Azores elected best destination for 2016 by National Geographic’s dutch magazine “Traveler”.
Azores elected best destination for 2016 by National Geographic’s dutch magazine “Traveler”.
The most common way of travelling to Terceira island is by air. There are daily flights to and from Continental Portugal, with a duration of approximately 2:30h, and to and from the other islands. From May to September, it is also possible to travel to Terceira by sea from another island. Sea tourism enterprises provide transport between the islands of the Central group.
The second most populated island of the Azores, with around 56400 residents, it covers an area of almost 402 km², at a length of 30,1 km and a maximum width of 17,6 km. Its coordinates are 38° 43' 47" N and 27° 19' 11" W. Together with Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial, it forms the Central Group of the Archipelago of the Azores. Its highest point, at an altitude of about 1021m, is located in the Serra de Santa Bárbara.
As its name indicates, it was the third island of the archipelago to be discovered, although it was initially named "Ilha de Jesus Cristo". Due to its location, it served as a stop for the Portuguese ships in the time of the discoveries of the Americas and the ocean route to India. Its settlement started in 1449, ordered by Prince Henry the Navigator, but the settlement of the areas of Praia and Angra only happened in 1470. The island is home to the oldest city in the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo, previously named Angra.
To get around Terceira, you may rent a car, take a taxi or make use of the public transport bus service that connects all the localities of the island.
At about 100m deep, this volcanic pit was formed around 2000 years ago, due to the drainage of magma from the main volcanic chimney. Inside, you will find a ceiling covered in silicon stalactites and a lagoon.
Ancient sea volcano, it is the most well preserved in the Azores. It is surrounded by a 4km wall of the Fortaleza de São João Baptista, presently used by the Portuguese armed forces. It has a privileged view over Angra do Heroísmo.
Considered the largest temple of the archipelago. Its construction started in 1570, over a structure of gothic style, only ending 48 years later, in a Philippine style.
A singular area of volcanic formation. Here you can find the famous vineyards divided by "curraletas", walls of dry stone masonry. Visit the Museu do Vinho to learn more about the production of wine, and go for a swim at the natural pools of Biscoitos, an excellent bathing area.
Lagoa das Patas is a beautiful manmade lagoon, where the waters of a spring in the Serra de Santa Bárbara flow into. The Lagoa do Negro is located in a very peaceful place, surrounded by elegant cryptomeria trees, conferring a very particular beauty to the area.
An obelisk built of stones of an ancient castle, this monument honor D. Pedro IV. Its elevated location allows for an excellent panoramic view of Angra do Heroísmo.
A sightseeing spot at an altitude of 545 meters, with a panoramic view over the council of Praia da Vitória and the inner plain of the island, divided by volcanic rock walls and known as "manta de retalhos".
Sightseeing spot with an ample view over Praia da Vitória and its bay.
Lava tunnel reaching a depth of 697 meters, with walls marked by several shapes and colors.
Area of great forest richness, where you can enjoy magnificent views in the serene environment of the sightseeing spot of Peneireiro.
Installed in the old Convento de São Francisco, it is the main museum of Terceira. In it, the Azores and all of its history is well documented, through collections, expositions and many other ethnographic elements.
A set of two vegetation covered rocky isles in a beautiful landscape. It is an important nesting site for birds.
Considered to be one the most beautiful classic gardens of the Azores.
The largest caldera of the archipelago, with a perimeter of 15km.
Leave Angra do heroísmo towards Praia da Vitória taking the Southeast coast, turning to Porto Judeu, from where you can appreciate the Ilhéu das Cabras. Pass through the center of the parish and follow the shoreline in the direction of Baía da Salga, Salgueiros, Porto Martins, Cabo da Praia e Praia da Vitória. After, go up to the sightseeing spot of Facho, and then follow through Lajes, Vila Nova, Agualva, Quatro Ribeiras, Biscoitos, Altares, Raminho, Serreta, Doze Ribeiras, Santa Bárbara, Cinco Ribeiras, where, in front of the port, you will find an adequate area for subaquatic activities. Continue through São Bartolomeu, Negrito, São Mateus, Cais da Silveira and Angra do Heroísmo.
