— Things to Do in Terceira – Azores, Portugal —

Terceira was the second and final island we visited during our time in the Azores. With a total of 9 islands in the Azores, we’ll definitely be visiting more of these islands off the coast of Portugal in the near future. Our first few days were spent on the island of São Miguel with a slightly unbalanced mix of ample rainfall and a pittance of sunshine. Weather in the Azores is pretty mild throughout the year, though slightly more cool and rainy in the fall and winter months. We can confirm that it is as they say, “You can experience 4 seasons in a day in the Azores“. Even despite the occasional rain during our early November visit, it was an island paradise we’d wholeheartedly recommend. With affordable flights to the Azores from the US and mainland Europe, it’s becoming easier to visit this beautiful island chain.

Things to Do in Terceira

You’ll find plenty of things to do in Terceira, many of which are focused on enjoying the natural beauty of this gorgeous island. Terceira Island attractions range from scenic view points to natural wonders, so we hope you enjoy getting outside as much as we do! If you’re looking for adventure during your time in Terceira, consider booking a full-day jeep tour and visit places around the island undiscovered by many! And if you’re up for a truly wild adventure, head out on a guided full-day mud jeep tour!

Biscoitos

Though the climate in the Azores is said to be mild year-round, there is no way you would’ve caught us in our swimsuits in the alluring turquoise water in early November; it was much too cold for that! That’s not to say that we didn’t immensely enjoy observing the beautiful and sometimes turbulent waters from land. The town of Biscoitos has a captivating coastline with black lava rocks creating a buffer for the ever-changing tides. Calheta dos Biscoitos is the largest natural pool in this region, where it looks as if the ocean water is breathing as it quickly rises and lowers with the tide. We seriously could’ve spent all day watching the waves crash against ragged rocks, but we had much more exploring to do!

Biscoitos Terceira

Biscoitos Wine Museum

Also in the town of Biscoitos is a family-run wine cellar and museum that has been open since the early 90s. We enjoyed a quick guided walk around the grounds learning about the history of viticulture in this wind-swept and rock-strewn region. One of many interesting things that we learned during our visit is that the vines grow from the rich porous lava rock, as opposed to growing in fertile soil. Inside the museum is an interesting collection of decades-old wine-making tools. The brief, yet informative tour ends with a delicious sampling of locally produced wines, all of which are reasonably priced if you’re looking to take home a memento from your visit!

Biscoitos Wine Museum Terceira

Algar do Carvão

 Algar do Carvão is an ancient lava tube located in the geographic center of the island. It is one of a few places in the world where you can walk inside an extinct volcano. While its name loosely translates to cave of coal, Algar do Carvão is not a producer of coal and is most likely named after the the dark composition of the interior rocks. Get ready to climb a few hundred stairs as you explore the depths of this mesmerizing geological wonder. Above you, you will see a fern grotto leading up to the outside world along with stalactites hanging from the interior ceilings. At its deepest point, you will come upon a shimmering lagoon (though lack of rainfall in the summer months may cause the lagoon to temporarily dry up). Please note that the cave has varied opening hours with very limited access in the off-season. Check Algar do Carvão’s website (you may need to use Google Translate) or check with the information desk at the Terceira Airport for more information about opening hours. 

Algar do Carvao Terceira

Best Views on Terceira Island

As mentioned before, most of the things to do in Terceira simply involve taking in the breathtaking views around the island, and in most cases it requires getting above sea level for the most spectacular panoramas!

Miradouro do Facho

If the weather is right, this should be your very first stop upon leaving the Terceira Airport. Located just 5 minutes away, Miradouro do Facho offers incredible views over the town of Praia da Vitória and its harbor below. There’s a good chance you will have already seen this wonderful viewpoint from above during your descent onto the island.

Things to Do in Terceira

Serra do Cume

For iconic shots of the most notable landscapes on the island of Terceira, head up to Serra do Cume. Though it is situated on relatively flat terrain, the Serra do Cume overlook sits high at 1,800 ft (545 m). Two different stops upon the hilltop provide endless panoramic views of the island’s beautiful countryside, nearby small towns, and the surrounding vast Atlantic ocean. 

Serra do Cume Terceira

Monte Brasil

Along the shorelines of Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira’s capital city, are the remnants of a now-extinct volcano. The naturally-formed peninsula, known as Monte Brasil, is another great spot on the island for outstanding scenic views. Follow the designated hiking trail or drive your car to the summit. São João Baptista Fort, located on Monte Brasil is the oldest fortress that has been continuously occupied by the Portuguese army. You will find old out-of-commission artillery pieces near the summit, in addition to a cross indicating the discovery of the island in 1432. 

