Seeing the world and learning about different places and cultures can be one of the most fulfilling things we can do in life. We are just a couple of days into the new year and there is no best time to plan our travels than right now. If you have been wanting to explore one of the Portuguese Islands, then this is your sign!
Madeira Islands and the Azores Islands are two of the best-known islands in the Atlantic Ocean. You can find São Miguel, Pico Island, and Terceira Island in the Azores while Madeira and Porto Santo are part of the Madeira Islands. There are other Portuguese Islands like Ilha De Armona and Ilha De Tavira which are also amazing places to visit. You can do a lot of activities on these islands and you can also be in awe of the breathtaking scenery they present.
In this article, we will feature 8 beautiful Portuguese Islands that you can visit this year. Whether you are more of a hiker or a beach person, we’ve got just the right island for you.
This island is the largest and most populated island of the Azores. It is situated 1,429 km from Lisbon and if you are coming from Lisbon, you will have to get a flight to and from São Miguel.
Nicknamed the Green Island, you can find rolling hills and high mountains on Sao Miguel Island. Aside from its green scenery, you can also find beautiful lakes and sandy beaches on this island.
Being the largest island in the archipelago of the Portuguese Azores, there are a lot of activities that you can do to spend your days. You can swim with the dolphins, go whale watching, and snorkel. If you are not much of a beach person, you can do bird watching, go on safari rides, or even go trekking.
The best time to go to Sao Miguel Island would be between June and October when the weather will be at its best. If you can’t find time between those months, you can still visit between November and January, but the temperatures might dip slightly.
If you prefer to visit between February and May, prepare for the rain during your stay.
Ilha De Armona
Access to Ilha De Armona (Armona Island) can only be by boat. You can hire a water taxi directly from the city of Olhão or Faro but you can also take the ferry from Olhão if you want a cheaper transport system going to the island.
You can choose to relax from these two beaches on Ilha De Armona: Praia da Armona Mar or Praia da Armona Ría.
If you like the tranquility of the waters, these two beaches are worth visiting. The island is perfect if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are no cars but you can find a few motorcycles on this island.
Praia da Armona Mar faces the ocean and you can access this beach via a 20-minute walk across the village. Praia da Armona Ría faces the mainland and the river. This is where the boat drops you off coming from Olhã.
The ferry taking you to and from Ilha De Armona has a schedule so be sure to check the ferry’s timetable so you don’t miss your time.
About a 1 hour and 49 minutes plane ride from Lisbon is Madeira Islands.
Madeira Islands has two inhabited islands: Madeira and Porto Santo. And there are also two uninhabited island groups which are the Savage Islands (Ilhas Selvagens) and Desertas.
If you like the mountains as much as the beach, Madeira Island is the place to visit.
Madeira Island, also known as the Garden Island or Pearl of the Atlantic, is known for its lush green scenery as well as its rugged coasts.
Some of the activities you can do in Madeira are hiking, horse riding, kayaking, paragliding, fishing, and having a go at a golf course.
The most convenient way to get around Madeira is by car but they also have a decent bus system if you prefer to relax and take in the view. There are also private minibus tours for places that are not accessible by public transportation.
If you go to Madeira and experience both the beach and the city life, the best city to stay in is Funchal, the island’s capital.
The best time to visit Madeira is between April and October.
If conquering the highest mountain in Portugal is one of your bucket lists, you can find it on Pico Island.
Pico, also known as the mountain island, is home to Montanha do Pico or Mount Pico. Pico Island is part of the Azores Islands which is an autonomous region of Portugal.
Beginners through advanced hikers can hike on Mount Pico’s trail and there are easier trails if you are a less experienced hiker. If you decide to go on a hike on Mount Pico, you need to have a reservation if you want to guarantee your spot. They only allow up to 160 visitors on the trail at one time and up to 30 hikers at the top of the mountain.
Even if you don’t get to the top, the view from the mountain’s trails is amazing.
Aside from hiking up Mount Pico, you can also learn about winemaking and even join a wine-tasting tour. You can sample wines at the World Heritage vineyards at Criação Velha.
If you are more of a water person, you can go whale and dolphin watching at Pico Island.
The largest lava tube in Portugal, Gruta das Torres, can also be found on Pico Island. This lava tube is the only one open for a visit from the public.
The best time to visit Pico Island is from May to September when there is better visibility and the weather conditions are more favorable.
Flores Island is one of the remotest islands in the archipelago of the Azores. This island is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is a sustainable place for tourism.
In Flores, you will be able to do some hiking, see the lakes, and even see Corvo Island.
There are beautiful waterfalls in Poçcco da Ribeira do Ferreiro where you can see lush green mountains along with the waterfalls. If you wish to have a dip in the waterfalls, you can do so at Poçco do Bacalhau. It is the only swimmable waterfall in Flores.
But if you really want to swim, you can swim on the beach of Fajã Grande.
The best time to visit Flores Island is between July and September, during the summer season.
Ilha De Tavira
This island is home to beautiful sandy pristine beaches with crystal clear waters.
Ilha De Tavira can be reached by boat from the center of the city of Tavira. You can also rent water taxis from Quatro Águas but you need to travel 2 kilometers from Tavira if you prefer this method.
Aside from relaxing on the beautiful beach, you can also do vineyard tours, wine tastings, and a city tour around Tavira.
When you get tired from all of the swimming, there are several restaurants on Ilha De Tavira where you can eat delicious local cuisine and get your stomach full.
The best time to visit this island is between June and August.
This island has an area of 402 square kilometers making it the third-largest archipelago in Portugal, just after São Miguel and Pico.
If you prefer touring the city over the blue waters, you will love it on Terceira Island. You can visit villages, and see beautiful architecture, museums, and wineries.
If you go to Alto da Mamória, you can get the best panoramic view that overlooks the UNESCO World Heritage city of the beautiful Azores Island.
Aside from touring the villages, you can book a visit to a cheese factory called Vaquinha Cheese Factory. You might even get a chance to have a mix of the cheese yourself!
Terceira Island is also home to Biscoitos Natural Pool. You can definitely have a swim and experience swimming in natural rock pools.
The best time to visit Terceira Islands is between July and August.
Porto Santo Island
Porto Santo Island is a small island that is part of the Madeira inhabited islands.
The Porto Santo beach boasts fine golden sands with clean water and stretches for about 7 kilometers. It is the only beach in Porto Santo.
This island is the location of the former house of Christopher Columbus. You can also do various activities such as hiking, golfing, and seeing historic landmarks.
If you wish to go to Porto Santo, you need to either get a direct flight from Lisbon or go to Madeira Island and take a 2-hour and 30-minute ferry ride.
Porto Santo has an all-around excellent climate condition so you can visit any time. Peak season is from June to August. If you want to avoid too many crowds, you can go between May and July.
No matter which Portuguese Islands you visit, you can be sure to enjoy the scenery and enjoy yourself in the different activities each island has to offer. There are other islands, such as Sao Jorge Island and Faial island, which is the blue island of the Azores that you can also visit. There are also Cabo Verde volcanic islands among the other islands of Portugal.
All the Portuguese islands are worth visiting at least once. If you are in Lisbon for a food festival or wine event, why not add a few days in one of the Portuguese islands?
Enjoy your travels!