Sao Jorge Azores: The Complete Guide to the Island of Fajas

Traveling to Sao Jorge Azores? Then you have landed in the right place. In this post, I will tell you all about it and the best way to visit.

Sao Jorge, part of the breathtaking Azores archipelago in the North Atlantic, is bursting with hidden gems just begging to be explored. Far from the well-trodden path, this place blends earthy cliffs with an infinite sea in a mesmerizing wonder of nature.

Also called the Island of Fajas for the number of these peculiar lava rock formations, Sao Jorge is arguably one of the most fascinating islands of the Azores Archipelago, especially loved by outdoorsy. But really, anyone who loves dramatic natural landscapes will fall in love.

Sao Jorge is very different from the other island and there are a few things you should know before you visit. At the end of this short guide, you will know why. I also hope you will love my pictures of Sao Jorge! I hope they will be able to show the beauty of this island.

Sao Jorge view of a faja
Sao Jorge Azores – view of the coastline

Table of Contents

Sao Jorge Azores Facts

✔️ Number of inhabitants: 8,381 – predominantly located along the northern and southern coasts, concentrated in various geological debris fields known as “fajãs”.

✔️Sao Jorge spans a length of 53 kilometers (33 miles) from its easternmost to westernmost points

✔️ The island measures 8 kilometers (5.0 miles) in width from north to south

✔️ Total area: 237.59 square kilometers (91.73 square miles).

✔️ Main villages: Vela, Calheta, Topo

✔️ Main industry: Cattle Raising, mainly for cheese and dairy products.

Sao Jorge Azores: an Overview

São Jorge, Azores is known as one of the “triangle islands” along with Faial and Pico. It is 54km long and 6.9km wide at its broadest point, with Faial and Pico located 18.5km away.

They are also so close to each other that you can see the coastlines from one another and you can travel between Sao Jorge and Pico by ferry, a beautiful 45-minute ride.

However, São Jorge Island is geographically distinct from its neighboring islands, Pico and Faial, due to its separation by the Pico-São Jorge Channel, which spans 15 kilometers (9.3 miles).

In fact, São Jorge Island boasts a unique topography characterized by its long and slender shape and towering cliffs, with a central mountain range stretching almost its entire length, offering incredibly unique and breathtaking views.

Also, Sao Jorge is mainly popular for the numerous “Fajas“, coastal plateaus formed over the years by ancient landslides or lava flows.

There are about 74 fajas in Sao Jorge some of which are home to spectacular natural pools and beautiful rock formations, the main attractions for tourists.

Not all the Faja are at easy reach as many of them are connected to the main roads by a unique narrow steep and unpaved road.

That is why I was so happy to join a tour so that I could sit back and listen to the interesting history of the island while Jaime, my amazing guide, was talking and driving.

Some fajãs can only be accessed on foot, making guided trails an excellent way to explore the island, catering to various physical abilities. And that leads to my next section. What’s the best way to explore Sao Jorge? Keep reading.

The Best way to visit Sao Jorge

As you will see by reading this post, there is so much to see in Sao Jorge, and if you are anything like me you may want to squeeze in as much as possible in a day.

I usually love to rent a car and drive around and so I did for the other Azore islands that I explored, but Sao Jorge is different.

Because of the unique topography of the island, most of the best spots are difficult to reach either because the roads are narrow and unpaved or because they are not very well marked.

This applies especially if you want to get along the coast off the main roads and to the famous fajas. Some of them can only be reachable only by foot, even.

In fact, there are so many amazing hiking trails that you would be better explored with a local guide in order to avoid getting lost or hurting yourself

I visited this island during my 1-month solo trip to the Azores and I can’t wait to go back to see more of it.

I was lucky enough to find one of the most amazing tour guides on the planet who took me around the island in a full-day tour, packed with so many island attractions and landmarks.

His name is Jamie Pereira and runs a family tour agency with his son, Land Tours. (see my video below)


On their page their offer a variety of tours including hiking, boat, and jeep tours. Jamie is very professional and knowledgeable, but most of all passionate about his own island and will share interesting details about the history and culture of the Azores as well. You will love his tour.

The only thing is that being a small family company you need to book in advance to secure your tour, especially if you travel in July or August, it may be the best time to travel to the Azores for the weather, but not so much for availability.

