Cycling in the Azores: São Miguel, Terceira & Pico (2023)

Bike Riding in the Azores: Cycle the Islands of São Miguel, Terceira, and Pico

Not only is the tiny Portuguese archipelago of the Azores known for its unmatched and unspoiled beauty, but this Edenic haven is also home to an impressive abundance of magnificent trails, many of which lend themselves perfectly to Azores mountain biking and other two-wheeling delights—all of which make for unforgettable Azores cycling holidays. Have you ever imagined venturing out on two wheels? Feeling the cool island breeze as you cycle through stunning scenery while discovering dormant volcanoes, enchanted lagoons, black (or white) sand beaches, and unique coastal cliffs? It's all here, waiting to enchant you, in the Azores Islands.

Ready to start planning your perfect bike tour to the Azores? Whether you are looking for an Azores mountain biking adventure or you are wanting more of a casual and less strenuous bike tour of the Azores, these idyllic islands have a trail or road that will suit your fancy. For instance, you can choose to pedal out into the wide-open, lush spaces of Azorean nature, exploring the emerald greens of the islands, or you can opt for a city bike tour in the Azores, which will offer you the unique opportunity to discover our cities that are chock full of historic architecture and evoke the European charm that will leave you smitten.

(Video) Living in the #Azores 3: I cycle around Faial (70Km)

Cycling in the Azores: São Miguel, Terceira & Pico (1)

Found scattered among each of the Azores Islands of this ethereal archipelago of Portugal are numerous bike routes, each of which are divided into 3 different types: road, cross country, and enduro. For vacationers planning Azores cycling holidays and not wanting to lug around their own setup, you can easily rent a bike from many local outlets to explore the Islands at your own pace. (Of course, guided Azores bike tours offered by knowledgeable and friendly local vendors are also found in abundance here). But back to renting your own wheels and setting out on your own, which as we said, is easy and stress-free (like most everything in these peaceful, serene islands!) For this article´s purposes, we have narrowed our field down to detailing the specific highlight routes found on the Azores Islands of São Miguel, Terceira, and Pico.

Just to give you an idea, you can cycle around Lagoa das Furnas and Cumeeiras on São Miguel Island. On Terceira Island, we suggest exploring Monte Brasil for your cycling Azores experience in this lush haven. As for Pico, why not discover the winemaking tradition that this island is so famous for by bike, with an Azores cycling holidays tour of the historic vineyards of Criação Velha.

For those looking to cruise this trio of islands by road cycling, there is plenty of that available on São Miguel, Pico, and Terceira. For those new to the term, enduro Enduro is a type of mountain bike that is characterized by cross-country and off-road tracks racing, where the descents are timed and the ascents are not. Enduro Azores is fast becoming a popular cycling pastime here, and for good reason. Everyone who tries it simply loves it! When we refer to cross country in the Azores, we are speaking of a type of mountain biking in the Azores, which takes place over long distances and covers more wild and rough terrain, such as trails and mountains. Unsurprisingly, traversing such a challenge will increase the difficulty, so extreme caution is advised, or even joining an official guided bike tour to the Azores for this type of cycling especially.

In this article, we will focus on Azores' biking via road cycling, which is the most commonly practiced—and safest modality.

(Video) Cycling the Azores | São Miguel Island Circumnavigation by Bike

Cycling in the Azores: São Miguel, Terceira & Pico (2)

Volta do Concelho, São Miguel Island

This Azores' biking route connects the main city and capital of São Miguel Island (Ponta Delgada) to Sete Cidades, then follows the north coast of the island and returns right back to the charming capital. Taking roughly 4.5 hours to complete, this bike tour is a perfect addition to any Azores cycling holidays adventure. The route begins in the historic center of Ponta Delgada, next to the iconic landmark, Portas do Mar. You will then follow the route by such lovely highlights as the parish of Santa Clara, followed by Relva and its many vistas, before proceeding to Covoada, where you can then access the famed Vista do Rei, in Sete Cidades by turning left next to the local dairy. From Vista do Rei, you will descend to the charming and tiny parish of Sete Cidades, before quite literally rolling on down the road to Várzea, where you will continue your journey towards the parishes on the north coast of the island of São Miguel, including João Bom, Pilar and Ajuda da Brittany, Remedios, Santa Bárbara, Santo António and Fenais da Luz.

