Are you looking for the perfect Azores packing list for carry on travelers? I’ve traveled to the Azores in Portugal with only a 25L backpack plus my camera bag, so packing carry on only to visit these gorgeous islands is definitely doable. I visited in March, but because of the location and climate, your packing list for the Azores won’t be drastically different for other times of the year.
The Azores are a remote group of nine islands located west of mainland Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. To give you an idea of how remote they are, the flight from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel island is about 2.5 hours, or it’s about a 5 hour flight from Boston. This gives the islands a temperate climate.
You can experience all seasons in one day in the Azores, so it’s important to pack for rain or shine. Let’s take a look at what to pack for the Azores, especially for carry on travelers.
Azores Packing List: Essentials for Carry-On
The Azores islands are gorgeous, and you’re likely to be doing at least some outdoor activities here. It’s also a place where you probably don’t need to get dressed up. My carry on Azores packing list is based on these things to help you pack efficiently.
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Plan your clothing choices for the Azores so that your pieces are practical and coordinate. Comfort is key when you’re hiking, going whale watching, or even doing van tours or a road trip. And it can rain at any time of the year, or go from sunny to rainy and back again in the same day.
I’m very open to re-wearing shirts, leggings, and jeans. In general, I don’t think one day is enough to get something so dirty that I can’t wear it another day. This is one easy way to travel carry on only. Also, my trip to the Azores was about 6 days long, but it was also part of a two week trip to Portugal.
Short sleeved shirts: Pack one for each day of your trip, plus or minus, depending on how open you are to re-wearing a shirt. Try these from Bluffworks: women’s crew neck | women’s cowl neck | men’s crew neck
Long sleeved shirt or hoodie: Since it does sometimes get a little chilly, it’s good to have one long sleeved shirt to wear over a short sleeved shirt. I was in the Azores in March, and I was happy to have my hoodie most days.
Pants: 2-3 pairs of leggings or other casual light weight pants. I had one pair of jeans that I changed into to go to dinner in the evening.
Shorts: I didn’t need shorts for the Azores in March, but if you’re traveling in summer, it might get warm enough for shorts. It’s rarely hot though.
Light waterproof jacket: It really can rain any day of the year in the Azores, and even if the day starts out sunny, don’t leave your hotel without your jacket.
Underwear: Pack one pair of underwear and one pair of socks for each day of your trip. Ladies, pack 2 or 3 bras for a one week trip. I love ExOfficio because they’re quick dry, which is great for travel.
Sleepwear: Pajamas, t-shirt and shorts, leggings…you know what you’re comfortable sleeping in.
Bathing suit: The Azores isn’t a huge beach destination, but there are some beaches, pools, and hot springs where you can go for a dip. Even in colder weather, the hot springs are pretty popular.
Shoes: Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots, plus one other pair of shoes depending on your itinerary. Sandals or other casual shoes will work. Leave the high heels at home.
What to Wear in the Azores in March
Since I’ve been traveling to the Azores in March, I wanted to give you an idea of what a typical outfit would be for me at this time of year. Remember weather can vary, so always be prepared.
Most days were sunny for at least part of the day, but I also experienced lots of cloudy periods and fog at higher altitudes. It did rain a little while I was sightseeing, but nothing major.
I mostly wore walking shoes, leggings, a short sleeve shirt, a hoodie, and a lightweight rain jacket if it was raining or particularly windy. One day I forgot my hoodie in the hotel, and I was a bit chilly with just the short sleeve shirt and jacket, but it was manageable.
Everyone has specific toiletries they like to use, but here’s my toiletries list that helps me pack carry on only.
Shampoo and conditioner: I love using solid shampoo and solid conditioner for travel and at home. But if you’re not ready to ditch your liquid versions, stay under the liquids limit by using these GoToob refillable bottles. | Read my reviews of Ethique solid shampoo for travel and Ethique solid conditioner for travel.
Shower gel or bar soap: Bar soap won’t count against the liquids limit.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss: Keep those teeth clean! Did you know you can get solid toothpaste tabs like these to save even more space in your liquids bag? | Read my review of Hello Solid Toothpaste Tabs for Travel.
Contact solution and case: If you wear contacts, I also recommend bringing glasses as a backup.
Lotion: It can get windy in the Azores, which can dry your skin.
Razor: If you have shaving needs, add a razor to your Azores travel packing list.
Nail clippers and nail file: Leave the nail scissors at home since some security agents might confiscate them.
Brush and hair elastics: I usually prefer to have my hair up when I’m in windy places like the Azores.
Makeup: Pack your must-have makeup items, but you don’t need much.
Sunscreen: Important if you’re spending lots of time outside hiking, doing water activities, or going whale watching in the Azores. Did you know you can get solid sunscreen? I love this one.
