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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

São Miguel, Azores - the amazing Green Island: one week itinerary

The Azores archipelago, located in the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of 9 all volcanic islands: the main and largest São Miguel, then Terceira, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Flores, Graciosa, Corvo and finally Santa Maria. The Azores are known for the homonymous anticyclone which affects the weather throughout Europe. This archipelago constitutes an autonomous region of Portugal, and it's not very famous. Most of the time when I talked to some friends saying I was going to the Azores the answer was: “the what? and where would they be?” Still little known, the Azores are a true paradise for a traveler: not very touristy, untouched, they have perfectly preserved their character and authenticity, offering many different activities and a variety of landscapes unique in the world. Once there, I kept wondering how it was possible that such a wonderful place was so little known.. so yes, if you're wondering if it's worth going, the answer is definitely yes, yes and yes again. The Azores are islands of unique beauty, an authentic paradise on earth, especially for those who love nature and active holidays: there are many trekking routes of varying difficulty, lakes, beaches, natural spas and a vast choice of marine activities.

São Miguel

Among all the 9 islands, São Miguel is the most visited since it's the most connected in terms of planes (to find out more about how to reach it, click here), but it is also the largest and perhaps the richest one. This is the reason why we decided to stop here and explore it deeply having only a week of holiday and I guarantee you that it was all served.

To go on a tour of several islands, I recommend at least 2 or 3 weeks, since moving within the archipelago is not so easy: the boat trips are very long, and the alternative is to take internal planes. If I were asked to describe São Miguel in three words they would be: green, cows and ortensia. In fact, these are the things you will see most often on this island, so much that they are now its symbol (as souvenirs they almost only have magnets with cows and ortensia or statuettes of these two). The island is an immense expanse of greenery, splendid hills covered with wonderful subtropical vegetation that has earned it the nickname of Ilha Verde. But São Miguel is actually much more: lakes and caldeiras, natural spas, wonderful beaches, trekking in magical places, dolphins and whales, delicious food and splendid towns.. you will really have so many choices, getting bored is almost impossible !

So let's set off to discover this wonder in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.


One week itinerary in São Miguel - Azores Islands

As already mentioned, with a week of holiday, we preferred to linger on the Island of São Miguel, in order to explore it far and wide and dedicating it the time it deserved: 6 full days were perfect, I would not have done more nor one less. There are so many things to do, very different from each other, so let's see how we have divided the days on this island and the itinerary day by day.

Day 1

Day 2 - Furnas

Day 3 - Sete Cidade

  • Tower and view point - Miradouro do Pico do Carvão

  • Hike to Lagoas Empadadas, Lagoa Rasa, Lagoa das Éguas + Miradouro

  • Aqueduct of Carvão

  • Lagoa do Canário + Miradouro da Grota do Inferno

  • Miradouro da Vista do Rei and lunch at Komaki Burger foodtrack

  • Miradouro do Cerrado das Freiras

  • Sete Cidade - Igreja do São Nicolau

  • Ponta da Ferraira

  • Sunset at Praia do Mosteiros

Day 4 - Vila Franca do Campo

  • Whale Watching from the port of Vila Franca do Campo

  • Ilheu de Vila Franca do Campo

  • Ermida of Our Lady of Peace (Vila Franca do Campo)

  • Caloura natural swimmingpool

  • Dinner downtown Ponta Delgada - Casa do Rosa

Day 5 - Nordeste

  • Sunrise at Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego and Miradouro da Ponta Madrugada

  • Praia de Lombo Gordo (hard descent by car)

  • Miradouro da Ponta do Arnel - Farol do Arnel - Porto Nordeste - Salto da Ponta do Arnel

  • Vila do Nordeste

  • Parque dos Caldeiroes

  • Terra Nostra Park

  • Lunch in Furnas - Queijaria Furnense

  • Ponta Delgada: Santuário do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, Jardin Botânico Antonio Borges, Hermitage of Mother of God, Plantação de Ananás dos Açores

  • Dinner at the port of Ponta Delgada - Casa da Sardinhas

Day 6

Now we went through the overview of our week in São Miguel, let's see in detail all the wonders that this island offers us: they are so many despite the small size of the island!