You can contact them via email. They speak very good English. On their website, you can also see other guests’ outstanding reviews.

Faja in Sao Jorge Azores
Sao Jorge Azores – Miraduro Ribeira do Almeida – View of Velas

Best things to do in Sao Jorge Azores

Before diving into the best things to do on the beautiful island of the Azores Sao Jorge

1. Book a full or half-day tour

As I explained earlier, booking a full-day land tour with Land Tours will give you a great understanding of the island’s culture, history, and geography, besides seeing some of the most beautiful views of the island and important landmarks.

If you feel like it, you may be able to take a swim in one of the spectacular natural pools.

2. Visit Pico da Esperanca (Sao Jorge’s highest point)

This is one of the most challenging hikes as it’s about 12 km and steep. However, as the highest mountain on Sao Jorge Island, the strenuous hike will be rewarded by unique breathtaking views.

Out of the many peaks dotting the island, this one stands tall, both literally and figuratively, in its grandeur. Reaching the summit feels like standing on the roof of the world. You get to see the central group of islands – Sao Jorge, Pico, Faial, Terceira, and Graciosa – all neatly aligned, like nature’s own diorama.

I would recommend going with a local guide and I am sure Land tours can help you with that.

Sao Jorge Faja view from the road
One of the lookout points of Sao Jorge

3. Hike #2 – Serra do Topo – Caldeira do Santo Cristo – Faja dos Cubres (most popular trail for tourists)

Besides Pico da Esperanza, Sao Jorge Island is renowned for its vast choice of amazing hiking trails. In fact, it’s home to almost 100 different hikes, and each trail is a story, a testament to Sao Jorge’s raw, untamed beauty. You can also check out the official Azores Islands site for information on trails throughout the Azores.

A favorite among tourists, this 10km trail starts at the Eolic Park of Serra do Topo, leading you through paths adorned with endemic flora and serenaded by native bird chirping.

Your hike continues through a shelter and towards the picturesque Caldeira de Santo Cristo Lake, a protected landscape and bird paradise.

Land Tours organizes that if you want to go with a guide and in a group, it’s definitely more fun, and safer. Book Here!

Piscina Natural Da Pontinha do topo
Piscina Natural Da Pontinha do topo

4. Explore the “fajas” of Sao Jorge

So, I was mentioning fajas earlier. If you didn’t read my introduction, they’re flat surfaces created by a solidified lava flow a long time ago. These scenic areas are surrounded by towering cliffs as well – making them really unique spots to explore on the Azores archipelago.

Sao Jorge is also called the island of Fajas because it’s home to the highest number of them with over 74 fajas scattered around the island. You can easily reach some of them by car but for others, you will need a local guide, as I mentioned before.

Faja da Caldeira Santo Cristo (most popular)

This is the most popular faja and a protected nature reserve with an intriguing underground cave. It stands out as one of the only two fajas on the island boasting a coastal lagoon.

Its fame is furthered by its cultivation of clams and good surfing conditions. It’s easily accessible on foot from Faja dos Cubres, where parking is available. See it on Google Maps

Fajas dos Cubres Miraduro
Fajas dos Cubres Miraduro

Faja dos Cubres

A short 3km hop westward from Faja da Caldeira Santo Cristo, and you land in the heart of Faja dos Cubres. It’s named after the goldenrod plant, which adds a sunny sparkle to the place. This faja is not just a pretty face though; it’s an award-winner!

It’s got a one-of-a-kind lagoon that will steal your breath away. Here, every step you take is a discovery, from the lake exploration on marked paths to the footbridge crossing.

Faja dos Vimes

Situated on the southern coast of Ribeira Seca, in the municipality of Calheta, Faja dos Vimes is notable for its artisanal textiles produced by the community using ancient wooden looms.

It’s the starting point of a popular hiking trail, and many other trails pass through here, making it an excellent choice for combining a visit with a scenic hike. Also, you will find one of the few (probably the only one) coffee plantations in Europe; Nunes Coffee Plantation.

Woman weaving At the coffee plantation Nunes

Poça Simão Dias (located in Faja do Ouvidor)

The Simão Dias natural swimming pool is a truly iconic part of the Faja do Ouvidor at Sao Jorge’s northern coast. The pool is famed as one of the best natural wonders of the island.