Cycling in the Azores: São Miguel, Terceira & Pico (3)

At the km marker 74, this sensational cycling Azores route gently returns you toward Ponta Delgada via the “old path” of Pico da Pedra, which takes you down Avenida Natália Correia and Avenida D. João III. Then, voila! In just a few minutes, you will once again find yourself next to Portas do Mar, right where you first began your cycling Azores adventure! What's even more incredible is that by the end of this route, you will have covered an impressive total of 91.2 km and have “climbed” an elevation of 1771 meters! Good for you! May we suggest rewarding yourself with this incredible feat by taking some time to cool off in the Pesqueiro natural pool, or taking advantage of the numerous bars found nearby in Portas do Mar to purchase a cold drink and relax. You've earned it!

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Biking in the Azores: Finding Two-Wheeled Bliss on Terceira Island

This Azores cycling holidays tour winds its way around the lush wonderland of Terceira Island. A stunning circular route that starts and ends in the island capital of Angra do Heroísmo—which happens to be the only city in the Azores inscribed on the UNESCO Universal Heritage list—this route will leave you speechless and with a radiant glow, indeed. Starting at Praça Velha in the historic center of Angra, you will take Rua da Sé, followed by Avenida Tenente Coronel Agostinho. Continuing west at the roundabout, you will arrive at São Mateus da Calheta, which is a cute as a button, small fishing village, after which you will head to Cinco Ribeiras, an idyllic enclave known and beloved by locals and tourists alike for its bathing area that can only be described as bringing pure bliss. After passing through a trio of charming parishes--Santa Bárbara, Doze Ribeiras, and Serreta)--we suggest you take a break at the Raminho viewpoint to snap a few picturesque photos, relax a little, and soak up the fantastic coastal views of Terceira Island. After you have had your fill of fantasy vistas and stunning scenery (be sure to look to try and get a gander at Ilha Graciosa, to your right, and the other islands of the central group of the Azores, to your left), continue along the cycling Azores route until you reach Biscoitos, where you can choose to take a refreshing dip in the island's most famous natural pools, or visit the historic Wine Museum.

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Following your stop here, you will head towards Quatro Ribeiras until you reach Lajes, after which you will turn your attention—and wheels--towards Praia da Vitória, an area known for its breathtaking beaches. After soaking up some sunshine and enjoying watching—or jumping in—some waves rolling in, continue cycling towards Porto Moniz until you start the ascent at Feteira, which will lead you right back to the awe-inspiring, architectural wonder that is the historic center of Angra do Heroísmo. When all is said and done and you have completed your Azores cycling route, you will have ridden approximately 4.5 hours and traverse a total of 80.41 km, having “climbed” an elevation of 1,255 meters! Pat yourself on the back and then take a rest, as we have a discovery bike tour of Lilac Island for our next suggested jaunt!

(Video) Azores Cycling Series: Pico Island Day 1

Cycling in the Azores: São Miguel, Terceira & Pico (6)

Pico Granfondo: Azores' Cycling in Pristine Pico Island

This road cycling tour starts in Vila da Madalena, next to the maritime station, and will take Azores biking holidays peddlers approximately 7 hours to complete, as it covers an impressive distance of about 144 km and climbs a total elevation of 1,828 meters! The first crossing point of this biking Azores tour is beautiful Barca Bay, home to one of the most famous bars in the Azores, Cella Bar, which is known for its fantastic and unique architecture, as well as for its inviting gastronomic setting. Always following the sea—an astounding route that will offer you endless scenic views as you go--you will next head to Cais do Mourato, an enclave known for its recreational bathing area. The route will then take you on a whirlwind tour of numerous magical towns, including (in order): Cachorro, known for its unusually shaped rock formation; through Lajido, where the wine with the same name is produced and, finally, through Arcos.

