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Álvaro Palácios | Lagoa do Fogo Azores January

The Weather in the Azores in January: What to Wear and Do

Blog » Travel » The Weather in the Azores in January: What to Wear and Do

Are you planning on visiting the Azores in January and wondering if it is the right time to come? If the weather in the Azores in January is worth it? Well, there is no wrong season to explore our 9 beautiful islands. The Azores are an amazing destination all year round with each season offering a unique atmosphere and natural beauty.

Every month is a great time to come to our lost paradise. The Azores are temperate yet unpredictable. It never gets too cold and the weather is constantly changing. We say that we have the four seasons in one day and that is 100% true. It can be rainy, hot, windy, and sunny on the same day.

In this article, we will tell you everything about the Azores islands in January. From what to do to what to pack. Also, we will provide a detailed description of the weather in January in the Azores. So, keep reading!

How is the weather in January in the Azores

Although we have our famous anticyclone (high-pressure area) to ensure nice weather in Western Europe and the Mediterranean, we don’t always have a big bright sun. January is the wettest month of the year, but not the coldest (February). It is usually a bit cool although temperatures in our archipelago never drop too low. The wind can also be quite strong in January, but the usual storm period is between October and December.

It is estimated that in January there are between 16 and 19 precipitation days for an average of 135 mm rainfall.

Also, note that western islands (Flores and Corvo) get more rain and severe wind than central and eastern islands.

Melissa Masvaleix | The beautiful Caldeirão in Corvo island with clouds
Melissa Masvaleix | The beautiful Caldeirão in Corvo island with clouds

Now that we have said that, don’t worry, there are still some good days and when it rains, it doesn’t last all day usually. There are only 7mm of rain expected to fall on each of the rainy days, which means that the rain never lasts for too long. January is rainier than springtime, but late fall is also very rainy. On average we have 5 hours of sunshine in January, which is better than December.

About clouds and wind, the median cloud cover for January is 41%. The speed of the wind can vary from 17km/h up to 24km/h. It is quite moderate compared to late fall.

Air Temperatures

In the Azores, we are blessed with a mild climate. This means that it is never too hot and never too cold. Because the Azores are in the middle of the ocean, we don’t really get heat or cold waves. Our subtropical oceanic climate makes the Azores the perfect getaway from the grey and cold days on the American and European continents.

Unlike the European continent where temperatures can be negative, our temperatures never really go down. The average in January is 14ºC (57ºF). The highest temperature for January is 16ºC (61ºF) and the lowest is 11ºC (52ºF). In January of 1989, temperatures in the Azores reached 20ºC (68ºF), a high record for this part of the world.

It can get a bit chillier at night but it never frosts or snows, unless on top of Pico Mountain, the highest peak of Portugal located on Pico island.

The Azores are a region with high humidity. In January, the average level of humidity is 82%. This is higher than the rest of the year although our islands are humid in general all year round.

Temperatures in Azores
Source: Geeky Explorer

Water temperatures

It is possible to swim in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean at all times in the Azores if the weather allows it. Ocean temperatures in January are about 17ºC (63ºF). It is the coolest sea temperature of the year and it only warms up in May. You can still go for a swim if the waves are kind. Preferably use a wetsuit but many people go every day to the swimming pool in a normal swimsuit.

The wind of January can be great for surfing, windsurfing, sailing, and many aquatic sports. On calm days, you can even enjoy snorkeling or spearfishing in the clear coastal waters.

Sea temperatures in Azores
Source: Geeky Explorer

Sunrise and Sunset Times

January is one of the darkest months with fewer hours of daylight, like in other northern hemisphere countries.

The shortest day of January is on the 1st as the sun rises at 7:59 am and sets at 5:34 pm, offering 9 hours and 35 minutes of daylight.

On the other hand, the longest day of the month is on the 31st with the sun rising at 7:49 am and setting at 6:04 pm, for 10 hours and 15 minutes of daylight. So the day is gradually getting 40 minutes longer throughout January.

The best spot to watch the sunrise in São Miguel island is the viewpoint of Ponta da Madrugada in Nordeste. On the other hand, for sunset lovers, go to Mosteiros and have a barbecue on the several picnic areas equipped with grills, while the sun is disappearing.

sunset at Mosteiros
David Rodrigues | Sunset at Mosteiros, São Miguel island

Although you only have about 10 hours of daylight, at night there are plenty of things to do like going to the hot springs or enjoying a drink in the city center of Ponta Delgada.