Gorreana Tea Factory and plantation

Fabbrica di Té Cha Gorreana, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre

On the north coast of the island of São Miguel there is the Gorreana Tea Factory, the oldest and currently the only existing tea plantation in Europe. The mild temperatures and abundant rainfall of the Azores Islands create an ideal climate for growing tea. The Gorreana plantation is immense, it covers 38 hectares and has been producing black tea and green tea in various blends and variations for generations. The visit to the plantation is free: you leave your car in the large parking lot outside the factory and then you are free to explore the plantation across the road. We made a nice round trip of about 3.5km, not particularly demanding, and then a tour of the factory which ends with a taste of the various varieties of tea produced - READ ALSO: Best hikes in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands - between volcanoes, forests and waterfalls

For the factory tour there are two possibilities:

  • take the guided tour (always free), but in this case you have to wait for the availability of the guide - I suggest you ask at the information point inside the factory;

  • make a self-guided visit by following the signs and still enjoying the free tea tasting.

The visit is very interesting as it allows you to observe the processing of the leaves live, from harvesting to packaging.

At the end of the tour you'll find the tasting room, a shop that I obviously looted since I love tea and finally a bar with a splendid view of the plantations.

Piantagioni di Té Cha Gorreana, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Here some advice:

  • go to the plantation in the morning as it is the least crowded time of the day and will allow you to fully enjoy the visit;

  • dress comfortably and with good sneakers - the trek to the plantations is light and not very demanding but still uphill; READ ALSO: Plan your low-cost trip to São Miguel, in the Azores Islands, in 6 simple steps

  • if you intend to bring home tea and other artisan products of the island such as jams, honey or liqueurs, in the factory shop they have many types and at excellent prices much better than those of the souvenir shops that you will find on the island;

  • don't miss a visit to the plantation for anything in the world, it's gorgeous!

Salto da Farinha

Salto da Farinha is a beautiful waterfall located in the north of the island, about 15 minutes by car from the tea plantations.

Miradouro do Salto da Farinha, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

If you plan to visit Salto da Farinha it is good that you keep a couple of things in mind:

  • as soon as you arrive near the place indicated by Google Maps you will find a parking lot where you can leave your car, and a few meters away the Miradouro do Salto da Farinha, from which you can admire the waterfall from above but far in the distance;

  • next to the Miradouro begins the descent to reach the waterfall: if you intend to walk down to Salto da Farinha then I suggest you to go down by car. At the bottom of the descent (about 550 meters long) you will find another parking lot, but I warn you: the descent is very steep, so it is not easy to do by car or on foot;

Salto da Farinha, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo
  • after the second car park, at the base of the descent, on your left you will find a small creek in the rocks where a small beach opens up, while in front of you begins a short path through the vegetation, a splendid well-stocked picnic area (there are tables , gazebos, grills and even water taps).

  • The route is simple, but I warn you that once you reach 10 meters from the destination, the path is interrupted by the stream that springs from the waterfall and if you intend to continue, the only way is to wade! I took off my shoes, pulled up my pants and got to the other side, it's about a couple of meters, but the current is pretty strong (just ahead there's another waterfall) and the ground is very slippery. It's not for everyone here! But the view once under the waterfall is priceless!


Praia dos Moinhos

On the way back to Ponta Delgada, after the Salto da Farinha but before Ribeira Grande, we spent a few pleasant hours relaxing on the beach, after the morning's various walks. We chose to stop at Praia dos Moinhos, a wonderful black sand beach near Porto Formoso. To get to the beach, leave your car in the well-signposted car park in the center of Porto Formoso, after crossing the tiny but delightful village and following the signs you will reach the beach without walking far and above all without going downhill! Once here we treated ourselves with a snack and a drink at The Hill Pub and then we stretched out on the beach: it was divine. The beach, supervised by lifeguards, is located between two very high cliffs that create a wonderful panorama. There is always someone who swims in the sea although the water was frozen!