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After passing through these towns, you will began an ascent, turn right towards Madalena, and come upon brand new treasures, including (in order): a visit to the parishes of Santa Luzia, where you can follow the pedestrian path of the Caminhos de Santa Luzia; then on to Corner, Slab, and Bandeiras, where the Church of Nossa Senhora da Boa nova stands out, and finally, Cabeço Chão. Then, still pedaling your heart—and legs—out, you will ascend one of the steepest slopes of this biking Azores route—a slope with an average incline of roughly (pun intended!) 7%. The highest point of the route is reached at 43 km, followed by the famous straight of Pico Island, where you will have the opportunity to soak in the beauty of the natural wonder that is Lagoa do Capitão (at 48 km).

At the end of this famous linear road, you will turn left and start your descent towards the sweet little village of São Roque, where at the 61.5 km mark, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a blissful break in the bathing area belonging to ​​the São Roque pier, where the island's historic Whaling Factory Museum is located. While you are here, we highly recommend taking time to peruse the museum, which will offer you fascinating insights into the whaling past of the Azores.

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But wait! Your cycling Azores adventure isn´t done yet! You will also pass through the serene and scenic parishes of São Miguel Arcanjo, Prainha de Cima, Piedade and Altamora, and in the south of the island, the parishes of Calheta de Nesquim (one of the main ports for whale hunting), Ribeira Grande, Pontas Negras and Ribeira. Finally, you will reach a descent to Lajes do Pico, where the celebration of Whaling Week takes place. Take a deep breath and enjoy this moment in paradise… you may need to pinch yourself here, because this route and the island itself is a dream come true… before heading west and passing through Silveira to Criação Velha, where you will reach the end of this epic bike tour and have the opportunity to enjoy the landscape of the Pico vineyard culture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, upon your arrival at the village of Madalena.

(Video) Azores Cycling Series: Tour do Pico Day 3

After you have completed such an epic bike tour, you will surely have been bitten by the biking bug and want to explore even more of Pico Island via cycle. We have excellent news for you! Azores Granfondo is a cycling festival that takes place annually on Pico Island, so now is the time to start planning your Azores cycling holidays to coincide with this extravaganza!

Speaking of planning your cycling adventure in the Azores, there is no time like the present, and we are here to help you create the dream bike Azores itinerary! Enlist the help of our local experts to help you plan your dream getaway today!

Cycling in the Azores: São Miguel, Terceira & Pico (9)


Which Azores island is best for biking? ›

The larger islands of Sao Miguel, Terceira and Pico are great for road biking.

How many days do you need in Sao Miguel 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.

How do I spend a week in the Azores? ›

3 Great Azores Itinerary 7 days Suggestions For First-Timers
  1. Day 1: Ponta Delgada & Sete Cidades.
  2. Day 2: Go Whale Watching and Dolphin Watching and Head To The Beach.
  3. Day 3: Furnas.
  4. Day 4: Fly To Faial.
  5. Day 5: Caldeira & Morro de Castelo Branco.
  6. Day 6: Visit Capelinhos.
  7. Day 7: Free Day.
Aug 9, 2022

How long is Sao Miguel Azores? ›

São Miguel is up to 40 miles (65 km) long and 9 miles (15 km) wide and has an area of 293 square miles (759 square km). The island is volcanic in origin, with peaks culminating in Vara Peak, 3,570 feet (1,105 metres) above sea level.

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.

Can you get around Azores without a car? ›

Visiting the Azores without a car is not an easy thing but it is not impossible. Consider where to stay according to places you can reach by bus. Ponta Delgada has certainly the most connections by bus. Be ready to spend on cabs or private excursions to reach sights that are outside towns.

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.

Do you need a car on São Miguel Azores? ›

Unlike Portugal's mainland, particularly in its bigger cities, the public transportation offerings in the Azores are scarce and operate on a very limited scope and schedule. This makes renting a car the wisest and most convenient option for your Azores vacation.

What is the best island to stay on in the Azores? ›

Terceira is the perfect Azores island for those seeking a relaxing but active vacation, with outdoor adventures galore never more than a 20-minute drive away.

