Ponta Delgada Airport (or João Paulo II Airport) is the airport for São Miguel and the main airport for The Azores. If you’re planning on visiting The Azores, this is often one of the easiest airports to fly into.
From Ponta Delgada Airport, you can fly to most other islands on the Azores (some you might need to get a connecting flight to). You can also fly to Lisbon and Porto in mainland Portugal, Madeira, and international destinations like Belgium, Germany, the UK, the USA, and Canada.
Despite being the largest airport on The Azores, this is still quite a small airport. It’s small enough that Arrivals and Departures are on opposite sides of the same building and you can walk from one to the other in about 15 seconds.
Car Rental at Ponta Delgada Airport
Start your search with the car rental comparison sites like rentalcars.com and discovercars.com. There you can compare prices from local companies like Ilha Verde, Autatlantis, and Way2Azores, as well as international brands like Hertz, Europcar, and Thrifty. As São Miguel is the largest airport in The Azores, there are several companies to choose from and so it’s worth comparing prices to see which company offers the cheapest rates.
The most popular company on the Azores is llha Verde, although Autoatlantis is probably a close second. This does mean that the queue for their desk can get long, so try and get to the desk as quickly as possible after your flight landing.
A few tips for renting a car at Ponta Delgada Airport:
- Fuelling up: There isn’t a petrol station directly in front of the airport like you would expect. Most of the petrol stations are located close to Ponta Delgada, and the nearest one to the airport is located here.
- Book in advance: Cars get booked fast on the Azores, so book in advance. São Miguel is the largest island so it does have more cars than the others but, because it’s an island, it does still have a limited number.
Hotels Near Ponta Delgada Airport
If you have a connecting flight or an early morning flight, you may want to stay close to Ponta Delgada airport. Unfortunately, there aren’t a huge number of accommodation options right near the airport. If these aren’t available, you could easily stay in Ponta Delgada and arrange a taxi. The drive from the city centre to the airport is only around 10 minutes and a taxi costs around €10.
However, if you wish to stay close to the airport, here are some options:
- Cozy apartment close to airport (homestay) – Twin bedroom that’s about a 15-minute walk from the airport.
- Green Acres Azores (1-bedroom apartment) – Holiday home that’s around 15 minutes’ walk from the airport.
Taxis & Public Transport
If you don’t drive or just don’t want to hire a car, you can also get into Ponta Delgada or other destinations on São Miguel by taxi, airport transfer, or bus.
- Taxis: Taxis are available from outside Arrivals, and a 1-way trip from the airport to Ponta Delgada’s historic centre costs around €10. There is a laminated list of taxi prices next to the taxi rank, and all of the taxis follow those fixed prices so there’s no need to haggle.Uber and other taxi apps are not currently available on São Miguel or the rest of The Azores islands.
- Airport Transfers: Although you can book airport transfers through sites like Rideways.com, Kwiktaxi.com, and hoppa.com, they’re typically €20-30, which is more expensive than just getting a taxi from outside of the airport. If you’re travelling with young children you may want to book an airport transfer just so that you can book a child seat, though. Kwiktaxi.com allow you to request child and booster car seats for €4.
- Bus: There doesn’t seem to be an airport bus anymore.
- Chauffeurs & drivers: If you’d like to hire a driver rather than rent a car, Ilha Verde offer a chauffeur service.
Where to work from
If you need to work at Ponta Delgada Airport, there are only a few options to choose from. After security there’s a cafe called Cockpit, which offers coffee and snacks and usually has plenty of seating. There is an overflow area to the left of the cafe that has even more seating.
Upstairs, there is a free-to-use lounge area that has tables, comfy chairs, and some vending machines.
- ATMs: Most (and perhaps all) of the ATMs seemed to be Euronet ATMs (particularly in the baggage collection area), which charge a massage withdrawal fee for usage. Avoid, if you can.
- Luggage Storage: A left luggage storage facility is available at Arrivals.
- Post Office: There’s a Post Office in the Arrivals section.
- Airport Lounge: Sata (Azores Airlines) have an airport lounge at Ponta Delgada Airport, which Sata Plus passengers and Priority Pass Members can access. The lounge is small and has only a basic offering of food and drinks, which includes alcoholic drinks.
- Vodafone Stand: If you need a Portuguese sim card, there’s a Vodafone stand in Arrivals. Otherwise, you’ll be able to get what you need in Ponta Delgada.
- Shopping: There are a handful of shops selling souvenirs and Azorean products. After security, there’s a duty-free store, a Parfois, and Attitude which sells brands like Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Superdry, and Guess, but, overall, this isn’t an airport for shopping.
Layovers at Ponta Delgada Airport
Layovers at Ponta Delgada Airport are not uncommon both for transatlantic flights and for flights within the Azores: sometimes, to fly from one island to another, you have to go via São Miguel. Depending on how long your layover is, you may have time to see a little of the island.
For layovers of just a few hours, the easiest thing to do is to get a taxi from the airport into Ponta Delgada. João Paulo II Airport is situated around 5 km outside of Ponta Delgada, and the journey takes around 10 minutes by car.
All of the taxis at the airport charge the same rates, and those rates are displayed on a laminated sign at the taxi rank outside of Arrivals. In July 2019, a 1-way trip to Ponta Delgada historic centre cost €7 with luggage and €9 without. Larger taxis (taxivans) cost 25% more, so €8.75 and €11.25.
Obviously, you can also get a taxi from the airport to any of the destinations listed.
If your layover is longer, you might have time to take the Yellow Bus to see some of the lakes and other attractions that São Miguel is famous for. Excluding time for getting off, the tours typically take 1 hour and 50 minutes and you also need to allow time to get to and from the starting point in Ponta Delgada.
Alternatively, you could rent a car from one of the many car rental companies mentioned above and go visit some of these attractions yourself.