Its prismatic disjunctions, or large vertical columns of basalt resulting from lava cooling and solidifying, add a unique geological twist to this natural paradise.

Miradouro da Faja dos Ouvidor
Faja do Ouvidor view from the main road
Simao Dias Sao Jorge
Simao Dias Sao Jorge’s most spectacular Natural Pools

Faja Grande

You’ll find Faja Grande (aka Faja de Vicente Dias), a charming settlement on Sao Jorge’s southern coast, with a welcoming vibe. Not your typical faja, this one buzzes with more permanent residents, and you’ll see a blend of modern homes with older ones still standing strong.

They’ve got a fishing port, windmills, and stunning views! From here, you can see Pico Island, posing like a postcard. The road to get there is really well-paved so you can get there by car on your own.

Faja Grande Sao Jorge Azores

5. Discover Grutas do Algar do Montoso

For the more adventurous souls, the caves at Grutas do Algar do Montoso are a must-visit. These are caves in the council of Calheta, part of Sao Jorge’s biggest volcanic chimney. Visiting them is like stepping into the underground heart of the island – a space not many have been to.

It’s your chance to touch the island’s fiery history, but don’t just go strolling in. This isn’t a walk in the park. You’ll need the right gear and a guide who knows their stuff.

Parts of these caves still hide their secrets, waiting to be discovered, so don’t even think about heading down without someone who knows the ropes. There’s adventure, and then there’s being reckless, right? Stick to the former. Contact Land Tours to book your tour!

Sao Jorge Velas
Velas Sao Jorge Azores

6. Explore the city of Velas

If you’re seeking a dollop of charm on your Sao Jorge trip, head to Velas, the main city on the southwestern coast. It’s brimming with energy, and a stroll through the city streets feels like stepping into a storybook.

Historical churches, eye-catching manor houses – it’s a mix that never fails to impress.

So, soak in the vibe, stroll those narrow streets, and feel the heartbeat of the island. The city’s pace will slow you down, its rich history will make you pause. And hey, while you’re there, don’t miss the city’s top three highlights; they’re the icing on the Velas cake!


The Portuguese Calçadas are traditional mosaic pavements made of small, handcrafted stones, usually in black and white patterns. These unique and durable pavements can be found throughout Portugal, adding charm and character to the streets and sidewalks.

In Velas, you can appreciate similar works of art on the main street, right behind the parish church, where you can also browse for restaurants for your next dinner.:)

Calçada in Velas
Calçada in Velas Sao Jorge Azores

Jardim the Republica

This peaceful oasis nestled in Velas’ main square was once a bustling local market. Now, its manicured flowerbeds, verdant shrubs, and mature trees surround a central gazebo, creating a delightful retreat.

The garden is artfully framed by the architectural brilliance of the surrounding urban buildings.

Among these, the Town Hall building holds a special place, regarded as one of the finest examples of island Baroque on Sao Jorge.

On the opposite side, the building of the Velense Philharmonic Society captivates with its Art Deco façade. Harking back to the 1920s and 1930s, it showcases strong colors, large fenestrations, and stylized decorative elements from the Beaux Artiana tradition.

Poca das Frades (natural pool in Velas)

Poças Dos Frades in Velas Sao Jorge Azores.
Poças Dos Frades Velas Sao Jorge Azores.

Poca dos Frades is the local natural pool, right in the town of Velas. This well-known geological marvel is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.

The beauty and novelty of swimming in this ocean-filled crevice is an unforgettable way to connect with nature while taking a refreshing dip.

As you can see from my picture it was deserted when I was there but it was 7 pm and freezing. During the day is surely busier but I was around the island exploring so I couldn’t check myself.

Arco natural de Velas

It’s a beautiful natural monument, created by the basaltic lava of a volcanic eruption and has nearby a man-made lookout with views over the sea and the nearby islands.

Sao Jorge Velas Natural. Arch
Natural Arch Monument in Velas – Sao Jorge Azores

7. Visit Sao Jorge Churches

Churches are another notable aspect of the Sao Jorge experience and seeing them is definitely on the list of things you need to do here! Some of the churches here are in fact one of the oldest buildings on the island and offer a delightful glimpse into the history of Sao Jorge.