Ribeira Grande

Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora de Estrela, Ribeira Grande, São Miguel, Isole Azzorre

Ribeira Grande is one of the largest towns of São Miguel after Ponta Delgada, and is also located in the north of the island: in fact, we stopped on our way back from the first day. Ribeira Grande, despite the name, is small and if you want to make a short stop it will take you little time, maybe an hour. In the centre, outside the main square, there are numerous car parks where you can leave your car, and then be free to move around comfortably on foot. Do not miss the main square, full of cafes where you can stop for a drink, then the Ponte dos Oitos Arcos and the delightful adjacent park (Jardim Municipal de Ribeira Grande), Praça do Emigrante but above all the splendid Igreja Matriz de Nossa Senhora da Estrela, very special!


Furnas

Casa Invertida, Furnas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Furnas is one of the prettiest and most famous towns on the island: it's located right in the center of São Miguel and in its surroundings there are many things to see. Its fame is due to the healing power of its thermal waters which come directly from the volcanic rocks of the area. But let's first see what to visit in the center of Furnas, and then move towards the outside. There are not many things to see and they are all quite close: the curious Casa Invertida, the adjacent Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Alegria and the Cascata e Aquario das Furnas, a short walk away. In Furnas, the Parque Terra Nostra and Poca do Dona Beija are also inevitable, which we will now see in detail. If you want to have breakfast near Furnas, I highly recommend Gloria Moniz's pastry shop, which makes exceptional Bolo Lêvedo. For lunch instead the Queijaria Furnense or Tony's - READ ALSO:What and where to eat in São Miguel, the green island of the Azores


Poca do Dona Beija - Furnas

Poca do Dona Beija, Furnas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Poca do Dona Beija is a splendid thermal establishment with 5 outdoor pools with thermal water that comes directly from the underground volcanic rocks. The establishment is not very large, but I highly recommend it since it's very suggestive and relaxing. Furthermore, bathing in such ferrous waters is said to be very good for the skin. Access costs €8 each and allows you to stay inside for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Inside there are excellent services, the best in our opinion on the whole island: in fact, there is the possibility of renting lockers with padlocks (€2 per locker, which can comfortably hold two backpacks), as well as towels. The showers and changing rooms are brand new and impeccably maintained. Another point in favor of Poca do Dona Beija are the opening hours: from 8:30 to 23:00, thus also allowing you to try a night experience if you want! Advice:

  • before accessing the tubs, make sure you remove all jewels and do not wet your hair: although the iron contained in the water is beneficial for the skin, it is not the same for hair and jewels, which tend to stain yellow;

  • remember to bring a bathing suit and a towel in your backpack, being careful to choose perhaps old ones, or in any case pieces you don't care too much about: it is very easy for them to get stained; READ ALSO: Plan your low-cost trip to São Miguel, in the Azores Islands, in 6 simple steps

  • make sure you also have some shower gel in your bag: after bathing it is important to take a shower immediately and remove iron residues from the skin to avoid taking on an unpleasant yellowish complexion;

  • I suggest you to go to Poca do Dona Beija as the last activity of the day before going back home, in order to relax calmly in the tubs and then go home to take a nice shower and put down your wet clothes.


Parque Terra Nostra - Furnas

Parque Terra Nostra, Furnas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Parque Terra Nostra is a gigantic botanical garden created in 1775 by an American merchant who served as consul in São Miguel, and who bought the land to build his summer residence. Since then, the various owners who have followed one another have contributed to the magnificence of the park, enriching it with plants from all over the world. A visit to Parque Terra Nostra costs €10 each and will occupy you for about 2 hours: the garden is in fact truly immense, with many types of vegetation and very special flowers, ponds and wonderful sculptures. At the entrance we were given a map that we followed to make the entire tour, exploring every corner and I guarantee you that it really felt like we were in Brazil in the Amazon forest.

