THE 10 BEST São Miguel Tours & Excursions

São miguel tours.

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  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

tour sao miguel azores

1. Half-Day Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour in Ponta Delgada

tour sao miguel azores

2. São Miguel West Full Day Tour with Setes Cidades Including Lunch

tour sao miguel azores

3. Side by Side Tour - Sete Cidades from North Coast (Half Day)

tour sao miguel azores

4. Small-Group Ponta Delgada Food Tour in Azores

tour sao miguel azores

5. 8-Hour Private Tour in 4x4 Vehicle from Ponta Delgada

tour sao miguel azores

6. Quad Biking - Sete Cidades from North Coast (Half Day)

tour sao miguel azores

7. Furnas Night-Time Experience with Thermal baths and Dinner

tour sao miguel azores

8. Azores Whale Watching & Islet Boat Tour

tour sao miguel azores

9. Canyoning Experience - half day

tour sao miguel azores

10. São Miguel East Full Day Tour with Furnas Including Lunch

tour sao miguel azores

11. Guided Electric Mountain Bike in Sete Cidades

tour sao miguel azores

12. Whales and Dolphins + Vila Franca Islet (full day with lunch)

tour sao miguel azores

13. Wine & Food Evening Walking Tour in Ponta Delgada

tour sao miguel azores

14. Hidden Gems of Sao Miguel Island Full Day Tour with Lunch

tour sao miguel azores

15. Cheese & Wine Tasting in Ponta Delgada - Azores

tour sao miguel azores

16. Azores Sete Cidades Green & Blue Lakes - Private Tour

tour sao miguel azores

17. Private Full-Day 4x4 Tour to Lagoa do Fogo & Lagoa das Sete Cidades

tour sao miguel azores

18. E-bike Sete Cidades- "All Mountain" bike program

tour sao miguel azores

19. Buggy Off-Road Excursion from Ponta Delgada to Sete Cidades - HD

tour sao miguel azores

20. Canyoning in the Ribeira dos Caldeirōes Natural Park

tour sao miguel azores

21. Full Day Private Tour West & East in São Miguel Island

tour sao miguel azores

22. Full Day - Hiking Trail Ribeira Funda-Maia

tour sao miguel azores

23. Boat Tour: Cave Tour on The North Coast

tour sao miguel azores

24. Off the Beaten Track Half Day Sete Cidades Jeep Tour

tour sao miguel azores

25. Ponta Delgada: Shore excursion, Blue & Green lake Tour

tour sao miguel azores

26. 2-Day Discovery of São Miguel: Landscape, Volcanoes and Lakes

tour sao miguel azores

27. Snorkeling in Vila Franca do Campo

tour sao miguel azores

28. 2.5h Sunset Navigation with Azorean appetizers and Wine

tour sao miguel azores

29. Private Jeep Tour in São Miguel Island

tour sao miguel azores

30. Guided Visit to the Crater and Volcano of Lagoa das Sete Cidades

What travelers are saying.


  • Half-Day Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour in Ponta Delgada
  • São Miguel West Full Day Tour with Setes Cidades Including Lunch
  • São Miguel East Full Day Tour with Furnas Including Lunch
  • Furnas Night-Time Experience with Thermal baths and Dinner
  • Quad Biking - Sete Cidades from North Coast (Half Day)
  • Hungry Whales Cultural and Food Tours
  • Azores Connections
  • Azores4travel
  • Azores Private Tours
  • Amazing Tours
  • FUNtastic Azores Tours
  • Azorean Tours
  • Sea Colors Azores
  • Azores Whale Watching TERRA AZUL
  • Terra do Pico
  • Minuvida Azores Experiences
  • Azores Dream Tours
  • Sailingside Rentals

5 Day Azores Itinerary: 26 Top Things to Do in São Miguel Island [Plus Map]

Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - Azores travel guide

Floating 1,400 kilometres west of the Iberian Peninsula, São Miguel island is the jewel in the crown of the Azorean archipelago. This comprehensive 5-day guide show you the top things to do in São Miguel island plus where to say, where to eat, and when to go. Plus loads of bonus travel tips.

From thousands of years old bubbling geysers, to flower-lined winding roads, hikes spiraling around dormant volcanoes, and natural thermal pools scattered throughout the island, São Miguel island is a dream. Which is why I’ve prepared a comprehensive Azores travel guide!

If you’re not familiar with the Azores or need more convincing, check out my post on  why the Azores is Europe’s best-kept secret.

São Miguel Island

São Miguel island is the largest island in the Azores, measuring 62.1 km in length and 15.8 km at its maximum width. This means that depending on which roads you take, you can see both the north and south side of the island at the same time!

São Miguel island is also home to the Azores largest city and its capital: Ponta Delgada. The best part? Today, only 5-10% of the island is built-up, leaving the rest to nature. Excited yet?

With such a relatively small area to cover, basing yourself in Ponta Delgada and setting out on day trips around São Miguel is the best way to see everything the island has to offer.

During my five days in São Miguel, I divided the island up into five pockets which I used as my itinerary for each day. This worked so well for me and managing my time during the trip that I wanted to share it with you.

Whilst there is so much that can be done, seen, and explored in São Miguel island, my complete and ultimate itinerary ensures that you will see and experience the best of the island.

I’ve covered everything including accommodation, car rental, where to eat and how to manage your days around the temperamental Azorean weather.

Five Things You Should Know

Before we jump in, here are five important things you should know about this itinerary to São Miguel.

  • If you’re visiting São Miguel for the first time, this guide is for you! This guide assumes you have no prior knowledge of the island and its incredible beauty. Boy, are you in for a surprise!
  • You’ll need a car to get around. I recommend hiring a car here as there is little to no public transport. Plus, having a car will give you the freedom to start and end your days on your terms.   Compare the best car rental prices here.
  • I’ve tried to find a balance between quality and quantity. That being said, how often do you get to go to the Azores? For some, this might be a once-off experience and you want to see as much as possible. The best part of this itinerary is that you can adjust it to suit your needs and personal preferences. For each daily bucket list, each location is no more than 30 minutes from the next, which gives you total flexibility should you prefer to linger a bit longer at any location.
  • It allows for last-minute itinerary changes. Something I wasn’t prepared for was how quickly the weather changes in the Azores. When the heavens open up and clouds roll in, some of the best viewpoints are…well, invisible! My advice? Keep track of the weather constantly and check the conditions of the locations before you go. You can either the  SpotAzores website or app. It’s a total game changer! Luckily, the size of the island allows you to zigzag around in case you need to chase good weather. To give you an idea, getting from the east to west coast will take no longer than 90 minutes.
  • Keep a towel handy. There are lots of thermal pools and beaches on this itinerary so make sure you come prepared. Bring an old swimsuit, I’ll tell you why later. Just take my word for it.

So, without further ado, here are the top things to do in São Miguel island.

Looking for something in particular? Use these links to jump around.

Included in this guide to São Miguel

  • Map of São Miguel Itinerary
  • Day 1 itinerary
  • Day 2 itinerary
  • Day 3 itinerary
  • Day 4 itinerary
  • Day 5 itinerary

Getting to the Azores

Where to stay in são miguel, são miguel flight and hotels packages, map of são miguel island itinerary.

Want to know where you’ll be going? Take a look at the detailed map below.

Tip: For a larger view of the map, click on the icon in the top right corner.

Click on this interactive map and see where this itinerary will take you. I’ve created this map using Google Maps which you can save and use as you travel around the island.

The coloured pins represent different pockets of the island to explore each day. Click on any pin for more information. Day 1 – Purple pins Day 2 – Green pins Day 3 – Turquoise pins Day 4 – Yellow pins Day 5 – Pink pins

Day 1 Itinerary – Purple pins

Saving the best till last isn’t always the smartest idea, at least not in the Azores.

Visiting Sete Cidades requires good weather otherwise you risk seeing very little. That’s why I recommend that on your first day, you aim to visit the western part of the island. That way, if the weather isn’t in your favour you can easily try again the following day.

Sete Cidades

sao miguel island azores travel guide sete cidades hike

Chances are that if you Googled the Azores, you most likely saw a picture of the Sete Cidades. It’s the postcard of the island and quite possibly the Azores.

Sete Cidades literally means, ‘seven cities’ and is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. The views over Sete Cidades and its lakes are nothing short of impressive and awe-inspiring.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Lake of the Seven Cities)

At its centre, there are two lakes, one green and the other blue which are separated by a bridge.

According to legend, the lakes were formed from the tears of a shepherd and a princess who shared a forbidden love because of their different social status. They say that the last time they met, their tears formed the lakes. The tears of the blue-eyed shepherd formed the blue lake while the those of green-eyed princess created the green lake.

The less romantic version explains the colour difference is due to the fact that the surrounding vegetation causes the light to reflect differently.

Either way, it’s still an impressive sight!

Lagoa das Sete Cidades can be enjoyed from numerous vantage points, each offering a new and wonderful perspective.

Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - Bridge over Sete cidades lakes

Miradouro da Vista Do Rei (Viewpoint Of The King)

sao miguel island azores travel guide sete cidades

Appropriately translating to, Viewpoint Of The King, this may be the first glimpse you’ll see if Sete Cidades. Not a bad introduction! The best part of the Sete Cidades is that it can be enjoyed in different ways, including taking any one of the hiking trails.

There is also an elevated dirt road, which is quite narrow at some points, which spirals around the lake. You can both walk or drive along this road whilst enjoying the different perspectives over the lakes.

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth Viewpoint)

sao miguel island azores travel guide sete cidades boca do inferno

Take a moment here and try to comprehend how old this land is. This volcanic crater is 22,000 years old!

Tips on Getting to Boca do Inferno Viewpoint

  • Blink and you’ll miss the entrance! Whether you’re coming from Vista do Rei or from Ponta Delgada (South East) the entrance looks like more a concealed driveway. Avoid taking any turnoffs that will take you down to the Sete Cidades village. Look out for a blue sign indicating a stop 100 metres ahead.
  • Depending on how early you get there, some cars may already be parked outside making the entrance more obvious. It’s here you’ll see the Lagoa Do Canário sign. Turn down the dirt road and park your car.
  • At this point there are a lot of tall trees, continue on foot for less than five minutes until you see the stairs.
  • From here, it’s just 5 minutes away from the viewpoint.

Tips on Visiting Boca do Inferno

  • Time: Allow 1-2 hours to wander around, get some great photos, and savour the moment.
  • Price:  Both entrance and parking are free!
  • Pro Tip #1: For awesome moody shots come here just before the sunset. Note that the gates close at 4pm on weekdays and at 7pm on weekends.
  • Pro Tip #2: This place gets busy! So, go early. When I went it was at the end of the season and I arrived as soon as the gates opened at 8:30. I literally had 10 minutes alone before other people started arriving. By the time I left at 10am, cars were parked all the way out back onto the main road.
  • Pro Tip #3: Remember to check the weather. Suns out, guns out. When the sun shines here, the landscape comes alive with vibrant colours.

After enjoying the views from above, head down towards the lovely quaint village of Sete Cidades. Along the way, you’ll pass over the bridge that separates the blue and green lakes. Stop here and say hi to the birdlife on the banks before continuing into town.

sao miguel island azores travel guide Igreja de Sao Nicolau Church

Fancy a bike ride or kayaking in the lake? In town, you’ll find a few hire shops. Not a bad way to pass the afternoon.

Not to be missed in town is the lovely village Church of Saint Nicholas (Igreja de São Nicolau) . The beautiful tree-lined promenade leading to the entrance is worth stopping by for.

Ponta da Ferraria

sao miguel island azores travel guide Ponta da Ferraria

Put on your swimsuit, it’s time to relax in Ponta da Ferraria geothermal spring.

Not only is the location itself unique, sitting at the base of a giant lava rock cliff, but the spring opens up to the ocean creating a wonderful mix of hot and cold water that dances around your body.

Also located here are housed thermal baths with an outdoor swimming pool and restaurant. Visit Termas da Ferraria for more information.

Tips on Visiting Ponta da Ferraria

  • Time: Allow 2 hours to bathe then relax at the kiosk with a beer in hand.
  • Price: Entrance and parking are free!
  • Pro Tip: Go at low tide to avoid be scalded. Ouch!

sao miguel island azores travel guide Mosteiros sunset

The cherry on the sundae is ending your day at Mosteiros.

Mosteiros is a civil parish which saw its first settlers around 1480. The name Mosteiros, means monastery in Portuguese and refers to the nearby islets, the largest of which is shaped like a church.

Come here an hour or so before sunset. Cosy up either on the beach or head around to the rocks on the right and watch the water crash over the boulders. Soon enough the sky will turn electric purple bringing this magical day to an end.

Day 2 Itinerary – Green pins

Today, we’re exploring the east and southeastern parts of the island.

The Nordeste and Pedreira districts are some of the wildest and most remote parts of São Miguel island. The sea cliffs are stand tall and steep, the vegetation is thicker and more vibrant, and the roads are more sinuous. Everything in this area is worth stopping your car for.

Ponta da Madrugada Lookout

sao miguel island azores travel guide Ponta da Madrugada

Start your day early and head east! Watching the sunrise from the famous Ponta da Madrugada (literally means, Dawn Point) is a must! The drive coastal drive here alone is truly one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever driven on.

Bring some breakfast, sit at any of the picnic tables and enjoy the sunrise over the vast blue Atlantic ocean.

Arnel Lighthouse

Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - Faro do Arnel lighthouse

Take a slight detour north and visit the beautiful octagonal cylindrical lighthouse, Faro do Arnel. This was the first lighthouse built in the Azores used by ships arriving from mainland Portugal.

There is a wonderful spiral road leading to the lighthouse, but the best view of both the lighthouse and the road is from Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos (Viewpoint of the boats). Keep an eye out for road signs indicating the lookout on your right-hand side.

Tips on Getting to Arnel Lighthouse

  • Pro tip: Once arrived, I strongly recommend parking the car and continuing on foot. The spiral road down is 35º. Don’t risk stranding your rental car on the return trip.

Ponta do Sossego Viewpoint

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas drone shot terra nostra park thermal pool Lagoa do Fogo Ponta do Sossego viewpoint

Lagoa das Furnas

sao miguel island azores travel guide lagao de furnas

Sitting in Furnas Valley, home to dozens of thermal springs, fumaroles and geysers, is Lagoa das Furnas (Furnas Lagoon). This lagoon is one of the three main lagoons in São Miguel.

The valley is in fact a volcanic crater which has been dormant since 1630, when the last eruption occurred.

Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias

Also worth visiting here is the Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias dedicated to Our Lady of the Victories. This funerary chapel was built by José do Canto, a gentleman-farmer of São Miguel, after his beloved wife passed away from a terminal illness. When José eventually died, he was buried alongside his wife, fullfulling his wishes.

There is a lovely view of the lagoon and the chapel from a jetty as you approach the chapel.

With a complicated 100,000 year history, the central caldera of the Furnas Volcano is a naturally explosive trachyte structure composed of two main calderas, that through formation, collapse and explosion have marked the natural history of the massif.

Caldeiras das Furnas and Fumaroles from Lagoa das Furnas

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas

On the opposite end of the lagoon are the Caldeiras hot springs where the famous local dish Cozido das Furnas (Furnas stew) is prepared and transported to location restaurants.

A path navigates around the holes of boiling water and geysers where the stew is cooked.

While the dish itself might not be your best meal of the trip, it is, nonetheless worth trying. I mean, how often do you eat a meal cooked by Mother Nature herself?

Where to Eat Furnas Stew (Cozido das Furnas)

Each day several restaurants located in Furnas village send their stews to be cooked in the Caldeiras. The two most noteworthy are Tony’s and the restaurant at  Terra Nostra Garden Hotel.  Eating at Terra Nostra Garden Hotel also gets you complimentary access to Terra Nostra park and the thermal pool.

Furnas Village

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas drone shot

Head to the main village and see how the locals live alongside thirty springs and geysers each with different temperatures and chemical compositions. These range from warm iron-rich streams to mineral-rich warm and cold water. The air here is literally filled with sulphur.

Owing to a population of several thousand people who live within and around its caldera, Furnas is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the archipelago. The first recorded eruption occurred in 1440, just after early settlers started populating the coasts of São Miguel.

Terra Nostra Park

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas drone shot terra nostra park thermal pool

Covering 12 hectares, Terra Nostra Park is one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe boasting lush vegetation, over 2,000 different trees, peaceful promenades, lilypad-covered ponds, and a huge thermal pool.

Bathing in the ferrous orange thermal pool at Terra Nostra Park is one of the island’s postcard experiences. Full of essential minerals, the thermal spring heats the water to 35 – 40 degrees Celsius (95 – 140F).

  A post shared by Michele • The Intrepid Guide✈︎ (@intrepidguide) on Dec 17, 2017 at 7:57am PST

Tips on Visiting Terra Nostra Park

  • Duration: Allow at least 1 hour to explore the gardens then half an hour to relax in the thermal pool.
  • Price: 8 euros, includes access to the park thermal pool and showers.
  • Pro tip #1: Don’t wear your favourite swimsuit though, the minerals will leave your whites looking a little orange. Wear something old and dark.
  • Pro tip #2:  Go here on a cloudy or gloomy day. Save that sunshine for visiting places at higher altitude. Plus, having a hot bath feels so much better when it’s cold.