Do you tip in the Azores? ›

12. Should I tip? It's not usual to tip in the Azores like you would in the United States, where you tip at least 15% of the meal's whole cost. Of course, if you enjoyed the service and felt it was very good, you are free to leave some euros as a kind gesture.

How long to spend in Terceira? ›

How many days to spend in Terceira. We recommend aminimum of 3 days, although the ideal for Terceira is between 5 days and a week (and if you miss party at one of the festivities, you can relax and enjoy the natural pools for an extra day to recover…)

How do you get around in São Miguel Azores? ›

Getting Around in Sao Miguel

You will want a car rental in the Azores. There are not car sharing services (like Uber or Lyft) available on the island and you will want to be able to get around and explore the island on your own schedule. Car rentals can be very budget friendly in the Azores.

Is 5 days enough for Azores? ›

An autonomous region of Portugal, the Azores are a collection of nine stunningly beautiful volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Though it's small, five days is the perfect amount of time to fully explore the Azores' wild and wonderful main island of Sao Miguel, as our five day Sao Miguel itinerary will testify.

Is São Miguel walkable? ›

São Miguel is the main island of the Azores, home to the capital, Ponta Delgada. The island is, quite simply, stunning with magnificent landscapes, and tempting hiking trails. In fact this is the island most often visited for self-guided walking and hiking tours in the archipelago of the Azores.

Is 3 days enough in Azores? ›

If you are just visiting Sao Miguel, as this Azores itinerary lays out, then sure, 3 days is perfectly fine. But if you are visiting other islands, like Faial, Flores, Terceira, Santa Maria, Pico, Sao Jorge, etc., you will want at least 2 days per additional island to account for travel time.

What is the nicest town in the Azores? ›

Ponta Delgada – the beautiful capital of the Azores

It offers scrumptious food, some amazing history and culture, and gorgeous streets lined with exquisite architectural wonders, and some of the most amazing mosaics you've ever seen.

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 Terceira Azores known for? ›

It was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, for its tidy buildings and picturesque, colorful plazas and streets. As everywhere in the islands, there are hiking and adventure activities galore. Two of volcanic caves stand out.

Can I use my phone in the Azores? ›

If you have an UNLOCKED cell phone, when you arrive in the Azores, you can stop off at the airport or one of the locations for MEO, Vodafone, or Nos Acores to activate a local number very easy, and it only takes a few minutes.

How to get from Terceira to Sao Miguel? ›

Taking a short flight from Sao Miguel to Terceira - Lajes Airport is one option. This is more costly compared to other options but certainly cuts down on travelling time. A ferry is an additional option although, like with any other travel option, ferries in the Azores are naturally at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean.

Do I need a car on Terceira? ›

The island does not have extensive public transportation, so renting your own vehicle is the best way to explore Terceira. Having a car will allow you to go to more rural parts of the region, and you can do so on your own time, without having to wait for a bus.

Do the Azores have mosquitoes? ›

Prevent bug bites

Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in Azores. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.

Is the water cold in the Azores? ›

Water temperatures

The ocean temperatures are like in January, 17°C (63°F). They only get warmer in May. However, you can still go swimming all year round in the Azores.

Do you need a negative Covid test to enter Azores? ›

As of July 1, 2022, passengers entering national territory (including Azores and Madeira) are no longer required to present proof of a test with a negative result for COVID-19 or to present a COVID-EU digital certificate or vaccination or recovery certificate issued by third countries, accepted or recognized in ...

Do people in the Azores speak English? ›

The official language in Azores is Portuguese. Otherwise, most people involved with tourism speak at least enough English to communicate with English-speaking tourists.

Are Azores cheap? ›

Are the Azores expensive? Although prices, in general, were slightly more expensive than mainland Portugal, we found the Azores still quite cheap. To give you an example: For a regular meal, we paid around €12-€15 per person. The gas was even cheaper than on the mainland.

Can you drink tap water Azores? ›

Health & safety in The Azores

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.

