Traveling between the Azores Islands

The archipelago of the Azores is located in the Atlantic Ocean and consists of 9 separate islands, and a reef, divided into 3 groups, West, Central and East. The biggest of the islands is São Miguel located in the East group, where the biggest city, Ponta Delgada, and Ponta Delgada Airport are located. The island of Santa Maria is also in the East group, but it is quite far from São Miguel. The West group consists of two of the smaller islands Corvo and Flores, while the Central group consists of Graciosa, Teceira, São Jorge, Faial and Pico.

The Azores are located roughly a 3-hour flight from Lisbon and roughly a 6 hour flight from North America, and there are flights all year round to and from both continents.

While visiting one of the islands many travelers want to take the opportunity to visit one of the other islands as well and there are two different ways of travelling between the islands, by plane or by ferry. Which option is best for you will depend on which island you are travelling from and which you wish to travel to, as well as what time of the year it is as the option of ferry isn’t always available all year around.

Three of the islands have international airports, although all islands have an airport, some are not more than an airfield, as well as at least one ferry port, but not all islands have routes in direct connection between each other.

There is only one airline that flies inter-islands flights, a SATA group airline that only serves Azores inter-island flights called SATA Air Açores, and there is only one ferry line operating the islands, Atlánticoline.


While flying is far more expensive than taking the ferry the flights are the fastest option when travelling between the different island groups. The planes vary in size between smaller propeller planes taking 30 some passengers to bigger ones that take 80 passengers, depending on the islands you are flying between. There are usually daily flights between the bigger islands, but to travel to the smaller islands might mean a connecting flight and a few days in between.


While there are ferry connections with all the islands there are no ferry connections between all the islands, meaning that to get to one island by ferry you might first have to go to another island, and maybe wait for a day or two until a connecting ferry departs to your destination island. During October – April there are fewer ferry lines than during May – September, which means that there are no ferries connecting the three island groups during the winter months.


Basically, inter-island travelling takes some planning, but there is no way to plan far ahead as the schedules often change from one week or month to the other. This is true for both flights and ferries. 

Scheduled departures are also often cancelled or delayed and it is not a big deal to the Azoreans who tend to have a very relaxed attitude to time. One of the reasons for this is of course the weather, being located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean might mean rough sea or ocean storms. But it might also mean a calm ocean and clear skies and on those days the ferry journey may offer some time to relax.

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