Poça da D. Beija Thermal Spa (Optional)

While the thermal experience is similar at Poça Dona Beija, swimming in those at Parque Terra Nostra is more of a novelty because of the orange water. Unless you really love your thermal experience, there’s no need to do both.

Poça da D. Beija offers a more authentic experience with it’s complex of newly refurbished five outdoor pools at various temperatures. Since they’re open till 11pm daily, why not stay for a romantic evening dip.

Tips on Visiting Poça da D. Beija Thermal Springs

  • Duration: Anything from 1 hour
  • Price: Entrance fee is 4 euros in Poça Dona Beija

Day 3 Itinerary – Blue pins

Lagoa do fogo.

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas drone shot terra nostra park thermal pool Lagoa do Fogo

One of the most beautiful yet difficult to see places on the island is Lagoa do Fogo. Literally translating to ‘Fire lake’, only on my third visit did the clouds part to reveal this impressive lake.

Lagoa do Fogo sits in a crater with a maximum depth of 30 metres. This is the island’s highest lagoon (sitting 575 metres) and the second biggest.

Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - Lagoa do Fogo sunset

Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo (Lookout)

If you reach the lookout and find the area drowning in cloud or fog, allow 15 minutes or so for it to pass (fingers crossed) it’s amazing how quickly the weather changes up there.

Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - Sunrise

View from Pico da Barrosa

Once you arrive at Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo, take the path down to the beach. After thirty minutes you’ll reach the unspoiled shoreline.

Tips for Visiting Lagoa do Fogo

  • Duration: Anything from 1 hour, allow more time if heading down to the beach
  • Price: Free 🙂
  • Pro tip 1: Check the weather ahead of time. Having said that, even on a sunny day there can still be lots of cloud cover. Be patient and wait a little before leaving. You may need to return another day.
  • Pro tip 2:  Since this is a Natural Reserve it’s important to be as respectful as possible. Don’t leave any rubbish/trash behind or go swimming if you’re wearing sunscreen.
  • Pro tip 3: Located higher up overlooking Lagoa do Fogo is Pico da Barrosa.  Weather permitting, you’ll be able to see both the north and south coastlines of the island. Pretty cool!

Caldeira Velha

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas drone shot terra nostra park thermal pool Lagoa do Fogo Caldeira Velha

Located a few minutes down the road on the north slope of the Fogo Volcano is Caldeira Velha, a scenic nature preserve featuring lush vegetation, a waterfall, and hot springs. I love this place because it’s not located near a town and the towering trees make you feel like you’re at one with nature.

Located in Caldeira Velha is a park are two stone-walled naturally heated pools. Both surrounded by lush vegetation, the smaller one is 38º while the largest is 21º.

Tips for Visiting Caldeira Velha

  • Duration:  You can’t rush relaxing. You’ll need anywhere between 1.5-3 hours to really it enjoy it. Price: The entrance is 2 Euros (as per 2017).
  • Pro tip #1: Same rules apply regarding your swimsuit. Wear something old and dark to reduce the signs of orange stains thanks to the mineral-rich water.
  • Pro tip #2: There are lockers, changing rooms and showers, but be prepared for the cold water. It’s invigorating to say the least.

Salto do Cabrito

sao miguel island azores travel guide furnas drone shot terra nostra park thermal pool Lagoa do Fogo Salto do Cabrito

Salto do Cabrito, literally meaning ‘Kid’s Jumping’, has a 40 metre high waterfall. Next to the base of the water is a circular pedestrian route that sits high up amongst the thick foliage.

Miradouro de Santa Iria

sao miguel island azores travel guide Miradouro de Santa Iria

Located in a ravine above the sea, the Santa Iria lookout offers a superb view over Santa Iria Bay and the northern coastline of the island.

This viewpoint is very close to the main road and has a small car park both near the main road and down the short road leading to the viewpoint.

Itinerary Day 4 – Yellow pins

Starting in the north-east of São Miguel island, begin your day at Ribeira dos Caldeirões Park before making your way down to the picturesque islet of Vila Franca on the south coast.

Ribeira dos Caldeirões Park

sao miguel island azores travel guide Ribeira dos Caldeiroes waterfall

With flowing streams and three large cascading waterfalls, Ribeira dos Caldeirões Park is not to be missed.

It’s an idyllic spot for hikers to walk along rock-cut paths that wind through the mountains. The rainforest trails invite you to explore the lush landscape with endless photo opportunities along the way.

sao miguel island azores travel guide Ribeira dos Caldeiroes waterfall garden

Gorreana Tea Plantation

sao miguel island azores travel guide Gorreana Tea Plantation

This family-owned business has been operating since 1883. There is a museum with free tastings, but this place is best experienced outside amongst the plantation itself where there is a magnificent view overlooking the Atlantic ocean.

Tips for Visiting Gorreana Tea

  • Duration: 1 hour is enough to go through the premises and sip on a cup of tea.
  • Price: Free
  • Pro tip: Whether you enjoy tea, the process of making it or not, the views alone are worth the visit. If you do, there are free tea tastings inside.

Vila Franca Islet

Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - Vila Franca Do Campo

Vila Franca do Campo was once the capital of the Azores but lost its status after it had been almost completely destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1522. From then on the capital of São Miguel was transferred to Ponta Delgada.

Sitting opposite the town of Vila Franca do Campo is the beautiful islet formed as a result of a crater of an ancient submerged volcano. At approximately 300 metres in length, this is the smallest islet I’ve ever seen!

It’s enclosed bay makes it the ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. During the summer months, the islet can be reached by a regular boat connection from the Vila Franca marina. Get your tickets online.

Tips for Visiting Vila Franca Islet

  • Duration: Allow yourself at least 3 hours here.
  • Price: 5 Euros
  • Pro tip #1: During high tide the small beach is complete covered, grab a spot in the concrete area instead to avoid being washed out.
  • Pro tip #2: Please be respectful of the island and leave nothing behind but footprints.

Our Lady of Peace Chapel

sao miguel island guide sao miguel Our Lady of Peace Chapel

High up on the hills overlooking Vila Franca and the Atlantic ocean is Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz, a stunning 16th-century chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Peace.  According to the legend, this chapel was built after the apparition of Virgin Mary to a shepherd, in a cave.

Day 5 Itinerary – Pink pins

Swimming with dolphins and whale-watching (from ponta delgada).

sao miguel island azores travel guide Swimming with Dolphins

What could be better than spending the morning with Atlantic Spotted dolphins and Humpback and Sperm whales?

For two hours I swam with dolphins and observed these playful creatures in their natural environment. There were literally hundreds of them! Jump in and enjoy watching these majestic mammals, play, feed, and poop. (Look out for those white trails. Haha) You’ll definitely want to capture this once in a lifetime experience.

I went out with Picos de Aventura , who were amazing. The customer service was great and the two guides on board were patient, professional, and super passionate about their work and the wellbeing of the marine life.

Picos de Aventura offer diving trips, whale watching, and swimming with dolphins and gear hire. I love my whales but this time I wanted to see the action underwater so opted for the swimming trip. 

The Azores attract many species of cetaceans which makes heading out in the ocean a must-do activity. If you can, plan your trip between April and June for the best whale watching. For dolphins, I saw plenty of them in September. They were also still running whale watching trips.

  • Book a whale and dolphins watching expedition in São Miguel here
  • Book your swimming with the dolphin’s tour here

Tips for Swimming with Dolphins in São Miguel

  • Duration: The trip last 3 hours, this includes the time it takes to reach the dolphins and return to shore on the RIB boat.
  • Price: Tours start from 75 Euros for a 3-hour trip.
  • Pro tip #1: If you suffer from lower back problems or are pregnant, do not go on this trip. The RIB boat ride is pretty intense.
  • Pro tip #2:  Take sea sickness tablets. If you’re not accustomed to swimming in the open ocean, chances are you feel nauseous. At least 3 others on the tour did. Come prepared.
  • Pro tip #3:  The water is very choppy. If you’re not a confident swimmer, speak with the guides to advise you if this is right for you. I honestly struggled the first few stops we made, then I learned to relax and avoid wasting my energy on swimming too much.

Tips for Whale-Watching in São Miguel

  • Duration: The trip last 3 hours
  • Price: Tours start from 55 Euros
  • Pro tip #1:  Whale watching is big business and many tour companies break certain laws in order to get their boats as close as possible to the whales and boasts being the best tour. They are actually breaking the law when they do this. Both safety and ethical regulations are in place to protect the well-being on the whales so make sure you go out with a trusted company, such as Picos de Aventura .
  • Tours depart morning, early afternoon, and evening from both Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca marinas.
  • Tours book out quickly so secure your spot at least a few ahead of the tour.

Ponta Delgada

  A post shared by Michele • The Intrepid Guide✈︎ (@intrepidguide) on Oct 19, 2017 at 10:54am PDT

With all of the island’s treasures now under your belt, it’s time to explore the Azores capital city, Ponta Delgada.

I’ve written a dedicated post to all the sights of Ponta Delgada, but here are a few highlights.

  • Portas da Cidade (City Gates)
  • Parish Church of São Sebastião
  • Campo de São Francisco
  • São Bras Forte (Open 10am – 6pm, Closed Saturday & Sunday)
  • António Borges Botanical Garden (Open everyday 9am – 8:30pm)
  • A. Arruda Pineapple Plantation (Open everyday 9am – 8pm )
  • Hermitage of the Mother of God – End your day here at sunset for best view over Ponta Delgada.

top 10 things to do in ponta delgada 2018 - sao miguel island - antonio borges jardim paths

António Borges Botanical Garden

Ponta Delgada is a relatively small so you can cover a lot of ground just on foot. Allow 1-2 hours each at the São Bras Forte, António Borges Botanical Garden, and A. Arruda Pineapple Plantation.

For more information about Ponta Delgada, use my complete guide to the city here.

Where to Eat in Ponta Delgada

Where to eat in the Azores in 2018 - sao miguel island

Bacalhau, Portuguese for cod, is considered to be an iconic dish of Portugal. My Portuguese boyfriend enjoyed this salted cod with vegetable dish at Calçada do Cais in Ponta Delgada.

Running parallel with the seafront Rua dos Mercadores is one of the main thoroughfares. Here you’ll find some of the island’s best restaurants including Calçada do Cais, and further north, A Tasca .

Other highly recommended restaurants include Adega Regional ,  Rotas da Ilha Verde (vegetarian-friendly) ,  Boca de Cena (seafood),  Casa Do Bife O Galego (steakhouse),  Restaurant Sao Pedro (seafood).

Essential Azores Travel Information

Getting to the Azores is easier than you might think. You can hop on a boat or catch a plane.  Direct flights depart from the USA, Canada, UK, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, France, Germany, and Finland.

SATA / Azores Airlines offer the most routes with other operators such as TAP Portugal, Primera, TUI, Germania, Ryanair, and Delta offering regular flights to the Azores. My advice would be to fly from Porto, Lisbon or London where tickets are considerably cheaper. Compare deals and book your flight here.

The gateway to the Azores is located in Ponta Delgada with most flights connecting here.

Pro Tip: In some cases, you may be eligible to get a FREE inter-island connecting flight. Find out more here 

Heading to Portugal? Download my free Portuguese Travel Phrase guide here.

Where to Stay in the Azores offers a lot of accommodation options in the Azores, from charming guesthouses to typical houses surrounded by nature. To make your life easier, I’ve put together a list of the best-reviewed hotels, guesthouses, and villas in the Azores.

If you are coming to the Azores, chances are you’ll most likely be at least spending a few days on the largest island, São Miguel.

VIP Executive Azores Hotel

Where to stay in the Azores in 2018 - sao miguel island hotel

For the week I was there, I stayed at 4-star VIP Executive Azores Hotel . This is the largest hotel on the island and includes all the comforts of home. There is an excellent gym, an interior swimming pool, squash court, bar, free covered private parking, a beauty salon with hairdresser, and Wireless Internet service. With a great view of the town and ocean and surrounding landscape, VIP Executive Azores is a 10-minute walk into town.

For an alternative accommodation option, I would recommend renting out an apartment or room through Airbnb. Cute Airbnb options are popping up all over the island so you’ll find some really beautiful places at very affordable prices.  Airbnb has numerous options from as low as US$36 per night.

If it’s your first time using Airbnb get US$65 OFF here or get £50 OFF your first stay here , when you sign up using my unique reader referral links.

Otherwise, check out these top-rated hotels!

Need more options? No problem. Here is a list of pre-selected hotels, villas, and guesthouses in São Miguel with excellent ratings . The list only includes rooms with wifi and top reviews, so you can’t go wrong!

Azores Getaways  offer great prices on flight and hotel packages to the Azores. There are packages starting from 320 USD for 7 nights accommodation with return flights to London.

I recommend using Azores Getaways if you:

  • Are travelling from Europe or the United States.
  • Want to visit the best spots but don’t much to do all the research
  • Want someone else to book and organise everything for you

Browse their offers and packages here.

Alternatively, use this itinerary and book it all yourself. I always use  Skyscanner to book flights and for finding accommodation .

Visiting Portugal? Brush up on the local language with my free Portuguese travel phrase guide.

Got more time? Take a day trip!

  • Ponta Delgada Walking Tour
  • Swim with Dolphins in the Azores
  • Fogo Lake Quad Bike Full-Day Small-Group Tour with Lunch
  • Azores Canyoning and Thermal Baths Tour
  • Half-Day Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour
  • Whale and dolphins watching expedition in São Miguel
  • Furnas Volcano and Lake Full-Day Tour with Lunch
  • Pico do Ferro Trail Hike and Light Yoga on São Miguel Island
  • Plus loads more here …

Don’t miss these Portugal travel guides

11 reasons why you should visit the azores in portugal, top 10 things to do in ponta delgada (the jewel of the azores).

  • 34 Best Things to do in Madeira, Portugal (The Ultimate Guide)
  • 12 Awesome Things to do in Funchal, Madeira (Includes Travel Tips & Top-Rated Tours)
  • 20 TOP Things to do in Porto Santo Island // A Perfect Day Trip from Madeira

tour sao miguel azores

Like it? Pin it for later!

Top Things to do in San Miguel Island, Portugal - 5 Day itinerary

Sources Visit Azores | Wikipedia |  Geeky Explorer

Over to you!

Do you have a question about visiting the Azores or São Miguel island? Ask me below! Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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Michele creates language learning guides and courses for travel. What separates her from other instructors is her ability to explain complex grammar in a no-nonsense, straightforward manner using her unique 80/20 method. Get her free guide 9 reasons you’re not fluent…YET & how to fix it! Planning a trip? Learn the local language with her 80/20 method for less than the cost of eating at a tourist trap restaurant Start learning today!

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Top 10 things to do in ponta delgada..., 11 reasons why you should visit the azores..., 27 comments.

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Michele, thank you for this detailed guide. I was starting to wonder how I would plan a trip to San Miguel and if I should even try until I found this article. I now feel confident and so excited to go for it. I’m curious about what I should know about money there. What percentage can an American expect to be able to use a credit card there versus needing euros in currency to pay for things in restaurants, gas stations, and entrance fees?

Hi Mary, thank you so much for your lovely feedback 🙂 Most of the time, say 80-90% of the time I used my card. On the odd occasion, I needed cash so it’s definitely a good idea to carry some as a backup. Hope this helps 🙂

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Michele, thank you for the amazing guide and tips. Me and my girlfriend spent 4 days on São Miguel and it has been the best trip in our lives. It is the hidden gem of Europe, indeed. All of the things you wrote here came out true, about the weather, getting up earlier to avoid crowds, using old swimming suit at thermal pools, staying a little bit more at Lagoa do Fogo miradouro to catch the glimpse of it, and just driving around and enjoying the very nature… It is truly magical, and I am happy to have experienced it all, thanks to you! It has been two months since our trip, I keep thinking about it every day and want to come back. Do you ever feel the same? Cheers! 🙂

Thank you so much for your feedback, Mirko. I’m so glad to hear my guide helped you and that you had a wonderful time. São Miguel definitely left a lasting impression on me too. So many wonderful memories and experiences to cherish for many years to come 🙂

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Very useful and easy to read guide, thanks a lot!

My pleasure. Thank you, Angeles 🙂

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Did you visit Ribeira Grande? And can you tell a little about language. I plan on learning some Portuguese but is English widely spoken? Thanks in advance.

Hi Carole, yes I did visit Ribeira Grande and I would definitely recommend you continue to learn Portuguese. It’s invaluable. English is spoken but it’s not something you can always rely on here. Good on you for taking it up though. Here is my Portuguese travel phrase guide which you may find useful 🙂 Have a wonderful trip!

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You guide and tips are amazing, I’m happy to have stumbled here! I’m leaving for Azores in 3 weeks and cannot wait to explore and feel the beauty of San Miguel and Terceira!

Do you know what time usually the businesses (like the tea plantation, parks etc) closes in the summer months? I’ll be diving almost everyday until 1:30pm, and would love to still do other activities and checking things out in this guide. Just wonder if I should be aware of the business hours there.

Many thanks again!!

