Where to Go and What to Eat on Terceira, Azores!
People often ask how I come up with ideas for my posts. Well, one way is through suggestions from my readers. And this week’s post comes from questions I received from a loyal Traveleidoscope reader about where to go and what to eat on Terceira Island in the Azores. So, I figured I’d pass the info on to you, too! Enjoy!
Disclaimer 1: I don’t have any photos of the delicious food we ate since we were way more focused on eatin’ than on picture takin’! So, I thought I’d include some more beautiful shots of the Azores instead!
Disclaimer 2: Although I touched on thing like food and driving a car in a prior post, but I elaborate below.
Restaurants on Terceira:
As I mentioned in my recent post, 10 Things to Know about the Azores I hope you like fish, beef and cheese - there's a lot of it! Food is generally very good and inexpensive. I love fish, but I ate so much fish that by day 5, I began to sprout gills. And just an FYI on fish when you order it in a restaurant in the Azores – it’s the whole fish and it's looking at you when you get it, so be prepared. I don’t usually have that kind of relationship with my food so whenever I do, it takes a minute to get used to.
While all of our meals were good, we ate at two restaurants we particularly liked. One was at the marina in Angra de Heroismo (aka, Angra) called Cais d'Angra. Tip: You should probably make reservations, unless you go early. I had a quinoa burger and my husband had steak. Both were delicious. If you order ice cream for dessert - get a single only. I made the mistake of ordering a double and they brought out what almost certainly amounted to a pint of ice cream. But I took one for the team and finished it! It was only about $40 with two drinks, two dinners and two desserts. Good to Know: The Cais d’Angra takes credit cards.
Another place we really liked was called Tasca das Tias, also in Angra. I had a cheese plate (more like 3 lbs of cheese, olives, bread, and other goodness) and my husband had, what else, a steak. Again, I was a team player and ate everything. With drinks and dinner, it came to about $40. Pro Tip: Tasca das Tias takes credit cards.
If you're like me, I was expecting there to be wineries that you could actually visit. Nope, at least not that I could find. The Azores don't really seem to be set up that way, but I made sure to sample the wine every chance I could, both red and white, it was fantastic and totally underrated.
By the way, you can also visit the wine musum - Museu do Vinho dos Biscoitos - in the town of Biscoitos! It tells the history of wine in the Azores. It's pretty fascinating and you can do a wine tasting after for a small charge!
Reminder: While both of the restaurants I mentioned took credit cards, not everywhere does, like for afternoon pick me up. If you’re like us, we have an afternoon coffee and cake addition, and not all bakeries take cards, so have some cash handy. The upside is that there are tons of ATM’s, even in small towns.
Things to Do on Terceira:
If you go, I highly recommend getting a car - it's really a great way to see the island. As I mentioned in my 10 Things to Know About the Azores post, while we saw a lot of bus stops on Terceira, we didn’t actually see many buses. Besides, a car is essential for touring the island if you want to take awesome photos . Many of the photos I took, were off main roads and probably not within walking distance even if you could take a bus.
Again, It’s important to note that if you do rent a car, you should probably know how to drive a manual transmission. While both my husband and I know how to drive a “stick”, we’re aware that many people do not. In addition, an automatic transmission may not be available, or if it is, you may have to order it way in advance and will most likely be more expensive.. I know my reader who sent me these questions was concerned that an automatic might not even be available. I’m sure learning how to drive a manual transmission in the Azores isn’t on her activities list!
Grutas and Furnas:
We visited the grutas , or lava tubes. There are two really well known ones on Terceira. The first is the Gruta Natal (also known as , Gruta do Natal, Galeria Negra or Gruta do Cavalo, or Christmas Cave). It's a 12,000 yr old cave system and really fascinating - with stalagmites and stalagtites and such. Be careful at the very end. It gets, uh, cozy. I'm 5'1" and I had to bend down to pass. My husband is just about 6' and he was just about on his hands and knees. Still, it was super cool!
The other gruta is the nearby Algar do Carvao. Although it's just a couple miles away, it's totally different. It has an underwater lake and the cave system is "only" about 8,000 yrs old. If you're interested: You can buy a pass that gives you entrance to both and you don't have to visit the same day. By the way, neither of those opens until 2:30pm.
In that same general area as the grutas are the Furnas do Enxofre - basically a wildlife area that has sulphur steam coming out of the ground. It's pretty interesting to see and it's a fairly easy walk around the furnas, some of it is even on a boardwalk. Be aware that since the sulphur is coming out of the ground, it tends to get wrotten egg stinky....
We did some hiking, but not as much as I thought. On another island we had expected to hike a dormant volcano, but the fog made it impossible. That said, If you plan to hike around a caldeira (volcano) or anywhere for that matter, bring really sturdy walking shoes, a rain slicker and fleece…brrrrr! It can get a bit chilly the higher you go. And, even if you aren't hiking, no matter what town you're in, everything is cobblestone and uphill all the time (or just feels that way!).
What About Other Adventure Activities?
We visited Terciera in March, and while we had beautiful, sunny weather for the most part (it was in the 60’s Fahrenheit), it wasn’t warm enough to scuba dive (at least for me). Still, we were looking forward to some kayaking. Unfortunately, I tried to make reservations to kayak about a month before we left, but didn’t get a response, and ended up not kayaking at all. I suspect, many places are closed until later in the year. But, if you're planning to go to Terceira, your hotel, bed and breakfast or Airbnb, will likely have tour brochures available for all sorts of activities. As for us, we found plenty of other fun things to do!
Are you planning a trip to the Azores and have questions? I'd love to hear about in on Facebook or in the comment section below!