Nature in the Azores in January

While São Miguel is called the green island, all islands are pretty green, and this is mostly due to our weather. Indeed, without rain, the vegetation and landscapes wouldn’t be so beautifully bright. It is estimated that in the Azores, it rains 188 days of the year.

Flowers are also quite impressive as there are always some colors in our nature every month of the year. Flowers are so abundant that the island of Flores (‘flowers’) was named this way due to those natural beauties growing all over.

In January in the Azores, trails can be a bit wet and mud can appear on dirt paths. It is necessary to be careful while going on an adventure outdoors. But January is also a great month to see and photograph rainbows. They are all over the place!

David Rodrigues | Rainbow on Furnas lake in São Miguel, a typical scenery of January in Azores
David Rodrigues | Rainbow on Furnas lake in São Miguel, Azores

Did you know that on São Miguel island we grow pineapples? You can visit the plantations all year round. It is quite interesting to see how this tropical fruit is grown on the island. We also have one of the rare tea plantations of Europe, also visitable every month of the year.

What to do in the Azores in January

Now you might wonder if it is worth it to go to the Azores in January, and the answer is Yes! Although it rains, the weather in the Azores in January quickly changes. So, you are good to go on hikes and explore the island as much as you want. And if it rains in the north part, you can always go to the south part for example and have completely different weather.

In January, it can be very pleasant to walk through a forest as trees will provide protection from the weather, or also inside the mountainous areas.

There can be some fog, mostly at altitude. Your best bet is to check the cameras of the island you are on in order to see if it is worth going or waiting for another day. This is especially true for many viewpoints and mountains. All cameras can be seen on the website SpotAzores.

David Rodrigues | Fog in Sete Cidades above the trees, a typical scenario in January in the Azores
David Rodrigues | Fog in Sete Cidades above the trees, a typical scenario in January in the Azores

Whale and dolphin watching in January in the Azores

In the Azores, we already spotted 28 different whale and dolphin species. Within those 28, 4 are residents of our coasts. This means you can see them all year round. Our residents are:

Besides the resident species, it is also possible to observe other migratory whale and dolphin species. Although it is not the best season to see baleen whales, it can happen sometimes to spot them outside of the ‘season’. And let’s not forget other animals that are not cetaceans like turtles, seabirds, fishes, rays, and sharks.

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David Rodrigues | You can see sperm whales in January in the Azores
David Rodrigues | You can see sperm whales in January in the Azores

In January, the weather in the Azores and sea conditions are a bit capricious and tours can get canceled due to strong wind, high waves, or rain. But if your tour gets canceled we will rebook your experience for free. Also, at Futurismo we have the guarantee that if you don’t see any cetacean during your trip with us (whale or dolphin), you will get the chance to go on another trip for free! Obviously, we cannot control the wild animals and force them to come to us, but don’t worry as this doesn’t happen so frequently.

At this time of the month, like any time of the year, it is still possible to swim with wild and free dolphins! Futurismo can take you on this wonderful and cruelty-free experience in the middle of the Atlantic. We provide the snorkeling material and all you have to worry about is enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Underwater, you can hear them communicate and see them swimming around you. This is a great way to get to know those wonderful animals.

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David Rodrigues | Common dolphins swimming off São Miguel island’s coast

Hot springs hunting

January is probably the best time to go to the relaxing hot springs. Indeed, as temperatures are lower than most months of the year, swimming in hot waters is a great feeling, and it gets even better when it rains.

Hot springs are mostly located in São Miguel island as there are 5 hot springs on the green island:

Terra Nostra Park has the famous big yellow pool and 2 smaller ones. The scenery is simply beautiful as the hot springs are located inside a botanical garden. 

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David Rodrigues | Terra nostra Park hot springs in Furnas, perfect to visit in January in the Azores
David Rodrigues | Terra nostra Park hot springs in Furnas, perfect to visit in January in the Azores

Caldeira Velha in the mountain of Lagoa do Fogo offers an amazing experience with its hot spring under a waterfall inside a lush jungle.

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Poça da Dona Beija in Furnas is great to go at night for a good night of sleep after the iron-rich bath.

