When you visit Terceira Island, you will be swept off your feet by its historic center, where you will find, among other monuments, the Cathedral, a masterpiece from the 16th century, considered the largest temple of the Azores! Find out more about the "Festive Island".
The island of Terceira, one of the main entry points to the Azores, together with the islands of Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial, forms the central group of the archipelago.
As its name implies, this was the third island of the archipelago to be discovered, although at first it was called the Island of Jesus Cristo. It began to be populated in the 15th century, and has developed steadily since then, largely due to its geographical location.
But what makes Terceira so special is the magnificent contrast between the natural beauty of this volcanic island and the admirable work of man in the historic centre of Angra do Heroísmo, its capital, founded in 1534, and the first place in the Azores to be made a city and to be classified World Heritage by UNESCO. Indeed, the title "Most Noble, Loyal and Ever Constant" attributed to the city emphasises its importance throughout the history of Portugal. The bay of Angra gained great importance not only as an internal trading post for regional products produced on the other islands, but also for its even greater prominence as an intercontinental staging post for ships sailing between Europe, the Americas and India.
Seen from Alto da Memória or the viewpoint on Monte Brasil, the historic centre of Angra do Heroísmo is a testimony to the kings and noblemen who passed by here, leaving behind some beautiful architecture in its network of streets and alleyways, and its churches, palaces, mansions, monuments, squares and gardens, which have been preserved until the present day.
Visits must be made to the forts of São Sebastião and São João Baptista, unique examples of military architecture dating back more than 400 years, the 16th century Cathedral, considered the largest church in the archipelago, the Palace of the Captains-General, the Town Hall, the Church of São Gonçalo, the Bettencourt Palace, the Angra Museum, located in the former S. Francisco monastery, and the Duke of Terceira Garden, with many well-tended species, among other monuments.
From Angra you can explore the island’s coastline. It’s worth going by car to Praia da Vitória, with its backdrop of the Cabras Islets, via the Bay of Salga and the beaches of black sand surrounded by cliffs, like Porto Novo. In Praia da Vitória, there is a broad, sheltered sandy beach that is one of the nicest beaches in the Azores. The richness of the city’s architectural heritage is concentrated mainly in the Church and in the Fort of Santa Catarina, one of many that were built to defend the Praia bay. Mention must be made to the home of the writer Vitorino Nemésio, who constantly evoked the archipelago where he was born in his writings. From the panoramic viewpoint of Riviera, on the tip of the Cape, there is a great view over the town and the coastline.
Continuing around the island on the coast road, you can visit Agualva with its river and watermills, Biscoitos, an area which produces the famous Verdelho Wine, where you can visit the Wine Museum and the natural pools of the bathing area such as at Ponta do Queimado. You next pass through the Mata da Serreta, a forested park with lush vegetation and an excellent view over the sea and Doze Ribeiras, a popular bathing area near the city of Angra do Heroísmo.
On the Doze Ribeiras road, you have access to the island’s highest point, the Serra de Santa Bárbara, at 1,021m above sea level, from where there is a spectacular view not only over much of the island's southern coast, but also to the beautiful Caldeira de Santa Bárbara, classified, for its botanical, scientific and scenic value, as a Natural Forest Reserve.
Often referred to as the festive island, Terceira is home throughout the year to a rich calendar of religious and traditional celebrations, as well as various associations and cultural institutions, theatre groups and places for temporary or permanent exhibitions that contribute to the promotion of the island’s culture.
For all these reasons, we hope that you don’t visit this island only on your third, «Terceira», visit to the Azores.
Terceira offers many possibilities to occupy your stay and involve yourself in all sorts of activities.
Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória bays offer excellent conditions for sailing, rowing, windsurfing and waterskiing. The bathing areas of Praia da Vitória, Biscoitos, Porto Martins, Escaleiras (Vila Nova), Quatro Ribeiras, Porto das Cinco Ribeiras, Salga and Salgueiros (São Sebastião), Silveira (S. Pedro) and Negrito (S. Mateus) with their beaches and natural pools, are very inviting for swimming.
Surrounded by a sea rich in fish, Terceira is a great destination for game fishing. The best fishing-grounds are in Silveira, S. Mateus, Pesqueiro, Biscoitos, Porto Martins, Porto Novo and Porto Judeu. For lovers of hunting, the Pico Alto region is a true paradise.
