What’s better than an exotic, volcanic island with breathtaking viewpoints? One without hordes of tourists!
As one of nine islands in the Azores, Terceira boasts stunning viewpoints, the opportunity to explore the inside of a volcano, to swim in natural rock pools and magnificent local wines to sample.
This little island has a lot to offer – whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast itching to enjoy one of Terceira’s incredible hikes, or looking for a romantic getaway with your loved one.
The Azores islands are stunning in summer, and one of my favourite European destinations to enjoy the winter sun, making it the perfect area to visit all year round.
To kickstart your itinerary, I’ve put together a list of things to do in Terceira, Azores.
- 1 Discover Terceira Island, Azores
- 2 Outdoor Activities in Terceira, Azores
- 3 Things to do in Terceira for the cultural traveller
- 4 Romantic things to do as a couple in Terceira
- 5 Day trips from Terceira
- 6 Where to stay in Terceira Island, Portugal
Discover Terceira Island, Azores
When translated from Portuguese into English, “Terceira” means “third”.
If you’re wondering why the tropical destination has such a strange name, it’s because it was the third of the Azorian islands to be discovered by the Portuguese.
The history of the Azores is a fascinating one. The group of nine islands was discovered at the start of the 15th century, meaning that their cultural roots are deep.
Perhaps one of the best parts of visiting the island of Terceira is how easy it is to access. Despite being located 90 miles out to sea from Sao Miguel, there is an international airport in Terceira – Lajes International Airport.
Travellers can either fly directly to the island from Lisbon, the United States, Canada and Netherlands or choose the cheaper option of a car ferry.
Outdoor Activities in Terceira, Azores
Filled with natural beauty, Terceira is every outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination. Here are just a few of the top activities to enjoy when visiting.
Hike Monte Brasil Peninsula
It doesn’t take much to convince me to go on a hike. It’s one of my favourite activities to do while travelling, and I try to do it everywhere I go. Like most of the Azores Islands, Terceira is blessed with incredible hiking trails.
However, there is something really special about hiking Monte Brasil.
The short 7.5-kilometre hike around the park offers great views that sweep over the town and the sea. But it’s not only the view that is amazing. The moderate trail brings hikers up close with nature in a challenging, but beautiful way.
It’s pretty likely that you will also see wild tame deers wandering around the park. The trail is fairly well beaten, and the difficulty varies depending on what parts of the park you choose to explore.
If hiking isn’t your forte, then you can also choose to enjoy the route on an e-bike. Discover the four peaks of Monte Brasil peninsula on an e-bike and enjoy the same views with half the effort.
Trek in Serreta
Known mostly for the iconic chapel in the village of Serreta, the area is also the starting point for one of the most beautiful walks on the island.
As the walk goes through the woods, there are no panoramic views, but the experience is incredibly picturesque.
The Serreta trail passes through the island’s protected areas and the Nature Reserve of Serra de Santa Bárbara e dos Mistérios Negros.
Walking through this area presents hikers with diverse vegetation, a small lagoon and a variety of bird species.
The hiking trail is fairly well marked out, but if you prefer a guided tour then there are various options. A guided Mistérios Negros hike will give you that extra bit of knowledge for a heightened experience.
Swim in Biscoitos, Terceira Natural Pools
Looking at a Terceira Island map, Biscoitos is located in the north. The beautiful bathing area is filled with natural pools nestled between a configuration of black rocks that have developed from volcanic eruptions.
Between the beautiful landscape and the opportunity to relax in the pools, the spot is a popular one to visit.
Witnessing the sight of the black volcanic rock contrasting against the beautiful blue of the ocean is on the bucket list of anyone who wishes to explore the beaches in Terceira.
There are also plenty of cafés and stalls to enjoy a snack or lunch, making the experience a fun day out for everyone.
Watch the Whales
As an island, you can only imagine the diverse marine life that is on show here (in their natural element).
There are plenty of opportunities to watch magnificent whales and playful dolphins going about their business in their natural habitat.
Loved as a “natural aquarium”, you can easily spend a full day watching the coastline. The many wonderful sightings are largely due to the geographical layout of the island. Without a continental platform, the sea gets very deep, very quickly.
This makes whale sightings frequent and spectacular. You can book your whale watching tour if you want to be sure to have everything organised before you arrive.
Explore Algar do Carváo and the Natal Caves
The island is largely known for its hidden caves and volcanoes. These attractions are a big pull for the adventure-junkie, and for good reason. Terceira offers travellers a chance to discover what lies inside of a cave – inside of a volcano!
This surreal experience is unforgettable and quite exciting. A tour of the Algar do Carváo shares glimpses of the incredible plant life that has made its home inside a lava tube.
It also shares an encounter with local plant and animal life, and an opportunity to observe the amazing geographical features.
In between discovering plant life unique to the area, the caves also have prehistoric rock art telling of the weighted history of the island.
Things to do in Terceira for the cultural traveller
With such a rich history, there are plenty of culturally enriching experiences to enjoy on Terceira Island, Azores.
Stroll through Angra do Heroísmo
The island’s city of Angra do Herísmo is not only a charming place, but it is also a UNESCO-listed city, full of history and traditional architecture.
Walking through the old colonial city is quite a special experience and one that promises an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.
Main attractions to visit include the museum which is filled with various exhibits, the Botanical Garden full of local flora, and the Town Hall and Cathedral.