First aid items
Of course the Azores have pharmacies and other stores where you can buy basic first aid items. But it’s always easier if you have a few things with you, plus if you’re hiking or sightseeing, you might be a couple hours away from a store.
- Headache/Pain meds
- Bandaids and wound cream
- Immodium (hopefully you won’t need this)
- Allergy meds
- Prescription medications (always worth packing a few days extra)
- Bug repellent (try this solid one)
The Azores really is the perfect place to unplug and relax. Enjoy nature, go for a hike, take a dip in a hot spring, go whale watching, and take lots of photos. But hopefully you can leave the laptop at home.
Camera and accessories: These days I mostly use my iPhone to take pictures, but I’m so glad I took my Canon Rebel DSLR and zoom lens to the Azores. There are so many gorgeous landscapes to photograph, and I feel like my iPhone isn’t the best for distances, especially when it’s cloudy or overcast.
Kindle: Great for bringing as many books as you want to read on the flight to the Azores.
Smart phone: This works well for photos if you don’t want to bring a camera.
European SIM card: Rather than deal with the hassles of trying to buy a local sim card when you arrive, especially in a small place like the Azores, get one ahead of time. Orange SIM cards work throughout the EU, including Portugal. Choose between a normal SIM or an eSIM.
Chargers, cords, batteries: Make sure you pack any chargers, cords, and batteries you need for your electronics.
Plug adapters: Most of mainland Europe, including Portugal, uses a two pronged electrical outlet. You’ll need a plug adapter like this one to make your devices fit.
Most electronics do not need a voltage converter unless you’re traveling with a hair dryer, curling iron, or hair straightener. Even then, I highly recommend buying a dual voltage hair appliance before your trip because it’ll work better.
Can you bring a hair dryer on a plane?
Can you bring a curling iron on a plane?
Can you take a hair straightener on a plane?
Passport: US citizens do not need a tourist visa to visit Portugal, but if you carry a passport from somewhere else, please check the embassy website for requirements.
It’s always a good idea to scan a copy of your passport and email it to yourself and to your emergency contact at home. Print a copy to have with you in case there’s an internet issue and you can’t access your scanned copy. Hopefully you’ll never need these backups, but you’ll be grateful to have them if your passport gets lots or stolen. It’s also worth getting a passport holder to protect your passport from bending, water damage, etc.
Credit and debit cards: I was able to use my credit card to pay for almost everything in the Azores. If a credit card machine or ATM asks if you want to use their exchange rate or let your bank choose it, or if it asks if you want to be charged in euros or your home currency, ALWAYS let your bank choose the exchange rate, and ALWAYS choose to pay in euros.
Driver’s license: I didn’t rent a car in the Azores, but if you’re willing to drive there, it’s a great way to explore. Public transportation isn’t very useful for tourists, so your options are to book tours or rent a car. Get a quote for a rental car here.
Other essential items to add to your Azores packing list
Umbrella: In the Azores, it can rain any time of year, so packing a light weight travel umbrella is a good idea. But if it’s windy, a rain jacket will be even more useful.
Sunglasses: When the sun comes out, you’ll be happy to have your sunglasses.
Water bottle: The tap water in the Azores is safe to drink, so bring your own water bottle to refill to save money and be kind to the environment. Get a collapsible one like this that will take up less space in your bag.
Tissues: I always travel with a few packs of tissues.
Snacks: Knowing I’d be out all day touring the island, I brought a handful of granola bars with me to snack on. I’m a bit of an anxious person, so knowing I have a snack helps if lunch ends up being later than I’d like.
Azores planning and tours
There isn’t a lot of public transport on the Azores islands, so most people rent a car. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore and stop for photos on your own schedule. Grab a quote for a rental car from Discover Cars here.
But if you’re like me and don’t want to drive, it’s best to book a few tours. It’s virtually impossible to get around without either a rental car or a tour guide. I used Azores Private Tours for my trip to Sao Miguel island, and he was absolutely wonderful. If you’re interested in a private tour, I highly recommend him.
If private tours are a little expensive for you, check out these interesting group tours:
- Azores Food Tour: Food tours are an excellent way to learn about the culture of a place through its cuisine. I took this food tour in Ponta Delgada, and it was really fun.
- Azores Whale Watching Tour: The Azores have a long history with whales, and today it’s all about the whale watching tours.
- Sete Cidades Jeep Tour: See some of Sao Miguel Island’s most beautiful landscapes on a fun jeep tour.
- Sao Miguel Furnas Tour: Volcano, Tea Plantation, and Lakes: Explore the Furnas area of Sao Migues Island, including gorgeous landscapes and the only tea plantation in Europe.
Hopefully my Azores packing list will help you prepare for a trip to these gorgeous islands. And don’t forget, pack a rain jacket for any season in the Azores.
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