Leave Angra do Heroísmo in the direction of São Mateus, Santa Bárbara, Doze Ribeiras and climb the Serra de Santa Bárbara, where you can enjoy its magnificent view. After coming down of the Serra de Santa Bárbara, return to the same road, going through Serreta, Raminho, Altares, Biscoitos, taking the road to the right, close to the Museu dos Vinhos de Biscoitos, heading towards Angra do Heroísmo, and at Pico da Bagacina, turning to Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz. Return to the same road, passing by Terra Chã before arriving at Angra do Heroísmo.
Leaving Angra do Heroísmo, take the highway to Praia da Vitória, leaving at the end of the straight through a secondary road leading to Praia da Vitória. Take the road to Serra do Cume, where you can appreciate an incredible view. Return to the road towards Praia da Vitória and visit the city. Climb to the sightseeing spot of Facho and then leave the city in the direction of Angra do Heroísmo. On the way, pass by Cabo da Praia, Porto Martins, Salgueiros, Baía da Salga, Porto Judeu before arrive at Angra do Heroísmo.
Terceira island is synonym of fun, and so the island is known as the "ilha festiva". In August, Praia da Vitória hosts the Festas da Praia, with a program filled with events such as parades, bullfights, music concerts by international, national and regional artists, gastronomy fairs, and nautical sports events. Angra do Heroísmo also hosts two folklore and music festivals – FOLK Azores and Angra-Jazz - one in September and the other in October.
The famous bullfights on a rope are a cultural element that characterizes the people of Terceira, and were introduced by the first settlers, who seized the abundance of cattle in the island. The populace lives the bullfights intensely, like all the other festivities. A bull tied to a rope handled by at least eight men (the "pastores") is set loose on the streets. The bullfights season runs from May 1st to October 15th.
The city of Angra do Heroísmo has been classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO, due to its architecture, streets layout, and also, its importance throughout the history of Portugal. The handmade embroideries in raw or white linen, the colorful wool quilts, the pottery and the viola da Terra are the main standouts of the handicrafts of Terceira island.
The worship of the Espírito Santo, as in the other islands of the archipelago, has a great impact in Terceira island. The festivities run for 8 weeks, between the Sunday of Easter and the Sunday of the Trindade, with two types of ceremony, the funções with its coronations, and the bodos with coronations and the distribution of bread and wine.
The Carnival is very peculiar in Terceira island. Around this time, people fill the halls and theaters to watch the largest manifestation of popular theater of Portuguese language in the world, the so called bailinhos de carnaval and danças de espada. Politicians and other notable people are depicted in satire (danças de pandeiro, bailinhos and comédias).
The festivities of Sanjoaninas are of great importance. Connected to the festivities of the Santos Populares, it is one of the largest in the archipelago. For 10 days, the streets of Angra are host to music concerts, popular marches, bullfights, snacks and many other activities. The Cantigas ao Desafio are also a staple of the identity of Terceira. Here, singers improvise against one another, in a duel guided by the sound of the violas da terra.
Monuments of Angra do Heroísmo
Declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, due to its architectural, historical and cultural value.
Old Jesuit college that was turned into a Palace, it is today the headquarters for a governmental department, and houses many valuable items. A church built in the mid 17th century is annexed to the building,
Church of renaissance style, the main chapel features gilded woodcarvings and jacaranda wood furniture.
Built by order of Phillip II of Spain, surrounding Monte Brasil, it is one of the most imposing Portuguese fortresses. Its system of moats, its gantry, the bridge of arches and the Igreja de São João Baptista make this castle a grandiose Portuguese monument.
Built in the 18th century, it is home to an exceptional collection of sculptures and paintings.
Built in the time of King Sebastian.
Palace built between the 17th and the 18th centuries. It served as public library and archive of Angra do Heroísmo, and is currently closed to the public. The current public library can be found at 42, Rua do Mourão, in Angra do Heroísmo.
Located in the parish of São Mateus, the fort served for the defense of the port against attacks from pirates and corsairs.
