Ultimate Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding in Azores

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Hello friend, chances are you were searching for a wedding photographer in Azores and found us here. For an adventurous couple like us, Azores is one of the most favorite places on earth! A heaven for outdoorsy people.

This remote archipelago simply abounds with adventures; it is, in fact, the Hawaii of the mid-Atlantic. It has world-class whale watching, sailing, diving, hiking and canyoning; excellent surfing and other watersports; rich opportunities for on horseback, on bikes or, for the daredevils, by paraglider. Then there is the landscape itself: a wonderland of seething mud pots, fantastical caverns, and vivid crater lakes that speak of a volcanic origin.

If you want to read more about Azores or how to plan a wedding/elopement in Azores scroll down below but first, we also would like to say a word or two about us.

We're Tu & Tara, a destination wedding photographer & videographer based in Greece, Germany & other parts of Europe (mostly Italy, Spain, France) - also available worldwide. We're a young couple who is having an affair with life, nature and sunlight. We love art, classic cinema, good food, traveling & seeking adventure off the grid. One day at a time.

Both living and working with an adventurous mindset, we find ourselves drawn to couples who share our free-spirited lifestyle. Our passion is to create beautiful wedding photos & films that stand out. Not just something style over substance but something visually beautiful and artistic at the same time with deeper meaning and true emotion, capturing the essence of you & the story of your life. Wedding Photography is about you. Your story is important. Your love is worth talking about. It deserves to be treated individually so we can tailor our time, our hearts and souls to suit your every need.

Let us be friend! We are usually really fast repliers but If you don't hear anything from us within 24 hours, please check your spam folder and/or shoot us another email at info@tunguyenwedding.com

Also do check out the gallery to see some of our favourite weddings, wedding films over the past years and our current travel dates.


1) How to Get to Azores Islands

The Azores are one of the last secrets of Europe. Far out in the Atlantic Ocean, 1863 kilometers from the Portuguese mainland, the island of Flores attracts hikers in particular to the archipelago. Deeply falling waterfalls, rugged cliffs and lush green highlands in which mystical crater lakes are embedded. Flores is a true natural paradise. It is therefore hardly surprising that UNESCO has declared the so-called flower island a biosphere reserve.

The largest airport in the Azores, Ponta Delgada (Portuguese Aeroporto João Paulo II), is located on the main island of São Miguel. 

Air Azores operates 5 flights per week between Boston and Ponta Delgada. From the end of May, the schedule is increased to a daily flight until the beginning of September. TAP has its own flights between these two cities. TAP flies on Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays. The service starts in June and the flights will be operated year-round although only once-weekly from September.

In high season, roughly from June to September, Azores airlines offers a weekly service between Oakland, in the bay area, and Terceira.

TAP also flies from Lisbon to Boston, Chicago, Miami, Montreal, New York, Washington, and San Franciso where you can take a connecting flight to the Azores. 

Visiting on a stopover from US:

Since Azores is about midway between the US and Europe, it can be a great stopover place. Azores Airlines in fact promotes this possibility, letting you add several days on the islands with no increase in airfare. Azores Airlines has information on stopovers here!

You can also read a whole lot more info here!

2) Best Time to have a wedding in Azores Islands

The climate in the Azores is relatively the same all year round. Sure: in the summer months, the temperature raises a bit higher and then sometimes reaches 25 °C and more. The months of June, July and August are the main season. But otherwise it is often a pleasant 18-20 °C, also in similar range in September, October and November.

The optimal travel time for the Azores depends entirely on what you want. If you want it warmer with a bit of sun and can cope with more tourists on the island, the best way to go is between June and August. If you like it quieter and have no problem with cooler temperatures, the period between September and November is recommended.

How much time should you for the Azores? We personally find 7-12 days optimal! Basically, the Azores weather can change at any time! The sun can shine now and, a rain shower can pour out 10 minutes later. For your suitcase means: a rainproof, light jacket is highly recommended, and comfortable, hiking shoes. In addition to shorts and T-shirts, take a sweater and long trousers with you.

3) Which Island to have a wedding in Azores?

The Azores consist of a total of nine different islands, so island hopping is perfect here. Although they all have something in common, each island somehow has its own charm.

