December may be winter in the Azores, but with mild temperatures in the high 50s (Fahrenheit) to low 60s and a mix of rainy and sunny days, it's a great time for active travelers to explore the lush landscapes of São Miguel and Terceira. Accommodation prices will be near their lowest, and trails and restaurants will be much quieter than in summer. Pack a swimsuit for the natural hot pools and some rain gear, and you'll find December is an excellent time for an authentic travel experience in the Azores.


By December, winter has settled in across the Azores. However, contrary to most European countries, weather in the Azores is mild, with an average temperature of 63ºF (17ºC), and unless you're atop the highest peak, the chance of snow is more or less zero. On the other hand, December is one of the rainiest months, and you can expect around 6 inches (158 mm) of rain throughout. As long as you pack good rain gear and warm layers and don't mind the occasional rainy day, the weather in the Azores can be very pleasant.

Crowds & Costs

While traveling to the Azores in winter is becoming more popular, December is still very much off-season. Flights are less frequent but tend to be much cheaper than their summer counterparts, and you can find beautiful accommodations for half the cost compared to July and August.

Larger towns like Ponta Delgada and Angra do Heroísmo retain a friendly, bustling vibe, while Horta on Faial Island and Madalena on Pico Island will be very quiet, and some shops close their doors until spring. Overall, you can look forward to a more authentic experience in December, with locals outnumbering tourists, and many of the island's highlights are yours to explore without the crowds.

Where to Go

Thanks to its protected location, Terceira Island is a great place to explore in December. Rain will be less frequent compared to other islands, and you'll see more hours of sunshine. While it's unlikely you'll be sunbathing, there's still plenty to explore on Terceira, including its largest town and UNESCO-listed Angra do Heroísmo, Monte Brasil hill, and the otherworldly volcanic chimney of Algar do Carvão.

On the other hand, São Miguel sees more rain than other islands, but with numerous natural hot springs dotted across the island, it's well worth exploring in December. Furnas is especially known for its geothermal features and is also home to Furnas Lagoon, where you can try cozido das Furnas, a stew cooked by geothermal heat. On sunny days, head to eastern São Miguel to take in the waterfalls of Ribeira dos Caldeirões Park and the subtropical forest along the Pico da Vara trail.

If the central islands of Pico and Faial are on your radar, you can still visit them in December; just be prepared for some shops and activity providers to be closed for winter. On a 15-day island-hopping itinerary, you can tick off the highlights of Faial, Pico, São Miguel, and Terceira, including stays in the charming and now quiet towns of Horta and Madalena, and have the impressive 3 miles (5 km) long Gruta das Torres Cave nearly to yourself.

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What to Do

December's cooler temperatures are perfect for hiking and relaxing in natural hot springs. As public transport and taxis are very limited in the winter months, you'll need to rent a car to get around, but in return, you can plan your day around the weather. On sunny days, head to Sete Cidades Lagoon to hike one of the many trails surrounding the impressive lake inside a volcanic crater or to central São Miguel, where you can hike around Lagoa do Congro.

Terceira is also filled with incredible hiking trails, including Furnas do Enoxfre, a volcanic park where you can wander between natural vents shooting up steaming sulfur. No matter the weather, it's worth driving the loop road along Terceira's coast, stopping at the stunning viewpoints of Ponta das Contendas Lighthouse and Miradouro da Ponta do Queimado and searching for impérios, which are small temples dotted across the island.

When the weather plays up, there's still plenty to do. Rainy days are especially great for soaking in natural hot springs. You can relax in naturally heated waters among the lush jungle at Terra Nostra garden, or within two hours of low tide, visit Ponta da Ferraria to enjoy free hot springs located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Or, if you prefer to stay dry, spend a day wandering the Carlos Machado Museum, São Sebastião Church, and the 16th-century Nossa Senhora da Esperança Convent, all located in Ponta Delgada.

Events in December

Christmas, nationwide. Even without snow, Christmas is a magical time in the Azores. Shops, restaurants, and houses are decorated and lit, and a lively spirit engulfs the islands. As most restaurants close for Christmas day, you should plan ahead and book in at one of the few that remain open.

New Year's Eve, nationwide. Large and small parties are held throughout the Azores, with Praça de Gonçalo Velho square on São Miguel home to the largest. Locals and visitors ring in the New Year with live music, fireworks, and a countdown to midnight.

Traveling to The Azores in December? Check out these great itineraries

Adventure to Lisbon & the Azores - 6 Days. In under a week, this adventurous itinerary takes you from the bustling streets of Lisbon to the remote Atlantic island of São Miguel. After visiting the highlights and hidden corners of Portugal's colorful capital, catch a flight to the Azores for three nights in a secluded paradise of lush greenery, volcanic lakes, and unspoiled beaches.

Island Hopping in the Azores: São Miguel, Faial, Pico & Terceira - 15 Days. If you have just over two weeks up your sleeve, opt for an island-hopping itinerary to spend your days kayaking crater lakes, hiking dormant volcanoes, and swimming in natural hot springs.

More Helpful Information

The Azores in November
The Azores in January
Best Time of Year to Visit the Azores
How Many Days to Spend in the Azores