terceira travel guide header
By James | Last updated: February 2020*

Caves, wine, & cakes – A travel guide to Terceira

Terceira is the second most popular Azores island after São Miguel. It has good flight connections to mainland Portugal and some international destinations like the UK and US, and it’s usually a popular island to visit.

There aren’t as many attractions here as there are on São Miguel, but Terceira has its own charm. It’s less touristic, more incredibly laid-back, and it feels quite liveable.

There is enough to keep you occupied for a few days here including some great hikes, underground caves, and beautiful scenery. If you’re not planning on visiting Pico, it’s also somewhere where you can go whale watching (if you are visiting Pico, it’s usually better to wait).

A field in Terceira
Is this Ireland or Portugal? © Portugalist

Where to stay

Most people visiting Terceira will stay at Angra do Heroísmo, the largest city on Terceira. Here, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, supermarkets, and accommodation options. It’s also somewhere where you can book tours, like whale watching, and a good base if you’re not planning on renting a car.

Praia da Vitória, Terceira’s second largest city, is also an option if you’re looking for somewhere with a beach but it is much smaller than Angra do Heroísmo and has fewer amenities.

You don’t have to stay in either of the two cities, of course, especially if you have a car. There are lots of great accommodation options dotted around the island.

I stayed at Quinta Amaro AL, a pineapple farm on the outskirts of Angra do Heroísmo. The accommodation was simple but absolutely find for my needs. It was also near Zona Balnear da Silveira, a popular place to go swimming.

What to SEE & DO

Miradouro da Serra do Cume offers one of the best views on the island, with the fields below looking like a patchwork quilt. On a good day, you can see all over the island and it’s a spot that’s definitely worth visiting if you have a car.

Monte Brasil is a beautiful green area with several walking routes that take you to the top. Deer roam freely throughout, and many are quite tame so you can get up close to them.

The neighbourhood of biscoitos is famous for being home to Terceira’s wine production. It’s also home to some great natural swimming pools, which are perfect for cooling off in on a warm summer day.

What to EAT

Dona Amélia Cakes

bolo dona amelia
Um Dona Amélia © Portugalist

Dona Amélia Cakes are not only the best cakes in the Azores, but one of the best cakes in Portugal. Dare I say it: the best. Even better than the pastel de nata.

You’ll find these cakes everywhere on the island, but one of the best places to try them is pastelaria O Forno in Angra do Heroísmo. Here, you can not only try these, but several other local cakes that are actually quite hard to find elsewhere like Bolo “Careta” and bolo “P. Conde da Praia.”

Alcatra

Meat Alcatra
Meat Alcatra © Portugalist

Alcatra is Terceira’s main regional dishes, and one of the best things that you can eat in the Azores. It is a “pot roast,” a meal that’s slow-cooked inside a clay terracotta pot (called an alguidar). The result is a very dark and rich stew that’s perfect for mopping up with bread.

You’ll find both meat and fish alcatras on Terceira and, if you can, it’s worth trying one of each – they’re both delicious.

Queijo Vaquinha

São Jorge is the Azores island that’s most famous for cheese production, but Terceira actually produces some great cheese as well. It’s also different in style to that of São Jorge’s cheese, so you can comfortably visit factories on both islands without feeling like you’re repeating yourself.

While you can obviously find Queijo Vaquinha in the local supermarkets, the best place to try it is at the company’s tasting room just outside of Angra do Heroísmo.

Take samples of all the different cheeses they produce and, if you really like one, order a cheese board to enjoy over a glass of wine or beer.

What to DRINK

Wine

Vineyards in Biscoitos
Vineyards in Biscoitos, Terceira © Portugalist

While Pico is the most famous wine region in the Azores, Biscoitos wine is grown using the same practices it’s definitely worth trying a bottle or two. The wine region itself, which is located in the north of the island, is worth visiting to see how the grapes are grown. There’s also a good wine museum there (simply called “Museu do Vinho”, which gives a lot of information about the local practices, history, and techniques.

Cerveja Brianda

Cerveja Brianda is a craft beer that’s produced in Angra do Heroísmo. You’ll find it in plenty of restaurants, snack bars, and supermarkets around the island.

One of the best places to try it is at Queijaria Vaquinha, the island’s local cheese producer.

Get here

By plane

Most people visiting Terceira will arrive by plane. There are flights from mainland Portugal, many of the other Azores Islands, and also some international destinations like the UK, USA, and Canada.

Terceira’s airport is called Lajes International Airport. It’s situated roughly 20 km from Angra do Heroísmo and 3 km from Praia da Vitória.

From the airport, you can get to other parts of the island like Angra do Heroísmo by bus or taxi. The easiest option, however, is to rent a car.

By ferry

Ferries connect Terceira with the islands of São Miguel, São Jorge, and Graciosa.

Note: Terceira has two ferry ports: one at Praia da Vitória and one at Angra do Heroísmo but you can easily get a taxi from one to another.

If you’re rented a car, it’s also asking your car rental company if you can drop the car off at the port rather than having to return it the pickup location (if different). Many companies will allow you to do this, and won’t charge you a one-way dropoff fee.

Ferry timetables and tickets can be found at Atlanticoline.pt

Getting Around

Car

The easiest way of getting around anywhere in the Azores is by car. You can rent a car at Lajes Airport, any of the ferry ports, or at either Angra do Heroísmo or Praia da Vitória.

Rentalscars.com and Skyscanner.net are the two best comparison websites to look at.

Read more about renting a car on Terceira

Tours

Tours are available to most of Terceira’s attractions, including the caves, Biscoitos wine region, and some of the hikes. There are also some full and half-day tours that cover several of these attractions in one go. If you’re not hiring a car, this is probably one of the most efficient ways to see everything.

You can find these tours on either GetYourGuide or Viator.

Bus

It’s possible to get around a lot of the island by bus, including from the airport to both Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória.

The local bus authority, EVT, has a good page on their website which shows you which bus routes you need to take to get to certain parts of the island.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking isn’t that common in the Azores, surprisingly. That doesn’t mean it’s not doable, but just that there isn’t a culture of picking up hitchhikers so you may be standing by the side of the road for a while.

Taxis

Taxis are available from outside of Lajes International Airport, and will take you to wherever you need to go on the island. As for 2019, it costs €16 to go from Lajes International to Angra do Heroísmo.

Note: Taxis in The Azores have the option of charging an additional luggage handling fee (€2.50 per bag normally).

Airport transfers

In the Azores, booking an airport transfer doesn’t usually work out cheaper than getting a taxi when you arrive. However, if you wish to prebook an airport transfer, you can do so via Get Transfer, Azores on Travel, or Rideways.

Scooter

A few companies offer scooter and motorbike rental on Terceira including Autatlantis and Azores Easy Rent.

Note: Double check that you’re covered in case you have an accident. Many people assume that having a full car licence means that they can ride scooters, but this isn’t always the case.

Where to visit next

After São Miguel, Terceira has one of the best airports in the Azores so getting to other islands is quite easy.

If you’d prefer to travel by ferry, there are normally direct ferries to São Miguel, São Jorge, and Graciosa.

São Jorge is the closest island, and it’s also one of the most unique. If you’re looking for somewhere interesting to visit, this is somewhere to consider.

To lookup flights, visit Azores Airlines. For ferry timetables and tickets, visit Atlânticoline.

Updates: Some updates are as small as a spelling correction. If you spot a mistake or want to suggest a contribution, leave a comment below.
Portugalist.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon (.es, .co.uk, .de etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC.

Leave a comment

  • Portugalist
  • The Azores
  • Caves, wine, & cakes – A travel guide to Terceira