Everything you need to know about hitch-hiking in the Azores - the perfect place for first time hitch-hikers
I'm not going to disrespect people attacked or even killed whilst hitch-hiking by saying that hitching is 100% safe, because it's disingenuous and it dishonours their memory. BUT I will say these three things:
Sure, I'm not recommending inviting accidents in with open arms by purposefully putting yourself at risk, but that brings me on to point two:
2. Hitch-hikers are NOT disproportionately victims of crime - this is a real live actual fact. Hitch-hiking is less risky than standing under a coconut tree. Fact.
1998:— Carol Nichols (@Carols10cents) July 2, 2016
- Don't get in strangers' cars
- Don't meet ppl from internet
- Literally summon strangers from internet to get in their car
I really believe that thanks to smart phones and modern technology a) the world is a lot smaller then it used to be and b) hitch-hiking is safer than it was back in the day.
I hope that helps, I'm by no means a risky person, in fact by most people's standards I'm pretty wimpy (for example, I'd never bungee jump - I don't want to break my neck). But even I think that hitch-hiking, in the great scheme of things, is not a massive gamble.
Pressumably though, you're here to learn about hitch-hiking in the Azores, not have a lecture from me about FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) so I'm going to get on with that now:
This post is divided into three sections:
- Tips for hitch-hiking virgins
- Tips for hitch-hiking in the Azores
- Our own personal stories form hitch-hiking in the Azores
If it's your first time hitch-hiking (as it was for us when we arrived on Sao Miguel - the largest of the island in the Azores,) these tips and tricks should help you out:
Don't stand on the motorway or places cars can't legally stop, or on the wrong side of the road. Bus stops are great and petrol stations are good too (though there aren't many of those on Sao Miguel).
However, I do still believe in a little bit of gut instinct and if it doesn't feel right, just know that you don't have to get into the car: you can just pretend you're asking for directions; or ask if they're going somewhere outrageously far away, and if they say they'll take you half way, answer you'd rather wait for a car going the whole way...
Here is a map of Sao Miguel Island:
Hitch-hiking along any of the little white roads (EN2-1A, EN3-1A, EN4-1A) is nearly impossible, because not enough cars go that way.
I'm going to end this post by telling you a few stories of what it was actually like to hitch-hike in the Azores because, like when I wrote A Guide For First Time House Sitters, I think tips can only take you so far: the real learning comes from hearing real examples of what can (and has) happened:
We carried on walking. After about 45 minutes we got bored of walking, got our nerve up and stopped to face the cars, if any of them looked 'alright' we put our thumb out. No one stopped.
We continued walking north. The road got smaller and the cars became practically non existent.
One and a half hours later (so three hours in total) we arrived at our Airbnb. Tired, wet and extremely annoyed with our host who'd insisted that hitch-hiking on the Azores was a big thing.
(A real problem in the Azores) but we met a nice American family who took us all the way back down the mountain.
On our second attempt to conquer Sete Cidades, we met the nicest German couple ever: we were walking up the hill, with our thumbs out when a car stopped and a man asked in a heavy accent "do you need a lift to the top" and we answered in German "yes please!"
We also walked around the volcano and later up to a few view points. Finally they dropped us off at their Airbnb - they were so kind!
We always found it a bit hard to hitch-hike out of Ponta Delgada back to Capellas, where we were staying, because there isn't really a good place to stand. One time we were picked up by a young guy, who said he could take us if we both sat in the front seat. It was funny and he was a really nice guy. When he dropped us off he actually gave us some hash (which we had no idea what to do with and gave to our neighbour).
A guy in a van stopped for us and said I'd have to sit in the back - aka no seat and blacked out windows. Like the guy with the drugs, this wasn't something I would have done on our first hitch, but like the guys with the drugs, it turned out fine, well almost:
Followed by an unsuccessful hitch up to Lagoa do Fogo we were picked up by an Azorean, an American and a Brazilian. They were all lovely, but the American will always be remembered: after finding out that Tanbay is German, she excitedly said that she loved Heineken (which is Dutch).
We highly recommend that you try hitch-hiking in the Azores, it's a great way to meet other tourists and real Azoreans themselves. We think it was a great place to hitch-hike for the first time and glad we tried it out there.
We hope this guide has been useful for you, let us know in the comments below if you have any questions!
And if you haven't already, say hi to us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.