Azores was recently named one of the safest holiday destinations in Europe as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and protocols. With guidelines changing regularly, this COVID-19 guide to Azores travel was created as a resource for those planning an upcoming trip and will be updated regularly.
São Miguel Island was the first place outside of the US that I have travelled to since 2019. Normally on edge due to the pandemic, I felt completely safe and comfortable during the entire trip. Below I’ve outlined my personal experience and the current guidelines for travel to the Azores.
Traveling to the Azores:
My Azores flight was on a Thursday night, so I scheduled an appointment in advance for a PCR test at CVS for the Tuesday morning before my trip. I received my results on Wednesday evening. Once I received my results, I completed the "Evaluation Questionnaire of Risk and Early Detection - Azores in Security" online form and uploaded my test results (https://mysafeazores.com).
I flew out of Boston Logan Airport with my colleagues. Checking in at SATA – Azores Airline was a piece of cake. The representative asked for my "Evaluation Questionnaire of Risk and Early Detection - Azores in Security" documentation, negative PCR test, and passport.
Upon arrival is São Miguel, we stopped in customs where they also asked for the "Evaluation Questionnaire of Risk and Early Detection - Azores in Security" documentation, negative PCR test, and passport. Lines moved quickly and we got right through customs easily. After collecting our bags, we proceeded to an outdoor security area where we lined up to speak with a healthcare representative prior to leaving the airport. This outdoor area was a series of small tents and the healthcare representative was dressed head-to-toe in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment.) They requested my negative PCR test, asked questions regarding the test and my travel plans, and entered my data into their system.
We had an amazing day exploring the island before returning to the airport in the afternoon for our flight to Terceira. The airport is small and easy to navigate. We checked in quickly and headed through security. Check-in for the inter-island flight was similar to the check-in at Logan airport in Boston. This time they requested our passport and “Declaration for inter-island travel” (though this is no longer required for travel between the islands.) We did not need to answer any additional questions regarding our PCR test at check-in for that flight or upon arrival in Terceira. When we arrived we exited the plane, obtained our bags, and went straight to meet our tour guide.
We spent two great days in Terceira exploring the island. First we went to visit the Algar do Carvão caves where we climbed down into an ancient volcano/lava tube. We stopped for a drink at the wine museum in Biscoitos on the north side of the island and explored the lava formations around the saltwater bathing pools. The rest of our visit included a visit to Monte Brasil, a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Town of Angra do Heroísmo, the impressive sights of the Serra do Cume viewpoint, and a stop in Praia da Vitória city to walk the beach and dip our toes in the ocean.
After two short nights on Terceira Island, we took a flight back to São Miguel. Our experience at the airport returning back to Sao Miguel was the same as the flight to Terceira. We did not need to present test results or make additional stops before getting our luggage and heading to the van.
On São Miguel, we visited Furnas town and the Terra Nostra gardens and geothermal hot springs, went canyoning and rappelling, experienced an amazing foodie walking tour of the old town of Ponta Delgada, and took a jeep tour up to Lagoa do Fogo and over to Ribeira Grande on the north side of the island. We had no issues getting into restaurants or attractions. The only pandemic related experience worth noting was the requirement of masks in the van when traveling with others. We spent most of the trip outside where no masks were required. There wasn’t a single area that we visited where it felt touristy or crowded. I felt completely safe the entire trip.
During the week my colleague booked a rapid test for everyone in our group, scheduled for the morning of our flight. She emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with their name and passport information and the date/time they wanted to test and the next day got an email back with the appointments. She does not speak Portuguese, wrote the email in English and had no issue getting that scheduled. There are many different testing sites around Ponta Delgada. The testing facility we went to was a temporary building in Ponta Delgada that was a short drive from our hotel and easy to find with very large signs. We arrived for the test and waited about 10-15 minutes before we were seen because there were a few people in front of us. There was one person checking in travelers and one person performing the test in a separate room. Once they were ready for us, it took no more than a few minutes. We informed them about the time of our departure flight that afternoon and left to explore the city for the day.
Our flight home was in the late afternoon and we received our results to our email on our phones when we arrived at the airport. We checked in and the representative asked for our test results and passport. Upon arrival in the US, they asked again for our recent test results at customs.
I found the testing, documentation, and process of traveling to and from the Azores streamlined and straightforward. I’m already planning my next trip! If you have specific questions, please feel free to reach out to our Azores Travel Specialists who would be happy to help plan your trip.
Test Required for travel to the Azores from the USA?
All passengers traveling to the Azores from abroad must present, at the time of departure, proof of laboratory performance of the nucleic acid amplification test (TAAN) or rapid antigen test (TRAg) with a negative result, within 72 or 48 hours prior to boarding, respectively.
The test results are verified by the airline prior to departure.
The test must obtain the following details:
- Passenger identification;
- Name of the accredited laboratory where the test was carried out, with mention of the respective certification;
- Reference to the use of the RT-PCR methodology;
- Reference to the sample of "nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab", "nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal exudate", "respiratory sample" or "respiratory exudate", in the technical meanings recognized by the Regional Health Authority in accordance with the World Health Organization;
- Date of testing;
- Test result as "negative".
No quarantine is required upon arrival to the Azores.
In the 72 hours before your departure, complete the online "Evaluation Questionnaire of Risk and Early Detection - Azores in Security" available at www.mysafeazores.com
Testing required for return to the USA from Azores:
All passengers 2 years or older, show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 1 day before travel, regardless of their vaccination status, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.
Additionally, all passengers 18 years of age or older non-US citizens, non-US nationals, not legal permanent residents of the US, or traveling to the United States on a non-US immigrant visa, must show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before traveling to the United States from a foreign country.
Requirements for inter-island travel:
Travel between islands after you’ve arrived in the Azores does not require further testing.