Nestled in the central group of the Portuguese Azores archipelago, São Jorge Island is a nature lover’s paradise. As you plan your visit, consider renting a car to truly experience the island’s unique landscapes and scenic routes. Although São Jorge is quite a small island, there are a few car rental options. The easiest way to find car rental is to search on comparison sites like discovercars.com and rentalcars.com. However, if you can’t find what you’re looking on there, as many companies aren’t listed on the comparison sites, it’s worth manually checking the following websites.
- Azorean Way Rent A Car
- Ilha Verde
- Azores by Car
- Rent-A-Car Oásis
- Velas Auto
These sites are often fairly basic, and often you’ll need to send an email to get information about availability. Waiting for replies definitely slows things down, so be sure to start you search as soon as you can.
São Jorge car rental tips
- Tip #1: If you can’t find a car or scooter for rent on São Jorge, and you’re going to Faial or Pico first, you could consider renting one car for the three islands and taking the car on the ferry.
- Tip #2: Car rental companies run out of cars in The Azores, and that’s even more the case on a small island like São Jorge than it is on a larger island like Terceira or São Miguel. Book your car hire as car in advance as you can to avoid not getting a car.
- Tip #3: Many of the car rental companies on São Jorge will allow you to rent a car at the airport and return it to one of the ferry ports (Velhas or Calheta) for free or a small fee (or vice versa).
- Tip #4: There isn’t a petrol station in front of São Jorge Airport, as you might expect. The nearest petrol stations are located closer to Velhas (map).
- Tip #5: If you don’t manage to hire a car before you get to São Jorge, ask around when you get there. Cancellations happen, cars come in from the other islands, and sometimes car rental companies on The Azores just seem to be able to magically find an extra car. It’s worth asking.
- Tip #6: Generally the roads in São Jorge are quite good, but watch out for loose rocks on the roads down to the fajãs. Definitely don’t park your car near any of the cliffs.
- Tip #7: Most of the car hire companies are based in Velhas rather than at the airport, so don’t turn up at the airport expecting to be able to rent a car. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to take a taxi into Velhas as that’s where most of the companies are based.
São Jorge without a car
While renting a car is a convenient way to explore São Jorge, it’s not the only option. Here are some alternatives: Taxis: Taxis can be a feasible alternative to driving. The taxi drivers on São Jorge operate with a list of fixed prices, which can make planning your trips around the island easier. As a tip, carry a few taxi drivers’ phone numbers with you during your visit. Sometimes you may need to call a few drivers before finding one available for pick up. Bicycle Hire: São Jorge offers a challenging terrain for cyclists. The roads leading to the fajãs (low-lying areas by the sea) are notably steep, which could provide an intense workout for those adventurous enough to try. Aventour is one company offering bike rental on São Jorge. Bus: there is a bus, it only has a few services per day. Hitchhiking: While not common in the Azores, hitchhiking is possible. Expect to rely mostly on fellow tourists for rides, which means your chances of success may be higher in the summer when tourist numbers peak. Be aware that safety should always be your first priority when considering hitchhiking.
Getting around São Jorge without a car is not going to be easy. While there is a bus, it only has a few services per day. Taxis are probably going to be the easiest way to get around.