The public beach in the center of Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, with hardly any tourists on a beautiful late summer day. ©KettiWilhelm2024

Complete Guide to Terceira: The Quietest Island for a European Escape

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If you’re just starting to consider a trip to these beautiful Portuguese islands, check out my Intro to the Azores article for how to get there, when to go, and some history. If you’re starting to plan, and ready to build your itinerary for visiting Terceira island, then you’re in the right place! These are my personal recommendations for the best hotels, restaurants, sites and tours in Terceira.

Terceira is probably not the place you think of when you imagine an island getaway, so let me set the scene: The second-largest island in the Azores (out of nine), Terceira has hardly any beaches – but surprisingly warm water, for how far north the Azorean islands are.

Terceira is known for seafood, hiking, a unique form of bull-running, and famous volcanos that are unlike anything you can visit almost anywhere else in the world. (Yes, there are active volcanoes – about 200 of them in Terceira, including some that are definitely worth visiting. The last eruption on the island was in 1761.)

The mid-Atlantic island is also home to a tropical fruit farm, where you can sleep in a bungalow overlooking organic banana shrubs and the largest coffee farm in Europe. (It’s one of several local accommodations I visited on Terceira.)

A toward the Atlantic Ocean overlooking organic banana plants at Banana Eco Camp in Angra, a unique camp or rent a cabin when visiting Terceira island, in the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Organic banana farms and views of the Atlantic.
The flag of Portugal flies over a historic building in central Angra da Heroismo, on Terceira Island. ©KettiWilhelm2024

Terceira doesn’t have much shopping or nightlife to speak of, but it does have a thriving cultural scene. Almost every town on Terceira has an orchestra, a theater company, or a folk music group playing traditional songs – and many have all three, even in villages of only 400 people.

The first thing I noticed on Terceira was the bright, saturated green of the fields – which are everywhere. It’s hard to find a part of the island where you don’t feel surrounded by green.

And the second thing I noticed? The fences dividing those fields.

Everywhere I looked, I saw one of the features Terceira is famous for: Black rock walls crisscrossing the rolling hills and sloping valleys, keeping cows in their pastures. The walls are often bordered by colorful hydrangeas, and are made of the island’s volcanic rock, which the Portuguese collected from the fields when they came to the Azores in the 1400s. (Archeologists believe the islands were likely uninhabited at the time, but that Vikings had lived there centuries before.)

Low walls made of local volcanic rock divide farm fields on Terceira, in the Azores, Portugal. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Blue hydrangeas – the most famous flower of the Azores – alongside a road in Terceira. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Fields of green, happy cows and hydrangeas – typical sights in Terceira.

Can you picture yourself there yet? I hope so!

Read on for my full Terceira Island itinerary, or jump to the part you’re looking for with the table of contents below.

A few notes first: This is a very mix-and-match itinerary. Terceira is fairly small, so if you pick an activity on one side of the island, and match it with a restaurant on the same side, you’ll be pretty sure to have minimized your driving time.

I’d recommend booking your hotel in or near Angra do Heroísmo, to be close to most restaurants, and to the town with the most to see. (My hotel recommendations are below.)

The Best Terceira Tour Guide

If you’ll be spending any time at all in Terceira, the first thing I would recommend is booking at least a one-day tour with our guide, Pedro, or one of his colleagues. His company offers several kinds of tours, which you can browse here or see some below:

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We spent a week with Pedro on this trip, and he’s honestly one of the best tour guides I’ve had anywhere in the world. His love of his home island comes through clearly, as do his broad and deep knowledge. He told us wonderful stories about the history and culture of all nine islands.

(A lot of the anecdotes and facts in this guide are from Pedro, and many of places I recommend in the itinerary, I visited on Pedro’s recommendation.)

And he’s also just so kind, friendly and patient! We even met his wife when he brought us to a local festival. It felt like we had a local friend showing us around. 

Our fantastic tour guide in Terceira, Pedro. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Pedro – Terceira’s best tour guide! – giving us the lay of the land.

How long to spend in Terceira?

