São Miguel Island
Country: Portugal Language: Portuguese Currency: Euro (€)
São Miguel Island is part of the Azores archipelago. In fact, it's the biggest and most populated island. It features stunning green landscapes, massive cliff faces, the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, and pineapples! The island is small, and it can easily be explored in 2 days. However, you could spend more time, especially during the summer months, filling your days with outdoor adventures like hiking, kayaking in the many lakes, or enjoying the city scene in Ponta Delgada.
Renting a car in São Miguel Island is going to be the most convenient way to get around. The public transport system is not made for tourists, as it does not stop at many of the natural attractions. You will be pleased to know that the roads to all of the lookouts have two lanes, are well paved and clearly sign-posted. Also, there are plenty of spaces at each viewpoint car park. The only times the driving is nerve-racking on the island is in residential neighborhoods, as the roads get very narrow and windy. Also, when your trusty Offline Googlemaps directs you down a road that is primarily for the local farmers… If that’s the case, we assure you that need to turn around and take a road that is more suitable for cars. You do not want to lose your car rental insurance, and trust us, you do not want to see the potholes on those roads!
CTW Must See
Lagoa das Sete Cidades is a twin lake located on the western side of São Miguel Island. The lakes rest in a caldera of a now dormant volcano. The caldera is 5km in diameter and nearly 400m tall! The two lakes are different in color, one blue and one green. The legend goes that a shepherd and a princess shared a forbidden love, and when they were separated, their tears created these lakes blue and green, as the princess had blue eyes and the shepherd had green eyes.
Miradouro da Boca do Inferno
If you are coming from Ponta Delgada, or west of Sete Cidades, your first stop is going to be here. The turnoff will be on your right, with a small parking lot to your left; avoid the parking lot and turn right, down the dirt road. You will drive down this road (making a slight right at the first intersection) for about 3 minutes until you see another parking area. Park your car here and follow the pathway up the mountain. While the pathway is high, the walk is only about 5 minutes to get to the picturesque viewpoint and the edge of the mountain. The view from here is not to be missed. Not only will you get to see Sete Cidades and beyond to the Atlantic Ocean, but you will also see two small craters that sit just in front of the caldera.
Vista do Rei
After turning right, back onto the main road, continuing in the direction you were originally heading, you will see the Abandoned Hotel, Monte Palace, to your left and then a parking lot in front of you. Park here and enjoy another perspective of the Sete Cidades. And if you're brave enough, take a wander through the abandoned hotel! Don’t worry, it is not as spooky as you would expect. There is also a well-maintained public toilet here! After exploring the hotel and admiring Sete Cidades from above, you can drive back the way you came, taking a left at the Sete Cidades sign, down the hill, all the way to the bridge that crosses over the two lakes. There are a couple parking areas on the way down that give you a closer look at the two smaller craters you saw from above.
Lagoa do Fogo
In the middle of the country, on the way to Lagoa do Fogo, you can stop at Pico da Barrosa - the highest point of the island. From this viewpoint, you can see the ocean on either side of the island. On the road to Fogo, there are several pull offs to get out and enjoy the view! At the Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo viewpoint, you are able to walk all the way down to the bottom of the lake, or up the hill to the top of the mountain.
Furnas is the land of thermal pools and bubbling grounds. Furnas is located on one of the volcanic grounds on the island. In Furnas, you can soak in the natural thermal springs, and enjoy a traditional meal cooked in the thermal springs. Furnas is a perfect spot to relax after a day of hiking and exploring the beautiful island.
The only tea plantation in Europe is definitely worth a visit! They are very friendly, and allow you to watch how they produce the tea. You can also take a walk through the tea fields in the Azorean hills. You may also be happy to know that you can taste fresh cups of tea for free! It is very interesting to explore the facility and see the transformation from tea leaves outside, producing the tea bags, to packaging and labeling, ready for sale.
Miradouro de Santa Iria
This is a viewpoint not far from Chá Gorreana that gives a stunning look at the island’s north coast. From this viewpoint, the farmlands seem to extend down the mountain directly into the big, blue Atlantic Ocean.
The northwest part of the island is not to be missed. The landscape is somehow greener, the hills grow taller, and the cliff faces become even more dramatic. The best viewpoint is Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego. It is within a colorful garden, so it is a beautiful place to stop for a picnic and enjoy the scenery.
Ponta Delgada is essentially São Miguel’s only city. Its Old Town is small and quaint. It features the old Wharf, some very charming laneways, and the Doors of the City. The doors make up 3 arches that were built in 1783. Just behind the Doors of the City is the Church of St. Sebastian, which mimics the design and color scheme of the doors and the rest of the charming Old Town.
More Portugese Adventures...
Portugal is a small country, with a lot to explore! Check out our guides on some of Portugal's most popular destinations...