Parque Terra Nostra, Furnas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Among the most interesting things certainly the huge tree with visible roots at the beginning of the path, the tree-lined avenue, the animal sculptures covered with vegetation, the pond full of lotus flowers to be crossed on a stone path, and finally the part perhaps more tempting. At the end of the path, in fact, there are 2 small jacuzzis of boiling water from an underground thermal spring, and the large swimming pool of boiling water with a sulphurous yellow color in which it is possible to swim. Here too the same recommendations of Poca do Dona Beija apply regarding the risk of ruining jewellery, swimsuit and towels, as well as hair, with thermal waters, so be careful. Here the services are decidedly poorer than in Poca: there are only a couple of showers, cold, and 4 changing rooms, as well as no lockers to place one's belongings. Let's say that here the thermal part is a little more spartan but still really interesting and particular! P.s.: please keep in mind that Parque Terra Nostra closes at 4.30 pm, so time it well! It is the reason why we had left it behind for another day than the one in which we explored Furnas (see itinerary above).


Lagoa das Furnas

Lagoa das Furnas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

A few kilometers from the center of Furnas there is the large Lagoa das Furnas, of volcanic origin. The entrance to the lake park costs €3 each, and will allow you to access the car park, the bar, the souvenir shop, the large picnic area, canoe rental and also to visit the Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas , the fumaroles with sulphurous vapors. Here the smell of sulfur is rather intrusive but it is very interesting to see how the locals use the fumaroles to cook the famous Cozido. READ ALSO:What and where to eat in São Miguel, the green island of the Azores

Miradouro do Pico do Ferro, Furnas - Sao Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

From here I made a spectacular hike of about 12km in total. You go up to the Miradouro do Pico do Ferro, from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the lake and then, after going down, a complete circle around the lake, on whose banks there are several nice things to see. The tour of the lake takes about 2 hours, while the climb to Pico do Ferro is quite demanding and although it is just under 1.5km to the top, the climb is quite steep. Eventually you can also get to the Miradouro do Pico do Ferro by car, don't worry. For the walking route, go to the post dedicated to our treks on the island of São Miguel.

READ ALSO: Best hikes in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands - between volcanoes, forests and waterfalls On the south bank of the lake is the Mata-Jardim José do Canto, a garden that costs €4 and which houses the splendid Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitória - I honestly advise against paying to enter, the Church can be seen very well even from the outside .


Tower and view point & Miradouro do Pico do Carvao

The Tower and view point and the Miradouro do Pico do Carvao are two viewpoints that meet on the road to go to Sete Cidades, before Lagoa Empadadas. Both constitute two quick stops a short distance from each other, to admire the panorama of the green hills of Sao Miguel and the pastures of cows that populate the fields.


Lagoas Empadadas - Lagoa Rasa - Lagoa das Éguas

Lagoas Empadadas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo
Lagoas Empadadas

A much more interesting and unmissable stop is the one we made at these three lakes, always on the road to reach Sete Cidades. Once parked the car on the road, we went following the sign for the Lagoas Empadadas and we found ourselves in the middle of splendid lakes immersed in the greenery of spectacular woods. The two Lagoas Empadadas are certainly the most beautiful, with blue waters and surrounded by woods, but the walk to reach the other two is also remarkable, crossing a beautiful forest with thick vegetation.

Lagoa das Eguas - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo
Lagoa das Eguas

Lagoa Rasa was a bit disappointing, but it is on the path to reach Lagoa das Éguas which, although the path to get there is quite challenging and uphill, is worth all the effort. It is a small lake surrounded by a truly breathtaking walkable mountain ridge. Another stop to make during this walk, which overall will take you about a couple of hours, is the one at the Miradouro do Pico, from which you will be able to see the Lagoa de Pau Pique. For the walking route, go to the post dedicated to our treks on the island of São Miguel.

