How to get Azores for the USA
Despite their relative proximity to the USA, the Azores have not yet come close to attaining the level of trendiness and popularity that Iceland has reached in recent years. The Portuguese archipelago, located about 850 miles off the coast of mainland Portugal, receives its fair share of European visitors, but options for traveling to the Azores from the USA have historically been very limited.
That has somewhat changed in recent months, but there are still only a couple of direct routes for getting to the Azores from the US. All flights will be in/out of Ponta Delgada (the largest city in the Azores located on São Miguel Island) and once there, SATA offers short flights to each of the eight other Azorean islands.
SATA route map
Flying nonstop from Boston to Ponta Delgada on Azores Airlines (the international arm of SATA) has historically been the easiest way to get from the US to the Azores. Given Massachusetts’ huge Azorean/Portuguese population, it makes sense that there would consistently be direct flights connecting the two regions. Flights from Boston to Ponta Delgada only last about 4.5 hours and the only available flight is a daily redeye that leaves at 9:20 PM and arrives in the Azores at 6:00 AM (expect to be tired on your first day). Prices vary widely depending on dates and season. Round-trip in February would be for about $500 each, but summer flights (peak season) are routinely north of $1,000 per round-trip ticket.
Delta started flying direct from JFK to Ponta Delgada in May, 2018. This is a major development that, for better or for worse, is expected to significantly boost tourism from the US. As the program currently stands, this route will only be offered May-August, but Delta has indicated that this could become a year-round route in the future. Prices range from the $600’s to well over $1,000 for a round-trip ticket depending on travel dates.
Direct flights from Oakland to Ponta Delgada are only offered from June – September. This is a long flight and not in the least bit inexpensive.
Azores Airlines offers nonstop flights from Providence, Rhode Island’s T.F. Green Airport to Ponta Delgada every Friday between June 8 and September 8. Flights tend to be expensive (usually over $1,000 round-trip, although sometimes you can find flights in the $600’s if you’re lucky). The one advantage this route has over Boston is that it is an afternoon flight rather than a redeye.
Flying from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada is only about a 2-hour flight and is generally inexpensive. The more expensive leg of the flight is obviously getting to Lisbon from your point of origin in the US. RyanAir, Azores Airlines and TAP Air Portugal all offer nonstop flights from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada.
If you live in New England, then you have the most direct path to getting to the Azores any time of the year. New York, Providence, and Oakland are all additional summer options. If you live anywhere else in the US, you’ll need a connecting flight in one of these cities (or Lisbon).
Azores Airlines also offers nonstop flights from Toronto and Montreal. While finding affordable flights to the Azores can be difficult, particularly in the summer, it isn’t impossible, however, you might have to be flexible in terms of dates.