Hi Linh, my pleasure. I’m so happy to hear you find it helpful. You will have plenty of time to see a lot of places as they will close late. The Gorreana plantation closes at 7 pm everyday so you’ll have plenty of time. Miradouro de Santa Iria, Lagoa do Fogo don’t close as they are located next to the road. Caldeira Velha closes just after sunset, around 9 pm. Entry to Boca do inferno closes at 7 pm. Hope this helps 🙂

Hi Michele,

I’ve been here at Ponta Delgada for a while and i just wanna say MASSIVE THANKS for your guide – I’ve used it extensively and the tips are god sent, thank you so much again! The scenic drives have got to be the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life. wow!

Hi Linh, oh that’s amazing. I’m so happy my guide has helped you and that you’re having a wonderful time. You’re right, the scenic drives are one of the best things about the island. Enjoy the rest of your trip 🙂 Michele

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Great article! I’ve started my research of Sao Miguel and so glad I stumbled upon this article. Is the picture of Franco Islet with a drone or from Our Lady of Peace? I would be going in November so no going to the Islet but would love a neat pic of it! With the weather being spotty I think it only makes sense to use Ponta Delgada as the base in case you need to switch up days due to weather.

Hi Valori, I used a drone to take this shot. You can see the islet from Our Lady of Peace but you will need a super zoom lens for this close up 🙂 Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful trip.

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Your photos look gorgeous! Love the depth of your content and how useful your site is and how a good chunk of it is about learning language!

Hey Trang, thank you so much 🙂 I put a lot of work into my posts. So glad you’re enjoying it 🙂

Aww thank you so much Trang. I love learning and teaching which is what The Intrepid Guide is all about 🙂

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love this blog! So i’m planning a trip also to azores islands, want to squeeze in also flores island. My question for Sao Miguel, did you stay in one hotel and everyday drive from the hotel to the pin points? Or did you drive to one area stay in a hotel there and then next pin points and stay in that area in a hotel?

Hi Sarit, I’m happy to hear this post has helped you 🙂 Yes, the best part of the Azores (and Sao Miguel) is that you can stay anywhere on the island and travel around. I stayed in Ponta Delgada for its centrality and convenience. Hope this helps 🙂

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Some pics were loading slow but most of the ones I saw are spectacular! I’d love to make it here someday, thanks for the info!

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This is so helpful! We are planning to be in Sao Miguel for 3 – 3.5 days. I am wondering if any if you think any of these day itineraries could be done in a half day?

Day 1 & 2 seem to be full days on their own. I am wondering if your Day 3 & 4 could be combined in some way as they are close together on the map. And with that, what would you recommend eliminating from those two days in order to do it all in one day? We will skip the whale watching and plan to stay in Ponta Delgada so can fit in some of those sites as well.

Thank you!!

Thanks Blair, I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this guide. Day 3 and 4 could potentially be combined if you start your day early and be on the road by 8:30-9am. For it to work you would need to skip something Gorreana Tea Plantation (if you’re not a big tea fan) and going out to Vila Franca Islet. You can still see it from the shoreline from the Our Lady of Peace Chapel. I hope this helps 🙂

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Hi Michelle, a great blog and an inspiring post. I’ve just added Sao Miguel to my to do list! Brava e complimenti!

Ciao Ciara! Grazie mille 🙂 Oh, I’m thrilled you’ve added Sao Miguel to your list. Please let me know if you have any questions when you start planning. 🙂

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Thanks Michele. This is an amazing guide. I’ll be sure to use it when going to Sao Miguel.

My pleasure! thanks so much, Basil. I know you’ll have a great time! Any questions, let me know 🙂

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The Ultimate Itinerary of São Miguel Island (Made By An Azorean)

sao miguel itinerary road trip local tips

São Miguel, Azores, my home island. With so many different landscapes and things to do here, planning a route is essential. This is the exact road trip itinerary I use to show São Miguel island to friends visiting. Local tips for international travelers, all updated for 2024.

A significant portion of the time I spend in São Miguel , my home island, is (re-)exploring it when I’ve got friends visiting.

Pressure is on me to make sure I keep them busy with a balanced itinerary plan that allows them to have a good travel experience.

This 4-day São Miguel road trip itinerary is the result of several years of being a local guide. Here’s what you can find in this article:

The ultimate road trip itinerary of São Miguel

I love to plan itineraries. It’s kind of my thing.

I’ve done detailed itineraries in Croatia and Portugal , Japan , Mexico , Thailand , and Greece .

This itinerary for São Miguel was first created when I got friends visiting in 2015. Since then, I’ve updated it several times, the last time being in January 2024.

Other blunt copies of this itinerary – seriously, same title, map and article structure – have shown up in the web as well, but I can assure you this is the original thing. 😉

Things to know about this São Miguel itinerary

  • You’ll need 4 full days, this is the bare minimum you’ll need to explore São Miguel. The order of days is pretty much irrelevant. If you have more time, the better.
  • It’s tailored for first-time visitors. Have a read at the top things to know before going to the Azores and this other page to complement the info here.
  • It assumes you’ll have a car. I highly recommend you get your own wheels in Azores or you won’t be able to cover all the attractions that I mention here.
  • Although you will likely drive 300+ km and walk a total of 30km in 4 days (data: my phone!), it’s not intended to be a rally course. I’ve seen some crazy “itineraries” who are only doable by spending entire days incarcerated in a car ticking spots off the list. Quality over quantity!
  • Keep your plans flexible. You’ll most likely need to tweak something and accommodate other factors… like the unstable azorean weather.

The Azores have been consecutively named one of the top sustainable destinations worldwide. Don’t spoil what has been unspoilt for centuries. 💚

When you’re in the islands, please try to minimize your impact at all times. Be careful with any activities thay may cause visual, noise, and physical pollution. This includes avoiding playing loud music on phones and obviously taking ALL the trash with you until you find a bin, especially plastic!

where to stay sao miguel azores

Where to stay in São Miguel

Explore this list of the top-rated hotels, hostels, villas, and guesthouses in São Miguel with parking.

Itinerary of São Miguel on a map 🗺️

You can use my itinerary map in Google Maps as a reference. The pins below represent the places we’ve been (including small descriptions) separated in four different days:

  • Day 1 – Sete Cidades (yellow pins)
  • Day 2 – Ponta Delgada & Lagoa do Fogo (blue pins)
  • Day 3 – Furnas & Nordeste (green pins)
  • Day 4 – Vila Franca & Tea Plantations (orange pins)

sao miguel itinerary guide local tips azores sete cidades

Itinerary Day 1 – Sete Cidades

This day is to explore the west side of the island. Try to pick a day where the weather is clear for Sete Cidades; otherwise, all that you’ll see will be clouds.

Here’s the day plan.

  • Vista do Rei Viewpoint

Monte Palace Hotel

  • Canário Lake
  • Boca do Inferno Viewpoint
  • Sete Cidades Lake

Miradouro da Vista Do Rei (Vista do Rei Viewpoint)

sao miguel itinerary road trip sete cidades view

Lagoa das Sete Cidades ( Sete Cidades Lake) is the most well-known postcard of the Azores . You’ll see it in every brochure, ad or article about the islands.

The first contact you’ll have with the lakes will probably be from Vista do Rei viewpoint. The spot is just at the right distance to appreciate the view over both lakes.

Although commonly they’re known for the green and blue lake, this is actually the same lake separated by a bridge, they just reflect the light differently due to the surrounding vegetation. You can drive or walk around along the dirt road ( Cumeeiras ) to get views from different angles. This exact road is the most spectacular track on the World Rallye Championship.

The lookout area has undergone some reconstruction and re-opened in 2018 with some changes. There is still some parking available nearby, but I’d advise you to leave your car in the short-term car park, just 200m before you get there. You can stay there for 20 minutes.

If you plan to spend more time exploring the area, you’ll have to head to another parking site located 1 kilometer further ahead (after the viewpoint and the hotel).

Built in the 70s and operational for less than 2 years, the abandoned hotel Monte Palace tops the hills around the crater lake of Sete Cidades near Vista do Rei .

Before, people would enter and freely explore the building all the way up to the top floor, but entrance to the site is now forbidden due to danger of collapse. Enter at your own risk.

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno (Boca do Inferno Viewpoint)

sao miguel itinerary road trip sete cidades

While the view from Vista do Rei is inspiring, the one from Miradouro da Boca do Inferno has jaw-dropping potential. I have been here countless times, but every time I feel goosebumps again.

From up there, apart from the crazy views of the mountains and the sea in the background, two other lagoons are visible: Rasa and  Santiago in a complete 360-degree nature experience. The view is wide open to the entire volcanic crater of Sete Cidades , formed 22,000 years ago.

Also known as Lagoa Do Canário Viewpoint due to the nearby Canário Lake , Boca do Inferno has become super popular in the last years. Come as early as possible to avoid crowds and have the place to yourself. On a bright sunny day, this is one of the most incredible views I’ve seen. Ever.

  • Coming from Vista do Rei viewpoint, DO NOT turn left on the first exit down to the Sete Cidades village. Continue straight for about 7 minutes, following the signs to Lagoa do Canário
  • After about a 7 minutes drive, you’ll notice a car park on the right, where a short walking trail begins, and a small entrance to a dirt road just on the opposite side.
  • The gate is not always open, but if it is, you can go in with there your car. Otherwise, just park next to the hiking trail.
  • Continue for about 3-4 more minutes straight until you see a set of stairs upwards next to some picnic tables.
  • Start the hike up. You’re 5 minutes away from paradise!

Boca do Inferno Viewpoint – Tips

  • ⏱ How long: To do the small hike, wander around, fully take the view in, and visit Canário lake, you’ll need at least 30 minutes. The gate closes to cars at 7pm (summer time); after this hour, you’ll need to walk about 15 min to the main road.
  • 💰 How much: Entrance is free.
  • 💡 Tip: The path is muddy and slippery. Be extra careful if it rained recently.

Lagoa do Canário (Canário Lake)

View this post on Instagram A post shared by BRUN🌎 (@bruno_mb) on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:03am PDT

Apparently this lake has been nicknamed Snapchat Lake because it resembles the ghosty app’s logo, but it will always be Lagoa do Canário (Canário Lake) . Snapchat may be dead, but this lake definitely isn’t.

Anyway. Canário Lake is housed in a small volcanic crater in the Devassa mountain range, surrounded by a dense forest. It’s actually quite hidden which gives it a peaceful feeling when you finally get there. Perfect place to meditate if you’re into it.

You can get there by entering the above’s entrance gate to Boca do Inferno and turning immediately left.

hotels sao miguel azores

Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Sete Cidades Lake)

sao miguel itinerary road trip sete cidades view

Time to go down to the Sete Cidades lakeshore level. On the way down there are several viewpoints you can briefly make a stop and take in the view, particularly Miradouro do Cerrado das Freiras . The more you descend, the more the dormant volcano crater will absorb you and win you over.

Sete Cidades is also the name of the small village next to the lake. Everything seems untouched since the 50s here, but this area holds some of the best outdoor activities you can do in São Miguel .

Biking along the lake shore, SUP, or kayaking are just some the options to spend your afternoon. Or hey, just chill and get some vitamin D. By the way, if you are lucky enough to go on a sunny clear day, I can assure you the colors around you will be more vibrant and breathtaking.

Whatever you do, please take all trash with you – especially plastic – to the nearest bin. Oh and if you decide to swim in the lake, don’t wear sunscreen… Help keep this place beautiful.

The Sete Cidades Tale 👸

There’s a cute little story about the reason why one of the lakes is blue and the other green. Legend has it that once upon a time a shepherd and a princess fell in love, but were prohibited to see each other due to their different family statuses.

When they met for the last time, they cried so much that the Sete Cidades lakes were formed. The blue-eyed shepherd gave origin to the blue lake while the green-eyed princess formed the green lake.

sao miguel itinerary road trip ferraria

Fancy a dive in hot ocean? Ponta da Ferraria is a small cove surrounded by gigantic lava rock cliffs where the ocean water is warmed up by a geothermal natural spring beneath . It’s quite an experience to swim in mix of cold and hot ocean water while the waves slosh you around!

There is no proper beach here, you most likely have to find a place to sit in the rocks. May not be the most comfortable spot, but it’s worth for the view: between giant cliffs on one side and the wild Atlantic on the other.

Checking tides near Ferraria is important. Be careful on low tide as it can get VERY HOT in some spots and can even burn you. However, if you go on the peak of high tide you won’t feel the warmth of the spring at all – aim for somewhere in the middle.

There are also housed baths with an outdoor swimming pool, but who wants to pay when you can go for the thrilling (and completely free) swim in the ocean?

If you still have time after your swim, head to Mosteiros to watch the perfect sunset and eat some local seafood – you can’t go wrong with lapas !

Ferraria – Tips

  • ⏱ How long: Count with at least an hour to get there, swim in the ocean and relax.
  • 💰 How much: Entrance is free to swim in the ocean; if you prefer to use the outdoor pool of the nearby spa
  • 💡 Tip: We need to talk about the road to Ferraria. Not gonna lie: it’s sinuous and extremely steep. I would not recommended coming here if you’re not comfortable driving manual.

Itinerary Day 2 – Ponta Delgada & Lagoa do Fogo

This day includes a whale-watching tour from Ponta Delgada and a venture out to Lagoa do Fogo, another of the three main lakes in São Miguel. Feel free to reverse the order of these sights.

  • Whale-watching tour

Ponta Delgada

Pico da barrosa (barrosa peak).

  • Lagoa do Fogo (Fogo Lake)

Caldeira Velha

Whale-watching (from ponta delgada).

Whale watching is a must-do activity to do in the Azores , especially if you are able to time your trip right to see several different species of cetaceans . The ideal time for this is between April and June.

A ticket is not exactly cheap but is definitely worth the unique experience. The last time I went, I chose to go with Picos de Aventura and it surpassed my expectations. A great friendly staff, prioritizing safety but also allowing space for some fun and have a great time out there in the sea.

We ended up seeing three sperm whales, dozens of dolphins and even a turtle – a “very good day” according to our guides.

Safe to say we had a blast (see video below!).

Tips for Whale-Watching in São Miguel 🐋

  • If you’re visiting other Azorean islands such as Faial or Pico , I’d recommend to do your Whale Watching tour there. Especially in Pico . São Miguel has good observation conditions, but they have great ones.
  • Make sure the company you go with complies with all the safety and ethical regulations to avoid disturbing and stressing out the animals. Sea Color Azores is a great example .
  • Expect to pay ~65 euros/person for a 3-hour trip.
  • Dolphin interaction tours is NOT recommended. There has been increasing proof these tours have a negative impact on the stress of the animals. For some reason the most experienced whale-watching company in the Azores – Espaço Talassa – stopped doing it.
  • Most companies depart from Ponta Delgada or  Vila Franca marinas, usually at 2-3 different time slots in the day.
  • Make a reservation for the tour at least 2-3 days in advance.

sao miguel itinerary road trip ponta delgada marina

Up until a few years ago, if I was a visitor, I’d much rather spend my precious time exploring the rest of the island than visiting Ponta Delgada . SHOCKING statement about my own birthplace. But hey, it’s the T.

In recent times, the city is slowly awakening from its long sleep. Trendy restaurants, kitsch shops, and quaint cafés all popping up. Buildings and churches abandoned for decades have gained a new life. And now I’ve realized I’ve got material to make a post about the best things to do in Ponta Delgada .

Main suggestions: walking along the seaside promenade (locally called “Avenida”), visit the farmers market in Mercado da Graça – great place for shopping souvenirs and local food! – and take a stroll around the area of Igreja Matriz (Matriz Church) .

Ponta Delgada is the definition of a great hub. Not only it has more restaurants, shops, and overall infrastructure than anywhere else, but it’s also geographically located almost in the center of the island.

🏨 Where to stay in Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is still the best choice of a hub to explore São Miguel. The so-called capital of Azores has got a wide choice of hotels , but I do have some favorites:

sao miguel itinerary where to go - best hotel ponta delgada

Octant Hotel, Ponta Delgada

Modern design, with a gorgeous terrace pool, at a walking distance to the city center. If you want to splurge AND be centrally located, this is it.

sao miguel what where to stay - out of the blue cheap hotel

Also look into other cheaper options in Ponta Delgada with Superb rating (or better) .

itinerary of São Miguel açores - Pico da Barrosa

At the very peak of the road that goes from Ponta Delgada and just before arriving Lagoa do Fogo , stop in Pico da Barrosa .

It’s one of the few places in São Miguel where you can see both the south and north coasts at the same time. It helps to put the island in perspective.

Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake)

São Miguel Island route In 4 days | Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo – Fire Lake is my favorite lake of them all and one of my top special places in São Miguel .

First of all, you can consider yourself extremely lucky if you go to Lagoa do Fogo on a clear day. This is very rare up in this high part of the island.

You can get down to the beach down there through a 30-min hike down in a dodgy trail. A few years ago, we used to had a wild beach just for ourselves but you’ll likely find dozens of other people there too. In case you’re wondering, you can NOT swim on the lake.

itinerary of São Miguel | Lagoa do Fogo beach

Every single time I go to Lagoa do Fogo I fell a bit more in love with it. The sensory overload of smells, sounds, and vivid colors is unmissable. It’s the kind of gorgeous that grabs hold of you tightly.

Modern construction is not permitted in this area, so there is no worry of the views being spoiled any time soon. Starting from June 2023, car rentals are not allowed during summer months between 9am and 7pm. All non-residents should take a shuttle up to the lake, with a cost of 5 euros.