READ ALSO: Best hikes in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands - between volcanoes, forests and waterfalls Once back to the car, before setting off again, cross the road on the opposite side from that of the lakes, and admire the Aqueduto do Carvão and what remains of it.


Caldeira das Sete Cidades

Miradouro da Grota do Inferno - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo
Miradouro da Grota do Inferno

The Caldeira das Sete Cidades is one of the most iconic places in São Miguel: these are volcanic lakes located in the crater of a former volcano. What can I say.. definitely one of the most spectacular views of my life. Admiring the lakes of Sete Cidades from above is perhaps one of the most beautiful experiences you will have in São Miguel and there are two ways:

  • the first is to admire them from the 3 main Miradouro, reaching them by car;

  • take a trekking route that runs along the entire edge of the crater with various excursions of different durations, from 2 to 5 hours.

We chose the first option, being a bit tired from the previous days and having other things planned in this part of the island for the afternoon. The 3 Miradouro that you absolutely must reach (either on foot or by car) are:

  • Miradouro da Grota/Boca do Inferno: certainly the most spectacular of all three, thanks to the small path on the ridge that leads to the miradouro, with a breathtaking view. You absolutely cannot visit Sao Miguel without passing through here;

  • Miradouro da Vista do Rei: also very beautiful, it offers a view from slightly below, which allows you to better admire the colors of the lake and the vegetation below. If you are hungry once here, I point out the Komaki Burger, a food track with excellent products right on the Miradouro, ideal for filling your stomach while admiring the view;

  • Miradouro do Cerrado Das Freiras: here we are even lower down so it's certainly the least spectacular, but it's on the road so we didn't miss two photos from here too!

You will find them along the road to Cete Cidades in exactly this order, so if you choose to get there by car you won't have to go crazy. Often in this area there are very low clouds that prevent the view of the Caldeira: many have to make several attempts to catch the right day. To avoid unpleasant inconveniences we checked the situation with the webcam and everything was fine; in general, however, I suggest you not to go there in the morning, as it always tends to be more cloudy. Usually around lunch, however, on good days, the sky opens.


Lagoa do Canário

Lagoa do Canário is located on the path to reach the Miradouro da Grota do Inferno, so without having to go further, you will be able to see it and admire its beauty. Once you parked the car to go to the Miradouro, take a detour to the left and in about twenty meters you will be on the shore of Lagoa do Canário. Crystal clear waters, full of huge fish, surrounded by tall pine trees and hydrangea bushes, this lake is truly a marvel! Absolutely not to be missed!


Igreja do São Nicolau - Sete Cidades

In Sete Cidades, the village on the shores of the lakes in the Caldeira, we only passed through. The only stop we made was at the Igreja de São Nicolau, a true marvel on the road to Ferrairas. If you go in that direction don't miss it. The Church is located in a small park, at the end of a tree-lined avenue and can be visited for free inside. Honestly, the outside is by far the most beautiful part: the inside is definitely nothing special!


Ponta da Ferraira

Piscina Naturale da Ferrara, Ponta da Ferrara - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre

Not to be confused with the Termas da Ferraria, Ponta da Ferraira is a natural swimming pool among the rocks, on the western tip of the island, where the fresh and warm water that comes out of the volcanic rocks meets the cold one of the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean waters entering the inlet create a temperature of about 35-39°C depending on the tide: a great way to be able to swim in the ocean without freezing to death. The natural pool is supervised by two lifeguards, and to enter there are two ladders on the rocks: once inside it is essential to hold on to the ropes, or the waves and the current of the ocean will push you towards the rocks. It's only possible to swim when the tide is low, or the ocean water will completely invade the pool; I strongly advise you to check the state of the tide before going there. However, the place is worth a visit thanks to the splendid volcanic rocks that jut out into the ocean, also giving rise to what is called the Porta do Diabo. To reach Ponta da Ferraira go down the steep road and park in front of the Termas da Ferraira (real thermal baths, even if the establishment seems almost closed and abandoned: only the bar is open) and then head to the left. You will pass in front of the public services (toilets, showers and changing rooms) which you can use once you have bathed in the natural pool. Access to both the swimming pool and the services is free.


