Renting a Car in Ponta Delgada (São Miguel, Azores): What You Need to Know in 2024

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Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, is a beautiful destination and the main hub for exploring the Azores. While public transportation is available, it’s not the most reliable. Renting a car in Ponta Delgada is a great way to thoroughly explore the island at your own pace and see all that it has to offer.

We had the best experience exploring the island of São Miguel with our tiny robin egg blue rental car, which allowed us to get everywhere we needed to go on our own schedule.

Before renting your car, there are a few things to consider. We’ll guide you through the process, from choosing a rental company to understanding local driving laws and regulations, to ensure that your car rental experience in Ponta Delgada is smooth and enjoyable.

A red Volkswagen up! sits on the left and a robin egg blue Volkswagen up! sits on the right. You can get a similar vehicle when renting a car in Ponta Delgada.
The blue one on the right was our rental!

Find the Best Rental Car Deals in Ponta Delgada

If you’re planning a trip to the island of São Miguel in the Azores, you’ll probably arrive at the airport in Ponta Delgada. Renting a car from here gives you the ultimate flexibility to explore this picturesque island and all of its attractions.

Here, we’ll explore how to find the best rental car deals in Ponta Delgada, so you can experience São Miguel on your own schedule.

One of the best ways to find rental car deals in Ponta Delgada is through DiscoverCars.

You’ll be able to compare prices across multiple rental agencies and find the best deals based on your specific needs and preferences. Plus, DiscoverCars booking service helps ensure a seamless rental experience with various features such as easy pick-up/drop-off locations and payment options.

Renting a car in Ponta Delgada has many benefits. With a rental car, you’ll have the freedom to drive to nearby cities like Vila Franca do Campo, Nordeste, and Mosterios, as well as explore the island’s stunning landscapes like Sete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo.

We’d recommend renting a very small car in Ponta Delgada. You’ll be better able to avoid inconsistent public transportation and navigate the very narrow city streets more easily.

Renting a Car in Ponta Delgada: What You Need to Know

With a rental car, you can easily navigate the narrow city streets in the towns across the island and access beautiful remote areas that may be difficult to reach through public transportation.

We were able to get everywhere we wanted to go with our robin egg blue VW!

Here’s what you need to know before renting a car in Ponta Delgada:


One of the most convenient locations to rent a car in Ponta Delgada is at João Paulo II Airport, also known as the Ponta Delgada Airport. There are numerous car rental kiosks located inside the airport terminal, including major brands such as Hertz, Sixt, National, Enterprise, Alamo, and Avis.

However, if you prefer to rent a car in downtown Ponta Delgada, there are a few rental car offices scattered throughout the city, such as Ilha Verde Rent-A-Car, Rent-a-Car Flor do Norte, and Auto Rent.

Rental Car Brands:

Apart from the well-known brands mentioned above, there are also various other rental car companies available in the city, such as Europcar, Wayzor, and Autatlantis. Prices certainly vary between each company, so compare those rates to ensure you’re getting the best deal!

Booking in Advance:

To secure the best deal for your car rental in Ponta Delgada, we highly recommend booking in advance. This will give you more options and often lower prices.

Additionally, booking in advance gives you a better chance that your preferred vehicle will be available upon arrival. The island of São Miguel is fairly small, and there are limited rental car options available.

Important Note: The majority of the cars available in Ponta Delgada have a manual transmission. You will have to pay extra for an automatic vehicle.
This is considered an “upgrade.”

A red Volkswagen up! sits on the left and a robin egg blue Volkswagen up! sits on the right. You can get a similar vehicle when renting a car in Ponta Delgada.
our pretty little robin-egg blue rental car!

Most Popular Types of Rental Car

From the beautiful beaches and natural hot springs to charming villages and scenic drives, having your rental car allows you to explore all the best sights, but the parking availability can be tight.

It can be overwhelming to decide which type of car to choose. There are typically only a few options. From our experience, we’d recommend getting the smallest vehicle that you possibly can. If you’re exploring the towns, you’ll have to navigate very tight city streets and sneak into tiny parking spots.

Most Popular Types of Rental Car:

1. Economy Cars: These are typically the most affordable option and are suitable for two to four passengers. They’re perfect for city driving, with good gas mileage and easy maneuverability on narrow streets. However, they might not be the best option for larger groups, those with tons of luggage, or passing over rough terrain.

2. SUVs: For those who prefer a more spacious and comfortable ride, SUVs are a popular choice. They can easily accommodate up to 5 passengers with space for luggage, making them ideal for families or groups. They’re more suitable for driving on rough terrains and long distances, but they do consume more fuel than smaller cars. City navigation and parking will be more difficult.

3. Convertibles: If you’re looking for a stylish and fun option, a convertible rental car might be for you. They’re typically more expensive than other rental car options and have limited seating capacity, so they’re not suitable for larger groups.

4. MiniVans: These are the perfect choice for larger groups or families traveling with children. Minivans can comfortably seat up to 7 passengers, with room for luggage and booster or baby seats if necessary. They’re typically more expensive than economy cars but provide more space and comfort for longer trips. These vehicles will be the most difficult to park in the city.