Please be aware this has been a site of unspoiled nature for centuries. Don’t help spoil it now. As a Natural Reserve, this an especially sensitive spot compared to other places on the island.

Last time I was here I was shocked to see a group of tourists listening to schizophrenic hip-hop with loudspeakers and leaving plastic bottles behind. Don’t be like them.

  • Take ALL your trash with you
  • It’s FORBIDDEN to swim in the lake
  • Keep SILENCE as much as you can to not disturb the peace and natural balance. Noise pollution is also a kind of pollution.

4-day itinerary of São Miguel Azores | Caldeira Velha

Located halfway in the road between Lagoa do Fogo and the city of Ribeira Grande , Caldeira Velha is a natural park – ok, more like a Jurassic jungle – with a pair of hot springs.

No kidding: both thermal pools are stone-walled and surrounded by intense lush foliage which really gives tropical vibes.

The main highlight is the waterfall spring (>20ºC), at the end of the park. It’s a bigger pool with a stunning backdrop. There is also a more shallow and hotter spring (>35ºC) which can get very crowded. No wonder, it’s like a natural jacuzzi!

Final note: if you prefer, you can skip this one and do one of the thermal springs in Furnas instead. Similar experiences.

Caldeira Velha – Tips

  • ⏱ How long: You’ll need at least 1 hour here to relax and go through all the springs. Despite being the most busy time, I recommend leaving it for late afternoon. Just the perfect soothing end of the day.
  • 💰 How much: The entrance to the Environmental Interpretation Center which also allows bathing is 10 euros per adult (as per 2024). Maximum duration stay is 2 hours. Book your tickets online to guarantee your spot.
  • 💡 Pro tip: Use a dark and old bathing suit. The minerals in the water can easily leave a PERMANENT orange stain. If you recently dyed your hair, you should avoid these kind of pools too.

São Miguel is super trendy post-pandemic – hotels sell out quickly. Book your stay as soon as possible for the best deal!

I’ve made your life easier and you can start your search with my pre-selection of the hotels/guesthouses/villas in the island of São Miguel . This list only includes the top-rated reviewed places in São Miguel , with parking included.

Or just start your own search:

Itinerary Day 3 – Furnas & Nordeste

This day will take you to the wild eastern part of the island, including the quaint Furnas Valley . Prepare to see, feel, and smell the volcanic phenomena of Azores. It’s not a bad idea to assign the day with the gloomiest weather to this day itinerary.

If you have more time around this area, I highly encourage you to do a 2-hour hiking trail in Sanguinho – Salto do Prego . It’s one of my favorites hikes in Azores . The path is gorgeous and it leads to a dreamy waterfall in the middle of the forest. I didn’t add it here because this is already a packed day!

  • Lagoa das Furnas (Furnas Lake)

Terra Nostra Park

  • Furnas Thermal Springs

Ribeira dos Caldeirões

Lagoa das furnas.

itinerary of São Miguel island in four days - Furnas

After Fogo and Sete Cidades, Lagoa das Furnas – Furnas Lake is the last of the 3 main lakes in São Miguel . It may not have the same dramatic views as the other lakes – you may need to head to Pico do Ferro viewpoint for that – but coming here is a guarantee you’ll be feeling more relaxed and tranquil.

On the west section of the lake, don’t miss the Nossa Senhora das Vitórias Neo-Gothic church and the contemporary Research Center, a sort of museum that studies the evolution of the lake’s ecossystem and biodiversity (good place for a break, they have a small coffeeshop).

The main attractions, however, lie on the opposite shore of the lagoon… but geez, what’s that rotten egg smell?!

These delightful smell comes from the geothermal holes and springs that send mud and steam up in the air continuously for centuries. Locally known as Fumarolas, this spot is also where you can find the steaming holes where they slooowly cook the famous Cozido das Furnas (Furnas stew) for about 6-7 hours.

Although personally not my favorite food in the island (too bland and dry), this has a strong novelty factor. It’s not everyday you have a meal cooked by Mother Nature.

Cozido das Furnas (Furnas Stew) 🍲

Basically the opposite of a vegetarian-friendly dish. This stew is a mix of meats – pork, veal, chicken, blood sausages – with local vegetables like sweet potato, kale, or cabbage.

Where to eat Cozido das Furnas (Furnas Stew) 🍲

The days where families would put a stew to cook underground as a Sunday activity are almost gone, and nowadays the restaurants in Furnas village are the ones using the majority of the steaming holes each morning.

The most famous restaurants are Tony’s, Caldeiras & Vulcões, and for a more upscale experience, the restaurant of Terra Nostra Garden Hotel .

Furnas (town)

São Miguel itinerary in four days - Furnas

I find it incredible how such a small village in the heart of a lush valley holds so many different active volcanic phenomena. Starting with the hot springs of Caldeiras , where the tiny geysers and hot water creeks give the area a VERY strong smell of sulfur and moon-ish vibes. Planet Earth is very much alive guys.

During my childhood, the highlight of going to Furnas was getting to eat the corn cooked in huge bags directly in these mud holes. If you go around summertime, you most likely will find lovely ladies selling freshly-cooked corn cobs. Taste this delicious snack of my childhood and let me know what you think!

Don’t stick to Caldeiras though. The whole town is quaint and tranquil and worth seeing around. Take in the surrounding views, follow the creek next to the camping park, and try to find the upside down house – yes, a real one – in the heart of Furnas.

🏨 Where to stay in Furnas

Furnas is one of the best spots in the island to stay if you’re looking to relax and get away from it all.

sao miguel where to stay - furnas terra nostra

Terra Nostra Hotel Garden, Furnas

Perfectly integrated onto the surrounding park and gardens, is the ultimate place to relax.

sao miguel what to do where to stay - furnas boutique hotel nature spa relax azores

This popular tropical outdoor garden is one of the highlights of Furnas. It belongs to the exclusive Terra Nostra Garden Hotel but you don’t need to stay here to visit it (nor to eat their restaurant, for that matter).

Terra Nostra Park has a stunning collection of plants and flowers from all over the world, some of them dating back millions of years. In some sections, it feels likes Jurassic Park. They even have got different recommended itineraries for each time of the year. Perfect for a post-lunch stroll.

The highlight of the gardens is the iron-enriched thermal pool, one of the most beautiful hot springs in São Miguel . The water is geothermically heated at around 38 degrees Celsius and contains several medicinal properties. And hey, a massive pool with orange water is not your everyday sight!

Terra Nostra Park – Tips

  • ⏱ How long: You can spend an entire afternoon relaxing here, but count with at least an hour or two.
  • 💰 How much: Entrance fee to the park is 10 euros in Terra Nostra Towels and lockers can be rented at an extra cost.
  • 💡 Pro tip: If you have lunch at their restaurant, the entrance to the park is complimentary (this is 2017 information, please confirm in advance).

São Miguel is home to at least 6 different hot springs and pools , and Furnas alone has 2 different spots: Terra Nostra and Poça Dona Beija .

If Terra Nostra sounds too premium and exclusive, you can skip it and go to Poça Dona Beija instead. It’s a cool experience too, in a more secluded environment next to a small creek. It’s also slightly cheaper. However, the set of 5 small outdoor pools will be definitely more crowded with both locals and tourists.

Unless you have plenty of time in São Miguel, there’s no point in trying them both as they are not that different in terms of experience. Read my article about hot springs in São Miguel for all the hot springs locations in the island and important safety tips .

sao miguel itinerary furnas things to do

Things to do in Furnas Valley

Continue reading more about Furnas and learn more about Furnas Lake, the hot springs, beaches and where to eat!

itinerary of São Miguel azores portugal - Miradouro Ponta Sossego

The district of Nordeste is the wildest and most remote in São Miguel . The vegetation is thicker, the sea cliffs are steeper and roads are more sinuous. There no particular sight to see but at the same time, everything around you is impressive and worth stopping your car to take it all in.

Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego and Miradouro da Ponta da Madrugada viewpoints will make your jaw drop of how intense the scenery is. In both, a vibrant flower garden decorates the path to the edge of green huge scarps contrasting with the blue vast ocean.

A bit further north, there’s also Farol do Arnel , the oldest lighthouse in the Azores . If you want to go down there, I strongly recommend going there on foot if you’re not used to driving manual. The road down there is 35º steep (!) and it’s not a convenient place to be stuck in.

This natural park has some of the most amazing waterfalls on the island. It’s just by the main road and worth a small stop to explore a bit and take a stroll into the wild nature. This is one of the spots of excellence for canyoning .

Itinerary Day 4 – Vila Franca & Gorreana

Day 4 is about tying up the loose ends in the island to make sure you have a good grasp of all angles and perspectives of São Miguel.

And finally, if weather permits, time for an ocean swim!

Ilhéu de Vila Franca (Vila Franca Islet)

Lagoa do congro (congro lake).

  • Gorreana Tea

Porto Formoso

  • Miradouro de Santa Iria (Santa Iria Viewpoint)

Home to a stage of Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series , Ilhéu de Vila Franca (Vila Franca islet) is one of the most popular sunbathing places in Azores.

It encloses an almost full-circle bay perfect for swimming or snorkeling – make sure you don’t forget your mask – with clear and calm ocean waters. Perfecly safe for kids, although sea shoes are recommended.

There is a regular boat connection between the Vila Franca marina and the islet operating in the summer months only. You can buy the tickets online .

Once again, this is another Nature Reserve with endemic fauna and flora so please be aware of your impact and leave nothing but footprints!

Vila Franca islet – Tips

  • ⏱ How long: You can spend an entire day here, but allow yourself a morning or afternoon.
  • 💰 How much: The boat ticket is 10 euros (can be booked online).
  • 💡 Pro tip: There are very limited spots to lay your towel in the islet. While there is a small beach, it completely disappears during high tide, so I suggest going early and taking a spot at the concrete platforms on the opposite side.
🇵🇹 PORTUGAL |🌱 Into the wild. Lagoa do Congro is one of the remotest lakes in São Miguel. Apart from the chit chatter of tourists, all you can hear near the water are the frogs, birds and the splash of fish jumps. #azores #saomiguel #portugal #visitportugal #🇵🇹 Uma foto publicada por BRUN🌎 (@bruno_mb) a Jun 19, 2016 às 5:20 PDT

Lagoa do Congro is a relatively off the beaten track lake in the heart of São Miguel. While Sete Cidades , Furnas and Fogo receive more and more visitors every year, this one remains remote and hidden.

The hike down through the forest is already a cool unwinding experience, but it’s at the shore level that the magic happens. It will feel like someone set the saturation level to the max – a vibrant green will take over your eyes.

The silence down there is deafening and only disturbed by the splashes of fish jumps and the constant chirping of birds. It’s just like those meditation soundtracks, the only difference being this is the real thing. Speaking of meditation, this is the perfect place to do it!

How to get to Congro lake

  • Coming from Vila Franca, follow the signs to Furnas (direction East).
  • After about 10 minutes, there’s an exit to the left clearly stating “Lagoa do Congro”. You know what to do.
  • Continue for about 5 more minutes and turn left on a poorly-maintained dirt road.
  • Continue through the middle of pastures about 5 more minutes. The entrance to the hike path should be noticeable on the right as there are usually a couple of cars parked.
  • The hike down is easy. It should take you 10-15 minutes (it all will be worth it, I promise!)

Gorreana (Tea plantations)

road trip itinerary of São Miguel island azores - Gorreana tea plantation

Working since 1883, Gorreana is only one of the two tea plantations in Europe – the other one is a 5-min drive away, in Porto Formoso! – and produces quality biologic black and green tea.

The tea plantation itself is a stunning scenery overlooking the sea and a great photo opportunity for Instagram. This place always reveal our inner Kardashians and creative photo skills. You can explore around more and take the official hiking trail that starts exactly at the factory.

Gorreana Tea – Tips

  • ⏱ How long: 1 hour is enough to go through the premises and sip on a cup of tea. Allow yourself an extra hour or two if you want to hike up the tea estate.
  • 💡 Pro tip: Even though you might not be interested in the way the tea is made, there is free tea inside.

This beach is a bit more off the beaten track, as it’s not an usual choice for those visiting the island for the first time. But for people who had never put their feet in dark sands, I think is always interesting to incorporate a volcanic beach experience in the mix, even in winter time.

The scenery around Porto Formoso is quaint and charismatic and perfect to relax for a bit after some intense days. There’s also a beach café serving snacks and full meals.

Miradouro de Santa Iria

road itinerary of São Miguel island azores - Miradouro Santa Iria

The most well-known viewpoint on the northern coast of São Miguel. From up there you can enjoy a clear view over a big portion of the island. It’s an appropriate spot to say farewell to São Miguel over a gorgeous sunset.

Where to base yourself in São Miguel

Ponta Delgada is an obvious place to set up a base for your trip. Although lacking in natural attractions, it’s super well connected and has loads of restaurants and shops to keep you busy during evenings.

Another option is Ribeira Grande . Many cool accommodations have appeared there in recent years – from budget guesthouses to high-end hotels and the city is a great hub of restaurants too.

If you’re looking for a more remote experience and want to get away from everything, Furnas might be better for you.

Consider staying in two different places (East-West or North-South) to get a different feel of the island. It will save you some driving time too.

Hotels in São Miguel

I’ve handpicked a list of the best places to stay for luxury, budget travelers as well as families .

These are my 3 top hotel suggestions in the island:

sao miguel itinerary hotel azor

Premium hotel with modern design, located at just a short walk to the center and the ocean.

terra nostra hotel garden azores

Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, Furnas

With charming art-deco vibes and surrounded by a majestic park, it’s one of the most unique hotels in Azores.

sao miguel what to do where to stay - out of the blue cheap hotel

Or search for yourself!

To make your life easier, you can start your search with my pre-selection of the hotels/guesthouses/villas in the island of São Miguel .

Top hotels in São Miguel Pre-filtered list of hotels with top reviews and location with parking and free WiFi included.

How to get around in São Miguel island 🛣️

Short answer: I STRONGLY recommend renting a car. It will give you total freedom and independence to explore the island and add a sense of adventure to your trip.

Also, the thing is: there aren’t really any good value alternatives.

Scooter/bike are technically possible much more tiring and you’re vulnerable to the ever-changing weather.

Public buses do exist but are not frequent and used mostly by locals to commute around the main towns. They do NOT reach the remote areas where the best landscapes and sights are located. Good luck trying to get to Miradouro da Boca do Inferno or other places in this itinerary.

Taxis are even worse. I was shocked to find the standard prices that are in play these days. A single trip from Ponta Delgada airport to Furnas can cost you a whopping 40 Euros. That’s more than a full day of car rental right there!

How easy is to drive in São Miguel?

Fairly easy. Roads in São Miguel are usually in very good shape, with a main highway connecting the airport to Ponta Delgada, Vila Franca, and Ribeira Grande. Dirt/gravel roads are common but you won’t use them to get to most places (an exception is Lagoa do Congro ).

Drivers are NOT aggressive (although don’t expect super safe driving either). There are some things you can find anxiety-inducing though:

  • Parking in Ponta Delgada . Can be a nightmare, especially between 9am to 6pm. Ask your hotel for a parking spot.
  • Curves . Some sections of the island, particularly the north and east are extremely curvy. Slow down and don’t get distracted by the views.
  • Cows . When changing pastures, herds of cows temporarily occupy some of the roads. Relax, slow down or even stop the car and just expect them to pass. They’re harmless.

Which car rental companies are the best in São Miguel island?

Here are some tips to rent a car in São Miguel , starting with which operator to go with.

I always used local companies like  Micauto . I usually find them to have the best prices in the island. On the other hand, I never had good experiences with Ilha Verde – also a local company – that for some reason is the most expensive of them all and seems to have an inferior customer service. Autatlantis has become ridiculously expensive too.

Heavyweights like Avis and Sixt have the advantage of an office right at Ponta Delgada airport . Yet, other companies can pick you up there for free and take you to their headquarters.

Where can I book a car rental in advance?

Use Skyscanner or the below RentalCars to compare rental prices. Both are reliable and quickly give you an overview of prices across available operators.

Tips to rent a car in São Miguel

Whatever company you go for, try to book your car as soon as possible. It’s common to have a shortage of cars available to rent in the island (last happened: July 2021).

If you’re not comfortable driving manual, automatic cars are available but in even less quantity though.

The easiest way is to pick up your car directly at Ponta Delgada airport .

Usually, there are no issues with car rentals, but better safe than sorry. It’s wise to make a thorough inspection of the vehicle on the spot and take lots of photos. In the event of any dispute, you’ll have visual proof to back you up.

Finally, it’s standard for companies to hold a large amount on your credit card as an insurance against damage/theft of the car. Don’t worry, the sum is immediately returned upon delivery of the vehicle. If you are not comfortable with this, hiring an additional CDW or Super CDW insurance will lower this fee.

Planning a São Miguel trip independently

Booking a flight to são miguel.

If you are not from the US or simply not into vacation packages, you’re better off by booking your flight independently.

As a rule of thumb, flights to Azores are considerably cheaper from Porto, Lisbon or London. Ponta Delgada airport has the highest number of flight connections. From there you may be entitled to a FREE connecting flight to other islands – check this page for more info.

Booking a hotel in São Miguel

Arranging accommodation before going is highly recommendable. São Miguel is in high demand right now and hotels in the island can sell out, especially in high season.