Caldeiras in Ribeira Grande is the most intimate one. It is less famous and you can sometimes have the pool all to yourself. It is also open at night. There are 2 pools with different temperatures for everyone’s satisfaction.

Last but not least, Ponta da Ferraria is the most spectacular one but requires good weather and sea conditions as it is a hot spring inside the ocean. The best time to go is when the tide is low and there are no or little waves.

Enrico Pescantini | Ferraria hot springs in São Miguel island
Enrico Pescantini | Ferraria hot springs in São Miguel island

In Graciosa island, there are the hot springs of Termas do Carapacho by the ocean. It is the best place on the island to just relax and enjoy the power of nature in those thermal waters.

Local events in January in Azores

Just like many other countries, the 1st of January is a holiday. For New Year’s Eve, all municipalities organize a party with fireworks and live music.

In January it is also possible to go see the different Christmas decorations in many cities, including beautiful Christmas cribs like in Furnas or Vila Franca, São Miguel island.

The epiphany at the beginning of January is related to singing, eating and gifts although no special events are organized besides masses in churches.

January is also close to Carnival, you can begin to find some special food related to this period like the delicious Malassadas, a must-try while in the Azores!

Nightlife doesn’t stop in the Azores, mostly in Terceira island and in the city of Ponta Delgada. There are many bars and several clubs to go have a drink and dance all night long, all year long.

What to Wear in the Azores in January

Here in the Azores, the weather changes fast so the best thing to do is to take a bit of everything. An important tip for January in the Azores is to pack several layers of light clothes. The sun can make you feel warm, especially if you are walking, so it is essential to have other clothes underneath your jacket to adapt to the temperature difference.

The perfect combination is a t-shirt, a polar sweater, and a rain jacket.

David Rodrigues | Down Lagoa do Fogo, São Miguel island

If you are planning on hiking and discovering the islands on foot, then a pair of good waterproof hiking shoes is a must-have. Pants are preferable over shorts for visiting the Azores in January. It can get colder in altitude and on the coast with more wind than inland. But don’t forget your bathing suit for the hot springs! We recommend not packing a white swimsuit because the water rich in iron can stain and turn it orange.

Last but not least, don’t forget your camera!

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Best time to visit the Azores

Truth is, there is no best time to come to the Azores. It all depends on your idea of a holiday and your plans. Each season is special and offers advantages.

Fernando Resendes | Family hiking in the mountains of São Miguel

For instance, if you want to spend your days getting tanned on the beach and natural swimming pools, then summer is the best season. If your dream is to see the biggest whales in the world in their natural habitat, then your best chance is to come during the springtime, from March to June. But if you want to enjoy the hot springs fully, then the wintertime is just perfect to relax in hot waters. To avoid the crowd but still have a nice temperature, fall is a great time to come to the Azores.

There are no big temperature differences during the year (average monthly temperatures only vary 8.1ºC/14.6ºF). The average temperature all year round is 17ºC (63ºF). 

So, let’s see each season in detail so that you can choose your best season to come to the Azores.

Holidays in the Azores Islands in January, February & March (Winter Season)

The biggest advantage of visiting the Azores during the wintertime is that it is not crowded. It is the least busy time of the year and you can often have touristy places just for yourself. 

Prices for accommodations off-season are lower and you can easily find good deals. On average for January 2019, Airbnb accommodations in São Miguel island were about 50 euros a night, although you can find cheaper ones like local accommodations for about 30 euros a night. A luxurious hotel room would be around 100 euros a night in January. If you are on a budget, hostels are a great option. There are also more choices because of the lower demand.

It is not necessary to book in advance but it is still recommended for activities and restaurants.

Also, winter is the time for Carnival, a happy time of the year with dancing, singing, and celebrating all dressed up in the streets.

Other months might be warmer and sunnier but January is a great time for tight budgets but also for last-minute getaways. Plus, the perfect time to relax in hot springs is definitely the wintertime.

David Rodrigues | Snow on Pico Mountain - January in Azores
David Rodrigues | Snow on Pico Mountain

Holidays in the Azores Islands in April, May & June (Spring Season)

Springtime gives the islands mild and pleasant weather. Flowers start to bloom and color the sides of the roads. The biggest religious festival in the Azores – Santo Cristo – takes place at the end of May. This is a time when Azoreans from all islands, as well as many travelers from around the globe, come together in São Miguel and celebrate.