São Miguel:

São Miguel is the main island of the Azores, where more than half of the Azorean population lives. Here you can expect hot springs, impressive mountains and countless fantastic viewpoints. You will also find the airport of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, which is served from Europe all year round. São Miguel is the best starting point for your Azores vacation. 4 Days would be the bare minimum you'll need to explore this beautiful island!

Santa Maria:

Santa Maria is the southernmost island of the Azores and at the same time home to wonderful, fine sandy beaches. For some time now you have even been able to take a ferry from São Miguel for a trip to Santa Maria and explore the island for a day.

Faial:

This island is a real hydrangea paradise! You will encounter blue and lilac flower fields everywhere. In the island's capital, Horta, there is also a well-known sailing port, which is important for trips between the Caribbean and Europe. 

Pico:

The volcano Pico, the highest mountain in Portugal with 2,351 meters, is the namesake of this island. A climb to the summit is definitely worth it. In the past, Pico was the main location for whaling. Today it is the best place to see whales and dolphins on a boat trip.

Terceira:

The island's capital, Angra do Heroismo, was destroyed and rebuilt by an earthquake in the 1980s, and a short time later it was even declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You shouldn't miss a visit to the caves.

Graciosa:

Translated, the island name means "the graceful", which in my opinion describes the character of the island quite well. There are only four locations across the island. The most impressive is the Caldeira da Graciosa crater, which you can admire during a hike, for example.

São Jorge:

The island of São Jorge is primarily known for its cliffs. For a long time, the island was still an insider tip for surfers, now there are more and more surfers on the coast. But be careful, the waves are partly very rough here, so only for experienced surfers!

Flores:

On Flores you will find the most beautiful hiking trail in the Azores - Faja Grande. On the spring island, which incidentally forms the westernmost point in Europe, you can enjoy lush green landscapes all year round. Spending here 4 days would be highly recommended.

Corvo:

There is only one road on Corvo and this leads to the only attraction: an extinct volcano. If you are looking for relaxing silence, you will certainly find it on the smallest inhabited island of the Azores with almost 17 km² and 420 people.

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4) How to Travel between 9 Azores Islands?

- SATA Air Açores provides a FREE routing service for passengers traveling to or from Mainland Portugal or Funchal. This means that if you are flying to Azores from a portuguese airport – Porto, Lisbon, Faro or Madeira – you can request a free connecting flight to any other azorean island! That's awesome right? With that offer you can combine your Azores trip with a trip to Portugal mainland.

- 9 islands are divided in three main island groups – the eastern (Flores, Corvo), central (Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, Terceira) and western islands (Sao Miguel, Santa Maria).

- Pro Tip: While flying is your go to option for longer routes between island groups, ferries are the way to go when going in between nearby islands in the same group.

Fly:

- There is an excellent inter island flight service operated by SATA Air Azores between all 9 islands. Each island, even the tiny teeny Corvo, has its own airport. Azores airlines operates many flights and with a little bit of planning, you should be able to fly direct each time you switch islands.

- The airline operates 2 x Bombardier Q200’s which seat 37 passengers and 4 x Bombardier Q400’s which seat 80. Both are twin propeller planes and operate like buses during the day, flying to one island, stopping for 20 minutes and then flying to the next island and so on.
You only need to check in 1 hour before departure so it doesn’t feel like a big deal to fly. Flight times vary between 15 minutes to 50 minutes and flights cost around £75 each.

- Pro Tip:
If you’re booking more than 1 inter-island flight with Azores Airlines, you can save a lot of money by booking them together as a multi-city trip. The flights you book together don’t have to be related in any way. So, they can be on completely different days and they can also be between totally different Azores Islands.

Ferry:

There are two ferry companies that runs throughout the entire archipelago called Atlanticoline & Transmaçor.
Transmaçor provides daily passenger and cargo (no vehicles) service between the islands of Faial, Pico, São Jorge all year around. It is an extremely reliable service. Due to the proximity of the islands the service is almost never cancelled due to weather, and it will become your best bet as you make your way from one island to the next.
For example, a ferry from Faial to Pico costs around €4 per person and takes 30 minutes. Faial to Sao Jorge can take 90 minutes and costs around €15 per person.

