch and their bikes are inseparable. It's not a form of transportation, it's a way of living.

What is the bicycle capital of Europe? ›

Recent statistics have revealed that in the city of Ljubljana 37% of people walk, 12% cycle, 13% use public transportation while the remaining 38% drive. The city has over 70 kilometres of cycle tracks and more than 130 kilometres of bicycle lanes.

What month is best for Azores? ›

For many, July and August are the best time to visit the Azores. Being the hottest months, it's peak season and the most popular time to visit all the islands – particularly Sao Miguel and Terceira as they're both well-connected to the outside world by direct flights from the UK, USA, Canada and mainland Portugal.

Are the Azores like Hawaii? ›

There are many comparisons between Hawaii and the Azores. Both are volcanic islands created from volcanic eruptions more than 70 million years ago. Both are a chain of islands, none of which are close to each another. Therefore, both island chains require air transportation between their scattered islands.

What is considered the most bike friendly city in the world? ›

1 most bike-friendly city in the world: Utrecht, Netherlands. Utrecht, Netherlands, is ranked as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world. According to the index, the city counts about 51 percent of the population as cyclists. The second city on the list is Münster, Germany.

Where is the best cycling in USA? ›

  • Portland, Oregon. Portland has long been the king of cycling in the US and has inspired cities all across the nation to follow in its footsteps. ...
  • Chicago, Illinois. ...
  • New York City, New York. ...
  • Washington, D.C. ...
  • San Francisco, California. ...
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota. ...
  • Tucson, Arizona. ...
  • Austin, Texas.


1. Bike Tours in Azores
(Atlantivacations Tours Inc)
2. Going to SAO MIGUEL? Watch This FIRST | Sao Miguel Travel Guide
3. HOW TO TRAVEL AZORES in 2023 (São Miguel Island) | Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary
(Matt James)
4. Cycling in the rain (Azores)
5. Cycling the Azores day 6 Sao Miguel -Furnas Ponta Delgada 11 05 2018
6. Cycling the Azores day 4 Sao Miguel - Maia - Povoação 09 05 2018
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