Also, Spring is the best time to see the biggest whales in the world such as blue whales, fin whales, and sei whales as they pass by our archipelago during their annual migration. From March to June, there are usually the greatest chances to see those sea giants, although we see whales all year round. 

June can already be very warm in terms of temperatures and there are more and more people on the beach. Hortensias start to bloom, turning all landscapes blue.

Melissa Masvaleix | Hortensias at Moinhos Beach in São Miguel island
Melissa Masvaleix | Hortensias at Moinhos Beach in São Miguel island

Holidays in the Azores Islands in July, August & September (Summer Season)

Melissa Masvaleix | São Lourenço Bay in Santa Maria island
Melissa Masvaleix | São Lourenço Bay in Santa Maria island

From June to September, it is the sunniest and warmest time of the year. Visiting the Azores during the summertime means the highest chances of good weather. But during summer, there are more travelers on the islands. Popular spots can get a bit crowded so if you wish to visit the famous landscapes of the Azores during summertime, keep in mind that you will probably not be alone there. July and August are the busiest months.

June and September are not so crowded as July and August, and it is still nice in terms of temperatures to enjoy outdoor adventures. 

Also, due to the high humidity in our islands, temperatures can feel hotter. August is actually the warmest month (22ºC/72ºF). However, temperatures are still lower than in most countries on the European continent.

The heat can make it hard to enjoy the hot springs. But the beach is the place to be on hot days. Water temperatures are about 22ºC (72ºF) in July and 23ºC (73ºF) in August and September. It is the perfect temperature to swim in the Atlantic heated by the Gulf Stream.

Álvaro Palácios | Snorkeling in Vila Franca islet

The great advantages to visiting the Azores in the summertime are that days are longer, there are more hours of sunshine (9) and it is more logistically practical. For instance, there are more boat connections between the central islands, and also more flights from more countries.

Also in the summertime, there are more music and cultural festivals like the popular Sanjoaninas in Terceira island, Maré de Agosto in Santa Maria, Monte Verde in São Miguel, and many others. Nightlife can also be more active during this time of the year.

Holidays in the Azores Islands in October, November & December (Fall Season)

Fall is usually the hurricane season in the Azores, mostly at the end of September and throughout the month of October. The last big storm was hurricane Lorenzo at the beginning of October 2019. It completely destroyed the harbor of Lajes das Flores and created great damages everywhere it passed. 

During this time of the year, the weather is the most unstable, you really get everything in one day. But temperatures are still nice to enjoy many outdoor activities. It is not so crowded like summertime but there are still many travelers compared to the wintertime.

Fernando Resendes | A walk in Furnas Valley in autumn
Fernando Resendes | A walk in Furnas Valley in autumn

Useful Tools & Apps

SpotAzores is where you can see the cameras on all islands of the Azores. It allows you to see the weather and decide where to go in order to enjoy good weather in the Azores in January and great views.

Windguru works quite well to see the wind, clouds, and waves forecast, as well as rain. It can be very accurate, but keep in mind that the weather changes really quickly here.

Conclusion

As we conclude this article about the weather in January in the Azores, we hope that you found all the information necessary to organize your trip to paradise in the Atlantic. 

The secret to enjoying the Azores is don’t let the weather dictate your plans. As the weather changes quickly, even if it rains in the morning, it doesn’t mean your day is ruined.

Plus, there are some microclimates around the islands. It can be less cloudy on the coasts than inland although the mountainous regions provide shelter from the wind.

So, come enjoy the Azores in the best way with Futurismo at any time of the year. We will be there to show you the beauty of our islands every month.

References

Climates to Travel – Climate Azores

Hikers Bay – Azores weather Weather in Azores, Portugal in January 2021. Travel guide and advices. Read an overview of the climate

Geeky Explorer – Azores Climate

Holiday Weather – Ponta Delgada Weather January Averages, Azores

Travel Honey – Guide to Azores Weather in January: Everything You Need to Know!

The Best Time to Visit – Azores, weather in January: Climate and travel budget

Video

Lonely Planet | When to go to the Azores

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Melissa Masvaleix

Nature lover and adventure seeker, Mélissa is a French girl who landed in the Azores 3 years ago and never let go of this paradise in the Atlantic. She particularly enjoys the tranquility of the islands contrasting with the infinite outdoor experience possibilities.

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