Taking the ferry between islands in different groups is cheaper than flying but obviously it takes longer and ferries are much more at the whim of the weather. 

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Line A / Blue

The Blue line operates all-year around between the islands of Faial (Horta) and Pico (Madalena). It is a quick 30-minute ride and you will find multiple routes in either direction per day. 

In the summer time for instance, this ferry has ~6 rides in each direction starting in the morning and ending in the evening time.

Line B / Green

The Green line also operates between Faial and Pico (and also all year around) but also adds in a second port in Pico (Sao Roque) and the island of Sao Jorge (Velas). Each day is listed separately and has different routes depending on the day.

For example, let’s look at the first line on May 13. At 7:00AM a ferry will leave Horta (Faial) and arrive at Madalena (Pico) at 7:25AM. It will then depart at 7:45AM to Velas (Sao Jorge) and arrive there at 9:05AM. The boat will then turn around and head back to Madalena at 9:25AM, arriving at 10:45AM. And finally, it will be leaving Madalena at 11:05AM and arriving in Horta at 11:30AM.

Line C / Pink

Similar to the Blue line, the Pink line only goes between two islands – Flores and Corvo (Vila do Corvo). Operates all year around.

During the winter months, there are a lot fewer departures, though. From January to April, for example, there are only departures on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The ferry is a small boat that can accommodate only 12 passengers.

On Flores there are two different port options, Santa Cruz and Lajes. It is a quick 40-minute ride.

Line E / Yellow

The yellow line is different from the previous three as it only has seasonal operation May – September (exact dates are different by year). With this line you will be able to take advantage of the routes from one island group to the next. If you are not visiting during the May to September time period your only option will be to fly between island groups.

Traveling times between the islands:

- Sao Miguel - Santa Maria: weekly, 3 hours 45 minutes

- Sao Miguel - Terceira: weekly, 6 hours 

- Faial - Flores: weekly, 9 hours

- Terceira - Graciosa: 3 hours and 30 minutes, after which it continues toward São Jorge where it arrives 2 hours and 45 minutes later.

You can find the exact timetables of all lines here!

Travelling around the islands

There are bus services on most islands but they are generally to help locals to get to and from work so don’t stop at all the lovely viewpoints along the way. The best service is on Sao Miguel, the main island, and you can see timetables here. The fares are very cheap but be prepared for lots of stops. You’ll have plenty of time to soak up the scenery though!

If you want more flexibility then car hire is available on all the islands even tiny Corvo and roads are generally good and well signposted.In my opinion, you wouldn't get far without renting a car! And don't forget to book in advance, especially in the high season.

Can you take your rental car on the ferries?

Yes! The Gilberto Mariano, 1 of the Atlânticoline ferries, has places for 12 vehicles. This ferry operates on the green and the yellow route. In some cases, it can be beneficial to take your rental car on the ferry. It is, after all, often relatively cheaper to rent a car for a longer period of time.

But do double-check your car rental contract first, not all agencies allow their cars to be taken on the ferries.

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5) What to Do in Azores

One of the best things about destination wedding/elopement is the location! It's not just the wedding day but making it a wedding weekend, a trip in their lifetime so that your guests can enjoy the trip to the fullest. And Azores is perfect for that since there are a lot of activities you can do together with your families and friends. 

It’s a great opportunity to have a vacation with your favorite people, and takes away a lot of the stress of managing small details and allows you to focus on planning things that are important to you.

Hiking in the Azores

It's unacceptable that you go to Azores and don't do any hiking lol! There are 86 official hiking trails covering a distance of +800km! The islands with the most scenic trails are Flores, Sao Miguel and Sao Jorge.

The nature of the Azores is unique and almost always green. The islands have a mild climate: the summer is not too hot and the winter is not too cold. The Azores are also home to many endemic plants. This means that you can see plants that do not occur anywhere else in the world, but only in the Azores. The best way to experience the beauty of the Azores is go hiking. In almost every place there are numerous hiking trails that lead you to the most beautiful places, past rough coasts, shimmering green crater lakes and idyllic waterfalls.