Praia do Mosteiros

Praia do Mosteiros, located in the village of Moisteiros, and it'is perhaps one of the most beautiful beaches of São Miguel: usual black, volcanic sand, cliffs overlooking the sea on the sides, and immense rocks in the middle of the sea. Add in the far west location, which makes it the perfect spot to watch the sunset, and we get an exceptional combination. Bathing, as always, can be complicated both due to the not exactly warm temperature of the water, and to the strong wind that often makes the ocean very rough, but there are always a lot of people in the water and the lifeguards monitor the situation from the beach. We went there a couple of hours before sunset: we settled down, had an aperitif buying something in the kiosks overlooking the beach and waited for the sun to go down. Despite some clouds on the horizon, it was a magical experience that I highly recommend!


Whale Watching

Whale Watching - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Whale Watching is one of the must-do activities in São Miguel. There are various companies that offer this excursion and after various searches we have relied on Terra Azul (based at the port of Vila Franca do Campo), which allowed us to have a wonderful and unforgettable experience in the Atlantic Ocean. The reason why I chose this company is their attention and their commitment to safeguarding the marine ecosystem: each group and therefore each boat is accompanied at sea by a marine biologist, who explains the characteristics and behavior of the various specimens sighted, and during the pre-excursion briefing they give great importance to respect for the environment. I loved them.

Delfini - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Their excursion, like those offered by other companies, lasts about 3 hours, even if the sighting phase is actually 2 hours (the first half hour is dedicated to the briefing, putting on life jackets and climbing maneuvers by boat, vice versa on the way back with the last half hour) during which you can spot different species of whales and dolphins. Before returning to the port, the skipper makes a tour around the Ilheu de Vila Franca, to give a taste to passengers who may not be planning a visit later. We payed 62€ each (September is still high season, in low season it's 54€) and it was definitely worth it! We saw so many dolphins, of various species, even very close while they were playing a meter from our boat, and also the second largest whale species in the world, even if only for a few moments .. he acted shy! Tips to make the most of this experience:

  • put on a lot of sunscreen on your face and arms;

  • bring a sweatshirt for the trips where the boat will go at maximum speed and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind - to find out what to pack click here;

  • the activity is not recommended for pregnant women and those with neck or back problems;

  • book a few days before, especially in July and August;

  • the Terra Azul excursions are at 8:30, 12:30 and 16:30 - I recommend the first one in the morning, when the sun is not too strong yet and in order to keep the second half of the day free for the Ilheu de Villa Franca.

Ilhéu de Vila Franca

Ilhéu de Vila Franca - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Ilhéu de Vila Franca is an islet located 1 km off the coast in front of the town of Vila Franca do Campo. Its peculiarity lies in its shape: its particular conformation, perfectly circular, is due to the collapse of an ancient volcano which created a natural pool inside the crater. The Ilhéu de Vila Franca can be easily reached by ferry in a few minutes of navigation but only in summer:

  • you can buy tickets at the dealer at the port of Vila Franca do Campo, for €10 each return - keep in mind that only 400 people are allowed on the islet a day, and 200 at the same time, so it's best to arrive in high season in advance;

  • you can combine a visit to the islet with whale watching: almost all companies offer a full day excursion in which you go out in search of dolphins and whales and then they will take you to the islet.

Ilhéu de Vila Franca - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Honestly, I advise you to do the whale watching excursion and then go to the Ilhéu de Vila Franca by public ferry: it is much cheaper and gives you more freedom in terms of time. The ferries leave once an hour, below are the timetables. Keep in mind that there is nothing on the islet, only lifeguards and toilets: there is no way to buy food or water, so plan it carefully from home. The Ilhéu de Vila Franca is certainly a must-see stop in São Miguel: its waters are crystal clear and blue, calm and much less cold than the open ocean, so we were finally able to swim in the sea and also relax for a bit!