You can start off by this curated list of insights about my favorite hotels , this pre-filtered list of hotels, guesthouses and villas in São Miguel .

Budget of this São Miguel road trip

I receive a lot of questions around money and budget, so I want to give you a good real-life idea of how much you can expect to spend. This an estimated budget based on 2024 prices and the costs of the last few times I had friends visiting.

Cost breakdown of this São Miguel itinerary (4 full days) 💸

  • 🏨 Accommodation: You can find double rooms starting from 60 euros/night, but they go up 30%-50% during summertime. Still, an accommodation budget of 120 euros for 2 is a comfortable daily budget, let’s go with that.
  • 🚗 Car Rental: Renting a car can cost from 40 euros/day, but more often it will cost you around 60 euros/day or more, depending on the insurance you hire and the time of the year you go. Automatic cars are even more expensive.
  • 🥘 Food: Restaurant prices have gone up recently due to inflation, but you can still have lunch for about 15 euros and dinner for 25-30 euros/person in most places. No need to tip. In most cases, a personal daily budget of 60 euros for food (or 100 for two) is a safe target budget.
  • 🎫 Tours and entrance fees: Not many places have an entrance fee in the island, if you want to enter ALL the places mentioned in this article count with around 50 euros. The standard price for a whale-watching tour in 2024 is 65 euros, so 130 euros per person is a fair budget.
  • 🛍️ Others: You’ll want to buy some food and souvenirs to bring back home. Hard to budget these as it will depend on your personal taste and space on the luggage, but 50 euros can buy you PLENTY of stuff!
  • 💰 Please note you CAN do a lot cheaper than this or spend 3x times more. I tried to average these out and allow room for extra expenses. Don’t forget to add in your flights!

roadtrip route itinerary of São Miguel island itinerary - Sete Cidades house

Tours and activities in São Miguel island 🚴‍♀️

São Miguel is a gem in terms of outdoor activities and there is a lot to keep you busy. Hiking trails, canyoning, whale-watching, just to name a few.

There are more and more local companies offering tours and/or adventure packages. As I do in other destinations, I recommend you skip them and make a 100% independent trip to keep a sense of adventure and fun on your trip.

Still, if you decide to book a tour, ask about insurance and make sure you ask how many people are going with you. Small groups are always a better choice, even if you have to pay a little bit extra.

São Miguel Flight + Hotel Deals 💰

I usually don’t use travel agencies to book holidays. They end up being more expensive in 99% of the times. Yet I have to make an exception for Azores Getaways because I honestly think they have some pretty good prices for a flight + hotel + transfers packages to the Azores – starting at 599USD!

For São Miguel in particular they have loads of deals . 2 examples:

  • Combination of flight from the United States + 6-night accommodation in São Miguel
  • 3-island package

I particularly recommend using them if you are flying from the United States and don’t have much time to plan your holidays.

More resources about the Azores

  • Azores Subreddit – a community to share tips and insights about traveling in Azores!
  • All you need to know if it’s your first visit to the Azores
  • Beaches in Azores
  • Full guide of São Miguel
  • A list of the best things to do in São Miguel
  • Hotels in São Miguel for all kinds of travelers
  • Hot springs in São Miguel – where to swim in thermal waters!
  • What and where to eat in São Miguel
  • Instagram – I regularly share additional tips on my Instagram account @bruno_mb . Let’s connect there!

My travel tips valid anywhere

  • 🏨 To find the best deals and book your stay with free cancellation, I recommend (from my experience, often cheaper than Airbnb)
  • 🚗 Always compare car rental prices before you book anything (and if possible use local rental shops!)
  • ☑️ Travel insurance is a must these days – don’t overlook it! I recommend Allianz or Safety Wing if you’re always on the go
  • 💰 Use Revolut to save in exchange rates and payments abroad; it’s a game-changer!
  • ⚙️ Amazon has the largest offer in travel gear, clothing, and accessories – check out my Travel Store !
  • ✈️ Are you dealing with a delayed or cancelled flight? Airhelp may help you get a compensation for it!
Have you used this São Miguel itinerary for your trip? Which other places you recommend to add? Tell me about your experience below!

You might also like these articles 💬

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The Top Azores Hot Springs & Thermal Baths in Sao Miguel

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Furnas, Azores: Unique things to do in the Furnas Valley

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Ponta Delgada, Azores: 12 Things To Do In My Hometown

things to do in sao miguel azores sete cidades lake


mexico itinerary chichen itza

Wapiti Travel

São Miguel tours: 10 amazing guided tours for 2024

By: Author Sylvia

Posted on Last updated: January 23, 2024

Are you looking for some of the best São Miguel tours? Then you have come to the right place. 

São Miguel Island is the largest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, a series of nine islands. São Miguel is famous for its large stretches of lush green land, majestic cliffs, sparkling lakes and beaches, and more.

There’s so much to do that you may want to book a guided tour to ensure that you can relax and let someone else worry about the logistics.

Here are some of the best guided tours you’ll be able to book in São Miguel:

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There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

In a hurry? Our picks for the best tours in São Miguel

  • Best tour on São Miguel if you want to see as much as possible and don’t have a lot of time: São Miguel Island full day all-in-one tour
  • Best tour for São Miguel Western side: São Miguel West full-day tour with lunch
  • Best tour for São Miguel Eastern side: São Miguel East full-day tour with lunch
  • Best tour for São Miguel Northeastern side: Azores Northeast Full-Day Tour
  • Best hot springs tour: Furnas hot springs night tour with dinner
  • Best Furnas day tour: Furnas Valley Full-Day Volcano and Tea Plantation Tour
  • Best whale watching tour on São Miguel: Whale watching tours with a zodiac

Overview of the best São Miguel tours

Here’s a comparison table of all the São Miguel tours that we cover in this post. Read on for a short description of all tours.

Best day tours from São Miguel

Sete cidades Sao miguel Azores Portugal

São Miguel Island: Full day all-in-one tour

The São Miguel Island full All-in-One Tour is the perfect way to experience the best of what the island has to offer all within 8.5 hours.

São Miguel is a beautiful destination for hiking, food, culture, and more.

You’ll start your tour by heading to viewpoints for the Sete Cidades Lakes and the Lagoa do Fogo. The Lagoa do Fogo is a stunning crater lake that you can see from higher up in the mountains.

You’ll visit the Caldeira Velha nature reserve where you will have the chance to bathe in hot water. You will also taste fresh tea at the Gorreana tea plantation, and try some traditional Azorean food at Furnas Village.

Best hot springs in São Miguel.

Your meal of Furnas Stew is included in the price of your tour ticket, it’s a traditional meat and vegetable dish. You can watch it being cooked in underground boilers with heat from the volcano.

From here, you’ll be able to see other aspects of São Miguel before you are dropped off at the harbor or your hotel.

Don’t forget your swimsuit and a towel if you want to enjoy the hot springs!

  • Pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Ponta Delgada
  • Entrance Fees
  • A meal of Furnas Stew

Pros and cons

tour sao miguel azores

  • You can see the highlights of São Miguel in one day which makes it a great tour for those short on time
  • Your entrance fees are taken care of
  • English or Portuguese tour guide who can answer your questions as you go
  • Small group limited to 15 participants

tour sao miguel azores

  • For some people the tour might feel a bit rushed since you visit a lot in a short amount of time
  • Not wheelchair friendly

This tour is perfect for visitors of all ages and demographics.

If you don’t have the time to research and plan your short trip to São Miguel, this tour will show you all of the can’t-miss destinations.

The tour guides are also knowledgeable and make the tour fun and entertaining.

This is an excellent tour but if you’re able to reserve two days to explore the beautiful island of São Miguel we would encourage you to check-out the next two tours.

The combination of the East and West tour takes you to the same sights, as well as some extra, but it will feel less rushed because it is spread out over 2 days.  You will spend less time on the tour bus and will have more time to enjoy the enjoy at the many stops.

$85.11 / €69.93

Check prices and availability: São Miguel tour

Mosteiros Sao Miguel Azores Portugal

São Miguel West full-day tour with lunch

This guided tour offers the incredible opportunity to learn about local history and the most beautiful natural landmarks with the help of an expert guide.

If you are here for a short trip, this is the perfect way to make sure you aren’t missing any of the highlights on the West side of the island such as the view of Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Fogo, the hot springs of Caldeira Velha, etc.

One of the most unique stops on the tour is at a pineapple greenhouse.

Pineapples are a crucial crop to the people of the Azores and you can learn more about the fruit and how it is efficiently grown.

Even if you are staying for a while, it’s a great introduction to the best of what the beautiful island has to offer.

  • Lunch of traditional Azorean food, dessert, and coffee and a drink to pair with your lunch,
  • All entrance fees
  • A bottle of water
  • Pick-up and drop off within 5 km of Ponta Delgada city center
  • You can see many highlights of São Miguel in one day which makes it a great tour for those short on time
  • The tour is led by a knowledgeable tour guide who can answer your questions as you go
  • The guide speaks Portuguese and English
  • You get to enjoy a delicious full lunch paired with a drink and followed by dessert!

You can learn about the history and culture of the island from a knowledgeable, humorous, and friendly tour guide.

$79.03 / €64.93

Check prices and availability: São Miguel West Tour

The Nossa Senhora Da Paz chapel on São Miguel Island

São Miguel East full-day tour with lunch

This guided tour takes you on a trip through the east side of São Miguel.

You’ll enjoy the stunning coastlines and beautiful lush environment as well as some of the island’s fascinating history.

The historic town of Vila Franca do Campo is one of the most interesting stops. You can learn about the history of the Azorean people and the Portuguese who came here in the 14th century.

Next you will visit the geothermal fields along the lake where you will see how your lunch is cooked in the traditional way in cooking holes in the volcanic soil.

The Furnas Stew that you have for lunch, is a dish made with meat and vegetables.

You will also be able to experience some beautiful views of coastal cliffs and powerful waterfalls such as the Ribeira dos Caldeirões. along the way.

The guide will be able to answer your questions and make sure your questions are getting answered along the way!

  • Lunch of traditional Azorean food
  • A drink to pair with your lunch
  • Dessert & Coffee
  • Pick-up and drop off within 5 kilometers of Ponta Delgada city center
  • Note that the entrance to the thermal pools isn’t included in the tour price.
  • English and Portuguese speaking guide
  • Small groups limited to 15 participants
  • Although most of your needs will be taken care of when you take this tour, you will need to bring €6 if you want to bathe in the thermal pools
  • Not suitable for wheelchairs

If you don’t have the time to research and plan your short trip to São Miguel, this tour will show you all of the can’t-miss destinations on the Eastern side of the island.

Check prices and availability: São Miguel East tour

Best São Miguel hot springs tours

Saõ Miguel is famous for it’s hot springs.

Here we share the best tours that visit the hot springs.

The second pool in the Poça da Dona Beija hot springs

Furnas hot springs night tour with dinner

The Furnas Hot Springs Night Tour with Dinner is a delightful evening experience where you can benefit from the healing waters of the Poça da Dona Beija before indulging in some typical Azores fare.

The guided nature walk in the Furnas Volcano complex will allow you to see some beautiful sights and learn more about the history of the area.

You’ll also be able to taste the local traditional Furnas Stew, a dish made with meat and vegetables that are cooked in holes in the ground using the heat from the volcanic soil.

The walking tour will take you to the area where your meal is prepared.

You’ll want to bring a swimsuit on this tour so you can enjoy the hot springs!

  • Scheduled pick up and drop off
  • A local expert guide and driver
  • Guided nature walk
  • Pick-up from your hotel or Airbnb in Ponta Delgada
  • The nature walk can be customized depending on the needs of the group
  • Portuguese and English speaking guide
  • There is nothing negative to say about this tour

This is an amazing evening tour that takes you to a lot of highlights around Furnas.

Guests also love the tour guides and find them friendly and knowledgeable.

This is a perfect evening trip if you love bathing in a hot spring and want to combine it with a traditional Azorean dinner.

Check prices and availability: Furnas hot springs night tour with dinner

Lagoa do fogo Azores, Portugal

Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo Tour with Hot Springs

Your tour of the Sete Cidades Lakes and the Lagoa do Fogo will start in Ponta Delgada.

Early-risers who would like to enjoy the sunrise will be picked-up at 7 AM, the others join the tour around 9 AM.

The highlights of this tour are the amazing vistas on Sete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo, a stunning crater lake that you can see from higher up in the mountains.

You’ll be also visit a pineapple plantation. Pineapples are one of the staple crops of the Azores and the fruit is important to the people here.

Lunch is in the charming town of Lagoa das Sete Cidades. From there, you’ll head on to explore Ribeira Grande.

There are waterfalls and a stop at the Caldeira Velha hot springs where you have to option to take a dip in the hot springs.

At last you will visit the beautiful Santa Barbara beach before heading back to your hotel.

You’ll want to bring a swimsuit on this tour so you can enjoy the hot springs!

  • Pick-up in Ponta Delgada
  • The groups are limited to 15 participants
  • You can communicate any dietary restrictions to the guide beforehand so they can accommodate them where possible
  • There is a small amount of hiking and walking so if you are a wheelchair user or are unable to walk or stand for long periods you might find it challenging

This tour gets a lot of positive reviews and we completely understand why.

It is a perfect opportunity to marvel at the beauty of São Miguel and bathe in a hot spring.

The tour guides are experts not only on the nature and history of the island but on how to make the tour the best experience for you.

They will ensure that it is paced well and that you are having a great time!

$72.95 / €59.93

Check prices and availability: Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo tour with hot springs

Best São Miguel tours: Furnas

The area around Furnas has a lot to offer. From steaming geysers to hot springs, wonderful hikes and more.

Here we share the best guided tours around Furnas.

Cha Gorreana, a traditional tea plantation on the Azores

Furnas Valley Full-Day Volcano and Tea Plantation Tour

This full-day Furnas Valley tour will circle the complete island to take you to several of the historically and culturally significant sites in the area. Along the way you will be able to enjoy the dramatic coastline.

One highlight is the stop at the historic capital Vila Franca do Campo.

This São Miguel tour will also visit the Gorreana tea plantation which is one of Europe’s few tea plantations. There is also a factory located here to process the tea and you can learn about the process and taste some of the final products as well!

For lunch, you will have the famous Furnas Stew, a dish made with meat and vegetables that are cooked with the heat from the volcanic soil. The tour will take you to the lakeside where you can see how it is being cooked in the traditional way.

São Miguel is beautiful, and there are lush forests, dramatic cliffside coastlines, and beautiful flowers everywhere. Previous travelers mention that they were impresses by the number of impressive scenic overlooks this tour offered.

  • Food and drinks
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off in Ponta Delgada
  • It is also possible to be picked up in the Cruise ship terminal of Ponta Delgada
  • The guide speaks Portuguese, English, French and Spanish
  • The chance to taste the specialty dish Cozida ( vegetarian option are available on request)
  • If you want to be picked-up from outside the Ponta Delgada area, you will need to pay an extra fee of €20 per person

Guests loved this tour and the tour guides who are very friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. You will learn a lot about the history and cultural traditions of the Azores.

This is a great tour for those that want to visit the Furnas area but aren’t interested in bathing in the hot springs.

Check prices and availability: Furnas volcano and tea plantation tour

Boiling hot springs at the caldeiras das Furnas

Full-Day Furnas Azores 4×4 Tour from Ponta Delgada

You’ll be able to explore São Miguel by 4×4 vehicle and see some of the island’s impressive landscapes, mainly situated around Furnas Azores.

On this tour, the journey is part of the experience.

You can learn about the history of the area and about the geological features that were formed due to volcanic activity in the region.

There are incredible geysers, healing hot springs, picturesque calderas, and fumaroles, which are openings in the ground near a volcano where sulphuric gas is emitted.

You’ll also have the chance to eat some Furnas Stew, a dish made with meat and vegetables that are cooked with the heat from the volcano.

You can also watch it being cooked in the traditional way and eat it at a traditional restaurant.

  • Transportation in a 4×4
  • Small groups
  • You will see a lot of the island in a short time (the tour lasts 9 hours approx.)
  • This tour is wheelchair accessible
  • The cost of the lunch is not included in the tour

If you want to explore the historic and cultural heritage of the Azores but you love unique experiences, you’ll love this tour.

While the typical minivan associated with tours is wonderful in its own way, this experience is great for the adventurous type.

$72.34 / €59.43

Check prices and availability: 4×4 Furnas day tour

Sao Miguel tours Nordeste

Nordeste is a village situated on the northeast of São Miguel island. It is one of the least visited areas and therefore it is still quite unspoiled.

The east coast of the island has two wonderful viewpoints, Ponta Da Sossega, and Ponta da Madrugada and several beautiful waterfalls you can visit.

Here we share an amazing tour that visits this area.

Cascata Ribeira dos Caldeiroes on the Azores

From Ponta Delgada: Azores Northeast Full-Day Tour

This tour starts and ends in São Miguel’s capital city of Ponta Delgada.

You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history of the island and cultural and natural highlights from an attentive and knowledgeable guide.

This full-day experience is full of beautiful sights but you are not pushed along – the tours are paced well.

At Ribeira Grande, you’ll see many waterfalls and a watermill. There are several viewpoints you’ll stop at during your tour where you can see stunning coastal views or vibrant flowers and other plants.

