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 unbroken sunshine or it might be wet and windy. As a result, it’s 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 really cold (usually around 18⁰C), the walking trails are virtually empty and you’ll usually have our guides all to yourself:
The Azores Rally is from 26th to 28th March this year. 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 2020, Santo Cristo will be from 15th to 21st 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 is being asked to evaluate and reduce their ecological footprint, with a particular focus on the islands’ aquatic ecosystems. Sanjoaninas will run from 19th to 28th June.
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. This year’s festival will run from 9th to 19th July with 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 also 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 on 5th and 6th September. 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’ rounf of the slightly-tamer World Surf League will be from Santa Barbara beach (on the north coast of Sao Miguel) from 15th to 20th September.
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.
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.
Lynne in Welton-by-Lincoln
Great company for first time Azores visit!
Really great company, will be recommending them. We had never visited the Azores before but this company helped us decided which islands to visit.
Brilliant holiday organised by an excellent company!
Friendly, helpful, professional and completely geared to us as individuals.
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