Which is cheaper Madeira or Azores? ›

Azores or Madeira: Pricing

Azores and Madeira tend to be relatively cheaper vacation destinations compared to rest of the islands in the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea. However, in many aspects the Azores are the cheaper vacation island…

Which is better the Azores or Madeira? ›

If you prefer nature, greenery, an off-the-beaten-path adventure and don't mind rain or cooler temperatures, pick the Azores. If you'd prefer sunshine, golden sands, luxury amenities and a quirky cable car/toboggan experience, consider Madeira, including the beachy island of Porto Santo.

Is it rude to not tip in Portugal? ›

In general, Portugal is not a tipping culture, there are no established rules, and different people follow different rules. There is no obligation to tip in restaurants, hotels, bars, or personal service locations like salons and spas.

Are there ferries between the Azores islands? ›

While visiting the Azores, you can also travel between the islands in the Western Group, which consists of Flores and Corvo, by ferry year-round (weather permitting). It is important to note that there is only one ferry company in the Azores that goes throughout every island: the Atlânticoline.

How do I get from Pico to Terceira? ›

There is currently just the 1 ferry route running between Terceira and Pico operated by 1 ferry company – Atlanticoline. The Praia da Vitoria to Madalena ferry crossing operates weekly with a scheduled sailing duration from about 7 hours 55 minutes.

Are there hot springs in Terceira? ›

No, there are no thermal baths/hot springs on Terceira. If that is what you are looking for, Sao Miguel is the place to go. 2.

Can you swim in Terceira? ›

Biscoitos pools (Terceira)

The swimming areas are shielded by rocks from the open sea and the waters are crystal clear. But one of the most fun things here is you can go cliff diving from a rock that's about 8 meters high. It's one of the most fun pools I've been to on the Azores.

Is there a ferry between São Miguel and Terceira? ›

The ferry from São Miguel to Terceira takes just over 6 hours, but that's a good moment to relax and wind down to the sounds of the ocean. On the other hand, it will be a long and bumpy ride when the weather is bad. The route from Faial to Flores is a little longer, it takes 9 hours.

Is San Miguel worth visiting? ›

In fact, San Miguel de Allende was just named the world's best city in the 2021 World's Best Awards, topping the travel charts thanks to its exceptional architecture, revelatory hotels, and infectious sense of community.

Are the Azores self sufficient? ›

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.

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.

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.

What is the best place to travel using bicycle? ›

Here are some of the best places to go on a cycling vacation in 2022.
10 best places for a cycling vacation in 2022
  • Siena, Italy. ...
  • Vancouver. ...
  • Yorkshire, England. ...
  • Stavanger, Norway. ...
  • Girona, Spain. ...
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands. ...
  • Athens, USA. ...
  • Cape Breton, Canada.

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.

Which is the most picturesque Greek island? ›

Santorini. Santorini, commonly known as Thira, is an island in the Cyclades archipelago. Santorini, Greece, is one of the world's most beautiful islands.

Is cycling in Greece safe? ›

Greece is a wonderfully safe country to cycle in! GrCycling's study: the most objective approach. Achieving objectivity is probably the hardest thing in our times.

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.

Where should I sleep when cycling across country? ›

10 Ways to Find Free or Cheap Places to Sleep when Biking Across America
  • Camping at City, State, or National Parks. Duh. ...
  • City Parks. Not all city parks advertise that camping is allowed. ...
  • Fire Stations. ...
  • Ask a friendly local. ...
  • Ask a local friend. ...
  • Churches. ...
  • Stealth Camp Wherever you Can Find. ...
  • Local Business.
Nov 10, 2015

How far should you stay away from a bicycle? ›

At least 6 feet from the widest point of both the car and bicycle. Answer: C, Three feet from the widest point of both vehicles is the minimum safe passing distance at slow speeds. Even if the bicyclist is riding on the edge of the bicycle lane next to the traffic lane the 3 feet rule applies.

What is the difference between cycling and biking? ›

Although cycling and biking carry the same meaning, some people also define biking as riding a motorcycle. Since motorcycles are also called “bikes”, it is only natural to also refer to motorcyclists as “bikers” and the act of motorcycling “biking”.

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.


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