Ermida De Nossa Senhora da Paz

The Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz sanctuary is also visible from the port of Vila Franca do Campo, if you look towards the hills. It absolutely deserves to be seen not so much for the small church, but for the particular staircase of wonderful azulejos in which all the scenes of the via crucis are portrayed. The staircase is surrounded by a myriad of hydrangeas and from the church you have a breathtaking view of the city and the Ilhéu de Vila Franca. It is a very scenic corner where we made a short stop after visiting the islet, I suggest you do the same!


Calouranatural swimmingpool

In the bay of Caloura, a small village on the south coast of Sao Miguel, between Vila Franca do Campo and Ponta Delgada, is this splendid rock pool. The swimming pool has been dug out of the rock and can be accessed free of charge via a jetty. It is a very beautiful place, if you don't want to swim in the ocean this is an excellent solution. Opposite there is a bar-restaurant but I honestly don't recommend it, the staff is really not very nice and friendly.


Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego and Miradouro da Ponta Madrugada - Nordeste

Alba dal Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

The Nordeste region is the wildest and least touristy of the island of São Miguel but in my opinion a day trip deserves it all. We started with a splendid sunrise at Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego: from Ponta Delgada it takes about an hour by car but I assure you it will be really worth it. You will be able to admire the sun rising from the sea from a splendid cliff overlooking the sea, where a beautiful garden with a small path that runs along the ridge will offer you excellent panoramic points. The Miradouro da Ponta da Madrugada is very similar to the first one: a beautiful garden and then the panoramic point overlooking the ocean. Of the two, Ponta do Sossego is certainly my favorite and the one I recommend for admiring the sunrise: it is more suggestive thanks to the path. We went to Ponta Madrugada once the sun had risen and it was still a good visit. Both Miradouros have a nice adjacent car park and are equipped with many well-equipped picnic and barbecue areas.


Praia do Lombo Gordo - Nordeste

Praia do Lombo Gordo is a splendid beach on the Nordeste coast: black sand, very high waves, perfect for surfing, a wonderful inlet between very high cliffs. If you want some peace and quiet, this is the right place: in fact, few people venture this far. To get to the beach you have to face about 1 and a half km of very steep road with many very tight curves up to the parking lot about a hundred meters from the beach, which must necessarily be done on foot (also on a very steep path) . But I guarantee you that it's worth it, trust me! We went there early, after admiring the sunrise at Miradouro Ponta do Sossego, not far away, so when we were there nobody was there and the journey by car was not difficult!


Miradouro da Ponta do Arnel - Farol do Arnel - Porto Nordeste - Salto da Ponta do Arnel

Faro de Arnel - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre

The Miradouro da Ponta do Arnel is a viewpoint overlooking the ocean and the Arnel Lighthouse which is located on the coast just below. From the Miradouro, the lighthouse will be really small and you will be tempted to get closer and maybe even get to its base.. which is possible, but not that simple. In fact, to reach the Arnel lighthouse, it is advisable to go down on foot and leave the car in the car park at the beginning of the descent as the road is very steep and narrow. Let's go on foot then you will say .. which we thought and did too, but I warn you that it is pretty tough to go back up! Once at the foot of the Arnel lighthouse, however, you can also take a look at Porto Nordeste and the Salto da Ponta da Arnel, a small waterfall located to the right of the lighthouse. All this on the same road and in any case on the Ponta Delgada/Praia do Lombo Gordo route and the two Miradouro for which it is worth making a short stop.


Vila do Nordeste

Vila do Nordeste is the city of the homonymous region and it is really small but, being on the road, we stopped for a quick walk, discovering with pleasure a delightful center, as well as the famous arched bridge. It is incredible how the architecture and buildings of this island seem to come straight from colonialism: everything is so well preserved and cared for. Truly a feast for the eyes! If you pass through this area, take a look at the center of Nordeste, it is certainly one of the prettiest villages on the island!


