Soak up the awesome atmosphere of Azores in your very own car hire, and drive around the island at a speed you’re comfortable with. With the roads on the island being well maintained, you can get by with just a two-wheel drive. Although, with there being many dramatic landscapes and hilly areas on the island, you might prefer a 4X4. If you are spending most of your time within the towns, then you should opt for a smaller car, to navigate the streets and find parking more easily.
It is important that you respect the driving rules that have been put in place by the authorities. Drink-driving is a serious office on the island, and anyone caught doing so will be prosecuted accordingly. If you are asked to take a breath test, then you need to be below 0.5 mg of alcohol per ml of blood or you will be in trouble with the police. Everyone in the car also needs to make sure they are wearing a seat belt or risk being fined, whilst children that are under 12 years of age or who are shorter than 150 cm must be in a suitably sized child seat. It is also important that you have a warning triangle and reflective jacket in the car in case you break down.
You might find it hard to park your car in the streets of Azores towns. With the streets being very narrow, parallel parking can be quite hard to do, especially if you’re under pressure from cars behind you. Once you have managed to do so, you will also need to navigate the pay-and-display system, which can be quite confusing, and whilst it is relatively cheap to park, you need to find a free space first. It’s also important that you park on the same side of the road as the direction you are driving. Parking outside of the towns is much easier though, with there being less competition for spaces, many of which are free of charge.
Book your car hire in Azores at least 1 day before your trip in order to get a below-average price
Mini car hire in Azores are around 50% cheaper than other car types, on average
FAQs about hiring a car in Azores
You should hire a car in Azores, as it gives you the freedom to explore the island at your own pace, without having to follow timetables from other modes of transport, like buses. For example, if you are staying in Calheta and you are visiting Farol do Topo, a lighthouse on the southern tip of the island, then you will be able to reach it in about 34min, whereas a trip by bus would take around 1h 30min and also leave you with a roughly 20min walk to the lighthouse. A return taxi would also be quite an expensive way to complete this journey.
When you are driving in Azores, it will be very different to driving in the United Kingdom. You will notice that the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car to which you are used to. In addition, you will be driving on the right-hand side of the road, which also means you will go around roundabouts the opposite way, too. The maximum speed that you’re allowed to travel on the island is 100 km/h (62 mph), which is slower than what you are used to in the UK. When you drive through residential areas, there will be signs informing you of the speed limit, normally 50 km/h (31 mph).
Get in touch with each individual car hire company before you make a booking, as it is likely that they will have varying minimum age policies in place. In general, the minimum age to hire a car in Azores is 19 years of age, but some car hire companies will only hire cars to individuals that are older than this. There will also be a surcharge for many drivers that are under a certain age, often 25, whilst these drivers will also be subject to a smaller range of vehicles, as agencies often reserve the more powerful vehicles for the more experienced drivers.
Mini (Renault Twingo or similar) is the most frequently booked car hire type in Azores.
Based on car searches on KAYAK, the most popular cities to hire a car in Azores are Ponta Delgada (60% of total searches of users looking to hire a car in Azores), Lajes (20%) and Vila Franca do Campo (20%).