Monte Brasil Terceira

Aqualva

Hiking is one of many active things to do in Terceira, in addition to cycling, kayaking, and paragliding, to name a few. We had planned to go kayaking on the island of São Miguel, but strong winds and relentless rain had other plans for us that day. On Terceira, we were hoping to fit in some hiking, but again, the rain thwarted our plans, though not entirely. Our goal was to hike Baías da Agualva, a 2.5 mile (4 km) circular loop, though because of recent downpours, the trails were rather muddy. Following our muddy hiking adventure in Austria, we weren’t exactly looking forward to trudging through the mud, so instead we drove out to the lookout point in Aqualva and simply enjoyed the spectacular views. A friendly local told us about a nearby pigeon cave that only required about 10-minute hike, and he even walked us halfway there. This was quite possibly one of our favorite views on Terceira!

Things to Do in Terceira

Santa Bárbara

Upon leaving Algar do Carvão (cave), we made our way toward the western coast on our journey back to where we were staying near Angra do Heroísmo. This took us through the region of Santa Bárbara, which contains Serra de Santa Bárbara, an inactive volcano that is the highest point on the entire island at 3,350 feet (1,021 m). At the base of the ascent to the Serra, you will find the Santa Bárbara Interpretation Centre which strives to educate visitors on the natural heritage of Terceira Natural Park. While we didn’t make it all the way to the highest point on the island, we were quite satisfied with the views from the road on our drive toward the coast. It looks like a beautiful region of the island that definitely warrants further exploration. So much to see, so little time. For this reason alone, you should allow no less than 3 days on the island. 

Santa Barbara Terceira

Raminho

Following a delicious lunch in the town of Altares (which you’ll read more about shortly), we continued westward to Raminho. Just 10 miles from the gorgeous cliffs in Aqualva is another stunning viewpoint showcasing more jagged cliffs along the island’s northern coast. Seriously, the views are insanely beautiful!

Things to Do in Terceira

Ponta das Contendas

On the complete opposite side of the island, in the southeast corner, is the Ponta das Contendas Lighthouse, built in 1934. The drive along the southern coast offers numerous places to pull over and admire the views, including the beautiful bay, Baía da Mina. How lucky are these cows to have oceanfront pastures to graze?

Things to Do in Terceira

Towns to Visit in Terceira

Praia da Vitória

As mentioned, Praia da Vitória is just a 5 minute drive from the airport, so it can easily be your first stop during your visit to Terceira Island. And what a scenic first impression it is! The town boasts cobbled streets, colorful churches, an impressive town hall, modern marina, and beautiful beach (Prainha da Praia da Vitória, meaning Beach of  the Victory), which in the summer months is packed with sunbathers! While wandering about the town, particularly near the beach, keep your eyes peeled for pieces of the old town wall (erected ~1480). 

Praia da Vitoria Terceira

Angra do Heroísmo

And here we thought Praia da Vitória was colorful! The capital city of Angra do Heroísmo takes vibrancy to a whole new level! There’s not a dull block in the whole city. The entire town center was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for its unique architecture and cultural significance. With plenty of museums, cathedrals, gardens, and restaurants to visit, there is plenty to do in the bustling capital city of Angra

Things to Do in Terceira

Porto Judeu

Located just a short drive from Angra is the tiny town of Porto Judeu (Jewish Port). Wander through the quaint town center consisting of just a few colorful buildings, including a church and post office, then make your way to the coastline where you will find natural swimming pools and a trail leading to a few geothermal vents. Also, while near Porto Judeu, don’t miss a stop at the Cruz do Canario Viewpoint where you will have wonderful views of Terceira’s southern coast and the nearby Ilhéus das Cabras (dual islet).

Porto Judeu Terceira

São Sebastião

Vila de São Sebastião, commonly shortened to São Sebastião, has a beautifully preserved city center, including a handful of 16th-century buildings. In addition to admiring the bell tower of Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião (church), you’ll want to take a step inside where you’ll find the walls adorned with late medieval frescoes.  

Sao Sabastiao Terceira

Places to Eat on Terceira Island

Cais D’Angra – Angra do Heroísmo

Cais D’Angra, located near the harbor in Angra do Heroísmo, has an insanely extensive menu with plenty of starters, tapas, and main entrees to choose from. The menu also boasts a substantial wine and beer list, in addition to a delicious selection of desserts, if you have any room at the completion of your meal! The prices were very reasonable, considering it’s practically waterfront dining!

Terceira Restaurants

Hotel Beira Mar – Angra do Heroísmo

Just around the corner from Cais D’Angra is the restaurant at Hotel Beria Mar, another great selection for your time in Angra do Heroísmo. The food is wholesome, fresh, and savory. Behind the bar, a large window into the kitchen allows you to see the chefs in action. You can choose to sit on the open-air terrace for views over the harbor, though because smoking is allowed on the terrace and it was rather chilly outside, we elected to sit in the charming dining room.