Igreja Sao Jorge

Nestled in the heart of Velas, this Mother Church traces its origins back to the late 15th century. The church features an intriguing facade and meticulously carved altars, housing statues from the old Franciscan convent. With its numerous renovations, the latest from the 18th century, the church embodies layers of history worth discovering.

Iglesia Sao Jorge Velas
Iglesia Sao Jorge Velas

Igreja da Urzelina

Known for its fascinating backstory, the Church of Urzelina stands as a testament to resilience. A volcanic eruption in 1808 engulfed the parish, yet the church tower remained untouched, spawning a local legend.

Post-eruption, the church was rebuilt, cementing its status as an enduring regional landmark. Definitely worth seeing. Oh, and while you’re visiting to see this fascinating church, don’t miss out on the picturesque traditional windmills of Urzelina village.

Church Tower of Urzelina
Church Tower of Urzelina – Sao Jorge Azores

Igreja da Santa Barbara

Located in a serene suburban area of Urzelina, this church may appear simple from the outside, but houses Sao Jorge Island’s most significant artistic treasures within.

What started as a modest chapel, was transformed over a span of 260 years, and now harbors a venerated image found by a local fisherman back in 1845.

Igresia Santa Barbara Urzelina Sao Jorge Azores
Igresia Santa Barbara Urzelina Sao Jorge Azores

8. Catch a sunset at Ponta dos Rosais

For an unforgettable end to a day of exploration in Sao Jorge, head to the northwestern edge of the island, Ponta dos Rosais. This dramatic promontory, which ascends to over 1,200 feet and spans 170 hectares, offers an extraordinary spot to view the sunset. 

Venture to the left of the crumbling lighthouse and other structures to reach the very edge of the island.

Here, you’ll be rewarded with an unparalleled view as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the landscape and making for a memorable highlight of your time in Sao Jorge.

Keep in mind that the last part of the road to this site is unpaved. I went with the tour I talked about at the beginning of the post.

Myself at Punta dos Rosais
Myself at Punta dos Rosais (you can only get there with a guide because they know where you can walk safely)
Farol Dos Rosais
Farol dos Rosais

9. Discover the hidden waterfall of Cascata do Cruzal

Nature’s magic awaits you at Cascata do Cruzal, a must on your list of things to do in Sao Jorge Azores. A serene waterfall is hidden away like a secret door in an enchanted garden.

This place is not just for hikers, it’s a short walk in nature suitable also for families or anyone who loves being immersed in lush vegetation at the only sound of the water crushing down the lava rocks.

Cascada Do Cruzal
Cascada do Cruzal Sao Jorge Azores
Cascada do Cruzal Trail
Cascata Do Cruzal Sao Jorge Azores Entrance

10. Enjoy a picnic at Sete Fontes Forest Park

Covering 12 hectares, the Sete Fontes Forest Park is a lush haven perfect for a relaxing picnic. With trails through dense woods, springs, and a variety of plant life, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. Carry a picnic basket, find a cozy spot, and enjoy a lovely picnic with stunning nature all around you.

The park also houses a small chapel, Sao Joao Baptista, a tribute to emigrants, and a mini zoo. As you enjoy your picnic, don’t miss the beautiful views of the surrounding islands – Pico, Faial, Graciosa, and Terceira – from the designated viewpoints.

I went there on my way to the Farol dos Rosais during my full-day tour with land tours.

Cheese Factory in Sao Jorge Azores
Cheese Factory in Sao Jorge Azores

11. Drive all the way to Ponta do Topo Islet in São Jorge Island, Azores

At the southeasternmost tip of the island lies the Ponta do Topo islet, a flat expanse of land situated not far from the shoreline. Interestingly, during the summer, cows make a remarkable journey by swimming to the islet and roaming freely while grazing.

Moreover, the village of Topo boasts a renowned cheese factory, adding to its fame and allure among visitors. You will also find a natural pool for some swimming and walking trails in the surroundings.

Ponta do Topo Islet
Ponta do Topo Lighthouse
Farolo Ponta do topo - island in the horizon
View of Faro Ponta do Topo and the island on the horizon
Natural Pool Da Pontihna da Topo
Natural Pool Da Pontihna da Topo Sao Jorge Island

12. Taste some cheese at the Queijarias (Cheese Factory)

Sao Jorge cheese is one of the most prestigious among the Azores Islands. Here you have the opportunity to actually visit an authentic local cheese factory and learn about their cheese-making process. An interesting way to learn how locals do, explained by the locals.

