Accommodation Options in the Azores Islands, Portugal
One of the things about the Azores that makes it such an unbelievable travel destination is the fact that the islands have not yet been really developed for tourism. The only tourists you’ll see are busloads of Germans or Portuguese from the mainland, and they mostly stay on the main island of Sao Miguel (Saint Michael). Aside from a stray backpacker or sailors at Horta, Faial, you’ll feel like you have these islands all to yourself to discover.
When it comes to accommodation, you basically have five choices: hotels, hostels, apartments, guesthouses, or rooms in private homes.
Aside from on the main island of Sao Miguel (Saint Michael), you’ll be hard pressed to find many hotels. Look in the major cities on each island to find a hotel to stay in. Cities on other islands that have at least one hotel are Madalena (Pico), Horta (Faial), and Velas (Sao Jorge). Hotels will be your most expensive option. Tour groups are likely to block off rooms in Ponta Del Gada (Sao Miguel) during the summer.
Hostels are dorm-type accommodation great for backpackers and young people. They don’t have quite as many rooms as hotels, but they have more rooms than guesthouses or private homes. Bathrooms are usually shared. In Portuguese, hostel is hospedaria.
Known locally as apartamentos, apartments can be rented for as little as one night on the islands. This option is great for families or those who want to do their own cooking. Eating out isn’t cheap in the Azores, so self-catering is a good option for budget-minded travelers.
In Portuguese, guesthouse is casa de hospedes. These properties have a bit more of a family feel to them and may offer breakfast along with the nightly rate. They are likely to have shared bathrooms, whereas apartments will have private bathrooms.
Rooms in Private Homes
Rooms in private homes are by far the most common and most affordable option in the Azores. Mothers may rent out their children’s bedrooms after the kids have grown up and left for college in the US or in Portugal. You will find that Azorean families are very hospitable. Rooms in private homes vary greatly, so it’s best to see the room before you make any commitments. Some room rates may include breakfast, use of the kitchen, or even free-flowing homemade wine! In Portuguese, this type of lodging is called alojamento particular.
For more information, see the Regional Directorate of Tourism of the Azores (www.drtacores.pt) for a current list of apartments, guesthouses, hostels and rooms in private homes. You can pick up the list of lodgings at any Tourist Office on the islands, or you can request it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can call different properties ahead to get rates and inquire about availability, but bear in mind that most people will not speak fluent English. As there are not herds of tourists flocking to the Azores islands, you can plan on just arriving at an island, getting the current list of lodgings from the Tourist Office, making a few calls to get rates and finding your way to your choice lodging.