The island of Terceira, one of the most visited islands of the Azores thanks to its excellent connections with Europe, forms together with the islands of Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial the Central group of the archipelago.
As can be seen from its name, Terceira was the third island of the Azores to be discovered, and was originally baptized with the name of the island of Jesus Christ.
The contrasts of Terceira, divided between natural beauty and the work of man, have made it a vacation destination known and appreciated worldwide. The historical center of Angra do Heroísmo, the capital of the island founded in 1534, is the first place in the Azores to be included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage Sites.
The things to see in Terceira are many: from historical towns to excellent natural sceneries and parks to explore. In addition to being an ideal island for water sports and beach holidays, Terceira hides a past of wealth and history.
There are many things to do and see in Terceira, between sea life and walks in contact with nature, as well as visiting historic towns and villages on the coast or inland. On the island are located many towns and villages that are definitely worth a visit: let’s see which are the most interesting.
Angra do Heroismo is the capital of Terceira and the entire city center was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 due to its architecture and cultural significance. With numerous museums, cathedrals, gardens and restaurants to visit, there is plenty to do in bustling Angra.
Don’t miss a visit to the fortifications of São Sebastião and São João Baptista, the 16th century Cathedral, the largest church in the archipelago, the Bettencourt Palace, and the Angra Museum, located in the former St. Francis Monastery.
Praia da Vitória is only a 5-minute drive from the airport, so it can comfortably be the first stop on a trip to Terceira. The town boasts cobblestone streets, colorful churches, an impressive town hall, a modern marina and the beautiful Prainha da Praia da Vitória beach, which is very popular in the summer months.
From the beach you can glimpse the Cabras Islands and Salga Bay. The richness of the architectural heritage of the city is mainly concentrated in the Church and the Fort of Santa Catarina, one of the many that were built to defend the bay from enemy attacks.
Thegeological importance of Terceira, and in general of the whole archipelago of Azores, is visible everywhere. The volcanic origin has shaped and still shapes the whole landscape of the island and many of the things to see are about visits to volcanic centers.
It is located in the center of the island, and it is the remains of an extinct volcano. Here you can walk inside the crater of an extinct volcano, a real cave of lava rock, on which the bottom is formed during the year a sparkling lagoon.
Now an extinct volcano, it is possible to climb Monte Brasil on foot, or drive the road to the top. The fortress of São João Baptista, located on Monte Brasil, is the oldest that has been continuously occupied by the Portuguese army. You’ll find old artillery pieces, as well as a cross commemorating the discovery of the island in 1432.
Terceira National Park develops around the highest point of the island, represented by the Sierra de Santa Barbara, a relief that exceeds 1,000 meters and that, thanks to its visitor center, provides an in-depth knowledge of all the natural heritage of Terceira. It is here that you can also admire the famous Caldera de Santa Barbara.
Terceira is known for its many viewpoints, from which you can admire unique views. So, if you are on the island, you can not miss them! In addition to the already mentioned miradouro Cruz do Canario in Porto Judeu, the following are also worth visiting:
Taking advantage of the indentations of the jagged coastline, natural pools have been formed, equipped with ramps to access the sea and where it is possible to lie in the sun. The sea in the Azores is quite rough, but thanks to these natural pools you can swim in complete tranquility.
Terceira is a destination for those who love being outdoors and in contact with nature. It would be reductive to get here and spend all day on the beach, so here is a list of the best things to do on the island.
It is one of the activities to be carried out in Terceira most loved by its visitors. Among the many paths to recommend, we mention the circular path of Baias da Agualva, which runs for 2.5km. Among the paths we also remember Mistèrios Negros and Serreta.
If you are interested in excursions to caves and underground tunnels, there will be no lack of possibilities: there are many local agencies that organize tours to geologically interesting areas, and so you will discover much of the speleology of the island.
To make your vacation in Terceira more adventurous, rent a jeep. With a jeep you can drive along secondary roads, which will lead you to the discovery of beautiful volcanic places.