Visiting time is 7 AM – 12 PM and 1 PM-3 PM, and you will need to reserve a spot at least a day earlier.

Coffee Plantation Cafe Nunes
Nunes Coffee Plantation

13. Visit the Sao Jorge coffee plantation

You can’t leave Sao Jorge without stopping by Faja dos Vimes for an intriguingly unique experience – visiting a coffee plantation. This isn’t your typical sprawling coffee estate.

It’s a charming back-garden setup, run by a cafe owner with a passion for coffee and a respect for tradition.

It is believed to be one of the only few places in Europe where coffee is grown, thanks to the special Azorean weather. The place is called Cafe Nunes, a cozy spot that’s been serving homemade, organic coffee made from their backyard-grown beans for generations.

A cup of coffee here isn’t just a beverage, it’s a tribute to perseverance, passion, and the magic of Sao Jorge’s microclimate – which means you have to have it on your list of things to do in Sao Jorge Azores!

And right in the backyard, you will also have the chance to see one of the last weavers creating local textiles. She will welcome you in her humble working space and show you how things are done.

Coffee Beens
Coffee Beans from the Coffee Plantation Cafe Nunes – Sao Jorge Azores

14. Go on an extreme outdoor adventure

And for the thrill-seekers out there, if you’re on the island of Sao Jorge, your adventure radar should be pinging like crazy! Sao Jorge has no shortage of outdoor adventures, and the list expands far beyond hiking.

Scale the island’s cliffs on a rock-climbing expedition, the views from the top are mind-blowing. If it’s a coastal thrill you’re after, try coasteering. Explore hidden corners where the wild sea meets the rugged cliffs, it’s exhilarating.

Or plunge into the island’s untouched beauty with canyoning. Navigate steep canyons, leap off waterfalls, and swim in crystal-clear pools. Get that adrenaline pumping and immerse yourself in the wild side of Sao Jorge!

Sao Jorge Azores map

Sao Jorge Azores Map
Sao Jorge Azores Map – Click on the Image to open Google Maps

Where to eat in Sao Jorge Azores

🧑🏽‍🍳 Restaurante Acor

Nestled in the historic center of Velas, this spot boasts a diverse menu – think succulent meats, fresh fish, and irresistible pizza. Bonus: their terrace offers a charming view of the Matriz das Velas Church. I had a delicious fish soup there 🙂

Fish Soup Azore Restaurant Sao Jorge
My fish soup

🧑🏽‍🍳 Restaurante Sao Jorge

Restaurante Sao Jorge is another great option in downtown Velas. It’s got something for every palate. And there’s nothing like enjoying an after-dinner drink on the terrace, watching life on the main street of the town hall.

🧑🏽‍🍳 Livramento O 30

If you’re in the mood for somewhere intimate to eat, Livramentio O 30 is a great place for it. This cozy cafe on the fringe of Velas is perfect for a casual bite with your friends or family. The place is known for its excellent service, and delectable food, and offers vegan-friendly options as well. I had a delicious warm-hearting fish soup here!

🧑🏽‍🍳 Fornos de Lava

This eatery sits just 2km outside of Velas, and its surroundings as well as the view from here are simply awe-inspiring. Housed on a former farm, they serve fresh, well-balanced meals, accommodating even gluten-free needs. A rounded restaurant with farm-to-table goodness.

Where to stay in Sao Jorge Azores

🏨 Intact Farm Resort (budget)

If you’re looking for budget-friendly Sao Jorge Azores hotels, and still being comfortable, check out the Intact Farm and Bungalows in Velas. You’ll get a cozy room with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi. Some rooms even feature a terrace or balcony with sea views. Plus, free private parking is available!

🏨 Hotel Sao Jorge Garden (mid-range)

A step up from budget, Hotel Sao Jorge Garden offers not only comfort but also an amazing location – just a stroll away from Velas’ shopping area and the harbor.

Rooms have AC and a balcony with garden and ocean views. You can also enjoy a breakfast with a panoramic view or a refreshing dip in the outdoor seawater pool.

🏨 Cantinho do Piano (Mid-range)

Views of Mount Pico from Canthino do Piano Hotel
Views of Mount Pico from Canthino Do Piano Hotel Terrace

This is the hotel where I stayed and I believe it offers great value for money. It’s a family-owned property, located right near the harbor. The rooms are tiny but cozy and very nicely decorated in a modern style.