Some people visit Terceira as just a side trip from one of the other islands, but I think it really deserves more than that. I’d recommend at least 3 days, but you could easily spend 7 to 10 days in Terceira without running out of new things to do and see – even if you like to pack a lot into each day.

And if you’re planning to take it easy, and maybe just do one major activity or site each day (or looking for a relaxing honeymoon destination, perhaps), then you might never want to leave.

The main towns of Terceira

First, you’ll want to block off some time in your itinerary to explore Terceira’s two main towns. A quick cheat sheet:

  • Angra do Heroísmo (everyone calls it Angra for short, including locals) = history, monuments, a beautiful port, and a small but lovely city beach (more about all those below). This is where I stayed (in a gorgeous, locally owned boutique hotel), and while we explored around the island almost every day, Angra is a great home base, with lots to do on the days when you don’t feel like going far.
  • Praia da Vitória (everyone calls it Praia for short) = beaches. (The name Praia literally means beach in Portuguese, so it’s a bit of a giveaway.) It’s not a town with much history to see, so if you like monuments, stay in Angra.

Beyond those two, Terceira has 30 small villages scattered around the island.

The beach and town of Praia da Vitoria in Terceira in the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
The beach and town of Praia.

Welcome to Angra do Heroísmo

Terceira’s main town was the first city in all of Portugal that UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site. And Angra reminded me of another of Portugal’s beautiful small cities – Porto. Both cities have historic centers filled with colorful buildings, and are built on hillsides that slopes down toward a harbor, where the streets all seem to lead.

Unlike most port towns in Europe, Angra hasn’t grown to feel like much more than a small village, despite being the second largest city in the Azores. (With a population of around 35,000, it can really be called a “city” almost only by Azorean terms.)

Sites to see in Angra:

All of these sites – and several more – are on the excellent guided walking tour of Angra that we did. You can definitely visit them on your own, but I really appreciated Pedro’s expert storytelling. It was a perfect way to start out the trip with some background on the town, the island, and Azorean history and culture.

Wander the Historic Center

When I tell people I’m a travel writer, one of the questions I hear often is, “What do you like to do when you travel?” And I never get the impression that they’re very satisfied by my answer: “Well, you know… walk around.”

So many city trips are ruined by trying to see all the main sites (like the ones below) without remembering to also just take in the surroundings. So look around. Wander down a street just because it looks interesting, not because you know what you’re looking for down that street.

Angra is one of the safest cities in Europe, with tons of gorgeous views. Almost everyone speaks excellent English. So if you’re looking for an easy place to just relax and wander, Angra is a great spot to start. Below are some of the sites you’ll probably run into while you meander.

Colorful historic buildings in central Angra da Heroismo, on Terceira Island. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Beautiful views everywhere you look in central Angra.

Cathedral of Angra (Church of the Holy Saviors)

Angra is home to the largest and most important church in the Azores which – unlike such temples in most of Europe – is pink! It’s those colorful details that sometimes make the Azorean islands feel more like the Caribbean to me than the North Atlantic.

Inside, the cathedral is rather spartan. But a unique collection of modern art, by local Azorean and Portuguese artists, gives it a little something different to see, even if you’re not necessarily into cathedrals.

The Se Cathedral of Angra painted pink and seen from a nearby hillside, surrounded by red-roofed buildings. ©KettiWilhelm2024

PIC – cathedral art inside – something unique looking

Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Misericórdia)

I would describe this “Church of Compassion” as “the blue church,” for simplicity, but that could become outdated information by the time you get there. Pedro said he’s seen it painted four different colors in his lifetime! As he explained, every time public buildings in Terceira need a new paint job, they choose a new color. That’s why the gazebo in the botanical garden (below) is pink right now.

This is the place where Vasco de Gama bought his dying brother, because it had the only hospital in the Atlantic Ocean when it was built, in 1492.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of churches, this one is worth going inside for the view from the upstairs gallery. You can climb way up a staircase, to just below the belfry, and enjoy a unique view that not many churches offer.