When choosing a rental car, it’s important to consider the number of passengers, your budget, and the type of terrain you’ll be driving on. You’ll want to make sure to rent a car with unlimited mileage if you’re planning on taking long road trips around the island.

Regardless of your choice, renting a car in Ponta Delgada is a convenient and affordable way to explore this stunning Azores island.

Renting a car from Ponta Delgada allows you to see the beautiful hydrangea-lined roadways like this through your windshield.
We thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful hydrangeas lining the roads while driving around São Miguel.

Which Car Rental Companies are at Ponta Delgada Airport?

If you’re planning a trip to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, then renting a car is an excellent option to get exploring. The Ponta Delgada Airport offers several car rental companies that provide vehicles to suit the different needs of travelers.

Here’s a list of all the car rental companies available at Ponta Delgada Airport.

  1. Autatlantis
  2. Europcar
  3. Guerin (Alamo, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, National)
  4. Hertz & Thrifty
  5. Ilha Verde Azores Rent A Car
  6. Sixt
  7. Wayzor

We recommend comparing the prices and the ratings. Sometimes, the cheapest is not always the best option!

DiscoverCars does a great job of doing the comparisons for you, making the car rental process extremely easy.

A small blue car sits parked along the road beside a destination distance sign with two John Deere tractors passing on the other side of the road headed in the opposite direction.

Tips for Renting a Car in Ponta Delgada

If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful island of São Miguel in the Azores, renting a car in Ponta Delgada is most likely your best option for transportation. With so many car rental companies available at the Ponta Delgada Airport, it can be overwhelming to choose the best option for your needs.

Here are some tips to consider before you rent a car in Ponta Delgada.

1. Compare Rental Car Prices from Different Companies

It’s important to compare rental car prices from different companies to get the best deal. Many rental car companies offer different rates for similar vehicles, so it’s worth checking multiple options before making a decision.

Keep in mind that the lowest advertised rates may have extra fees included, so be sure to read the fine print.

Additionally, check if there are any extra costs for items such as booster or baby seats.

2. Check the Rental Agreement Thoroughly

Before signing any type of rental agreement, thoroughly read all the terms and conditions.

Pay attention to the sections on insurance coverage, fuel policy, and any limitations on driving distance or time.

Ensure that the rental company you choose has clear and transparent policies to avoid any surprises later.

3. Consider Looking for Car Rental Locations Outside the Airport

Car rental kiosks located at the airport sometimes charge additional fees and taxes that can add up quickly.

Consider looking for rental locations outside the airport and taking a taxi or ride service to the offsite location. Some rental companies even provide a shuttle service to their offices for free.

Sometimes, this can save you money while still providing the convenient option of renting a car. It’s always worth it to compare prices!

4. Join Loyalty Rewards Programs

Many car rental companies offer loyalty programs that can earn you points towards perks like upgrades or free rentals.

Consider joining a program before renting to get the most out of your car rental experience. We’ve had great experiences with both Avis and Hertz loyalty programs.

5. Be Patient and Mindful of Narrow Roads and the Potential for Minor Accidents

Keep in mind that Ponta Delgada and the other towns on São Miguel are full of extremely narrow, winding roads that can be challenging to navigate, especially during high-traffic periods.

Be patient and drive defensively, taking your time to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road. Be aware of potential minor accidents, like scratches or dents—document any incidents thoroughly to avoid any disputes with rental companies.

6. Research Popular Routes and Attractions

Before you rent a car in Ponta Delgada, research popular routes and attractions to plan your São Miguel itinerary. Some popular destinations include Sete Cidades, Nordeste, and the Ribeira Grande region.

Make sure you factor in time constraints, your budget, and any other logistical considerations when deciding on a route. It’s also important to always be flexible! The weather can be completely different from one side of the island to the other.

Check webcams across the island so you can visit the spots with the clearest views each day.

FAQs: Renting a Car in Ponta Delgada

Why are car rentals so expensive in the Azores?

The islands are small and there are a limited number of car rentals available. This is basic supply and demand! Less supply (available cars) equals higher prices!

Is it easy to drive in Ponta Delgada?

Driving in Ponta Delgada is not extremely difficult for most. Even though some roads are extremely narrow, most of the time, there aren’t any crazy surprises. Once you get out of the city, the roads are mostly 2 lanes and easy to navigate.

Can you drive in the Azores with a US license?

Yes, for a short trip. Driver’s licenses must include a photo and be carried with you at all times. If you’ll be staying in the Azores for longer than 6 months, you may need a Portuguese driver’s license.

Do you NEED a car in the Azores?

Yes. Renting a car in the Azores will allow you to have the best experience possible. Public transportation on the bus is unreliable at best. Booking a taxi or tour every day will be quite expensive and unnecessary. Book a rental car!

Renting a car in Ponta Delgada can be a great way to explore São Miguel and experience all it has to offer from stunning views and beautiful hikes to rejuvenating hot springs and canyoning adventures. Be prepared and consider all your options before making a decision.

By following these tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable car rental experience in Ponta Delgada, just like we had!