Speaking of waterfalls: you shouldn't miss the Salto do Cabrito on São Miguel and the Caldeira Velha, right on the northern slope of the Vulcão do Fogo volcano. The latter attracts in particular with its thermal swimming pool in the middle of a forest clearing, which is artificially created and filled with iron-containing water. The hot springs make the water so warm that you can swim outdoors all year round. The best thing to do is pick out a few highlights on each island you visit and set off as soon as possible.

Each of the islands, no matter how small or large, is bursting with picturesque paths that are well signposted and thus also make individual hikes easy. There is something for everyone: from a 1.5-hour easy hike to Pico das Eguas on São Miguel to challenging hikes that lead you to the highest mountain, Montanha do Pico. If you don't like the weather, wait half an hour. Be on your hike, no matter where the path leads you, but always be prepared for any weather. Click here for more info!

Islands of the hot springs

If the rain has caught you, you can warm up in one of the many thermal baths after hiking. At Ginetes on São Miguel there is a bay that is fed by a hot spring and in which the water is always pleasantly warm. You can recognize the bay by its ropes that have been pulled through the water. Due to the waves, the water is a bit restless, but you can hold on to the ropes. You can relax wonderfully in the Parque Terra Nostra in the small town of Furnas. The color of the thermal pool is not quite appealing due to the brownish color, but it just jumps in and lets your mind wander. If you drive into the small village, you will surely recognize the typical smell of sulfur. Lagoa das Furnas has a particularly large number of sulfur springs.

The restaurants here cook their food in clay pots in the traditional way, which you definitely have to try: corn on the cob and cozido, a delicious stew, are typical dishes for the islands.

Pico Volcano

To get around the islands and see all the nice corners, I recommend booking a rental car. There are many viewpoints on all islands, so-called miradouros. Just keep an eye out for the brown signs so you don't miss a view. If you don't just want to see the volcanoes from afar, you can also hike to the summit with some. The volcano Pico on the island of the same name is particularly popular. But since the weather changes very quickly and you can easily lose your bearings due to the thick cloud cover on the volcano, I advise you to climb the Pico only with a guide! Even for experienced mountain climbers, the ascent is still tricky. The local guides know all the shortcuts, shelters in case there's bad weather and best route to take... Click here to read a report from a traveler's Pico climb.

The mighty volcanic mountain is the highest mountain in Portugal at 2153 meters. The view from above? Indescribable!
At the foot of the Pico there are wide wine-growing areas. Black lava stone walls subdivide thousands of small plots full of vines. In between, strawberry-red or frog-green gates and small cottages, called Adegas - wine cellars that today often serve as extremely charming holiday homes.

Whale watching in the Azores

Whaling in the Azores has been prohibited by law since 1981. Before that, the islanders were allowed to hunt and process living whales here. In contrast to many other countries, the Azoreans placed great emphasis on balance. Only as much was hunted as was needed. The Azoreans were not able to hunt many animals anyway because they did not hunt with large weapons but traditionally by hand. A whale hunt then lasted almost a whole day. Fortunately, however, today the islanders only come as close to the whales and dolphins as necessary - for whale watching. A total of 24 different whale species live in the waters, many of them stay here all year round. The chance of seeing a whale or dolphin on a boat trip is 95 percent. Some organizers will even give you the money back if you couldn't see any animals, make sure to choose a company that follow safety and ethiccal regulations. An absolute must for every Azores vacation!

The best islands for whale watching are the islands in the central island group, especially Pico and Faial.

Azores is the place to try new outdoor activities

Azores is such a cool place and you'll probably make sure that you have time to do some cool stuff to go with it.

- Canyoning
Flores Island is the best place for Canyoning! It does not involve a boat but instead you explore a river and try to surpass all obstacles in front of you (currents, waterfalls, rocks...). Simply put: parkour in the nature with a view!

- Coasteering:
The equivalent of Canyoning but on the coastline.

- Horse Riding with a view!

- Paragliding:
The best bet is to find a tour company in Sao Miguel.

- Kayaking and Seakayaking:
Kayaking is available in most of major lakes (Furnas, Sete Cidades...) and seakayaking across almost all islands. 

- Sailing

- Diving:
The prime time for diving is from June to October. Santa Maria is a small island but has 10 world class diving spots. Princess Alice Seamount near Pico and Faial is also a very popular diving spot.

