How to Make the Most of São Miguel (Azores) in 5 Days
If you are looking for a relaxing yet adventurous destination, where you will be surrounded by nothing but beautiful green landscapes and the breathtaking view of the ocean, we have the perfect suggestion for you: São Miguel.
São Miguel is one of seven islands of the Portuguese archipelago of The Azores in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and it is known for its amazing nature. Below is a suggestion for a rewarding 5-day itinerary in São Miguel, but first, a tip: although there is public transportation in the island, our advice is that you rent a car, so that you can more easily and freely organize your plans.
Day 1: Sete Cidades
Vista do Rei Viewpoint
The real star when you go to the Vista do Rei viewpoint Lagoa das Sete Cidades, a lagoon that is half green and half blue. We suggest you start your trip here because it’s not always easy to get a good view of Lagoa das Sete Cidades. So, if you go on the first day and the weather doesn’t allow you to see the lagoon you can go back another day. We still advise you to check the weather and, if your first day in São Miguel is too cloudy, adjust your itinerary.
Boca do Inferno Viewpoint
This is the perfect place for your first hike in São Miguel. Not only will you be able to see the blue and the green halves of Lagoa das Sete Cidades, but you’ll also get the views of Lagoa de Santiago and Lagoa Rasa. The Boca do Inferno viewpoint is a 10-minute drive away from Vista do Rei, and it is considered by many to be one of the best views on the island, so it is definitely a must-go.
Sete Cidades Village
Sete Cidades is not just a lake. There is also a small village, where you can have a nice walk, visit the Sete Cidades church (also known as São Nicolau Church), and have lunch and/or dinner. The village is 19 minutes away from Boca do Inferno, by car.
Day 2: Furnas
Furnas Village Center
Furnas is a small village where the main attraction is the hot springs. Several restaurants in the village make the popular Cozido das Furnas (Furnas Stew): a traditional dish with several types of meat and vegetables, that is cooked for 6 hours with the heat of the hot springs. Another thing you cannot miss is the Cooperativa Celeiro da Terra, a small crafts shop where you can try and buy an amazing variety of Azorean liquors.
Terra Nostra Garden
7 minutes away from Furnas (by car) is the Terra Nostra Garden. For this one, you need to pack a bathing suit and a towel, as there is a big thermal water pool rich in iron, which gives it a unique orange tone, and a few smaller pools where you can relax. The garden belongs to the Terra Nostra Hotel, but you don’t have to stay there to visit - all you need to do is pay the 8€ entrance fee.
Day 3: Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo
The number of lagoons in São Miguel is endless and Lagoa do Fogo is another popular one. It is a Natural Reserve and a Site of Communitarian Importance, which says a lot about its breathtaking views. You can hike around the lagoon and take a trail that goes down to the beach, so make sure to take your bathing suit with you. And hey, why not have a picnic for lunch?
Again, check the weather before you go, because it is best to go on a day that will not be cloudy.
Gorreana Tea Plantations
Gorreana is the oldest tea plantations in Europe and there, you can find out about the entire process of making the tea. You can also try their green and black tea, and buy some to take home. It’s delicious and it makes for a great souvenir!
If you still have your bathing suit on from you swim at Lagoa do Fogo, great, because you will need it again in Caldeira Velha. The park has a small waterfall and several thermal pools where you can swim and relax.
Caldeira is an 18-minute drive away from Gorreana, and the entrance fee is 8€ for the full ticket (monument, environmental interpretation center and thermal pools). A tip if you are going to São Miguel with your partner: this is a great romantic plan!
Day 4: Nordeste
Ponta do Sossego Viewpoint
For the 4th day, our suggestion is that you drive all the way to the Northeast side of the island and the first spot you should visit there is the Ponta do Sossego viewpoint. The contrast between the delicate flowers and the powerful sea makes a breathtaking view. You won’t resist taking a few photos!
8 minutes away by car, you can visit the Arnel Lighthouse where, once again, you will find nothing but awe-inspiring landscapes. You can walk down to the lighthouse through a very steep trail, but that is definitely worth taking. If you go on a Wednesday, you can also take a guided tour of the lighthouse.
After the visit to the lighthouse, drive up through the coast and in 6 minutes you will be in the Nordeste village center. There, you can see the Matriz de São Jorge Church and visit the Botanical Garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, a small garden but where you will find the most gorgeous flora. There are also a few restaurants there so this would be a good place to stop and get some food.
Day 5: Ponta Delgada
Dolphin and Whale Watching
If you are not a fan of spending a few hours at sea, this suggestion might not be for you. But if you are, you can take a tour by boat and see dolphins and whales in their natural habitat. Each tour lasts for a minimum of 4 hours and you can take it either at 9 am or 2 pm. We suggest you have an early morning and go on the first one so that you have the rest of the day to explore Ponta Delgada.
Ponta Delgada Center
After a marine adventure, our suggestion is that you finish off the day - and your trip to São Miguel - in the calm city of Ponta Delgada. A few things you can do there are: eating traditional Azorean food at the restaurant “A Tasca”, visiting the 18th-century gates named Portas da Cidade, and buying some fresh fruits for your trip back home at the Mercado da Graça.
From volcano cooked lunches to excellent hiking trails - this vibrant and colorful island truly has a lot to offer. With breathtaking scenery combining volcanic peaks, crater lakes and rugged coastlines, this island gem is certainly worth visiting now as a nature lover’s paradise.
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