After booking our trip to Terceira, I started looking into options for getting around the island only to find there wasn’t much information available. Did they have a bus system? Taxis? After a long debate on just winging it or making a plan, I decided to just try to rent a car while we were there. That seemed like the safest route. After searching around I found a car for $36 a day and jumped for joy till I read the small fine print that stated a 850€ hold would be placed on my card. I have rented cars before, and I know you can buy the premium insurance, but my previous experience with that is it’s expensive. I decided to just book tours, and hope that the island was walking friendly for everything else we wanted to see (for those of you wondering it’s NOT). Due to a flight delay (it was delayed for a day) we missed one tour, and didn’t realize our next tour had been rescheduled, so we missed that one too. Frustrated beyond belief I dragged Drew down to the rental car place that was down the street from our hotel, determined to rent a car and see the island even if it did cost 850€.
It didn’t cost that, not even close. We actually ended up canceling the rest of our tours and just drove around the island and enjoyed island life on our time. For those of you who are heading to Terceira Island anytime soon and want to rent a car, I have compiled a quick list of tips and tricks to help you with renting a car and driving around the island. We did rent our car from Aguiatur, however we did pay full price for the car and this is not sponsored, just wanted you to know who we got the car from in case you go there and it’s not quite the same.
1. Don’t let the deposit deter you
We asked about the car and were told there was a huge deposit and then were informed that there isn’t a deposit if we got premium insurance. Without asking how much the insurance was I said we will take it and we filled out the paperwork. “The total due is 50€ and we accept cash or card.” That sentence floored me. I asked for clarification and the car was 40€ a day (we will get to the discounted price you saw in the intro soon) and the premium insurance was ONLY 10€! Also a quick note, quite a few of the roads have potholes that will be bigger than your car…premium insurance in this case is a win-win.
2. Rent longer than 3 days if possible
Obviously if you are only doing a day trip to the island this is not possible, but if you are staying awhile, rent for 3 days at a time or longer for a discounted rate. Had we rented for three days to start with we would have paid a total of 42€ a day including the premium insurance. (The $36 in the intro was in USD not Euro and through a different company.)
3. Don’t trust the map you are given
Most of you know I love the app Sygic for traveling because you can use it offline, however, it did not have a map for the Azores. We tried to Google Maps it, however we wanted to stop at so many places, that ended up being a fail too. A good old map is what we used. The rental company gave us a map of the island, however be warned not every road is on that map. The map will show the road you want being the next road on the right, and three roads up with countless turnarounds and cows meandering down the road with us later you will reach the right turn. Be prepared to get lost. The bright side of this is the island is beautiful and every turn has another photo opportunity for you. Be patient and have a sense of humor.
4. If an accident occurs don’t move
With the premium insurance everything is covered. This is fantastic news especially on an island full of cobblestone roads and potholes, however remember that if an accident happens, the police need to be called. The reason for this is they need to know there was not alcohol in your system. It’s not something to worry about, just know not to move till you get that report so you aren’t paying a lot of money for something that was covered.
5. Cows are more courteous than most drivers on the road
If you have driven on the highway in Italy, or in New York or even Washington D.C. you know that there are mostly crappy drivers on the road that do not let you pass. On Terceira cow herds on the road are a commonplace, and the first time I saw the road covered with cows I panicked. I stopped the car in the middle of road and wondered how in the world I was supposed to go around…or did I wait on them to get to their pasture? A car flew by me, slowing only slightly and I watched, quite literally with my mouth open, as the cows moved to a single file line on one side of the road to let the car pass then branched back out. The cows are used to moving for cars. Slow down a little and keep moving forward, I promise you they do move over.
6. Speed up and park anywhere
Everyone on the island drives very quickly without issues. Just know if you drive slower you will get passed. On the other side of that they also park anywhere, this includes in the driving lane. It’s nothing to drive through a small town and see a car stopped in the middle of the road while the driver is out talking to his and her friend that is walking by. This happens more than I would like to say which means I ran into this issue at least 10 times a day while driving. Now for actual parking remember if you park in downtown Angra, there will likely be a parking meter so be on a lookout for that. We parked a little outside of town on the side of the road (what I call a sidewalk however it was used as a parking lot there) and walked in so we never had an issue.