- Surfing
The wild Atlantic Ocean is perfect for surfing so avid surfers will find their heaven here. Peak surf season is between October-February but you can find some fun waves in May-September. The water temperature ranges from 15C in winter to 24C in summer.

- Birdwatching

- Biking in Sao Miguel

- Visiting Tea Plantations

- Go for a swim at Vila Franca's islet

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6) Wedding Venues / Hotels in Azores

Nine islands of wonder. This is what we are talking about. We could go on and on about the Azores, because of its magical diversity. Let us make this clear: a wedding in the Azores is the experience of a lifetime!

- Having an outdoor ceremony with an otherworldly backdrop, be it the beaches, cliffs, mountains, volcano or jungle..!

- Church Weddings

Hotels / Resorts in Sao Miguel:

- Sete Cidades Lake Lodge

- Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort

- Terra Nostra Garden Hotel

- Pedras do Mar Resort and Spa

- Furnas Boutique Hotel

- AZOR HOTEL

- Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico

- Quinta do Passo

Hotels / Resorts in Pico

- Lava Homes

- Atlantic Heritage Luxury Villa

- Adegas do Pico - Rural Tourism

- Aldeia da Fonte

- Casa da Terralta

- Vinhas do Calhau

Hotels / Resorts in Flores

- Aldeia da Cuada

- Casas da Cascata

Hotels / Resorts in Terceira

- Caparica Azores Ecolodge

- My Angra Boutique Hostel

Hotels / Resorts in Sao Jorge

- Abrigo da Cascata - Casas de Campo

- Intact Farm Resort

Hotels / Resorts in Faial

- Azul Singular

7) What to Pack for Azores

The most important tip: bring comfortable clothes and shoes.

- Light Rain Jacket.

- Zip-off Hiking Trousers.

- Hiking Shoes.

- Small day backpack.

- Smart casual outfits. The whole islands have a very relaxed vibes.

- Packing Cube.

- Powerbank & Adapters.

8) Other Tips for Planning your Wedding & Stay in Azores

While helping a couple to plan their wedding in Azores, I noticed that there wasn't a lot of information on holding a destination wedding there. Everything from legality, officiant, to flowers, hair, makeup to venues, reception, etc. Most information found on the web were either in Portuguese / out-of-date, and a lot of people I reached out to were not responsive. So I feel you!

- First and foremost, I strongly suggest getting a planner, or at least a coordinator that can help you with the execution, organization and coordination. For destination wedding, a wedding planner or coordinatior is crucial for getting all vendors organized, making sure everything was as ready as possible even before you ever set foot in the Azores. If you book a hotel / resort don't hesitate to let them know, many hotel/resort managers will help.

- The legal side of things. If you want to explore the possibility of getting married legally in Portugal: maybe your wedding planner can find a priest for you that could perform the ceremony in English, and clarified the requirements. You do not need to be residing there for 30 days but need all papers sent to the officiant in Azores at least 30 days before landing. These include: both long-form birth certificates, proof of citizenship and a proof that there is nothing preventing you both from getting married (usually this is the marriage license), all of which needs also to be translated and authenticated by the Portuguese consulate of the country/province/area that ISSUED these originals. Or you can just have a legal ceremony back home, and a symbolic one in Azores :)

- Weather: Depends on the date of your wedding, if not in the summer the weather can be gray and rainy and cold. It can get chilly by the sea or up on a hill, so back up plan such as rain jackets, transparent umbrella and extra layers would be highly recommended - so this might affect your choice of wedding attire. On the flip-side, if you choose to have a wedding in the off-season for tourism you can enjoy having all the spots for yourselves everywhere you go. Great for pictures too in that way. It is warmer and busier from April - September.

- Flowers: If you were thinking of using hydrangeas in your bouquet because it's ubiquitous in Azores... well, you might be disappointed to find out that florists do not actually carry them because they are protected from commercial use.

- Vendors: Things do tend to run on "island time" as well, so be prepared for schedules to run late - plan enough of buffer time! 

- Get in touch with us for an ultimate wedding planning guides (exclusive for our couples) 

- This is not a party destination.

- The food is delicious!

Destination Wedding in Azores

© Tu Nguyen Wedding Photography in Greece, Italy, Spain, France & Germany // +49 159 0148 0782  // info@tunguyenwedding.com

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