  • Hotel drop-off and pick up
  • Transportation in an air-conditioned minivan
  • Pick up from your hotel in Ponta Delgada or pick up at the cruise terminal
  • English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking tour guide
  • Small group limited to 15 people
  • You can select your lunch from a menu

If you are interested in visiting the more of the beaten-track Nordeaste area, this tour is a great option.

One guest says they had the opportunity to go bathing in Furnas but didn’t bring their swimsuit. Although it isn’t mentioned in the tour description that you will have the opportunity to do so, it doesn’t hurt to bring your swimsuit.

$91.19 / €74.91

Check prices and availability: Northeast tour

Best São Miguel whales tours

São Miguel is one of the best places in the world to spot whales.

Here we share the best São Miguel whale tours.

Dolphins Azores, Porgugal

Azores whale-watching expedition and islet boat tour

This 3-hour whale tour starts from Vila Franca do Campo.

You will look for whales and dolphins with a small zodiac boat.

We did this excursion ourselves and although we were really unlucky at that time and didn’t see any whales, we absolutely recommend this tour.

Our tour guide was very informative and we had a great time out with several schools of dolphins. That we didn’t see any whales had nothing to do with the organization. Whales are wild animals and nobody can guarantee that they will be around at the time your tour goes out.

Check prices and availability: Whale watching zodiac boat

Whale watching from Ponta Delgada with a catamaran

If you have an adventurous nature, we’d recommend a zodiac tour . This tour is, however, not suitable for everyone.

Children younger than 4 aren’t allowed on zodiacs and if you’re pregnant or have back problems, it might not be best to take the risk. In that case, it might be better to  choose this safe option.

The benefit of this boat is that you can walk around freely and can take unobstructed photos on all sides.

Check prices and availability: Whale watching catamaran

We wrote a full article on whale watching in the Azores.

In this post, you can find more info about the best time for Azores dolphin and whale watching, which whales and dolphins can be seen in the Azores, the best Azores island for whale watching, and the best organizations that offer tours.

São Miguel Island is full of incredible things to see and one of the best ways to see it all is to book one of the carefully curated and managed guided tours.

The guides will be able to show you beautiful sights, answer your questions, and make sure you’re getting the most out of your Azores trip.

This is especially a good option if you can’t or don’t want to drive yourself.

Here is an amazing itinerary for São Miguel.

If you are looking for more fun things to do in the Azores, click here.

Here you can find our Azores travel guide in which we share all our Azores blog posts.

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iGoAzores – São Miguel Tours & Activities

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Filter price, tour categories, perfect tour.

More than local guides, we are storytellers offering tours and excursions on São Miguel Island. We love what we do and know our island like no one else. From legends and folk tales to local traditions and customs that characterize our identity, we will ensure that you have a unique experience, guided with the authentic Azorean spirit.

Furnas tour from ponta delgada

Ponta Delgada: Sete Cidades & Furnas volcano cruise excursion

São Miguel West Tour

Premium Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo Full Day from Ponta Delgada

Day Tour to thermal pool Furnas and Nordeste São Miguel, Azores

São Miguel: Premium Furnas & Nordeste Full Day Tour and Lunch

Excursão de 2 dias, turista no miradouro da Vista do rei

São Miguel: 2 Full-Day Tour Pack, Lunch and Top Attractions

What we offer.

We offer various solutions for tours and activities that perfectly suit your needs or your group size, and we rely on our experience in travel consultancy to match you with the perfect experience. From volcanic wonders to cultural riches, we promise an unforgettable journey that captures the essence of the Azores, leaving you with memories that will forever linger.

We are proud to be a group of enthusiastic locals from the Azores

Small groups with maximum attention for a memorable tour experience

Passionate storytellers

Each tour is carefully prepared with people that love the island

Wide tour selection

Full-day, multi-day, private, shore excursion or group tour, you just have to choose yours

exciting destinations

The Azores, a Portuguese archipelago, offer a haven for those seeking an escape into pristine nature. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Azores are a playground of possibilities. Hike through scenic trails that lead to volcanic craters, Tour to fantastic destinations where you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding ocean and verdant landscapes.

+351 916 947 485

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of são miguel island, the team at azoresland tours.

At AzoresLand Tours, we are a group of passionate and experienced locals who are dedicated to giving you an authentic and memorable experience on São Miguel Island. Our local experts know the island like the back of their hand, and they can't wait to share their knowledge and love of the island with you.

  • Local expertise
  • Customized itineraries
  • Exceptional service

See for yourself the island's captivating landscapes, rich culture, and diverse wildlife.

Feel the nature discover são miguel with our tours.


Sete Cidades

45€ / person.


Lagoa do Fogo


Furnas with lunch

75€ / person, worried because you have a big group,    .

We are glad to help you arrange everything even for bigger groups, dont hesitate to contact us!

Our Gallery

Take a visual tour of São Miguel Island through our photo gallery, featuring stunning images of the island's landscapes, wildlife, and traditional culture. From lush green forests to rugged coastlines, our gallery gives you a glimpse of the island's natural beauty and diversity, and will leave you wanting more.

tour sao miguel azores

tour sao miguel azores

Book activities, tours and amazing experiences in São Miguel, Azores Portugal

We recommend, lowest price guarantee, satisfied or guaranteed, 100% local guide, unforgettable experiences....

Book activities, day tours and amazing experiences, with local experts!


In the middle of the Atlantic there is a paradise called Azores.

Certified by nature and of high environmental value, we are the ideal destination for those who want to relax and make the most of nature. All 9 islands are green, but São Miguel is known by the nickname of the “Green Island”, with a variety of amazing green landscapes that look like unique carpets.

Although small in size, we are big in heart.

Let us honor you as part of our family, even for a day, making your vacation a memorable “Micaelense” moment, with professionalism and security in the company of our 100% local guides.

Best Sellers

Half day tours.

tour sao miguel azores

Sete Cidades - Blue & Green Crater Lakes

This will undoubtedly be the best four hours of vacation in Sao Miguel, Azores, after a half day visit to Sete Cidades, full of legends and enchanting stories.

Full Day Tours

tour sao miguel azores

Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo "The Power of Nature"

Guaranteed to be a perfect opportunity to discover how Seven Cities won the 7 Wonders of Portugal, as well as the power of nature generated by the Lagoa do Fogo volcano, +/- 40% energy to the island of São Miguel.    

tour sao miguel azores

Furnas – East of the Island

Furnas – East of the Island “Hot Springs, Fumaroles and Boilers", half-day excursion towards one of the most emblematic volcanic areas of São Miguel, considered the capital of Azorean tourism.

tour sao miguel azores

Lagoa do Fogo “Energy Volcano”

Towards the second highest point of the island of São Miguel, at 900 mts, to admire this creation of nature with 30 meters deep.

tour sao miguel azores

Furnas / East island "Gastronomy, Thermal Baths, Boilers and Fumaroles"

Full Day Furnas / East Island, “Gastronomy, Hot springs, Boilers & Fumaroles” towards one of the most emblematic volcanic areas of São Miguel, considered the capital of Azorean tourism.

  • Lagoa do Fogo
  • Sete Cidades
  • Island Tour
  • Furnas & Nordeste
  • Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo
  • Tour by Van
  • Tour by Car
  • Twin Crater Lakes and Scenic Landscapes
  • Fire Crater Lake
  • Furnas Crater Lake
  • Private Van
  • Private Car
  • Gastronomic

Nordeste – “On the Viewpoint Route”

Nordeste - Marvel at the majestic Northeast Florida Nature, once considered the 10th island of the Azores, with its incredible flower-filled viewpoints.

Duration: 4 hours.

€ 60.00

Lagoa do Fogo “Energy Volcano”

€ 49.00

Furnas – East of the Island

€ 45.00

Discovering São Miguel Island in 2 days

2 full days package  tour, with lunch included.

1st day "Furnas & Nordeste", 2nd day "Sete Cidades & Fogo".

2 days package

€ 135.00.

Round the Island –  “The best of 3 days of circuit in 1”

Round the Island Circuit, all day long, these will undoubtedly be the best 9 hours and the best 200km spent on your vacation in Sao Miguel in the Azores, after a full day tour around Sao Miguel Island.

Duration: 8 hours + 1 free hour

€ 125.00

Furnas & Nordeste – “The Enchanted Garden”

Furnas & Nordeste, “The Enchanted Garden”. an enchanted visit that will give you the best time of your vacations.

Duration: 8 hours + 1 free hour .

€ 89.00

Nordeste “10th Azorean Flowered Island”

Nordeste "10th Azorean Flowered Island" Marvel with the majestic Northeast flowered Nature, once considered the 10th island of the Azores, with its incredible flower-filled viewpoints.

€ 79.00

Furnas / East island “Gastronomy, Thermal Baths, Boilers and Fumaroles”

100% customized circuit in a comfortable vehicle, with a private guide. We customize your tour to suit your interests, and based on your intended destination.

Duration: 9 hours.

per vehicle

€ 299.00.

Private Van Tour up 8 passengers “Exclusively for you”.

100% customized circuit in a comfortable 8 seats Mini Van, with an exclusively private guide...

€ 399.00

Furnas Crater Volcano & Hot Springs

A magnificent crater volcano, hot springs, thermal waters and a tea taste in one of the unique tea plantations in Europe.

Private Tour up to 4 passengers “Exclusively for you”

Discover the Beauty and all the History of São Miguel Island, in a unique tour exclusively customized for you and your host, onboard of a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and set off for a excursion of scenic breathtaking views.

Duration: Chosen by you.

Sete Cidades “Blue & Green Crater Lakes”

Sete Cidades / Blue & Green Crater Lakes - The excursions choices are endless and designed to show you the best highlights of São Miguel island in Azores.

Duration: 3h30

Private Van Tour up to 8 passengers “Exclusively for you”

Discover the beauty and history of São Miguel Island on an exclusive ride for you and your host aboard a comfortable 8 seats van.

Cruise Excursions “All Tours in One”

On this cruise excursion "All Tours in One", discover the highlights of the island with a local guide  in a combined tour with the 2 best touristic points.

Duration: 5 hours.

€ 75.00

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We know the most amazing places for your movie or photographic production.

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There's an amazing island out there. Explore it with our group deals. We can make personalized packages just for you! Just talk with us.

We can make personalized packages just for you.

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Every month, we provide one circuit each, completely free in exchange for online dissemination of our services.

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Cruise excursions.

Join us for a tour unlike anything you ever imagined. For all cruises, there is magic on the horizon when ships arrive at the port of call of Ponta Delgada. The excursion options are endless and designed to show the best highlights of the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores.

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The complete guide to são miguel azores.

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Sao Miguel Azores is a hidden gem of an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! This will walk you through how to get there, where to stay, what to eat, and what to do in São Miguel Island !

The Complete Guide to Sao Miguel Azores

São Miguel island Azores in Portugal is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! My expectations were high after seeing incredible pictures online, but I was honestly blown away as we explored the island! We happen to go in the summer during the hydrangea bloom and it was truly a sight to behold! There are so many amazing things to do in Sao Miguel, but not a lot of information out there. Hopefully, this Azores guide will help you plan your visit.

Here's a Short Cut

Where is São Miguel Island

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São Miguel Portugal is one of 9 main islands in the Azores archipelago located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. São Miguel is the largest and most populated island in the Azores and where all flights from the US come to in the Azores first. 

Getting to São Miguel is easy. There are direct flights to São Miguel coming from Boston, New York City, and Portugal. It’s an easy flight from the US, just under 5 hours. I can get to São Miguel faster than I can get to California. 

Azores Islands, view from an airplane

How to Get Around São Miguel Island

There are several great tours on São Miguel island, Azores and it can be a great way to see the island and learn about it from a local. This is a great tour that will take you to see the best sites in the island. We took a full day ATV tour and it was seriously amazing! We were able to go on a lot of little dirt side roads that we couldn’t take our rental car down. 

While taking a tour of São Miguel is a great idea, renting a car is a good way to see the island at your own pace. The roads are fairly good, but windy and narrow. Check here for the best car rental São Miguel Azores rates.

Where to Stay in São Miguel Island

Sao Miguel Hotels, an old hotel

There are plenty of São Miguel Azores hotels and Airbnbs on the island. Since it was our anniversary, we mainly stayed in nice hotels (a rare treat for us). These were the best São Miguel hotels that we loved.

Furnas Boutique hotel - lounge with a couch and ferns

We loved this unique luxury hotel in the adorable town of Furnas. It has its own thermal pools, a swimming pool, and an amazing restaurant, A Terra! 

natural hot springs in sao miguel azores

Located in the Terra Nostra Park, the beautiful botanical gardens, Terra Nostra Garden Hotel is a beautiful oasis with a great location. You’ll also have full access to the natural hot springs and natural pools.

The Azor Hotel in Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Azores

This luxury hotel, located in downtown Ponta Delgada, was beautiful. We had a huge corner suite with gorgeous views of the ocean.

Grand Hotel Azores Atlantico with a golden staircase

This hotel is also in Ponta Delgada and is in a great location, walkable to great restaurants and anything you want to see downtown. Honestly, the Azor and this hotel are pretty close together and I preferred the Azor . So if you have to pick, I’d choose that.

Sao Miguel Azores - hydrangea road

If you’re looking to go to the Azores, but don’t want the hassle of booking your airfare, accommodation, car rental, or tours,  AND you want to save money, then Azores Getaways has some seriously amazing packages and deals! I honestly think they are the best bang for your buck. Their prices really can’t be beaten for a package tour. 

Their deals start as low as $499/person . That includes airfare, hotel, and car! Insane! And they often occasionally have sales on top of that, so keep an eye out! Click here for a list of the Azores Getaways itineraries and deals.

This Sao Miguel Island package looks amazing! 

São Miguel Azores Weather

Sao Miguel Azores - hydrangeas and lakes

Let’s talk about the weather in São Miguel, and the Azores in general. The Azores definitely has seasons, but they are much milder than you’ll find in other parts of Europe.

How cold does it get in the Azores? Well, not that cold. Even in the dead of winter, the coldest it gets at night is in the low 50s (11-12 Celcius) and it’s in the mid-60s (17/18 Celcius) during the day. The summer temperatures are even nicer at around low 60s (17/18 Celcius)  at night and mid-70s (24/26 Celcius) during the day. 

So with the weather only fluctuating about 20 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, it’s a very mild climate. However, it does rain a lot! I mean look at these pictures! All that green, all those flowers, and all those lakes? How do you think they get like that?  Rain! It rained almost every day we were in the Azores in July, but there was never a crazy downpour and the light sprinkle wasn’t too cold. We found that it mostly rained in the afternoon, so it’s best to get up early and prepare for some rain later in the day. 

Sao Miguel Island Azores - on the beach

What is the best month to visit the Azores? This is a tough question to answer because I think the Azores would honestly be lovely year-round, but I think visiting São Miguel especially in the summer is quite magical because of the hydrangea bloom!

If you’ve seen any pictures of the Azores before, particularly São Miguel, you’ll see massive hydrangea blooms everywhere! These gorgeous flowers, that are actually an invasive species brought over from Japan, cover the island during the summer months, turning it into a colorful island of blues, pinks, and purples. The blossoms differ in color due to the content of the soil. 

Sao Miguel Azores Hydrangeas as big as my head

The hydrangeas bloom between June and September . This is also when the weather will be warmest. We were on São Miguel in the middle of July and it did not feel crowded or touristy at all. The tour companies all seemed happy to have us there and were grateful for the tourism. 

That being said, they did say that tourism is really slow there in the winter. So if you are really crowd averse, or want to save some money, It might be a good idea to visit in the off-season.

São Miguel Food

The Azores Food Guide - a plate of seafood

The food in the Azores totally blew me away. I had honestly never read or heard anything about Azoreean food so it was an amazing surprise. I’ve never seen a culture use fruits and vegetables in such a tasty way in almost every dish! You can read more about amazing food in my Azores Food Guide. 

The great thing about the food in the Azores is that it is super affordable! We ate out at nice restaurants every night for around $30 total! Be sure to order fresh grilled fish at least once! It was amazing. 

We ate out every day in the Azores, with the exception of a few lunches where we just ate food from the market or a homemade sandwich with bolos & queijo, but we were on an anniversary vacation and staying in hotels, so I was NOT cooking! There were honestly not any restaurants in São Miguel that we didn’t like, but these were the standouts for us:

  • À TERRA: This modern restaurant located in the Furnas Boutique Hotel combines a new era of cooking with the traditional flavors of the Azores. All of their meats and produce are sourced locally, and I promise everything is delicious! We ate here for all three meals while staying in the incredible attached hotel. I didn’t want to leave! 
  • Restaurante Lagoa Azul: Our tour guide took us to this restaurant near Lago Azul in Sete Cidades. It was a great place to sample tons of different Azorean cuisine from fish, beef, oxtail, and passion fruit cheesecake! It was all super yummy and affordable. 
  • Tasquinha Vieira: This little hidden gem in Ponta Delgada, the main city of São Miguel, was a great surprise and celebration on the last night of our visit to the Azores! Locally sourced food meets gourmet cooking for a mouthwatering combination! 

This São Miguel Azores map will help you see where the main sites on the island are. Everything seems really spread out, but honestly, you won’t have longer than a 1.5-hour drive from one end of the island to the other. 