Places to Eat in Terceira

QB Restaurant – Angra do Heroísmo

Located on the outskirts of the capital city is QB Restaurant. There are two components to this popular Terceira restaurant – a casual food court downstairs and a more formal restaurant upstairs serving a pre-fixed 4 course menu. We had the 4-course meal and it was definitely more than enough food! Besides the mushroom risotto, which was a little too dry for my taste, we enjoyed the delectable spread. The staff was generous to modify the menu slightly to accommodate my pescatarian preferences, which was much appreciated.

Terceira Restaurants

O Pescador – Praia da Vitória

The staff at O Pescador in Praia da Vitória treats you like family from the moment you walk in the door. With a plethora of menu options, there’s something for everyone! They specialize in seafood and as I had eaten my fair share of fish during our time on the island, I decided to branch out and try something different. Not my smartest move, as I was seriously jealous of Sam’s fish entree. The vegetarian paella I ordered was adequate, but sadly not my favorite meal on the island. Fortunately, there were plenty of other delicious items we sampled, like the locally-made Dona Amélia cakes. O Pescador comes highly recommended and has pretty much nothing but outstanding ratings online, so it’s definitely a restaurant you want to check out during your time on Terceira.

Terceira Restaurants

Restaurante Caneta – Altares

On the north side of the island in the small village of Altares you’ll find the outstanding Restaurante Caneta. Feel as if you’ve stepped into the home of your Portuguese grandma and dine on some of the most authentic and fresh Azorean cuisine on the island. Everything we ate here was exquisite and we cannot recommend this restaurant enough. It’s definitely worth the drive, even if you’re staying in Angra do Heroísmo, as there is plenty to see on the north side of the island, such as Biscoitos, Aqualva, and Raminho, for example.

Terceira Restaurants

Quinta do Martelo – São Mateus

For our final dining experience on Terceira, we visited Quinta do Martelo for a memorable evening filled with stories of culture and local history, along with exceptional traditional cuisine. Quinta do Martelo isn’t just a restaurant, they offer unique lodging opportunities on their expansive estate. Oh, how I wish we would’ve had more time to explore the grounds. They’ve gone to great lengths to recreate what life was like on a traditional rural farm five centuries ago, complete with restored workshops and a museum. In the restaurant, they use only the freshest ingredients and still cook with a wood-burning oven. Because of its unique charm and authenticity, it was probably our favorite dining experience during our visit to Terceira. 

Places to Eat in Terceira

Where to Stay on Terceira Island

Quinta das Mercês

We strive for eccentric accommodations when we travel and Quinta das Mercês did not disappoint. In fact, it was perhaps one of the most fascinating places we’ve stayed. Set on 8.5 acres (35,000 sq m), parts of the dwelling date back to the 16th-century. During your stay, ask to see pictures of the estate before restoration and you will be amazed at just how much work it took to transform the accommodation into what it is today. There’s even a chapel on the grounds.

Where to Stay in Terceira-> Check Availability & Current Prices at Quinta das Mercês <-

Complete with a sea water swimming pool, Turkish bath house, jacuzzi, gym, tennis courts, billiards room, and forest paths to explore, you may be tempted to never leave the property. Mingle with the friendly owners and other guests in one of many sitting rooms throughout the house and make yourself at home. Watch the sun set over the Atlantic from the front of the estate and then settle into the posh and cozy accommodations for a good night’s rest.

Terceira Hotels

Terceira Airport

So, now that we’ve shared with you all of the wonderful things to do in Terceira, we should probably tell all about travel to the Azores! If you’re in the US, fortunately there are direct flights to the Azores with Azores Airlines, including from Boston to Terceira. With Azores Airlines, you can also fly direct to Terceira from Lisbon (mainland Portugal) or with stops from several destinations throughout Europe. In addition, they provide inter-island transfers in the event that you want to visit some of the other islands in the Azores archipelago.  

Travel to Terceira in the Azores

Car Rental & Guided Tours on Terceira Island

It is highly recommended that you rent a car during your time in the Azores. Public transportation is somewhat scarce and it’s much easier to explore at your own pace with a rental car. Compact manual cars are pretty standard and suit island driving just fine. We had a small, basic car through Autatlantis and had zero problems during our time exploring Terceira. Though if taking a guided tour is more your style, there are full-day and half-day tours available where you can let someone else do the driving!

Terceira Island Azores PortugalThe Azorean people are truly lovely and very welcoming. We honestly wish we had more time to spend with the locals to learn more about their traditions and culture. With easy transport to the islands in the Azores, the archipelago is quickly becoming a go-to island destination and we encourage you to visit before too many people discover just how wonderful the islands in the Azores truly are! Our visit coincided with the off-season (early November), and while the Azores weather didn’t always cooperate, we were able to experience the natural beauty of what is known as the Hawaii of Europe with very minimal crowds. For a look at our stay on the island of Terceira, check out our video:

TIP: To check the weather around the island before you head out, check the Terceira web cams on the SpotAzores website. The weather could be different at various spots throughout the island, so you might be able to make last minute adjustments to your plans to avoid less than ideal conditions.