They offer free coffee and tea that are available in the kitchen area where you can enjoy the spectacular views of the sunset and sunrise. On a sunny day, you can also admire the snow-capped Pico Mountain from the terrace.

🏨 Make it happen farm (luxury)

For an affordable luxury stay, Make it Happen Farm is one of the most unique accommodation in Sao Jorge Azores in the town of Urzelina. Each room is well-appointed with a flat-screen TV, and some even offer a seating area for post-adventure relaxation.

Enjoy free WiFi and the convenience of a free shuttle service. Plus, you can even choose from rooms with a terrace or patio to unwind on.

Sao Jorge Coastline
Sao Jorge Azores Coastline

How to get around Sao Jorge Azores

Renting a car in Sao Jorge Azores

I always say that renting a car in the Azores is the best way to visit the islands and that applies to Sao Jorge, of course. It will give you the freedom to explore all the nooks and crannies at your own pace.

Since it’s considered the best way to get around the island, there are plenty of Sao Jorge Azores car rentals as well.

You can check out the Discover Cars platform to find the best deals.

Best Car Rental Deals w/ Free Cancellation, Compare & Save! | Discover Cars

Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!

They’ve got vehicles for every taste and budget, so you can choose what suits your travel style the best. One little tip – make sure to book early during the tourist season. It can get busy, and you don’t want to miss out.

When you have a car at your disposal, you can move around to the most popular landmarks and restaurants without having to look for taxis which, I have heard, are not very reliable.

However, there’s a catch! As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, but also as you may have noticed in the pictures (I hope you like them, by the way) some of the most interesting areas of Sao Jorge, including many of the famous Fajas, are only reachable by dirt roads which are not always well marked.

Therefore, although I recommend renting a car, I would also book some tours if you want to visit such areas.

The tours would also give you that extra advantage of having a local guide sharing a lot of interesting information that you won’t find in travel books, especially if you book with Land Tours.

Sao Tome Road
Road in Sao Jorge Azores

When is the best time to visit Sao Jorge Portugal?

The best time to visit the Azores would be from mid-April through Mid October if we consider the weather. However, not all months are made equal. Let me break it down.

From Mid-April and the end of May, the water temperature is colder and not suitable for everybody to swim – locals do it, but for visitors, it depends on what kind of climate you are used to. If you are anything like me who is used to the Caribbean temperature, it’s going to be a challenge. But I did swim in April on Terceira Island. It was fun!

June, July, and August are the peak months, which means better weather but also bigger crowds and higher prices. If you can only travel at this time of the year, make sure you book your hotels, flights, cars, and tours in advance especially, if you don’t have much flexibility with time.

May to Mid-June and September are in my opinion the best time of the year to travel to Sao Jorge and all the archipelago, because you get the best of both worlds, nice weather, small crowds, and still affordable prices.

Ponthina do Topo Natural Pool
Ponthina do Topo Natural Pool – Sao Jorge Azores

How many days should you spend in Sao Jorge Azores?

How long should you stay in Sao Jorge? It depends. if you’re looking for a taste of the island’s natural wonders, culture, and cuisine, a quick 3 to 4-day getaway should cover your bases. Perfect for covering all the highlights of the island and a little off-the-beaten-path exploration.

But, if you’re the adventurous type, dreaming of hiking, surfing, canyoning, and more, consider leveling up to a full week. That’s what I am planning to do next time I go, 7 to 10 days.

That’s plenty of time to dive into all the exhilarating things to do Sao Jorge Azores has in store.

