Flight times from the UK to the Azores Islands, Portugal range from 7h to 51h. The shortest flight from the London Gatwick Airport to Lajes Airport is 6h 55m. The shortest flight from the Edinburgh Turnhouse Airport to Lajes Airport is 8h 5m. The shortest flight from the Manchester Airport to Lajes Airport is 8h 55m. Some flights can take as long as 51 hours, based on the layover periods and number of stops.
In the majority of cases, there aren’t any direct flights from the UK to the Azores Islands. However, the Azores own airline, SATA, does operate limited availability for a direct 4-hour flight from Gatwick, UK to Sao Miguel on Saturdays, May through October. SATA also operates flights between the Azores islands. Additionally, Ryanair has a direct flight on Saturdays from Stansted to Sao Miguel. The majority of one-stop flights to the Azores Islands connect through Lisbon and arrive at Lajes Airport on Terceira Island in the Azores.
There are 9 islands that make up the Azores Islands. Most of the islands are primarily home to various small villages and towns, rather than one specific city centre. While there are taxis and buses, the most reliable and useful mode of transportation is to rent a car which can be done at any of the five international airports which are located on Pico, Santa Maria, Faial, Terceira, and Sao Miguel. You will need to adjust to driving on the right side of the road, however! To reach the other islands, you will need to hop on a flight or go by ferry or boat, where available.
The lure of the Azores Islands is that there is plenty to see and do. The countryside is stunning with caldeiras, ancient lava tubes, crater lakes, and ocean views. There are some unique activities, such as the running of the bulls in Terceira. The bulls run down the streets, so be sure to plan ahead for a safe observation seat. Another popular option is the hot springs. Most Azores visitors agree that the cuisine makes the trip special. Although the Azores Islands are a region of Portugal, the food is decidedly their own. There are a few items you definitely should try while you are there, such as alcatra, massa sovada, local cheeses, and tons of fresh seafood that just came off the boats. For a unique treat, give the cracas a try – it might seem strange to eat a barnacle, but they are amazing!
For stays in the Azores Islands of less than 90 days, you do not need a visa. If you plan to stay longer than that, you will need to get a tourist visa from a Portuguese consulate or embassy. You will need a passport and it must be valid for at least 90 days following your departure date, although six months validity is recommended.