Parque Natural dos Caldeirões - Nordeste

Parque Natural dos Caldeirões - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

The Parque Natural dos Caldeirões is also located in Nordeste but further inland. It is a natural park with free access with wonderful vegetation, waterfalls and small rivers on which there are ancient water mills now exposed to the public. The park is very popular with tourists who go canyoning or riverplay - for who doesn't know what I'm talking about, it is a kind of trekking but inside the river, we tried it in Tuscany, I wrote about it here - offered by various companies on the island. Beautiful trekking routes also start from the Parque Natural dos Caldeirões. We just had a beautiful walk inside the park, admiring the splendid waterfalls and water mills. Inside the park there is also a small bar and a delightful local craft shop where we stocked up on souvenirs and local products. The park is free and served by a large car park: we really liked it, especially the area to the left of the bridge, where the waterfalls are immersed in hydrangeas.. a real marvel.


Ponta Delgada

Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião - São Miguel, Isole Azzorre, Portogallo
Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião

Ponta Delgada is the capital not only of the island of São Miguel but of all the Azores, and it0s the city where we stayed and made a regular stop during the trip.

It is the largest on the island and also the best served, as well as being located in a point that makes it an excellent base for reaching all parts of the island. The symbolic places of the historic center are the Portas Da Cidade, which are located a few steps from the Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião, the most important church in the city, which overlooks Largo da Matriz, the main square with historic cafés. Then I recommend a walk to the Jardin Botânico Antonio Borges, a splendid garden with some splendid specimens of vegetation, including an imposing tree with gigantic roots and ancient ruins.

Ponta Delgada, São Miguel - Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

A walk along Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, the city's seafront, is also a must: on the seafront, at the western end we find Forte de São Brás from the 16th century, a Renaissance fortress that now houses the Military Museum of the Azores, while towards the east the Parque Atlantico, a particular shopping center on the sea and the Piscinas de S. Pedro and do Pesquiero. In the small square in front of the fort you will find the Santuario do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, a splendid church with one wall entirely covered with azulejos. One last place that I point out to you in Ponta Delgada is the Plantação de Ananás dos Açores, a pineapple plantation just outside the centre. Pineapple is in fact one of the main products of these lands, truly delicious, and here you can visit the plantation for free and understand how it is grown. Also at the end of the tour there is a small free tasting of pineapple products served in the bar outside the greenhouse, where you can also order something from the entirely pineapple-based menu or buy some products.


Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo, São Miguel - Isole Azzorre, Portogallo

Almost a thousand meters high and about halfway between Furnas and Ponta Delgada, on the road to Caldeira Velha and Salto do Cabrito, we find the Miradouro do Lagoa do Fogo. The view from the top of the miradouro is among the most spectacular of the island: on clear days you have a spectacular view of the majestic lake. To the left of the Miradouro there is a public paid parking, quite expensive - the first 20 minutes for free, the first 15 minutes 80 cents, then every 15 minutes 80 cents: we spent 7.20€ to stay 2-3 hours - but there are no other alternatives. Right from the Miradouro begins a downhill path to the base of the lake, which then continues alongside the beach. The route is very pretty, the nature is wild and the waters of the lake are very blue (you can even lie down on the beach and sunbathe if the weather permits): it's not a demanding trek, if you don't consider the climb back back, which however is in steps so quite feasible.

READ ALSO: Best hikes in São Miguel, in the Azores Islands - between volcanoes, forests and waterfalls For the walking route, go to the post dedicated to our treks on the island of São Miguel. On the way to reach the Miradouro do Lagoa do Fogo from Ponta Delgada you will also find the Miradouro do Pico da Barrosa, from which you will enjoy a view of the lake from even higher up.


Salto do Cabrito

On the same road as Lagoa do Fogo we find the Salto do Cabrito, perhaps one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. As with the Salto da Farinha, don't stop at the first parking space you find on the road to go down to the waterfall, but walk all the way down - the climb back up o