To make the most of the city and fully appreciate the history that it holds, I’d recommend booking a city tour. That way, you make sure that you don’t leave out any key sights.
The city’s buildings, landmarks and restaurants share a very special insight into the Azorean culture. Expect to be blown away by the quaint atmosphere and rich heritage.
Take part in a traditional cooking class
With so much history on the island, it should come as no surprise that there is a strong cultural pull for all things traditionally Portuguese.
In particular, Terceira Island has a soft spot for Alcatra, a traditional Portuguese pot roast made in clay pots.
If you want to dive deep into the special heritage of the island, then a traditional cooking class should be on the top of your to-do list. Even better than learning to create an authentic meal is that you then get to feast on it!
Sip on local wine and moonshine
Terceira Island welcomes all visitors to try out their delicious, world-renowned wines. The local wine and moonshine of the Azores Islands is something truly unique.
With a total of 33 grape varieties, the volcanic ground produces very impressive wine.Trying the different local wine can be tricky when driving, so I’d suggest booking a wine and moonshine tour.
This way, you are able to discover the hidden gems of the island while indulging in their local food and drink.
Romantic things to do as a couple in Terceira
In addition to being every adventurer’s playground, the island also offers a romantic escape for couples.
Indulge in the view from Miraduoro do Facho
One way to completely sweep your loved one off of their feet is to give them a view that parallels their beauty. Miraduoro do Facho is a viewpoint that overlooks the port of Praia da Vitória.
The incredible view from the top is particularly beautiful at sunset when the sky changes colour and the stars begin to emerge. Pack a bottle of local wine and take the short drive up to the viewpoint.
If you want to indulge in a tasty dinner after the sun disappears, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are several top-notch restaurants within a couple of kilometres.
Discover the beauty of Terceira Island
If you haven’t realized just yet, Terceira Island is beautiful in both natural wonder and ancient architecture. Get swept up in the nostalgia and romance by driving around the island, appreciating every viewpoint, volcano and building.
Take the time to enjoy a local meal, sip on the island’s speciality wine and learn a little bit more about the culture.
Nothing quite says “we’re meant for each other” like being able to bond with your loved one in the remnants of a different era.
Booking a private tour of the island’s volcanoes and viewpoints will introduce you to hidden gems and secret spots. Just make sure that you pack comfortable walking shoes so that your romantic day out isn’t ruined by blisters.
Day trips from Terceira
Although you can spend days exploring the nooks and crannies of Terceira, it would be a sin not to mention at least one of the incredible day trips available.
Go on a snorkelling trip to a neighbouring island
As one of nine islands in the archipelago of Azores, Terceira gives you access to the beauty of nearby islands and the adventures that they hold.
Hop onto a boat to one of the nearby islands and enjoy snorkelling inside caves and discovering the incredible life underwater.
Once you’ve had your eye-fill of stingrays and other marine life, you can head up to one of the many viewpoints. Why enjoy the beauty of only one island when you have several others at your fingertips?
Terceira is a gateway to a lot more beauty that surrounds it.
Where to stay in Terceira Island, Portugal
You’re in for a treat regardless of where you choose to stay on the island. However, if you’re looking for a really cute, colourful area then I’d recommend you stay in Angra do Heroísmo.
The colonial town is rich in history and provides the perfect setting for unforgettable memories. The spot that you choose to stay will be the springboard for your adventures.
This list should help to narrow down your accommodation options.
Casa Flor d’Sal
During my time in Terceira Island we stayed at Casa Flor d’Sal in Angra do Heroismo. These are new apartments with spacious rooms and a lovely outdoors courtyard where you can jam with your friends after a long day of hiking.
Casa Flor d’Sal is in the centre of Angra, just a short walking distance away from all the main streets, and there’s a big car park just behind the apartment.
Holiday Home – Casa do Becco
If you’re travelling as a group and want to relax completely in a place that you can call home, then Casa do Becco is a superb choice.
When not exploring the island, you can enjoy the garden, the barbecue facilities and get a good night’s sleep in comfortable rooms.
Bed & Breakfast – Angra Bed & Breakfast
Angra Bed & Breakfast offers a cosy place to stay in the heart of Angra do Heroísmo with free WiFi, a beautiful garden and a terrace. The delicious continental breakfast is the cherry on the top of a fantastic stay.
Hotel – Terceira Mar Hotel
If you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, Terceira Mar Hotel is the place for you. Enjoy the beautiful island from the lap of luxury when staying at Terceira Mar Hotel.
With stunning views of Fanal Bay, a relaxing infinity pool and private balcony, you can be certain of an unforgettable stay.
Final thoughts on Terceira, Portugal
As you can see, there are plenty of fun and adventurous activities to enjoy as a solo traveller, a couple or a larger group when visiting Terceira Island.
From summiting a mountain and enjoying a breathtaking view, to sipping on local wine or exploring the history in the colonial town – there’s so much to do.
As a woman on the move, I can vouch for the incredible experience promised by Terceira Island which strikes the balance between relaxation and thrill.
Visiting a small island has never been more convenient and entertaining – so what are you waiting for?
Looking for more Portugal travel tips? Check out my other travel guides!
- Sintra day trip from Lisbon – everything you need to know!
- The ultimate Lisbon weekend itinerary
- Algarve itinerary – 5 perfect days
- Discover the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve
- The best tours to Benagil sea cave
- How to spend one epic day in Porto