As for sailors, the Marinas in Angra do Heroísmo and Praia da Vitória are a mandatory stopover point for many pleasure yachts that visit this island.
But if you prefer diving, the area of the Archaeological Park of the Bay of Angra do Heroísmo offers the great attractions of the cemetery of anchors and the shipwrecked Lidador. You can also make some great dives in the D. João de Castro bank.
If you’re a passionate for caving, you will find in Terceira a system of caves and potholes which, duly accompanied by a guide and properly equipped, will enable you to discover the bowels of the earth. Located in the interior of the island one of Terceira’s great geological attractions is the Caldeira Guilherme Moniz. With a perimeter of 15km, it is considered the largest caldera in the archipelago and is effectively a volcanic chimney not completely filled by lava. Inside is the so-called Algar do Carvão, famous for its approximately 100-metre deep caves, with impressive stalactites and stalagmites and an interior lagoon.
Close to this Algar, the Furnas do Enxofre, Água and Cabrito and the Balcões, Agulhas and Natal caves are also “must-visit” points for cavers.
If you prefer you can also discover the island on the surface, using a variety of footpaths: Mistérios Negros, Serreta and Baías de Agualva are tracks not to be missed! Another option is to explore the island on horseback.
Terceira Golf Club is an 18-hole course, framed by beautiful flowers and supported by comfortable facilities, inviting you to play golf.
Terceira’s festivals are the liveliest in the Azores, so it is often nicknamed the festive island.
The Feasts of the Divine Holy Spirit, although common to the entire archipelago, are celebrated here very passionately: in the eight weeks between Pentecost and the end of the summer, there are festivals in every parish on the island, as well as in the so-called "Impérios", small buildings with brightly painted external walls, which house an altar covered with white satin on which a silver crown and scepter sit, symbols of this cult and at the centre of the ceremonies in honour of the Holy Spirit. On Terceira, there are about 70 Impérios.
Carnival Dances, unique manifestations of popular theatre, take place around Shrove Tuesday. For three days, the people of Terceira take to the streets or gather in the halls, so as not to miss the so-called "dances" or "bailinhos". During the show, members of each group perform a story in which satire is the key element.
The Sanjoaninas, festivals dedicated to St. John, occupy the streets of Angra do Heroísmo for ten days in June. Parades, concerts, bullfights (in the arena or on a rope), food stalls, theatre shows, fireworks and sporting events culminate in a parade of popular marching bands.
In August, Praia da Vitória has a programme full of events and irresistible proposals: the Festas da Praia include bullfights, exhibitions, fashion shows, a gastronomic fair, concerts and nautical sporting events. In early September, the Festival of Vine and Wine comes alive in Biscoitos, a place with a tradition of winemaking.
Angra do Heroísmo is the stage for two important music festivals: the AngraRock festival in September, and the AngraJazz festival in October.
There is an ancient bullfighting tradition on Terceira that maintains several active bull-breeding ranches. The activity is divided into bullfighting in the arena (or on the sand, as happens during the Festas da Praia) and the typical rope bullfights. The bullfighting season is usually from May to October, with events both on fixed dates and on the spur of the moment.
Cuisine and Wine
Terceira’s cuisine is famous for its alcatra, usually a beef dish, although it can also be made with fish. It is typically cooked slowly in a clay pot to thicken the sauce consisting of ingredients that include bacon, onions, garlic, bay leaf, pepper and wine. It is usually accompanied by bread or massa sovada (a kind of sweet bread). This cooking method is also used for other delicacies: chicken, beans, rabbit, octopus and broad beans.
As for desserts, the focus is on queijadas Dona Amélia (cakes made with honey and cinnamon mixed with raisins and cidrão). Coscorões (fried rolled pastry sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon), cornucópias (with a filling of sweet egg) and rice pudding complement the dessert menu.
The regional landscape around Biscoitos is marked by vineyards arranged in curraletos. A specific type of wine is made from the verdelho grapes, which has been promoted and marketed by the Biscoitos Brotherhood of Verdelho Wine since 1993. There is a wine museum in the Casa Agrícola Brum, where visitors have the opportunity to taste the Angelica liqueur wine.
There are daily connections from Lisbon. Flight duration approximately 2.5 hours.
Sata-Air Açores has daily connections between all the islands (40 minutes from S. Miguel and Faial).
For more information, go to:
Go to www.atlanticoline.pt