We’d like to thank the Azores Promotion Board and Azores Airlines for sponsoring our visit to the island of Terceira Azores. As always, our write-ups are an accurate reflection of the experiences we had. This post contains affiliate links, which simply means if you make a booking using one of our links, we may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.


23 Comments:

  1. This looks amazing! What a beautiful pictures! I read so many nice stories about the Azores. Yesterday about the island Flores and now your story. I want to go there but we travel with a caravan, so we need to change our travel plan first 😉

    • Thanks! Yea, there’s a lot more stories coming up about the Azores, which is why we’re encouraging people to visit before it gets too discovered! (But I guess us encouraging people to visit will only help it get discovered!) Oh well, somewhere this amazing couldn’t remain unknown for too long!

  2. WOW! This looks incredible! Portugal is high on my list of places to visit and possibly look into living for a few months. Looks like you guys had an amazing time!

  3. I’m in Terceira now, and loving this island! Your insight has been so helpful, thank you! There is one place you mention that I cannot find, can tell me how to get to the pigeon cave? Its a well kept secret here! Feel free to email me if that’s easier. Thank you!

  4. How commonly is English understood on the Island?

  5. I love your guide! Thanks for sharing. My husband and I will be taking our 1yr old for our first family trip in early November. Do you have any suggestions about traveling with a wee one? Thanks! Carin

    • Hi Carin. Glad you found the guide helpful! Hope you your husband and little one have a great first family trip together. We don’t personally have any advice about traveling with babies, as we’re expecting our first this September, but there are plenty of family blogs out there that may be of use to you! Check out http://havebabywilltravel.com/ and do a quick Google search for ‘Traveling with Baby/Kids’ and you’ll find plenty of excellent resources. Again, have a great trip!

  6. I have booked a trip for the thanksgiving holiday…would you recommend renting a car? Is this the best way to see the Island?

  7. Thanks for all your tips!! We will be there for new years eve!! We were wondering if it’s worth to go visit the other islands or madeira, and how to get to them?

    • It honestly depends on how much time you have! We visited the islands of Terceira and Sao Miguel during our visit to the Azores and spent about 3 days on each. We flew between the islands (on Azores Airlines) and we’d definitely recommend making an effort to visit more than one island, if time allows. We haven’t yet visited Madeira, but it’s certainly on our list!

  8. Thank you this is a great help, we are going in January. What did you do for a phone buy a chip? and Maps how did you get around? What maps did you use.

    • Awesome. You will have a wonderful time on Terceira Island! We sometimes buy local SIM cards for our phones when we travel (can usually be purchased in gocery stores/gas stations) and other times, we simply rely on WiFi at our accommodation to stay connected while on the go. For maps, we made a one time purchase of a Garmin GPS unit and purchased an international (European) map program (chip) which we have used countless times on our travels. We’d literally be lost without our GPS. For the exact model we use, check out our post ‘Practical Gifts for Travelers’ (http://forgetsomeday.com/practical-gifts-for-travelers/) as we highlight the products we use while on the road (including the Garmin GPS unit that we have now used in a variety of countries around the world, including Portugal)!

  9. Also, what adapter did you use, I travel internationally to Ireland and Italy and have been to portugal – would one of those adapters work there? Or what do you recommend.

  10. Do rental cars come with a GPS?

  11. My husband and I are traveling to Terceira in April 2018. I’ve been searching the web to find things to do when we get there, and I have to tell you, this is the BEST info I’ve found in one place. Your pics are amazing and make me wish I was leaving today. Thank you for such a great recap of your trip to Terceira. We’ll definitely try to hit all of the places you recommended.

    I do have one question…..What would you say the price ranges are for dining? Reading some reviews of decent restaurants in Angra do Heroísmo (where we’re staying), people were saying they could get 2 meals and a bottle of wine for around 30 Euros. Did you find that to be the case? (of course I realize prices vary, but I was saying on average).

    • Hi April. You and your husband will have the most wonderful time on Terceira Island. I’m glad you found our site so helpful! In full disclosure, our visit to Terceira was hosted by the tourism board, so most of our meals were covered. However, when I typically do research on restaurants when we travel, I usually go to a restaurant’s web page or check Trip Advisor to access the menu, so I can get an idea of prices before we go. I do recall the prices being reasonable at Cais D’Angra and the popular QB Restaurant. And although a little more pricey, Restaurante Caneta and also Quinta do Martelo, are definitely worth a visit! Those were our favorite and most authentic dining experiences on the island! Enjoy your trip to Terceira!

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