The Best Things to do in São Miguel Azores

There are so many amazing things to do in São Miguel Azores! For such a tiny island, you could honestly spend an entire week or more here and have action-packed days! There are many different guided tours that you can take, or you can rent a car and explore the island on your own. I’ll tell you our favorite things we did on São Miguel.

Sao Miguel Island Azores - ATV tour

São Miguel island, Portugal is small and you can see most of it on the main roads, but there are some tiny farm roads that run through the center of the island that offer a beautiful insight into how much of the island runs and lives. If you want to access these roads you’ll need to do it on an ATV or buggy tour.

I wouldn’t recommend taking even a 4-wheel vehicle on these roads. They are too narrow, bumpy, and complicated. Your guide will know exactly where to take you. We took this 8-hour buggy tour and it was one of the best things we did on São Miguel! 

Sao Miguel Island Whale Watching Azores - whale tail coming out of the water

The Azores is famous for the whales that surround it! In fact, whaling used to be what sustained life on the islands a hundred years ago. The whaling industry has since ended, and a new world of whale tourism has entered the scene.

The Azores is one of the largest whale sanctuaries in the world with over 20 different species in the water! You’re nearly guaranteed to see whales if you take a whale-watching tour in São Miguel. You’ll also most likely see dolphins! There are many different whale-watching tours you can take. Most will leave from Ponta Delgada.

I recommend this 7-hour tour that will allow you to view whales and dolphins in the Azores while also snorkeling at the Vila Franca Islet! You can book the tour here. 

Furnas on Sao Miguel Azores. A man cooking corn in a caldeira

The town of Furnas on the east side of the island of São Miguel is not to be missed. The whole area honestly deserves aa entire article, there is so much to do! This was our first introduction to the islands and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I recommend taking at least an entire day to explore this serene area. It’s a quick 20-minute drive from Ponta Delgada, the main city of São Miguel. It’s a great place to base yourself for exploring the island. 

There are also some amazing hotels in Furnas that are great if you’re looking for something special. We stayed at the Furnas Boutique Hotel, which has its own thermal hot spring pools and a beautiful spa as well as the amazing A Terra restaurant. I could live here and die happy! The rooms were small but beautiful, and the amenities and staff were all amazing. 

Furnas is located in a valley that is actually a crater of a volcano! Seems like a good place to build a village right? The volcano erupted in 1630 and is now dormant, but the signs are still there almost 400 years later. The entire area is covered with steam holes and hot springs, making it a unique destination! 

Since you’re on an island, a trip to the beach is a must! There are several great family friendly beaches on Sao Miguel. These are the best beaches on the island of Sao Miguel:

  • Praia de Santa Barbara
  • Praia dos Mosteiros
  • Praia de Agua D’Alto
  • Praia do Fogo
  • Praia Caloura
  • Praia do Monhos
  • Praia Amora
  • Praia Populo
  • Ponta da Ferraria
  • Piscinas do Pesqueiro

You will see signs for “caldeiras” all over the island. These are steam holes where sulfuric liquid bubbles up through the ground. This is what makes the hot springs warm all over the island. They do have a sulfuric smell, but you honestly get used to it.

If you go to the small town of Furnas between noon and 5 pm, you should be able to see locals and restaurants cooking corn or Cozido in the caldeiras. Cozido is a meat and vegetable stew that you can’t miss while in Furnas. You can read more about Cozido and more amazing food in the Azores here. 

Sao Miguel Azores - two ducks floating on the lake

Lago das Furnas is one of the most beautiful areas on the island of São Miguel Island. It’s serene and eerie at the same time, especially if you’re there on a cloudy day. Furnas Lake is one of the three main lakes on São Miguel and one of the most easily accessible. It’s light green color also makes it one of the most iconic lakes on the island. You can walk the perimeter of the lake and take in the views.

There are also some more incredible caldeiras on the right side of the lake. Here you can rent kayaks or paddle boats to explore the lake. Algae is what gives the lake its distinct green color, so it’s not a great place for swimming. 

Don’t miss the gorgeous Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, a beautiful Neo-gothic church built by a nobleman who wanted to bury his wife along the shores of beautiful Lago das Furnas. 

Sao Miguel Azores - a small church made of stone

As you walk along Lago das Furnas, stop at the little church named Ermida Nossa Senhora das Vitorias, built by a gentleman farmer in the 1800s after his beloved wife died. Both he and his wife are buried inside the chapel. 

Sao Miguel Azores - woman walking down a path lined with palm trees

The idea of wandering through gardens didn’t really initially appeal to me when we visited the island of São Miguel island. We are more hiking and adventure people, and less wandering around gardens people, but this place totally blew us away! In fact, Paul had to drag me out of there so we could see the rest of the island! I honestly could have spent all day in these vast gardens! There are acres to explore, so I highly recommend spending at least a few hours here. 

Sao Miguel Island - blue hydrangeas

Not only can you explore the incredible grounds, but you can also swim in the iron-enriched hot springs! So bring a swimswuit! It’s great on a hot or cold day. The springs are warm, but refreshing. Because of the iron in the water, I highly recommend bringing a dark-colored swimsuit that won’t get stained. And because of the sulfur in the water, you should rinse it out as soon as possible to avoid bringing home the souvenir of a smelly suitcase with you! 

It costs €8 to enter the gardens and swim, but if you want to enter for free, you can either stay at the Terre Nostra Hotel, or eat at the Restaurant. Both are pricey, but you really cannot beat the location! 

Sao Miguel Island - Vista Lagoa Fogo 2 people standing in front of the lake

As amazing and remote as this lake looks in all the pictures, it’s actually the easiest lake to get to on the island of São Miguel! You can pull off on the side of the road to snap a picture. There are absolutely no roads down to Lagoa do Fogo, making it one of the most untouched lakes on the island. You can hike down into the lake, but it is long and steep! 

Sao Miguel Azores -a woman standing at the top of the hill

The island of Sao Miguel is covered in hiking trails, but this one was our favorite. Boca do Inferno means “the mouth of hell” in Portuguese! Sounds like a pretty tough hike right? Well, don’t worry, this is an easy uphill hike/walk that will lead you to the most stunning and probably most famous view in all of São Miguel Island! From here you can see the seven blue and green lakes that make up the Sete Cidades. The view is out of this world, but it’s a steep fall down, so if you’re going with kids, just be careful. 

Sao Miguel Island - city view in the sunset

Ponta Delgada is the largest town in São Miguel and where the majority of Azoreans live. It’s also the historical center of the island and where you’ll find the most restaurants, hotels, and tour companies. Here are the main sites in Ponta Delgada:

  • Mercado da Graça: The local indoor market where you can shop for Azorean fruit like Pineapple, bananas, watermelon, and passion fruit! 
  • Rei dos Queijos: Right next door to the Mercado is the most amazing cheese shop! Buy some Bolos (bread) and queijo (cheese).
  • Climb the Bell Tower for Amazing Views
  • Check out the Sidewalks
  • Visit the Arches

Sao Miguel Azores Velha Hot Springs - woman sitting in a hot spring

São Miguel island Azores is abundant with natural hot springs due to its volcanic activity. Visiting hot springs is one of the most popular things to do in São Miguel! Here are some things to know before going to the thermal hot springs in the Azores:

  • Don’t wear a light-colored swimsuit. There is iron in most of the thermal water which will stain light suits brown or orange (ask me how I know)!
  • Pick a cloudy or rainy day to visit the hot springs. If you’re going to get wet anyway, you might as well be warm! 
  • Don’t wear jewelry in the hot springs. The water can tarnish it.
  • Don’t drink the water.

There are several hot springs on the island of São Miguel. These are the ones we visited:

  • Caldeira Velha: This is probably the most beautiful of all the thermal springs in São Miguel Azores. There’s even a picturesque waterfall (pictured above). It does get busy, so I recommend going early if you can. You can rent lockers at this hot spring for a fee.  Cost: €8
  • Poca Dona Beija: These 5 thermal pools are also very popular, but super pretty! Get there early. Cost: €6
  • Termas das Caldeiras: This hidden gem has 3 pools, 1 outdoor and 2 indoor. The public can use the outdoor pool, but to gain access to the indoor pools you’ll have to book the spa!  Cost: €3 for outdoor pool
  • Ponta da Ferraria: This small cove on the western side of the island is surrounded by lava rock cliffs. The ocean water is heated by a geothermal natural spring beneath the waves. There is also a spa here !  Cost: Free
  • Terra Nostra: This gorgeous garden I’ve mentioned above has its own hot spring. This one is very brown/orange due to the iron content, so be especially careful with your lighter swimwear. You can rent towels at this hot spring for a fee. If you want free access to the hot springs and gardens you can eat lunch at the Terra Nostra or stay as a guest. Book here.  Cost: €8 Check Availability
  • Furnas Boutique Hotel: We stayed at this gorgeous hotel, which is also home to the A TERRA restaurant. The hot springs were amazing. They all have pools built around them with several different temperature options. They also have saunas and luxurious showers. If you want to access to the pools you’ll have to stay at the hotel. Book here.  Check Availability

Sao Miguel Azores - best beaches in sao miguel

Sample Azores São Miguel Itinerary

You could spend as little as 3 days on the island of São Miguel or up to a month on this amazing island! Here’s what you can do with on week in Sao Miguel:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Ponta Delgada and explore the town. Visit the Mercado da Gracia. 
  • Day 2: Spend the day exploring the town of Furnas and watching locals cook Cozido.
  • Day 3: Explore the Terra Nostra Gardens 
  • Day 4 : Swim in the hot springs of São Miguel Island.
  • Day 5: Take an ATV tour of São Miguel Island.
  • Day 6: Take a Whale Watching Tour
  • Day 7: Take a day trip to another island in the Azores

I hope you have an amazing time on São Miguel island. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world and I promise you won’t be disappointed! If you have any questions or need help planning, please get in touch! If you want to save this for later, please pin this post and be sure to check out my Azores board on Pinterest for other great ideas!

São Miguel, Azores is the largest and most famous island in the Azores archipelago of Portugal. It’São Miguel, Azores is the largest and most famous island in the Azores archipelago of Portugal. It is known for stunning views, mountains, and lakes. It is also known for its pineapple production.

That’s really tough to answer. Each island in the Azores is beautiful in its own way and known for its different beautiful places. I think if you are judging solely off the beauty of the landscape, I would have to choose the island of Sao Miguel.

I mean, are there ever enough days for a vacation? I think 3-5 days is a good amount of time to explore the entire island. If you visit Sao Miguel for a week, you could leave a few days for day trips to other islands.

Sao Miguel is the easiest island to get to in the Azores. The easiest way to get there from the US is to fly directly to Sao Miguel. There are direct flights from New York and Boston.

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Sao Miguel Azores

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Book Your Accommodation My preferred way to stay around the world is VRBO . I find it usually gives you a unique local experience in any destination. If you want to stay in a hotel, use  Booking , as it consistently gives the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels. I use them both all the time.

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Looking for ways to save money on travel? Check out my  resource page  for the companies I use for traveling! I share everything I use to save me time and money.

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Azores Nine Island Tour

Our 17 night Nine Island Tour gives you the most comprehensive visit to the Azores. During the tour, you will be visiting all…

  • Trip Type Botanical: Parks and Gardens , Cultural and Sightseeing , Escorted Tour , Gastronomy , Small Group Tour , Walking Tour
  • Activities Gastronomy , Liquor tasting , Nature , Walking
  • Group Size No size limit - No size limit
  • Reviews 0 Reviews
  • Locations Corvo , Faial , Flores , Graciosa , Pico , Santa Maria , São Jorge , São Miguel , Terceira
  • Fixed Departure September 11, 2024
  • Trip Outline
  • Trip Includes
  • Trip Excludes

Embark on a breathtaking journey with our agency's exclusive group tour to the enchanting Azores archipelago in September 2024!

Please note: july is sold out.  .

This 16-night adventure promises an immersive experience across all nine captivating islands, each boasting its unique charm and natural wonders. From the lush landscapes of São Miguel to the dramatic cliffs of Flores, our meticulously crafted itinerary ensures you'll discover the Azores' diverse beauty and cultural richness. Delight in local cuisine, explore historic sites, and engage in thrilling activities amidst stunning volcanic scenery. With comfortable accommodations and expert guides, this group tour offers an unparalleled opportunity to create lasting memories while exploring the hidden gems of the Azores. Don't miss the chance to join us on this unforgettable odyssey through one of Europe's most awe-inspiring destinations.

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Evening departure from logan airport.

tour sao miguel azores

Evening departure from Logan Airport to Flores via Ponta Delgada aboard Azores Airlines. Complimentary meal served on board with beverages.

Arrival to the Island of Flores

tour sao miguel azores

Welcome to the Island of Flores, where unspoiled nature and stunning waterfalls will greet you at every turn. Enjoy the day at leisure in the town of Santa Cruz das Flores. In the evening we will meet for a welcome dinner.

Full Day Flores Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

Today your journey takes you northeast where you will soak in stunning views of the neighboring island of Corvo. Shortly after a stop at the Caimbros viewpoint to witness the bird migration on the islet da Alagoa. You will make your way to the town of Ponta Delgada where locals still live the pastoral lifestyle. The journey continues to the Albarnaz lighthouse to view the Ilheu do Monchique, Europe's westernmost point, before returning to Santa Cruz for lunch. The afternoon will surround you with views of lakes, mountains, and waterfalls. You will have the opportunity to view the breathtaking Rocha dos Bordões, a geological treasure with approximately 570,000 years of history and perfect columns of about 20 meters. The day will end with a visit to the Nossa Senhora do Rosario Church and the town of Lajes.

Full Day Corvo Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

Today’s journey takes you on a short boat ride to the neighboring Island of Corvo, the smallest of the 9 islands. Enjoy the stunning views of caves, faults, and cascading waterfalls along the shoreline of Flores before crossing over to the island of Corvo. Upon arrival in Vila do Corvo we head to the Monte Gordo “Caldeirão”, an enormous caldera with an unusual topography. We return to Vila do Corvo for lunch and enjoy the remaining day exploring the town and its windmills before returning to the island of Flores. This tour operates weather permitting.

Faial Island

tour sao miguel azores

Today make your way to the Island of Faial, known as the “blue island” for the hydrangeas that decorate the landscape of the island. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the hotel, followed by lunch at Peters Café, one of the most symbolic restaurants/bars of the islands. The rest of the day is yours to explore the town of Horta.

Full Day Faial Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

This morning’s journey starts with a visit to the “Caldeira”, a volcanic caldera 400meters deep and 2 kilometers wide, one of the biggest attractions on the island. End the day exploring Capelinhos Volcano, where you can still witness the effects of the eruption of 1957/58. Take the opportunity to stop by the interpretation center where you will learn about the social and economic consequences of that eruption.

Full Day Pico Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

This morning you will enjoy a scenic 30-minute ferry ride to the island of Pico. Towering over the island at 7713 ft. Montanha do Pico is Portugal’s highest mountain and at its base you will witness the basaltic landscapes where the vines grow intertwined with the volcanic rocks. Upon arrival visit the Wine Museum housed in an old convent of the Carmelite religious order. After learning the island’s wine history, you will visit the Wine cooperative and indulge in a tasting. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the vineyards of Criação Velha, classified as World Heritage by Uncesco, before visiting the Arcos do Cachorro (Dogs Arches) for some breathtaking views of the erosive influence of the ocean waves.

Full Day São Jorge Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

Today’s journey will have you embark on a ferry ride to the Island of São Jorge. The island is known for its rugged landscape and volcanic landscape, known as Fajãs. You will have the opportunity to visit these small volcanic peninsulas and admire the beauty that surrounds them. Enjoy a tasting of locally grown coffee from the Fajã do Ouvidor, the only place in the country where coffee is produced. The Island of São Jorge is also known for the production of the renowned S.Jorge cheese, a hard spicy cheese made with raw cow milk. Enjoy a visit to one of the factories and learn about the process of production.

Pico-Terceira Island

tour sao miguel azores

Today you will make your way back to the airport for a quick flight to the island of Terceira. Upon arrival you will be greeted and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure to explore the historical center of Angra do Heroísmo, designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

Full Day Terceira Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

Today’s journey will take you on a full day tour of Terceira, also known as, the Lilac Island. You will have the opportunity to visit some emblematic historical sites, as well as explore Algar do Carvão, a volcanic vent located in the central part of the island. In the afternoon enjoy a sweet stop for some locally made Ice Cream.

Full Day Graciosa Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

Today we embark on a full day tour to explore the island of Graciosa. We head to Monte Nossa Senhora da Ajuda that has breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside. On our travels around the island, we stop to see windmills and the Farol da Ponta da Barca. Here, there are views of volcanic formations in the shape of a whale, (Ilheus). Afterwards we drive to the unique geological formation of Caldeira and Furna de Enxofre, (Sulphur Cavern). While we circle the island, we stop at various scenic areas to view the different points of the island as well as to have lunch. We return to Terceira in the end of the day.

Graciosa - São Miguel Island

tour sao miguel azores

Today you will make your way back to the airport for a quick flight to the island of São Miguel. Upon arrival you will be greeted and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day will be at leisure to explore the historical center of Ponta Delgada.

