Ultimate Guide of Things to do in Terceira Azores
Terceira Island or “The Third Island” is one of the nine islands in the Azores archipelago which is located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Each island offers a different experience since they were each settled at different times offering variety of food, culture and traditions. There are so many amazing things to do in Terceira Azores.
After spending 5 days in Sao Miguel last August, I couldn’t wait to go to another island in the Azores. We spent a week in Terceira so we covered every square inch of the island and these are my top recommendations on what you shouldn’t miss while you are visiting. Make sure you check out the Terceira Travel Guide for tips on where to stay and what to expect to budget on your vacation.
Top 12 Must Do in Terceira
We booked Azores Photo Tour the first thing we did when we arrived on the island. Without really knowing what to expect, I thought we would just get some photography recommendations and hit a few spots on the island. This was by far our number one recommendation when planning your trip to Terceira. Bruno was awesome and he provided the most personalized tour. I felt like we made a true local friend. Bruno takes you to some locations that you won’t see on the tour buses or even find on other blogs. He not only has a incredible knowledge of photography, but knows the island and all its hidden beauty.
What better way to tour the island and have someone teach you how to capture it to admire forever! This would be good to book first day or two on your trip to get a perspective of where things were located on the island (so you can go back to those secret spots by yourself!)
This 5 mile coastal trail hike is located in the north part of the island and takes you along the cliffside. If you don’t want to hike that much you can also drive to each viewpoint location but they do require 20 min or less hike to each cliff point. We did this easy route and ended up going again to this location because its so spectacular. The views are amazing and this area of the island is the dry side so when it’s not so nice weather on another part of the island, this was always sunny while we were there. This would also be an awesome area for a sunset!
Secret Location from private tour
There was something magical about the lagoa and the lush green forest and moss surrounding the area. We enjoyed a picnic here and shared the scenery with the local ducks. The view here was magical and was very peaceful with the chirping birds in the background. If you don’t have a picnic here, just walk around and make sure you check out the church above the lake up the staircase.
Queijaria Vaquinha is the only cheese factory in Terceira and makes 4 different kinds of cheeses. We recommend you stop and enjoy a sample cheese plate with sweet bread. The bar also offers a great selection of local beers and wines. You can’t tour the factory without booking with a private tour company, Azores Touch. The tour includes a up-close experience on the farm responsible for the milk production for the cheese followed by the cheese factory tour and cheese sampling. We even milked a cow and fed a baby cow by bottle! If you love cheese, make sure you purchase some cheese to go! We were told the way they package it, it can stay unrefrigerated for 2 weeks.
Stairs leading to the Church @ Lagoa das Patas
Learning how to milk a cow!
This is the most popular viewpoint on the island and once you are standing there you with understand why. You have an amazing view of the patchwork green fields for miles. It can get cloudy and windy here so we had to go back to twice to get the perfect view. Make sure you stop on the other side of the one way road and see the ocean view and Praia da Vitoria below. Also check out that huge runway at the airport!
Algar do Carvão is located in the central part of the island. Here you can experience entering inside an extinct volcano that has green lush vegetation and cool rock formations with a body of water at the base. This is one of the only activities that cost money to get into in Terceira. It was 8 euros each person but it’s worth every penny.
You can also purchase a ticket to enter the Gruta do Natal caves but we did some cave hikes with our personal tour guide and he told us what we did with him was far more spectacular than paying to see that one. Also wear good shoes and bring along a rain jacket as water literally drops from the ceiling in the cave.
NOTE: This location is only open limited hours from 2:30-5 pm so make sure you plan accordingly.
This hike takes you from a few small lakes (lagoas) thru thick green vegetation that resembled the shire to cedar forests. Although the hike is only 3 miles roundtrip, it has a lot of muddy spots and requires a lot of climbing over lava rocks and tree roots. This hike took us 2 hours but we stopped for some pictures and drone footage along the way. This is one of the more difficult trails on the island but just be aware of your physical capabilities. We recommend good trail shoes for this hike.
Lagoa on Mistérios Negros Hike
Terceira has some amazing food and with cows all over the island, you can bet they make a pretty good steak! They have a local dish, Alcatra, which is a slow cooked beef in a clay pot which creates a tender roast with gravy. They serve everything with french fries! We had steaks from various restaurants and these were some of our favorites in in Angra do Heroismo Tasca das Tias and O Cachalote Restaurante. If you are staying in Praia da Vitoria, check out R3. Also make sure you treat your self with some Donas Amelia Cake!
Angra is the most populous town on the island and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is best to tour around the town by foot because it can get busy and parking can be difficult. We stayed in Pousada Fort so we spent alot of time roaming Angra because everything is in walking distance. Spend some time admiring the architecture of the colorful cathedrals and cobblestone paved roads.
Monte Brasil is actually the remnants of a volcano and is located in Angra. There are several lookouts that provide panoramic views of the island, including city view of Angra and the marina. From the top lookout you an view the other summits in the central part of the island and if its a super clear day you can view neighboring islands in the distance. You can drive to all these locations but if you want to have a couple hours in this area you can hike the trails to the various viewpoints and summit. I wish I would’ve know before that there are a couple of tour times available to see the Fortress of São João Baptista, We didn’t know that so we only walked around the outside. So be sure to check out the information at the bottom of the Monte Brail.
Terceira has just a few beaches so each village creates natural swimming pools on the lava rocks with the ocean water. The most popular located in Biscoitos on the north side of the island. As I mentioned before, this side of the island is the dry side so when the weather was cloudy we always hit sunshine in Biscoitos. Also watch out for jellyfish and Portugese Man of War in the water. We didn’t see these on the north end but on the south side we saw several in the pools and from what I hear, you don’t want a sting from them!
Bridge in Biscoitos Natural Pools
One of the many viewpoints you must stop at
We loved driving to different locations and viewpoints on the island. There are so many beautiful things to do in Terceira and we really tried to slow down on this vacation and took some time to just take in the beauty of each location.
With Terceira only being 153 square miles, you can get from one side of the island through the middle highway in under 30 minutes. We would pick a location on the map each day and spend a few hours just stopping at each viewpoint and colorful cathedrals. The only traffic you will ever experience is the occasional farmer moving his cows from one field to the next along the street.
We were in Terceira for one week but we recommend you stay at least 4 days to fully enjoy and view all the sites we’ve suggested. I really enjoyed our visit to Terceira Island and hope these help you when planning your trip to the Azores.
If you have the time, I highly recommend taking the time to island hop to another Azores island. With Sao Miguel only being 90 minutes south of Terceira, it would be a great option. Check out our Sao Miguel Destination Guide for more information.
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