Terseira, a relaxing island in the Azores
Terseira, a picturesque island in the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, attracts many tourists with its gorgeous landscapes, variety of leisure activities. An abundance of natural and man-made attractions, excellent gastronomy. Terseira is suitable for family vacations and entertainment for fans of surfing, diving, paragliding, hiking and horseback riding, ocean fishing.
Terceira is the second largest island of the central group of islands in the Azores archipelago. The group includes the islands of Faial, Graciosa, Pico and São Jorge. Terceira lies 140 km from São Miguel, the largest and most populous island. Terseira is separated from Fayal by 106 km of water.
Where to live on the island of Terceira
Terseira has many good hotels with outdoor and indoor heated swimming pools, beach access, sunbathing terraces, gyms, spas, children’s play areas, restaurants, bars, barbecue areas, and entertainment venues. Almost every hotel has equipment rentals for diving, snorkeling, surfing, outdoor activities, hiking and biking.
Experienced travelers prefer to rent accommodations from locals on the website Airbnb. By the way, if you’ve never used this service, you can get a discount of 30 Euros on your first booking. Follow this link and when you register you will get the discount.
Public transport on Terceira is underdeveloped, so most vacationers rent a car or take a cab.
What to see on the island of Terceira
Going to Terceira, you can count on a rich entertainment program. See the beautiful landscape, centuries-old architecture, colorful festivals and carnival processions.
The island is the result of four volcanic eruptions. The youngest of which, Santa Barbara, remains active today. All kinds of natural landforms are represented here in all their diversity. Mountains with densely vegetated slopes, valleys, meadows, coastal cliffs, rugged grottos and caves. In the center is a nature reserve with many hiking trails.
Angra, Praia, and the two caves
Angra or Angra do Eroismo, the capital of Terceira and the main tourist destination, was the first city built on the Azores. It appeared in the first third of the 16th century when Paul III, pope of Rome, decided to place here the residence of the archbishop, which immediately raised its status. Located in a picturesque bay at the foot of Monte Brasil, the port city has for centuries served as a transshipment base for the shipment of valuable goods from the New World to Spain and the British Isles.
Praia, or Praia da Vitoria, the second largest and most important port city, is more than 20 kilometers from the capital. Founded in the second half of the 15th century, the city is noted for its peculiar architecture and plenty of fountains, which give it a special flavor.
By Franzfoto – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28581499
In Terceira, it is worth visiting the old forts on the coast, the observation decks with stunning views of towns and villages, volcanoes buried in the green of relict forests, squared fields, neighboring islands and the ocean surface. Nature lovers will appreciate a trip to the main hiking trails of Terceira. The two caves between Angra and Praia, Algar do Carvão and Gruta do Natal, deserve special attention.
Angra do Eroismo
By Ymblanter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78996937
Angra do Heroismo got its modern name in the 1830s when Queen Maria II of Portugal found refuge here during the Civil War. Fascinated by the courage of her fellow citizens who defended the monarchy, the queen, upon her return to the throne, added ‘do Heroismo’ to the city’s name, which means ‘heroic’ in Portuguese.
What to see in Angra do Eroismo
By Ymblanter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79016401
Today, the capital city of Terceira, which has preserved many architectural monuments of the past centuries, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Among the main attractions of Angra do Eroismo are:
- Cathedral Sé;
- Restoration Square;
- Da Sé and Direita streets;
- the city museum;
- Municipal building;
By Ymblanter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79036947
Where to stay in Angra do Eroismo
Angra do Eroísmo provides many accommodation options, the Terceira Mar Hotel 4* is considered the best, with comfortable soundproofed rooms, a landscape pool with sea water, a health club, parking, restaurants and entertainment venues. It is advisable to book in advance, as the hotel is popular.
Praia da Vitoria
By Ymblanter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81603534
Praia da Vitoria is a small, old town with narrow, tiled streets and low houses with whitewashed walls and tile roofs. Here you can stay in one of the hotels and devote your time to relaxing. The main attraction of the city is the Church of the Holy Cross. High above the city is a statue of Mary, at the foot of which is an observation deck with an impressive view of the spread below the city and the ocean. There are several black volcanic sand beaches along the coast.
Where to stay in Praia da Vitoria
There are several hotels at the service of holidaymakers. You can rent accommodation from locals through the website Airbnb. There are restaurants with excellent cuisine.