In the ostentatious interior of this church you can find gilded woodcarvings, and tiles and paintings from 18th centuries, as well as the crucified Christ on a silver cross from the 17th century.
Built by the first settlers, with an exterior of Gothic style and Manueline interior. It stands out for its gateway, arches and chapel vault, as well as its frescos.
Monuments of Praia da Vitória
Built in the 15th century, resulting from the unification of two independent chapels (Santo Cristo and Espírito Santo) in 1521, becoming one of the rare churches in the country with two main chapels.
Built in the 16th century for protecting the bay. Played a major role in the Batalha da Praia, a historical battle that took place on August 11th of 1829.
One of the places where the traditional festivities of Espírito Santo happen, in the locality of Figueiras do Paim. It was built between 1943 and 1945.
Built between the 16th and 17th centuries, during the Spanish dominion.
Built in the 15th century by order of Jácome de Bruges - the first donee of the island. It has three Manueline gateways, with an interior filled with valuable ornaments (baroque, Manueline and gothic styles).
Museum where you can better understand the wine cultivation and production process of Biscoitos. Here, you will find items, utensils and pictures depicting the Brum family, the cultivation of vines and the production of wine.
Place of birth of Vitorino Nemésio, is now a museum that interprets and studies the life and work of the author.
The cattle, raised in free range, provides juicy meat. The most traditional dish of Terceira is the Alcatra. Try also the greaves, the blood sausage, the sausage, the vilão sauce rabbit and the traditional soups of Espírito Santo. The seafood of Terceira is a must have, ranging from slipper lobsters, barnacles and limpets to many other species. To accompany your food, enjoy the wines from the vineyards of Biscoitos, mainly of the Verdelho variety - table wines, liqueur wines, brandies and liquors, guaranteeing your satisfaction.
If looking for confectionery, try the Dona Amélia cakes, told to be named after the visit to the island by queen D. Amélia, and cry for more. Also enjoy the massa sovada, the sweet rice, the queijadas Conde da Praia, the coscorões and the cornucópias.
The island of Terceira features many natural bathing spots. You may go for a swim in Prainha in the city of Angra do Heroísmo, the beach in the city of Praia da Vitória, the bathing areas of Silveira, Negrito, and Cinco Ribeiras, the natural pools of Biscoitos, Quatro Ribeiras, Vila Nova, and Porto Martins, as well as the bathing areas of Salgueiros, Salga and Porto Judeu, locations of clear waters and excellent temperatures, either for an afternoon of leisure at the beach or for a quick refreshing dive. The island has two marinas, in Praia da Vitória and Angra do Heroísmo.
There is an abundance of fish in the sea of the Azores. Either by bottom fishing, trolling, live bait fishing, you can capture white seabream, grouper, parrotfish, barracuda and anchovy. You may capture these and other larger species from boat, where the adrenaline is guaranteed.
Terceira provides fascinating subaquatic sceneries rich in fauna and flora. You may practice diving in the areas of Arcadas do Judeu, Cemitério das Âncoras, Gruta do Ilhéu das Cabras, Ilhéu da Mina and Calheta do Lagador. Contact the specialized enterprises listed in the services section of this guide book.
The bays of Terceira are great for nautical activities. You may practice them in Praia da Vitória, Vila Nova, Baía das Quatro Ribeiras, Baía das Contendas and Santa Catarina - Cabo da Praia.
Great activities for enjoying the sea of the Azores. You may observe the Ilhéu das Cabras or even visit the neighboring islands. Several enterprises specialize in whale and dolphin watching, as cetaceans are commonly seen in the sea of the Azores.
Terceira is filled with trails that allow for amazing views. You may hike the trails of Serreta, Baías da Agualva, Mistérios Negros and Rocha do Chambre. Some of these trails can also be done on mountain bike or horse back.
If you are seeking adrenaline, try canyoning in the section of Ribeira da Agualva for a unique experience. The island is abundant in rabbits. Please contact the competent authorities for information on the hunting season and regulations.
Terceira presents a 18 holes golf course, in an area of rich natural beauty and phenomenal facilities.