The start of year, from January through to March, tends to be the quietest time of year. That’s mainly due to the weather – you could see a week of sunshine but you might also see a little rain. However, it’s also the cheapest time of year to visit and if you’re a hiker it’s a great time to visit islands like Sao Miguel and Terceira. It’s not cold (usually around 18⁰C), the walking trails are virtually empty and you’ll usually have our guides all to yourself:
The Azores Rally was postponed this year, but it usually runs towards the end of March. It’s very popular with the residents of Sao Miguel, but it’s worth avoiding if you’re visiting the island to hike as many of the island’s best walking trails will be closed.
Sao Miguel’s Tremor Festival has now settled into a regular slot in the last weekend in March. This will be the festival’s seventh year – it’s best described as a leftfield music festival although it’s slowly widening it’s remit, as the island has a thriving contemporary arts scene:
The Azores are one of the best places to observe ocean wildlife, and April through to the end of May is arguably the best time to visit the Azores for whale and dolphin watching. Resident species of Atlantic-spotted dolphins and sperm whales can be seen throughout the year, but spring sees the larger migratory species passing through, with blue whales and fin whales heading north for the summer months. It’s not an exact science but sightings generally peak in the final week of April/first week of May. Sao Miguel, Faial and Pico are the best islands for whale watching.
The Festas do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres (or Santo Cristo for short) is the largest religious festival in the Azores. It’s centred around the capital Ponta Delgada and the city’s hotels fill-up very quickly, very early in the year. For 2021, Santo Cristo will be from 7th to 13th May.
June’s Sanjoaninas festival on the island of Terceira is one of the Azores’ most popular, most colourful week-long celebrations, with the streets of the capital Angra filled with parades, concerts, street theatre and the best street food. The festival always adopts a theme – for 2020, each organisation, business and group involved was asked to evaluate and reduce their ecological footprint, with a particular focus on the islands’ aquatic ecosystems. Sanjoaninas is usually around the end of June – as soon as the dates for 2021 are confirmed, we’ll let you know.
Being the driest and hottest months, July and August are often seen as the best time to visit the Azores. The school holidays are the most popular time to visit the islands of 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. Even in this peak period, the Azores are never as busy as the big capital cities of mainland Europe, and smaller islands of Santa Maria, Flores and Graciosa are still pretty quiet.
July’s Walk and Talk Arts Festival began life as a Ponta Delgada-based contemporary arts project in 2011. It’s expanded rapidly to encompass the whole of Sao Miguel and (since 2016) the island of Terceira, but the festival’s focus hasn’t changed: to encourage the creation of new art inspired by, and in dialogue with, the Azores. It’s always a diverse program of over seventy exhibitions, artist-in-residency talks, dance and theatre performances, and concerts in both urban and rural spaces.
If you’re not tied to the school holidays, we often find that September is the best time to visit the Azores. It’s the month we visit ourselves – we tend to do a lot of island hopping to visit friends and hotels, and to keep up with the ever-changing life of the islands. The weather’s still lovely and warm, and the hotels, restaurants and walking trails are usually a little quieter.
September’s usually the month for two big sea-based events on Sao Miguel – the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series makes it’s annual visit to the island. It’s an exciting, fairly bonkers event as (professional) competitors high-dive from the Ilhue d’ Vila – a collapsed, extinct volcano just off the coast of Vila Franca do Campo. If you’re hoping to go whale and dolphin watching, it’s better to avoid Sao Miguel this weekend as all trips are suspended. Meanwhile, the Azores’ round of the slightly-tamer World Surf League is normally based out of Santa Barbara beach (on the north coast of Sao Miguel). Both events have been cancelled due to COVID but we’ll let you know the 2021 dates as soon as they’re confirmed.
Heading towards the end of the year, and the western islands of Flores and Corvo are popular with the birdwatching community in October and early November, as migrating American bird species seek refuge from Atlantic storms.
Come December, and the islands are pretty quiet once again in. Why not spend Christmas in the Azores at the islands’ most iconic hotel, the Terra Nostra in Furnas, relaxing in the Azores’ most famous volcanically-heated pools.
We specialise in tailor-made holidays to the nine islands of the Azores. Our experienced team of specialists are ready to put together your personalised trip; just give them a call on 017687 721020.
Azores Choice provided a prompt, helpful service. they found us the perfect accommodation for our needs and provided superb, expert advice on how to spend our week walking on San Miguel. I would certainly use them again.
Joan from Durham
Recommended small travel company!
Great little company with friendly staff. Organisation of flights & accommodation very efficient. When problems arise they are helpful and very reasonable in their efforts to resolve them. We would definitely use them again for a return trip.
Really great! Would use again!
Very efficient, friendly, helpful. Excellent local knowledge. Everything ran very smoothly, from supplying the tickets to airport pick ups and hotel bookings. Lovely accommodation selected. No complaints!
A wonderful break in a beautiful environment!
Everything was excellent. The information and organisation, the hotel and the island itself all exceeded our expectations. Whale watching and other trips out, fantastic. We will book again!
Great honeymoon package and experience!
They provided a great package at a good price. We found them to be helpful and a quality service was provided.
Nicola and Christopher – Winchester
Top notch service. Highly recommended!
Excellent service throughout. Very informative, with lots of literature, maps and the like. Attended their offices in Ponta Delgada – very impressed with Olivia, friendly and helpful. Paul was first class.
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Great company for first time Azores visit!
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Brilliant holiday organised by an excellent company!
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John and Janice
Very helpful staff, and the trips they organised for us were excellent with knowledgeable guides.
A really wonderful holiday!
We normally travel independently, but I am go glad that we used Archipelago Choice – their insider knowledge was really helpful in making the most of our time.
Valerie – Brighton