Algar do Carvão
By btvarusko – P5300413, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60076355
In the central part of Terceira, in the throat of the dormant volcano Guilherme Moniz at over 500 meters is one of the most impressive sights of the island, the vertical cave Algar do Carvão, formed by a powerful eruption. The depth of this unique volcanic formation is about 100 meters. At the bottom is a small lake, whose level varies annually depending on the weather. The walls of Algar do Carvão are covered with moss, obsidian, stalactites and stalagmites. The descent is equipped with special ladders for tourists, but before visiting it, it is necessary to take care of comfortable clothes and shoes.
Furnas do Enxofre Fumaroles
Not far from the Algar do Carvão cave there are several Furnas do Enxofre (fumaroles), cracks in the foothills, slopes and craters of volcanoes, from which hot volcanic gases emerge and fill the air with the smell of hydrogen sulfide. The area around the fumaroles is equipped with about 500 meters of trails with handrails. Entrance is free. Nearby there is a parking lot.
Christmas grotto and the legend of the Black Lagoon
Six kilometers from the Algar do Carvão volcanic cave is one of the most unusual geological formations, a large underground lava tube called the Christmas Grotto (Gruta do Natal). On Christmas Eve, 1969, the Association of Montaneros held a Christmas service there.
The Legend of Laguna Negra
By Vitor Oliveira from Torres Vedras, PORTUGAL – Lagoa do Negro – Ilha Terceira – Portugal, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77452191
Above the Christmas Grotto is the Black Lagoon Lake, or Negro Lake, which is linked to an old romantic legend that tells of the love of the wife of a wealthy islander and a black slave. The infuriated husband, who learned of the adultery, subjected the slave to violent persecution, forcing him to flee. A flood of tears from the woman who despised the sacred bond of matrimony formed a lake in which the runaway lover drowned.
How to get to Terceira
You can reach Terseira by plane from Lisbon, Porto, Pico or São Jorge. The international airport serving domestic and international flights is situated in the town of Lajes, in a former military base. Below you can check and find bargain airline tickets.
There is a ferry service between the Azores, which not only allows you to get to Terceira, but also to diversify your holiday by traveling.
The benefits of vacationing on the island
- Sailing is developed. Vacationers have the opportunity to rent yachts, boats, catamarans, jet skis.
- Maximum pleasure from the trip receive divers. The coast has a lot of spots of varying difficulty level, perfect visibility, rich underwater flora and fauna. There is an opportunity to meet a wide variety of marine mammals. From more than a dozen species of whales to dolphins, and see the remains of sunken ancient frigates and galleons.
- A serious disadvantage of vacationing on Terceira Island is the language barrier. The service is focused primarily on the English-speaking public. However, even a knowledge of English does not guarantee the absence of difficulties in communicating with the local population.
- Beach holidays are not ideal, although the coast is equipped with beautiful sandy beaches. Swimming in rough ocean waves – an ordeal for lovers of warm seas, the water in the Atlantic seems too cold. In hot weather in August, the water temperature does not exceed +23 ° C.
Holidays in Terceira are recommended for lovers of unity with nature and an active lifestyle. The island is calm and safe. The islanders are friendly and welcoming. The crime rate is low. The best time to travel is summer. The weather in the off-season and winter is fickle and often stormy.
As you know, Portugal is not only a part of the coast of the Iberian Peninsula, it is also small islands scattered in the Atlantic Ocean. One of the popular vacation spots is the island of Terceira, where you can get away from civilization and rest comfortably.
Somewhat to the west of Europe, the Azores are located in the Atlantic, and one of them is Terseira. It is one of the nine inhabited islands of the central archipelago, whose inhabitants are Portuguese citizens. Administratively, the island has two municipalities: Vila da Praia da Vitoria and Angra do Erojmo. The latter was founded as early as 1478. It is the oldest settlement in all the Azores, and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Literally translated from Portuguese, the name Terseira translates as “the third island” because after Santa Maria and São Miguel the pioneer explorers landed here. Although on the first maps of cartographer and navigator Andrea Bianco, it was referred to as Brazil. The locals themselves often refer to Terceira as the “island of lilacs” – Ilha Lilas.
Nuno Bettancourt, who later became one of the most popular American rock musicians and became famous for his virtuoso guitar playing, was born on the island of Terceira. It is also where the “Lion of Gaza,” the vassal of Portugal and tribal leader of the Gungunhan, died in 1906.
Geography of Terceira
The total area of Terceira Island is 402.2 sq. km. Its dimensions are relatively small: 29 km long and 19 km wide, with a perimeter of 90 km. Terseira is located 140 km from the island of San Miguel towards the northwest, but is considered the easternmost landmass of the entire central group of the Azores.
According to the official census in 2011, 56437 inhabitants lived on the island of Terseira. The main occupation of the local population is the cultivation of plants, animals, as well as employment in the tourism industry.