The Church of Misericordia, near the beach in downtown Angra do Heroismo, painted blue and seen from a nearby hillside, surrounded by red-roofed buildings. ©KettiWilhelm2024
A tourist takes a cell phone of the altar inside the Igreja da Misericordia (the blue painted Church of Mercy) – a great spot to visit on a Terceira itinerary. ©KettiWilhelm2024
My friend Karla snapping pics inside Angra’s Church of Compassion (the blue church). You can go much higher than this, too!

Mount Brazil & Fort São João Baptista

Mount Brazil is the first stop on most city tours of Angra, because of its important history and its beautiful views of the town below.

The view of the town of Angra do Heroismo from Mount Brazil, the first stop on most Terceira tours. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Views from Mount Brazil.

This massive hilltop stronghold is the site Fort São João Baptista, the largest Spanish fort outside of Spain. It was built after Spain invaded the Azores in 1583, occupying the islands for 60 years.

Mount Brazil is also home to six miles of walking/hiking trails connecting four peaks. You can easily walk the loop from town, in about 3.5 hours round-trip. Pedro said the trails can get crowded in the summer, with locals having picnics and kids’ birthday parties (but I personally wouldn’t recommend visiting in the summer, anyway).

Touring Fort São João Baptista on Mount Brazil in the Azores – an essential stop of any Terceira itinerary. ©KettiWilhelm2024
“Better to die free than live in peace as subjects” – a souvenir of Portugal’s civil war inside Fort São João Baptista.

Tour the Military History Museum

Military museums aren’t normally at the top of my lists of places to visit, but our tour of this small museum and the fort at Mount Brazil had a fantastic guide who gave us a good overview of local history. (Although most of what she told us we’d already learned from our tours with Pedro. There’s a lot of overlap, but this is good alternative if you’re looking for one.)

See museum hours and information here.

Swim at the City Beach

You can’t miss Angra’s small city beach if you’re in the historic center! Just turn down a hill and you’ll be headed for it. I went swimming here one morning, and the beach was very clean, as was the water. There were lifeguards on duty, and a couple of bars and ice cream shops around. (Including an outpost of the local Quinta dos Açores brand, which is on my restaurant list, below.)

Looking at the historic center of Angra, the main city on Terceira, from the water while going for a swim in the Atlantic. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Taking in the city views from the warm water.

Duque da Terceira Garden

While at first glance, it might look like just a public park the “Duke of Terceira Garden” is actually a botanical garden with more than 200 species from around the world, and a lovely pink gazebo.

A gazebo painted pink inside the city of Angra's Duque da Terceira public botanical garden, a great spot to see in Terceira.  ©KettiWilhelm2024
The gazebo painted to match the cathedral.

Go on a Whale Watching Tour

Whale watching tours are a feature of most Terceira itineraries, and there are dozens of species that pass through the Azores at different times of the year. You can compare options from the line of local shops down by the city beach in Angra do Heroísmo.

The day of our tour, our guides said we had a chance to see sperm whales and blue whales (the giants of the sea!) but instead we mostly got a lot of rough water and no whales. We did see a large school of dolphins swimming along our boat, though!

I had such high hopes…
A whale watching tour boat in choppy water off the coast of Angra, in Terceira. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Choppy water and no whales this time. 🙁

What else is there to do in Terceira?

The island of Terceira is much more than just Angra! These are some unique things to do in Terceira outside of the historic main town:

Western Terceira

The western side of Terceira is the least-visited part of the island, but it’s home to some really special spots.

Biscoitos Natural Pools

The natural pools at Biscoitos, in the northwest of the island, are the largest and most famous pools in Terceira. And there really isn’t anything similar, where waves crash over natural rock walls into small, lively pools.

Four travelers swimming in the natural pools at Biscoitos, a unique thing to do on Terceira, with waves crashing over the volcanic rocks. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Crashing around in the waves at Biscoitos.

PIC – Another – view OF it?

This has long been a popular holiday spot for locals, with the population nearly doubling in the summer. Thanks to conservation rules, Pedro said, now only small houses can be built in the area, out of volcanic rock. They have to blend in, so there are no ostentatious vacation homes.

