The Azores in January: Cool Weather, Hikes and More

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  • Audrey McDonald
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The Azores’ weather in January

Despite being mid-winter, daily temperatures in the Azores generally float at 14°C (57°F) throughout January. As the second rainiest month of the year (after December) you should expect a few wet days on your trip. It typically rains between 16–19 days during the month, with the average rainfall of 61 mm. Yet, you are likely to get a few lovely sunny days where temperatures climb well to 15°C (60°F). We recommend basing your stay on the eastern islands of São Miguel and Santa Maria which stay a bit drier throughout the year.

For an overview of all seasons, check out our guide on the best time to visit the Azores.

Why visit the Azores in January?

Woman hiking along a muddy trail in the Azores in January
Located in the northeastern part of São Miguel Island, the Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park is a great hiking destination in the Azores.

Despite a bit of wet weather, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Azores in January. Below are just a few:

  • Lose the crowds: Since it is the wet season, the Azores are nearly tourist-free. Enjoy tranquil hiking without the traffic, stroll on deserted beaches, and mingle with locals. You may have the entire place to yourself.
  • Save money: Prices of luxury accommodations positively plummet in the Azores during January. A room at a high-end resort that can cost upwards of USD 500 a night in the summer months might drop to the low 100s in the off-season. From guides to activities and car rentals, you can expect great savings on nearly everything!
  • Soak in natural hot springs: As volcanic islands, the Azores have an abundance of natural hot springs best enjoyed in the winter months. You’ll also be able to experience them with the locals rather than hordes of seasonal tourists.
  • Catch a giant wave: Wetsuit will be required but the Azores are a surfer’s paradise in the winter months with powerful waves constantly pounding the beaches. São Miguel is the overall best island for surfing. Experienced surfers should head for Ribeira Quente, just eight kilometers straight south of Furnas. Vila Franca, 25 minutes east of Ponta Delgada is great for all levels and offers outstanding views of Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo, a caldera island in the distance.

Where to go and what to do

A thermal pool meets the ocean at a rocky coast
Soaking in Ponta Da Ferraria Hot Spring, directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, is a unique experience.
A pair of dolphins swim in ocean water with a mountain in the background
A pair of dolphins swim in the Atlantic Ocean in front of volcano Pico in Azores Islands.

Hitting up all the islands in the archipelago may not be possible or worth it in January. We suggest setting up base on the island of São Miguel since it is one of the drier areas of the Azores. The fact that it has an international airport and the best range of year-round activities makes it a preferable destination for the low season month of January.

Enjoy the cobbled streets, cafe culture, local markets, and charming architecture of Ponta Delgada. If you catch a few rainy days, hole up in the local restaurants and enjoy warming seafood stews and other local delights. We recommend Michel Restaurant and Á Terra for Portuguese cuisine. You’ll also find several whale and dolphin-watching tours departing from Ponta Delgada, with some operators even guaranteeing sightseeing. We do recommend booking your tour early in your trip as in the event of inclement weather, your operator will reschedule you for another day.

When the sun comes out, make for Sete Cidades, justifiably one of the most visited sites in the Azores. This caldera with twin lakes is breathtaking and offers multiple viewpoints to explore and some of the best hiking trails in the Azores (although muddy after rain). For a unique experience, hike through the tea fields in Gorreana Tea Plantations. If it’s too rainy to hike, you can still visit the plantation, and learn about the tea production process.

Tea plantation farm in the Azores during cloudy January day
Gorreana tea factory and plantation, in São Miguel Island, is the only tea plantation in Europe.

You cannot be in the Azores in January and not experience the hot springs. On São Miguel Island, you’re spoiled for choice. Just 30 minutes outside Ponta Delgada, you’ll find Caldeira Velha Hot Springs a more ‘natural’ experience, surrounded by lush forest. There is a beautiful waterfall where you can swim but the thermal water does not heat this pool, making it a chilly but exhilarating swim.

Not far from Ponta Delgada, you’ll find Ponta Da Ferraria Hot Springs. Directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular setting. Here the cool ocean water mixes with the hot springs, providing a range of temperatures. It can be quite cool at high tide when waves crash into the pool. During winter, we’d recommend visiting at low tide.

If you want to experience more hot springs, you’ll not want to miss the small town of Furnas. Located about 45 minutes east of Ponta Delgada, this bustling town is home to many hot springs, the most famous being Poca Da Dona Beija. Popular with tourists and locals alike, this site has five pools to choose from and is open until late, last entry at 10 pm.

If you wish to go a bit further afield the beautiful island of Santa Maria is just a 15-minute flight from São Miguel. Known for beautiful beaches and unique handicrafts, Santa Maria is also the sunniest of the Azores islands but you still need to be prepared for rain and closures in the winter months. Other islands such as Terceira and Pico are accessible during winter months but only by plane. Also many accommodations and restaurants close for the off-season, so you’ll need to be prepared.

What to pack

Invest in a good raincoat and waterproof kit like trousers, hiking boots, and day pack, especially if you plan on outdoor activities. A spare pair of shoes wouldn’t go amiss if your hiking boots get soaked or mud-caked! For the hot springs, pack a dark (or unloved) swimsuit as the sulfur from the springs can stain! Otherwise, layers are the way to go, and don’t forget a cozy hoodie or sweater for the evenings. A travel towel is handy for the hot springs and if you’re whale or dolphin watching don’t forget your binoculars.

If you’re considering a new-year trip to the Azores, we say do it! It may rain a little, but not enough to dampen the experience. The best of the Azores is still up for grabs and at a lower price. If you need help planning your January holiday in the Azores, reach out to our travel experts for a customized itinerary. For more insight and information, check out our guide on how long to spend in the Azores.

Other related articles:
The Azores in February

Tours in Azores
Published by Marie Storm, updated on June 14, 2024

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