The island of Terceira stands on 4 volcanoes, the oldest of which is over 300 thousand years old. With a crater with a diameter of 7 km, Cinco Picos volcano is the largest not only on Terseira, but also on all the Azores islands. The highest point of the island – 1022 m – is the top of the “youngest” and the most active volcano of the whole four, Santa Barbara. The last eruption ended in 2000.
The beaches of Terceira are mostly in the form of cozy bays, as well as volcanic basins. Here you can not only swim, but also surf and go sailing or yachting.
Climate and weather in Terceira
The area has a subtropical climate, which is always hot and comfortable because of its island location. There are no sudden changes in temperature or weather. On average, the air gets up to +25 ° C in summer and never colder than +16 ° C in winter. Precipitation is moderate and even throughout the calendar year. The island of Terceira is not divided into dry and rainy seasons. However, during the period from August to the end of November, hurricanes are possible, which come from the North Atlantic.
Attractions on Terseira
The Azores are perfect for a measured family vacation and ecotourism. All kinds of natural landscapes are found here: lakes and dense forests, pastures and mountain peaks, sandy beaches and coastal cliffs, caves and grottoes. The center of Terceira Island is a protected area with many formalized hiking trails running through it.
The capital of local history, Angra do Eroismo, is visited by every tourist who sets foot on the Azores and on Terseira in particular. A number of historical and architectural buildings have been preserved here and are worth seeing.
The most interesting tourist attractions are:
One of the popular activities of holidaymakers is diving and underwater fishing. The local area is rich in underwater reefs and their inhabitants. Praia da Victoria beach is great for windsurfing, water-skiing and sailing. In Terceira, adventurers can climb Pico Alto and St. Barbara and the more adventurous can explore caves and subterranean caverns. If such active holidays don’t suit you, you can simply go cliff fishing, boating, or swimming. It is also worth noting the presence here of 18 excellent golf courses.
Among the public attractions are popular local festivals. For example, the festival of the Holy Spirit is organized from the first years of exploration of the island, that is, for several centuries. The idea of the festival is charity and provision of food to the poor. The Festival of St. John is a kind of carnival procession in the folk costumes of the islanders with farming equipment. The St. Anthony and St. Peter festivals, decades later, have also evolved into fun festivals. The traditional entertainment of these days is the tourada-a-corda: during the summer (May 1-September 30): bulls are let loose on a weak rope into the streets. You can also watch the skills of a bullfighter.
The island of Terceira is very popular with tourists, and local hotels offer rooms to suit all tastes and capabilities. Most city hotels have rooms with balconies overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Terraces, heated outdoor pools and indoor whirlpools, barbecue areas, spas, gyms, and children’s centers are provided for guests. The 4* and 5* hotels are located on the first and second lines and have their own access to the beaches. Guests have access to 24-hour Wi-Fi, the quality of which does not depend on whether you’re in your room, on the beach or in the restaurant.
Most hotels rent out diving gear and equipment, bicycles and sports equipment for games and picnics. Many tourists speak positively of Angra Marina Hotel, Terceira Mar Hotel, Residencial Monte Brasil, and Hotel Do Caracol.
Historians have proven that the local culinary customs of the 16th and 17th centuries were completely drowned out by the gastronomic skills that came to Terceira from the merchant ships and galleons from many exotic countries of the world. Local recipes were embellished with liqueurs, desserts and unfamiliar spices.
In the restaurants you can try everything: fish, meat, seafood, cereals, vegetables and fruits. The dishes are often unusual for Europeans but very tasty: seafood in pots or fish and apples. On the island of Terceira, there is a “schedule” of holiday baked goods, when certain festivals and entertainments are accompanied by a certain type of dishes. For example, “massa sowada,” the signature baked buns in the shape of human beings.
It is most convenient for tourists to get around Terceira by renting a car. Be careful in rural areas: according to local laws, animals have the main advantage on the roadway.
Cabs are also common here: the cars are painted white or cream with a couple of wide blue stripes on the passenger doors. Drivers are polite and speak English. Be prepared for the most popular souvenir, baked goods in the shape of human feet, fingers, eyes, etc.
How to get to Terceira?
The proximity of the islands of San Miguel and Terceira contributed to the creation of a regular ferry service between them. Each municipality of the island has a full-fledged seaport of the same name, receiving ships from Europe and Africa. It is also accessible by ferry from the islands of Faial, Pico and São Jorge.
There is an international airport on the territory of the Portuguese military base of Laoges on the island of Terseira, where civilian aircraft from settlements in Portugal, the USA and Canada land.