Car rental Ponta Delgada Airport, Azores

The Atlantic islands of the Azores are immensely popular as tourist destination.

For many visitors, it makes a lot of sense to rent a car and travel the ’big island’ of Sao Miguel in order to experience its colours and beautiful nature to the full. Ponta Delgada airport car hire has become much more affordable. In this article we explore the possibilities for renting a cheap car in Ponta Delgada Airport, Azores.

Compare current car rental rates in Ponta Delgada Airport

Ponta Delgada Airport – named after the Pope
In 1991, Pope John Paul II visited the Azores, arriving by plane to São Miguel island.

Following the inauguration of a new airport terminal, in 1995, Ponta Delgada was renamedAeroporto João Paulo II after the very popular Polish born Pope. Two other airports are named after Pope John Paul II: Krakow-Balice Airport in Poland (Krakow is the native city of the Pope) and Bari Airport in italy.

VW Polo

Car rental Azores is very convenient – especially on the Sao Miguel Island.

Ponta Delgada Airport (IATA airport code: PDL) is situated close to the main city of the same name. The distance from the airport to the city centre is only about a mile (2 km). As taxi fares are relatively cheap, it is a perfectly viable solution to rely on taxi only when visiting the island.

The advantages of renting a car in Ponta Delgada Airport
Car hire Ponta Delgada Airport is a popular mean of transport.

The island is rather large, stretching over 779 m2 (300 square miles). Furthermore the island is long from east to west and public transport options are very limited to the extent that they really cannot be relied upon.

Road trip Azores – the Sao Miguel island.

See map of the main roads on Sao Miguel.

The road from Ponta Delgada city to the airport is the best road on the entire island. The same road connects the capital with the easternmost part of the island (R 1-1).

All roads are of high standard on Sao Miguel, but most are built for modest speed only and not really suited for travellers who are in a hurry. Sharp turns and small hills are the order of the day when driving on Sao Miguel. Max speed is often 40, 50 or 60 km/h (25/31/37 mph) and it is much better to putter along enjoying the roadside flowers, the lush green and the magnificent views instead of being in a rush.

See detailed road map of Sao Miguel island, Azores.    

Car hire Azores – from Ponta Delgada Airport
In recent years, the number of rental car companies offering its services on the Azores has greatly increased, in particular in Ponta Delgada Airport.

The long list of Azores car rental companies includes:

  • Alamo – part of Enterprise Group
  • AutAtlantis – smaller Azores based car renter
  • Avis Rent A Car Azores – in partnership with Ilha Verde
  • Budget – in partnership with Ilha Verde
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar (including low cost / leisure brand Keddy By Europcar)
  • Guerin – Portuguese car rental company owned by Enterprise
  • Hertz Car Rental Azores
  • National Car Rental Azores
  • Sixt
  • Thrifty – part of Hertz Group
  • Wayzor – new company offering Azores rent-a-car services

All the above companies are with offices in the terminal building.

Additionally, you can book with Goldcar, Interrent og Rhodium (same supplier, different brands). The Goldcar Ponta Delgada facilities are situated outside the airport. Free shuttle bus is available. Please note we do NOT recommend Goldcar nor Interrent. See more below.

Outside the airport terminal, but with meet & greet service in the terminal, the  suppliers MicAuto Rent A Car and Autocunha are available. These two slightly smaller companies are worth considering as prices are often very reasonable. A small car can, frequently, be booked with these meet & greet companies for around €120 or less per week of cheap Ponta Delgada car hire.

Ilha Verde used to have a dominant position. The high prices, previously charged by this company have decreased somewhat – and the previously quite old fleet of cars have been exchanged to newer fleet vehicles. In fact, the cars available for rent in Ponta Delgada airport are, now, of a much higher standard disregarding the company.

Cheap car hire is available; in particular when booking well in advance.

Recommended car rental Azores – terms of insurance / mileage charge
Our recommendation: When booking your rental vehicle on this page, no additional insurance is needed.

All cars are fully insured with full comprehensive and liability insurance included in the base rate. The only reason to take out extra insurance would be the excess.

When renting a car in the Azores, the excess will, typically be between €600 and €1200. Goldcar rentals are, naturally, amongst the offers with the highest excess.

Please note that car theft is almost non-existing. Break-ins are rare too, but do make sure not to leave your car with any valuables inside.

If you still prefer to have maximum cover, excess insurance is always offered when booking a car on The well-known international insurance provider is AXA. Some companies will offer additional insurance at the counter – in particular Goldcar / Interrent / Rhodium excess insurance (Super Cover Relax) is known to be vastly overpriced.   

See also: Should you take out additional insurance when renting a car?

So far, no companies charge for mileage. It is, however, important to bring a credit card in the name of the first driver/renter. The rental company will block a security deposit at the counter, which will, usually, equal the excess. Offering cash for security deposit will not work.

Ford Focus Estate

Popular family rental vehicle - Ford Focus Estate.

Car rental Ponta Delgada Airport – warning against Goldcar, Rhodium and Interrent
Please be advised that the company Goldcar and sub brands Interrent & Rhodium are bad news for customers. Numerous problems seem to haunt this company on a continuous basis and in all countries where they operate.

We advise not to run the risk and save €20, €30 or €50 by booking with this company. Chances are the total rental price will end higher (or much higher) than expected. 

Please see article on The Mirror.

Best choice for car rental Sao Miguel, Azores
Large cars are rather expensive to rent in Ponta Delgada Airport.

If you are looking for a 8/9 seater minibus rental, chances are that the price will exceed £500 / €500 per week. Also 6/7 seater MPV cars like VW Sharan and Ford S-Max/Galaxy are quite expensive, frequently costing the same or more to rent than a minibus.

Even the compact SUV segment of cars like the 5-seater Nissan Qashqai can be quite expensive.

Best and cheapest deal is, usually, to go for the supermini class of car like VW Polo, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 or Renault Clio. If a roomier vehicle is essential, the Ford Focus Estate is the best choice for ample luggage carrying capacity. 

Opel Vivaro

Opel Vivaro 9 seater minibus.

Airline connections to Ponta Delgada
Ryanair offer connections from Manchester, London Stansted, Lisbon, Porto & Frankfurt-Hahn.

Other connections include Amsterdam, Billund in Denmark and London-Gatwick with Azores Airlines. The most regular flights are from the Portuguese mainland (Porto & Lisbon) with TAP Airlines and Azores Airlines.

Local airline Sata Air operates flights between the islands of the Azores.

What to see on Sao Miguel Island?
With a rental car available, the following main Sao Miguel sights and attractions can easily be reached.


What to see on Sao Miguel, Azores – video

Amongst the most visiter tourist attractions on Sao Miguel are:

  • Sete Cidades (7 cities) lakes
  • Furnas – volcanic area
  • Miradouro do Escavaldo / viewpoint
  • Miradouro Lagoa do Fogo / firelake viewpoint
  • Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande – hot vulcanic springs (very hot – be careful!)
  • Caldeira Velha – nature resort
  • Arrunda Açores – pineapple plantation
  • Gorreana – tea plantation

The official Azores tourism guide:

Car rental Ponta Delgada Airport, Azores
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