And this area is worth visiting also just to take in the interesting landscape between the center of island and Biscoitos – rolling hills punctuated by pyramid shaped volcanoes.

PIC – that landscape ?

Museo do Vinho – Wine Museum

Another reason to venture up to Biscoitos – the local wine museum is just adorable. It’s small – not overwhelming – and has gorgeous views of its demonstration vineyards right there in town. There’s a tasting room (where I picked up a couple of bottles of a local wine similar to Port), and a small exhibit on the history of winemaking in the Azores.

Like everything here, that history is linked to the sea. Terceira’s wines, most of which are produced near Biscoitos with Verdelho grapes, are known for minerality, which comes from the salty sea air.

Visit a Donkey Farm

The Asinus Atlanticus donkey farm was such a unique stop on our Terceira itinerary! The farm owners believe this is the largest donkey farm in all of Spain and Portugal, with about 100 donkeys living their best organic lives all over the island.

The visit was extremely kid-friendly – it had a bit of petting zoo vibe, and I got to try my hand at milking donkeys (harder than it looks, I promise). Plus, the views are amazing from the hillside farm, and they have some excellent skincare products for sale. (Historians think the milk Cleopatra famously bathed in was donkey, not cow! It stimulates collagen production and is rich in omega-3s.)

Donkeys at Asinus Atlanticus the organic donkey farm that's part of my Terceira itinerary. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Baby donkeys at Asinus Atlanticus the organic donkey farm that's a fun, kid-friendly thing to do in Terceira, when visiting the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Marcos Couto, CEO of Asinus Atlanticus donkey farm on Terceira, in the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Marcos Couto, CEO of the donkey farm.

Central Terceira

Descend into a Volcano at Algar do Carvão

Pedro very casually told us after this visit that Algar do Carvão was “the main attraction of Terceira,” which was not a surprise after seeing it. It’s definitely not to be missed!

There’s only one other intact volcano like this in the world! (In Iceland.) This one has the biggest concentration of silica in the world, and is also unique because of the different types of lava contained in one cave.

Even as someone who’s not huge a geology fan, this place was amazing to see. I would definitely recommend taking Pedro’s three-hour volcano tour (which includes this and others of Terceira’s unique geological features). His stories and enthusiasm almost did turn me into a true geology fan.

PIC – inside volcano

Everywhere

Notice the Impérios

Holy Ghost worship is the defining belief of Azorean religious life – it’s the only religious tradition that’s shared among all nine islands. Pedro explained that because of the archipelago’s propensity for natural disasters, Azoreans believe in the ghost more than mainlanders.

And impérios are the uniquely Azorean chapels devoted to the Espírito Santo, or Holy Ghost. (The chapels used to be used for feeding the poor. Now they’re mostly used for storage.)

A traditional Azorean “imperio,” or local chapel for Holy Ghost worship – something to see on Terceira, in the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Sustainable travel writer Ketti Wilhelm, of Tilted Map, standing in front of an imperio. Visiting one of these iconic Holy Ghost chapels should be on any Terceira itinerary. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Impérios all over Terceira!

Hiking in Terceira

Terceira is home to about 150 km (93 miles) of officially marked trails, and Pedro told me the trail system is expanding a lot. Many of the hiking routes are well-maintained, and only moderately difficult. (If you’re in decent hiking shape, there are a lot of options that make for a nice half-day adventure!)

Probably the most famous hike in Terceira is Mistérios Negros. While the route is short (4.9 km, or 3 miles), it gets a bit technical in some areas. But the diverse and stunning views made it worth the effort!

Trees with gangly limbs covered in bright green moss form a canopy along the Misterios Negros hiking trail in Terceira. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Views along the Mistérios Negros trail.

Survive a Bull Running

There more than 200 bull runnings a year on Terceira, between May and September. So you could easily plan to be there when one is happening somewhere on the island, in case you’re feeling reckless… ahem… brave.