The bays of Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória are ideal for sailing, canoeing, windsurfing and water skiing. Terceria is also famous for kayaking: for example, it is possible to reach the island of Sao Miguel. There are many bathing areas with calm and inviting waters, while sports include sport fishing.
Like all the Azores, in Terceira golf lovers will be able to find their own golf course. The Terceira Golf Club has 18 holes, and is framed by beautiful scenery. There are also excellent accommodation and dining facilities nearby.
Terceira is the liveliest of the Azores, and its inhabitants love to party. During carnival, for example, the Dancas de Carnaval are held, satirical theatrical performances staged by the island’s inhabitants.
During the summer period there are numerous events scattered throughout the island, from exhibitions to parades, from gastronomic fairs to concerts. In September, the Festas da Vinha e do Vinho is a must for those in the Biscoitos area, while music lovers should not miss theAngraRock in September, and theAngraJazz in October, both held in Angra do Heroismo.
One of Terceira’s unmissable festivals is celebrated between June 23 and 29 and is the great festival of Sanjoaninas, in honor of Saints Anthony, Peter and John. It showcases all the best of the island’s folklore, including theatrical performances, fireworks and sports competitions, as well as street food and markets.
The festival reaches its climax with the “touradas à corda” that is the running of the bulls in the street, an event during which the bulls are tied and pulled through the streets.
The main towns of Terceira are all located along the coast. The capital Angra do Heroismo is located along the south coast, centrally located, and certainly offers some of the best choices when it comes to hotels.
Choose to sleep in Angra if you want to get the most amenities: around the city, the best local transportation network is also developed.
If you are looking for a less touristy and more adventurous vacation, head north to the villages of Raminho and Biscoitos. Here, the advice is to stay in a“quinta“, which is a typical Portuguese manor house. The hosts will be very hospitable with you and this will make your vacation even more immersed in tradition.
The north of Terceira offers some of the most beautiful landscapes, while the east coast, which is the one closest to the airport, is taken by storm during the high season. It is here that most of the tourists looking for a sea life, among beautiful beaches and water sports are concentrated: Praia da Vitoria is a young town, which offers cheap and convenient accommodation, even for tourists looking for a low-cost vacation.
Given the volcanic nature of the island, there is no shortage of spa resorts, which offer stays of relaxation and well-being, away from the tourist noise.
Located just five minutes from the historic center of Angra do Heroismo, this property is located near the sea, overlooking the bay of Faial. It is a four-star hotel with 139 rooms and all kinds of services, with a spectacular outdoor pool.
Also located in Angra do Heroismo, it has 100 well-appointed rooms. The property is very modern and has beautiful views. Its highlight is undoubtedly the wellness center with a spa considered one of the best in Portugal. The hotel also has its own diving center.
It is located in the center of Angra do Heroismo and overlooks the Praça Velha on one side and the botanical gardens on the other. Recently renovated, it offers as many as 120 rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, telephone, minibar and cable TV. In the hotel there is also a swimming pool, a spa and a gym.
The most common way to get to Terceira is by plane. In Terceira there is a small airport located at the town of Lajes, which covers routes from mainland Europe. From Lisbon, with the Azores Airlines, it is possible to arrive to the island with a flight of little more than 2 hours. The same company also offers flights to move from one island to another.
The alternative to the airplane, is to reach Terceira by ferry from one of the other islands, with the routes covered by the company Atlanticoline. The port of Terceira is located in Praia da Vitoria, a village situated on the east coast of the island.
Once landed on the island you can rent a car or scooter, or use a cab or public transport. The most advantageous option is undoubtedly to rent a car: on the island there are no parking problems and explore it independently adds a lot to the vacation. By booking in advance on the internet before departure you can take advantage of great deals.
On the other hand, public transport on the island connects the main cities, but very often does not reach all the tourist spots. Cabs are recommended only for short trips, otherwise they could be quite expensive.