Sao Jorge Azores travel tips

  • Book in advance: The Azores, including Sao Jorge, is a popular destination during the summer months. So, booking your accommodations and activities in advance is a smart move to avoid disappointments.
  • Rent a car but also get a tour with a local guide – A combination of both is the best way to get to know the island well.
  • Pack for the unpredictable weather: The weather in the Azores can be unpredictable, so it’s best to pack a light jacket. Don’t forget your waterproofs and a good pair of hiking boots if you plan to explore the island’s trails.
  • Bring your sunscreen: Sunscreen is a must in the Azores, even though the temperatures are usually mild, so make sure you bring one.
  • Try the local cuisine: Don’t miss out on sampling the local Azorean cuisine. The island is particularly known for its delicious Sao Jorge cheese and excellent seafood.
  • Learn some basic Portuguese: A little bit of the local language goes a long way when you’re in the Azores. The locals appreciate it a lot if you speak just the basics of their language.
  • Explore off the beaten path: While the main attractions are certainly worth visiting, try to explore some of the less-traveled paths to discover the true beauty of Sao Jorge.
  • Respect the environment: The Azores prides itself on its natural beauty. Be respectful of the environment, stick to marked paths while hiking, and don’t litter.
Piscina Municipal de Urzelina
Piscina Municipal de Urzelina for a great swim!

Sao Jorge Azores: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sao Jorge known for?

Sao Jorge is mainly known for the so-called Fajas, coastal plains created by landslides or lava flow that are now across the years and some of which have been developed and built in small villages.

Many of the villages located in the Fajas around the island of Sao Jorge were not very much connected until a few years ago. Even now some of them are reachable only by windy dirt roads that are narrow and steep.

What is the main city of São Jorge?

The main city of São Jorge is Velas, that’s where the ferries arrive and leave and where you can find the majority of shops and restaurants.

Faja Dos Bodes
Faja Dos Bodes

Is São Jorge worth a visit?

It is indeed. São Jorge’s unique layout makes it a very unique island full of incredible viewpoints and hiking trails, besides the usual natural pool around the coastline.

What is the best island in the Azores for expats?

It depends on what you are looking for. I have visited 5 islands while in the Azores and each of them is so unique and with its own charm.

All of them have good WIFI and modern infrastructure, although Sao Miguel is definitely the one with more things to do and facilities, being the biggest and the most populated.

Sao Jorge dirt road

How do you get around Sao Jorge?

It’s definitely more convenient renting a car if you stay for more days. Otherwise, you can just book tours with my favorite guides at Land Tours.
Keep in mind that many of island landmarks are difficult to reach on your own.

How far is São Jorge from São Miguel?

Sao Jorge is located at a 55-minute flight from São Miguel (Ponta Delgada)

How far is Sao Jorge from Pico

Pico’s only 33 kilometers away. Close enough for a nice day trip and plenty of ferries connect both these islands!

Miradouro da Fajã dos Cubres
Miradouro da Fajã dos Cubres

Do I need a car in the Azores?

You don’t actually need a car, but you will enjoy them more if you rent one. I have rented a car on every island, except Sao Jorge, and I was happy to drive around freely and check out different places every day.

If you don’t have a car, you will need to rely on taxis or organized tours all the time and they are not always available.

How many days do you need in the Azores?

It depends on what you want to do and see. I stayed in the Azores for a Month and I didn’t have enough.

I couldn’t see every island because I like to travel slowly and I needed to save time for work as well so, I would have needed 2 months to see them all and work at the same time.

If you are only traveling, and just wish to have a quick overview, I would suggest spending at least 3 full days on each island and 5 days in Sao Miguel, at least.

Ferry to sao jorge from Pico
Getting to Sao Jorge by Ferry

Can you island hop in the Azores?

Of course. It’s very easy. You can fly on SATA Airways, which basically connects all the islands to each other. Or you can take the Azores Ferries that connect Pico to Faial and Sao Jorge.

Terceira is connected in the summer to Sao Jorge and Pico as well.

Can I use my cell phone in the Azores?

Yes, you can. I bought an e-sim of 20GB for 30 days and it worked wonders.

Can I drive in the Azores with a US license?

Yes, of course. US license and any driving license that is written in Roman letters are valid in the Azores. You also need to be at least 23yrs old and older.

If you are between 21 and 23, some rental companies require you to pay an extra fee for insurance.

Regardless, I always recommend using DiscoverCars where you can compare rates and get cheap full insurance.

Make sure you read the fine print from the company you choose, for more details.

Final thoughts: Sao Jorge Azores Guide

Sao Jorge is like a dream – a paradise tucked away in the middle of the Atlantic. It has got something for everyone: nature walks that soothe your soul, extreme adventures that get your heart pumping, foods that leave your taste buds dancing, and a culture so rich, it feels like stepping back in time.

I hope this guide was able to convey its beauty and the best way to visit. If you have any questions do not hesitate to get in touch.