These events are unique to the Azores, and are somewhere between a bull fight and a bull running. Pedro told me they always involve four local bulls at each event, with each fight lasting about 25 minutes. He also said they’re just a good excuse to hang out, eat and drink – although they can definitely be dangerous if a bull gets away.


Terceira’s Traditional Foods & Where to Find Them

The traditional foods in Terceira can pretty much be split into two categories: Sea and pasture. There’s an abundance of local seafood to try, and local cheeses and beef dishes are everywhere.

I’d also put Azorean wine into the “sea” category, because the salty air and volcanic soil are what give the wines their characteristic minerality.

Dona Amelia Cake

Starting with dessert first – you can’t come to Terceira and not try the famous Dona Amelia cake! It’s a strong spice cake, served either in slices or as small individual pastries, and featuring an amount of cinnamon that I almost thought was a typo when I started reading recipes.

But then I remembered the intensity of the first one I tried and how I wasn’t sure I’d I needed to try it again… but I did. And after a week in Terceira, sampling Dona Amelias from restaurants and bakeries all over the island, my taste buds had gotten used to the cinnamon assault and I was a bit hooked.

One of my personal favorites, after all that testing, was from the local seafood restaurant Beira Mar, in São Mateus. (Details below.) But that’s just me – I recommend trying several, as every restaurant seemed to have its own variation!

Dense, spicy traditional Dona Amelia cake, a local dessert to when visiting Terceira. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Dense, spice-heavy Dona Amelia cake (perfectly paired with strawberry ice cream, made with local milk).

Alcatra

Another dish unique to Terceira, alcatra is traditionally a kind of local beef pot roast with broth and vegetables. But the term alcatra actually refers to the clay pot the meal is cooked in, and you can find fish and even vegetarian versions.

For a side, look for the traditional Azorean sweet bread, massa sovada, to sop up the broth.

I tried beef altcatra at Quinta do Martelo (below) and it was absolutely fantastic. (And I’m not a big meat-eater. But here, where all beef is grass-fed and local, it’s worth a try. I’ll go back to being mostly vegetarian at home.)

You can also find alcatra at several of the other traditional Terceira restaurants listed below.

Alcatra, a traditional Azorean dish from the island of Terceira, made of local beef stew. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Rice and Portuguese red wine, and alcatra made with local beef.

Azorean Limpets

Limpets, or lapas, in Portuguese, are small sea snails, that are often served grilled and topped with monumental amounts of butter and garlic. (Or raw, with lemon juice.) They’re beloved in the Azores and I saw them on most menus in Terceira.

Personally, limpets weren’t my favorite food in Terceira. They tasted similar to clams, but with a stronger flavor and much chewier texture. But the ones that most nearly convinced me were served at Quinta da Nasce Água – the hotel where we stayed for a week, which also features, in my opinion, one of the best restaurants on the island.

Limpets, called Lapas in Portuguese, a local seafood to try when visiting Terceira, in the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Limpets with garlic

Best Restaurants in Terceira

Northern coast of Terceira

A Caneta

This restaurant was recommended for its traditional Terceira dishes by lots of locals I talked to. Blood sausages, strong cheese, grilled limpets, and all kinds of seafood are on the menu.

Angra do Heroísmo

Taberna do Teatro

This was a lovely dinner in Angra with some different options, in case you’re getting tired of Terceira’s specialties. They mostly serve small plates to share, with dishes from all over Portugal, and lots of vegetarian options (at least more than I found in most Terceira restaurants).

PIC – food there?

Quinta dos Açores

Quinta dos Açores (the Portuguese spelling of Azores) is a successful, local family business. The family is from Terceira, and they now have a store on São Miguel island, too, as well as an ice cream shop down by the beach in Angra.

Their main restaurant has a traditional Azorean menu, with lots of meat, seafood and homemade ice cream. (Including traditional Azorean flavors like Dona Amelia.) We went here for lunch one day, and it was good, but I was more impressed by the other restaurants on this list. It’s a lot of meat, fried things, and pretty heavy meals.

That being said, the view over Angra and the Atlantic is amazing, and their market shop is a great stop for foodie souvenirs! (More about that below.)

PIC – view from Quinta

QB Restaurant

This place really surprised me! It looks a bit unimpressive from the outside, and isn’t in downtown Angra, but every single dish really impressed me.

They serve all the traditional ingredients, but with a modern, sort of elevated take. (Lighter sauces, portions that aren’t too overwhelming, and more fresh than fried options.) The quality was top-notch, and I would absolutely go back.

A plate of local seafood from the Azores at QB Restaurant, one of my favorite restaurants of the many delicious ones I tried on Terceira. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Delicious local seafood and wine for lunch at QB.

Quinta da Nasce Agua Restaurant

The hotel restaurant at our small boutique hotel served what was probably my favorite meal I had on Terceira. Local ingredients with a modern twist and just really well executed. The head chef is a local in his 20s, and who knows, he might turn into the next famous Portuguese chef! Definitely worth getting a taste now. UPDATE: I double-checked with the hotel, and they said they’ve really changed the concept of this restaurant to focus more on comfort food. So the menu has changed, but the chef is the same.

PIC – food there

Beer Store

If you’re looking for a break from the Azorean white wines you’ve probably been drinking with lunch and dinner (it’s a slippery slope) this little local shop is a great way to way to sample some local beers! They have a huge selection of imports, as well, and you can call them to book a tasting of local Azorean and/or Portuguese brews.

PIC – beers?

Quinta do Martelo

Quinta do Martelo was one of my favorite lunch stops in Terceira – with its very traditional menu, made almost entirely with organic ingredients grown right there on the farm.

The owner of Quinta do Martelo prepares a tasting of traditional Azorean foods from the island of Terceira, made with locally grown, organic ingredients on this stop on my Azores itinerary. ©KettiWilhelm2024
The owner of Quinta do Martelo preparing traditional appetizers from Terceira, with organic ingredients from his garden.

PIC – outside?

Serreta (Western Terceira)

Ti Choa

This is a small, traditional Azorean restaurant that Pedro and several others recommended. If you’re on the western side of Terceira, it would be a great option.

Praia de Vitória (Eastern Terceira)

Restaurante O Pescador

As you can tell by the name, The Fisherman, this elegant, local spot in Praia is great for seafood. (But like almost everywhere else we ate in the Azores, they serve beef, too.) I had a decadent lunch here and would definitely go back. The food is a nice blend between elegant and just traditional Azorean food – not too fancy, but nicely presented and high quality.

PIC – lunch there? (phone)


Where to Stay in Terceira

According to Pedro, 80 to 90% of tourists on Terceira stay in Angra, but the island has more to offer than that one town!

The ideas below are some of the most unique hotels and other accommodations I’ve found around Terceira. (Including the beautiful boutique hotel where I stayed for a week, and others I visited in person while touring the island.)

Note: For info on the “Travel Sustainable Property” ratings from Booking.com, see this section of my guide to finding more sustainable hotels.

Quinta da Nasce Água – $$, outside Angra

If you want to stay close to Angra, this is where I’d recommend. I spent a week in one of the gorgeous studios here and LOVED it. Calm, quiet, with elegant, modern design and thoughtfully chosen furniture and art.

The property has a pool, a relaxing garden, and views of the Atlantic in the distance. And it has a good story – the hillside property an old estate that was beautifully renovated by a local woman, whose family has worked in hotels in the Azores for generations. (Her parents used to own a larger hotel, which she sold to create this boutique hotel – and she did a wonderful job!)

The fantastic on-site restaurant is also one of the absolute best I tried in Terceira – and I ate at a lot of good ones.

Banana Eco Camp – $, between Angra and São Mateus

This is an outdoorsy option for the adventurous spirit! Choose between literally camping in the fields of a tropical fruit farm, or a rustic, A-frame log cabin overlooking the banana, coffee and other exotic plants grown on this organic farm.

A log cabin between organic banana plants at Banana Eco Camp in Angra, a unique place to stay on Terceira when visiting the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
A cabin for rent at Banana Eco Camp.
A pool in front of the reception desk, a log cabin, at Banana Eco Camp in Angra, a unique place to stay on Terceira when visiting the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024

Quinta do Martelo – $$, São Mateus

This is another unique option! The restaurant at Quinta do Martelo was one of my favorite lunch stops in Terceira.

And the hotel features traditionally designed rooms or – for a really unique experience – houses made of local volcanic stone, so you can experience how people lived in the Azores for centuries. (But with modern amenities and one to three bedrooms.)

Quinta do Martelo is more rustic and old-fashioned than Quinta da Nasce Água, but definitely has more amenities than the camping at Banana Eco Lodge.


Terceira Souvenir Tips:

Don’t wait to buy souvenirs at the airport when you’re leaving Terceira. There’s hardly anything more than a small t-shirt shop.

Instead, especially if you’re like me and mostly want to take home local foods for souvenirs, stop by Quinta dos Açores for anything you haven’t picked up on your other visits around Terceira. (I mean the Market & Butchery, which also has a restaurant on site with beautiful views, not the small ice cream shop by the city beach.)

They carry a huge range of local products – spices, wines and liqueurs, chocolates, skincare products, jams, etc. – at surprisingly normal prices (it’s not a completely touristy shop).


Island Hopping Option: São Jorge

A neighboring island to Terceira, and one of the most sparsely populated, São Jorge takes tranquility to a new level. Terceira felt to me like one big wellness retreat from modern life (or at least from modern life that’s not in the middle of the Atlantic). And São Jorge felt like a wellness retreat for people who live on Terceira.

There are no beaches on São Jorge; people visit to walk the many, many trails and eat the strong cheese. (The famous São Jorge cheese factory does lovely tours. Our guide there spoke perfect English and had lots of information to share. Photos weren’t allowed.)

We stayed in a beautiful hotel, owned and built by a São Jorge local named Braulio. It was just across the harbor from the island’s main town of Velas and felt nothing short of therapeutic.

Our local guide and owner of the boutique hotel Cantinho das Bouganvilias waves goodbye after our visit to São Jorge in the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Braulio – São Jorge native and owner of Cantinho das Buganvilias.

PIC – hotel

The beauty of a quiet escape

I woke up early the morning we were there to go for a quiet walk around the grounds and take some photos. It’s the kind of place where there are so few distractions that I found it easy to notice everything, and to think about nothing besides what was in front of me.

One thing I noticed on that walk were these beautiful plants, which I started filling up my camera roll with. They looked so exotic to me! I showed a photo to the man at the front desk at our hotel, who said the locals called them “dog grapes.”

American pokeweed flowers in the Azores on the island of São Jorge. ©KettiWilhelm2024
Exotic “dog grape” flowers in the garden of our hotel on São Jorge…

When I came home from this trip, in mid-September, Boston was starting to take on its intense colors of pre-autumn. On my first walk around my neighborhood, down a street I must have strolled a hundred times before, I noticed something that made me catch my breath. Those exotic dog grapes I’d been so enamored by on São Jorge – here they were, growing out of a hedge around the corner from my apartment! Wikipedia told me they were American pokeweed – native to Eastern North America, but completely invisible to my eye until I saw them far from home.

American pokeweed flowers in Boston, Massachusetts, a city with a direct flight to the Azores. ©KettiWilhelm2024
…and plain old American pokeweed at home in Boston. (Which has a direct flight to the Azores! See my intro article for info!)

And that’s the thing about a trip to the Azores. You might go for the dramatic views, the green fields, the volcanos and hikes and seafood. That’s all wonderful, but the real treat, I found, was clearing my head, and coming home with a renewed ability to see the beauty all around me. I think that should be one of the goals of any kind of travel, and a trip to the Azores accomplished it particularly well.


I hope you found my Terceira itinerary useful! These were some of my favorite things to do on the island. If you have questions, let me know in the comments!

Before you go:

Be sure to check out everything to know before you book at trip to the Azores.

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