Full Day Sete Cidades Tour, São Miguel Island

tour sao miguel azores

Today you will explore the western part of the island, stopping first at the pineapple plantations to observe how this tropical fruit grows on these islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Take the opportunity to indulge in a pineapple liqueur tasting. On our way to Sete Cidades, a village known for its tales and beauty you will have the opportunity to take in the breathtaking view of the main lake, also known as, Blue and Green Lakes with a stop at Vista do Rei (Kings view). A quick visit to the Quinta da Queiró for a light fare of Azorean breads, cheeses, teas and desserts.

Full Day Santa Maria Island Tour

tour sao miguel azores

This morning you will depart to Santa Maria. Your first stop is Anjos, the location of the first landfall of Christopher Columbus on his return from America. You will enjoy visits to the historical Church of São Pedro and the Church of Santa Barbara, before arriving in São Lourenco for a bird’s-eye view of the bay and its Cliffside vineyards. You will head to the pretty village of Santo Espirito, where you will visit the Ethnographic Museum and the XVI Century Church. According to legend this is where the first Mass was celebrated in the Azores.

Full Day Furnas Tour, São Miguel Island

tour sao miguel azores

Today’s journey begins with the beautiful seaside town of Vila Franca do Campo, the island’s governmental town in the XV century. Enjoy a taste of the famous Queijadas da Vila, a traditional pastry developed by nuns during the XVI century, before making your way to Furnas Lake. Here you will witness a traditional Cozido das Furnas (a meal cooked in sealed pots using the islands hot springs known as fumarolas) and have the chance to indulge in the famous cozido dish at a local restaurant. After lunch a visit to Terra Nostra Botanical Garden, an “English romantic garden” from the XVIII, where you will have a chance to soak in the geothermal hot springs. The day will end with a visit to the Gorreana Tea Factory, where you will learn about the island’s tea industry, still operated by 19th century machinery. Enjoy a tasting of the famous green and black tea.

Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island

tour sao miguel azores

The day is at your leisure. You have the option of taking a half-day hiking/walking tour or even a whale watching tour from your hotel. Check out our add on activities and tours for more information.

tour sao miguel azores

Our final morning in the Azores will be at leisure, before making your way to the airport for the return flight home.

Package Includes:

  • Round trip Airfare from Boston
  • Interisland flights and ferries
  • 3 nights with early check in INATEL superior rooms in BB Basis
  • 2 nights in Hotel Canal Pico view in BB Basis
  • 2 nights in Caravels standard room in BB Basis
  • 3 nights in Terceira Mar standard room in BB Basis
  • 5 nights in Hotel Marina Atlántico sea view room in BB basis
  • 10 lunches, 1 dinner with drinks
  • Gratuities for guides and drivers
  • Personal expenses
  • Single supplement 
  • Tour Package without airfare starts at $4,799.00

Flores Island

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18 Amazing Things to Do in São Miguel, The Azores (+Map & Tips)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: February 5, 2024

18 Amazing Things to Do in São Miguel, The Azores (+Map & Tips)

Tucked in the gorgeous Azores archipelago of Portugal is its biggest island – São Miguel . This stunning island is known for its pristine nature, volcanic scenery, beaches, rich marine life, waterfalls, and beautiful flowers…

São Miguel’s natural beauty is a major attraction that draws tourists from across the world. The verdant terrain earns the island the nickname of Ilha Verde or Green Island. The pictorial scenery here also boasts dramatic Atlantic coastline and quaint towns.

Ponta Delgada , the capital of the island, oozes urban European charm from its balconied mansions and city squares. Apart from its stunning landscape, the island is also famous for its eclectic gastronomy and adrenaline-pumping activities.

If you are wondering what there is to see and do in Sao Miguel , this article will give you a good overview of the very best activities and places to see on the island. From the most spectacular scenery, jaw-dropping viewpoints, to charming little towns, best hikes, hot springs, and more – Sao Miguel has something to offer for every type of traveler.

To put it simply, there are lots of really nice things to do in São Miguel. So whether you are hoping to enjoy a relaxing seaside vacation, go on an adventurous expedition, or both, you’ll find plenty of options. Read on!

Sao Miguel Island, the Azores

TIP: While still relatively small, Sao Miguel is the only Azores Island where it might make sense to stay at two different locations for sightseeing – east and west. But you can also choose one central location and explore the island from there.

Unless you stay in the capital city (Ponta Delgada) and take organized tours everywhere, you’ll also need to rent a car. Here you can find the best deals for car rental . You can find more practical tips at the bottom of this article.

To help you plan your trip and get a better idea of where everything is, we also included a map of the best things to do in Sao Miguel . Find out!

Good to know: Because our first trip to the Azores dates was quite a few years ago, this post was written with the help of my friends Sylvia and Kris from WapitiTravel who recently visited the Azores Islands and agreed to share their best tips with our readers. In the meantime, we have re-visited the Azores, spent several weeks on Sao Miguel Island, and have updated this article with even more up-to-date tips and our personal experiences as well.

How to use this map:  Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.

These are the best things to Do in São Miguel:

1. Sete Cidades Lakes

Lagoa das Sete Cidades in the Western part of the island is one of the must-see places in São Miguel. It is known for the legendary Blue and Green lakes ( Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde ), two of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal.

There are several breathtaking viewpoints on Sete Cidades to enjoy the unforgettable views of the twin lakes. We recommend that you check out at least two of them, Miradouro da Boca do Inferno and Miradouro da Vista Do Rei . More information below.

In addition, there are several really nice hikes in this area, but most of them require about 2-3 hours. If you have the time, we recommend the Sete Cidades Crater hike – one of the best experiences in this area! You can find more information about this hike further down in this article, together with some other nice hikes in Sao Miguel.

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno at Sete Cidades - one of the best things to do in Sao Miguel

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno

Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) is one of the best viewpoints at Sete Cidades. Perched 1000m above the sea level, it offers a breathtaking view of the two lakes. This is also the only viewpoint that’s not located directly along the road, so you’ll need to make a (small) effort to get there.

The hike to Miradouro Boca do Inferno starts at the small parking area at Miradouro da Lagoa do Canário, about 5-minute drive east from the junction on Route EN9-1A (see map ).

There are signposts for Lagoa do Canario and an iron gate to walk through. Reaching the scenic viewpoint takes only 15 minutes from here. Absolutely worth the short hike.

Sete Cidades - must see in Sao Miguel in the Azores

Miradouro da Vista Do Rei

Another popular viewpoint that tourists root for is Vista Do Rei , aka the Kings’ View. (See the featured image at the top of this article as well).

It is conveniently located just a few steps from an abandoned Monte Palace Hotel. Vista Do Rei is also the easiest São Miguel attraction to reach without having to walk much. You can drive all the way to the top.

Note that on busy days, parking can be hard to find here. In high season, the best way to avoid parking problems is to arrive before 9 AM. But because they now only allow 20-minutes parking at the viewpoint, the wait isn’t that long (if any). For those who want to spend more time in this area, there’s another long-term parking’ a bit further down the road.

Miradouro Vista do Rei viewpoint - one of the most famous views in Sao Miguel Azores

Lagoa de Santiago & more

In addition, in the same area, Miradouro do Cerrado das Freiras offers great views of the two lakes.

The nearby Miradouro da Lagoa de Santiago is also not to be missed – see the picture below.

And even though the scenery of the green Santiago Lake is not comparable to the view over the twin lakes, it’s well worth a quick stop.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Sete Cidades

Miradouro da Lagoa de Santiago in Sao Miguel, the Azores

2. Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is the capital city of the Azores and is not to be missed when visiting São Miguel Island. You don’t need much time for the city and can easily stroll through the center and have dinner in town in the evening after visiting the natural attractions of Sao Miguel during the day. On the other hand, if you want to see most of the sights, count at least half a day.

A former fishing village, Ponta Delgada grew in the 17-18th centuries. That’s also when most of its convents and churches were built. It is now quite a bustling city with a nice atmosphere.

Don’t miss Portas da Cidade (the City Gates) and some of its churches ( Igreja de São Sebastião , the Igreja de São Pedro , Igreja São José , and the Convent and Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Esperança ). A visit to the old fortress Forte de São Brás , now a Military Museum, is also one of the ‘musts’, just as a walk on the waterfront promenade in the city center .

If you want to buy some local fruit or souvenirs, check out Mercado da Graça , a farmers market in the city center, and also the Azorean Pineapple Plantation (a bit outside of the center).

If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the old town, check out Jose do Canto Garden , a botanical garden with very impressive huge trees. The adjacent Palace of Sant’Ana and its gardens are well worth a quick visit as well. Also an underground cave Gruta do Carvão is well worth a visit (more info about this lava cave further below).

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Ponta Delgada

Best things to do in Sao Miguel - Ponta Delgada

Furnas is one of the main towns of Sao Miguel and one of the most popular areas to visit with an organized day tour from Ponta Delgada . It’s just about 45 km/ 40 minutes drive east from the capital city.

This 200-year old tourist destination is home to some of the best places to visit in São Miguel. Here is a link to a complete guide to visiting Furnas and below, you can find a short overview of some of the best things to do in Furnas :

Terra Nostra Garden

Located in Furnas Valley, Parque Terra Nostra is a Romantic-style historic garden dating from 1775. Today, the site is home to the historic Terra Nostra Garden Hotel (built in 1935 and recently renovated), botanical gardens, and an inviting thermal spa. Further below, you can find more information about the Terra Nostra Hot Springs . But first, more information about the park.

The park is set in an incredible location, a dormant volcanic crater. The park also boasts its very own microclimate. The temperature here remains mild the whole year round: 10-16°C in winter and 20-25°C in summer.

There are two zones to saunter across: the upper zone with footpaths through dense woods, and the lower zone wedged between the Amarela stream and the Serpentina Lake. The highlights of this historic European garden are the avenues of palm trees and the many thematic gardens.

For several centuries, exploring the Terra Nostra Gardens and swimming in its hot pools has been considered one of the very best things to do in São Miguel. This place is not to be missed when visiting the Azores!

Parque Terra Nostra in Sao Miguel, the Azores

Lagoa das Furnas

Lagoa das Furnas is one of the three main lakes of São Miguel. It is famous for its hot sand found near the lakeside hot springs and for the Cozido stew. This local dish is slow-cooked in pots in underground ovens.

You may get lucky and see locals cooking Cozido in the geysers next to the lake.

Lake Furnas may lack the dramatic views of the lakes of Sete Cidades, but it oozes tranquility. There are walking paths and you can also hike all around the lake (an easy flat hike of about 2 hours).

If you walk all the way around the lake, you can also visit Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias and its beautiful gardens – more info further below.

Furnas Lake on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores

Caldeiras das Furnas & Fumaroles

Caldeiras das Furnas , aka Caldeiras Vulcânicas are hot springs and mud springs in the same volcanic complex as Furnas Lake. They are located closer to the town center and are not to be confused with the geothermal area at the lake.

The Fumaroles are the volcanic holes that were created underground to make the traditional Portuguese stew. You can taste it in the restaurants dotting the village.

TIP: You’ll see locals selling steamed corn here. It’s steamed under the ground in this area. Give it a try – it’s absolutely delicious.

Caldeiras Lagoa Das Furnas in Sao Miguel

Cozido das Furnas

The Cozido das Furnas is a unique local dish in the Furnas area. It’s cooked for about 5 hours on the hot springs or steaming Fumaroles of Furnas village. You really have to try it when visiting Sao Miguel!

Cozido stew is already quite unique because it’s prepared underground, but it also has a very distinctive taste due to the liquid used to cook it (juices from a mix of ingredients like meat, carrots, kale, Chouriço, and pork).

The best restaurant to try Cozido in Furnas is Restaurante Tonys. Be sure to make advance reservations and mention that you will be having the Cozido.

Cozido das Furnas - traditional meal in Furnas Sao Miguel Azores

Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias

Situated on Furnas Lake’s south shore, Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias is a 19th-century church. It’s a beautiful example of neo-Gothic architecture.

Inside the fairytale facade, it boasts wooden décor and Fauve stained-glass windows. Built by José do Canto, a botany and literary enthusiast, this little church is all about storybook charm and pictorial setting. There is a garden and you can also walk to a very nice waterfall here as well.

Good to know: You can see the church from the road. It doesn’t require much time to visit it, so make sure to stop when passing by. If you want to take a closer look, there is a small entrance fee of a few euros. It includes a visit to the gardens and you can also walk to the most beautiful waterfall – a true hidden gem of Furnas.

Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitorias, Furnas, Sao Miguel

4. Lagoa do Fogo

Located in the heart of the island, Lagoa do Fogo is among the most picturesque lakes in São Miguel. Set within the Água de Pau Massif stratovolcano, it’s a jaw-dropping natural wonder.

This lake is a vivid mixture of bright-green pasture-ringed mountains and sapphire waters set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean in the distance. This nature reserve is also a hub for various endemic plants and a variety of birds. The cliffs are ringed with hiking trails, allowing wayfarers to wander through the area’s dense foliage.

You can enjoy the Atlantic-reaching views from the 700 meters-high viewpoint, Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo . From here you can also descend to the lake; it takes about 15-20 minutes one way. Hikers can also venture down via the Praia – Lagoa do Fogo trail to the southern shore of this crater lake.

Lagoa do Fogo - one of the most beautiful lakes on Sao Miguel island in the Azores

5. Hot Springs of São Miguel

In addition to being a paradise of grass-covered cliffs, floral meadows, and coves, São Miguel is also home to many thermal swimming pools . No trip to Sao Miguel would be complete without going for a swim or a relaxing dip in its hot springs!

Below, you can find more information about the 4 most popular hot springs in Sao Miguel . They are located in three different locations around the island, so you can easily visit a couple of them on different days, in combination with sightseeing in the area. Not to be missed!

TIP: Make sure to pack your swimwear and a quick-drying travel towel when driving around Sao Miguel. That way, you can easily visit a few of the hot pools during your trip without having to plan much in advance.

Terra Nostra Hot Springs

Terra Nostra Hot Springs is located in Furnas (see above). This place is a dream of every bon vivant – relaxing thermal waters surrounded by an exotic garden.

As already mentioned above, the site comprises the historic Terra Nostra Garden Hotel , botanical gardens, and several hot pools. You can soak in the main thermal pool or two smaller secondary pools.

The main pool was built in the 1700s and expanded in 1935. It is filled with unclean-looking brownish water. However, this color has nothing to do with its cleanliness; it is just because of large iron and mineral deposits.

Both pools offer tepid water straggling between 35-40°C (95-105°F). Soaking in the warm water in a tropical setting will soothe your muscles and re-energize your body. The pool is so big that it’s easy to swim around and relax without worrying about the crowds.

TIP: The water here will color your skin and swimwear, so be sure to wear the oldest darkest swimsuit you have, and don’t bring light towels with you! Be sure to take a very good shower as soon as you can afterwards!

Good to know: The garden is open daily, but only during the day (+-10 to 6 PM maximum, depending on the season). Facilities like towels and lockers are available for rent at an extra cost.

Terra Nostra Hot Springs is one of the best things to do in Sao Miguel

Poça da Dona Beija

Located a little outside the center of the charming town of Furnas, Poca da Dona Beija is a set of five thermal pools. They all have different water temperatures ranging between 25-39°C (77-102 °F). So no matter your preference, you’ll always find a nice pool perfect for a relaxing soak.

Furthermore, these pools sit in a jungle-like setting. You will completely forget that you’re still within the outskirts of Furnas, making the whole experience even more refreshing.

However, due to its beautiful and quiet location, the pool remains crowded almost all year round. Of all the hot springs of São Miguel, this is among the most popular choices for tourists and locals alike. It’s especially busy during the summer season.

Good to know: Poca da Dona Beija is open daily from 7 AM to 11 PM. Towels and lockers are available at extra cost.

TIP: For the most special experience, come here when it’s colder outside! It’s a great place to visit on a late summer evening (the pools are nicely lit) or in the colder season.

Poca da Dona Beija geothermal pool in Furnas Azores

Caldeira Velha

Located in the Fogo Volcanic Complex in the center of the island, Caldeira Velha hot springs boast a picturesque setting with a waterfall in the backdrop.

Entering the Caldeira Velha Park is like entering a wild, Jurassic jungle. Its untamed natural beauty elevates the experience of bathing in a natural hot spring. All the thermal pools in the park are stone-walled with dense foliage.

While there are several smaller pools with water temperatures of 37-39°C (98-102°F), the highlight of the area remains the waterfall pool at the end of the park. This big hot spring stays at a much cooler, but still comfortable temperature of 20-25°C (68-77°F). It is also deeper but less crowded than the hotter and shallower pools.

Good to know: Caldeira Velha is open from around 9-9.30 AM and hours vary depending on the season. Parking here is often congested and they strictly enforce maximum capacity, so you often have to wait a long time to get in.

TIP: If you want to avoid having to wait (1.5-2 hours waiting time is common), you may want to arrive very early in the morning before they even open. Visiting during weekdays is a bit quieter because the place is very popular with locals and even more busy on the weekends.

Caldeira Velha hot springs in Sao Miguel, the Azores

Ponta da Ferraria

Ponta Da Ferraria natural swimming pool is a small cove tucked on the western tip of the island. Located right at the beach, this is the most natural hot pool experience in Sao Miguel. This is also the only hot spring in the Sete Cidades volcanic complex.

The water in this thermal pool is heated by the surrounding lava rock cliffs and the geothermal natural spring beneath. It is important to be cautious at low tide since certain spots can get super-hot when not mixed with cold water from the sea. The water temperature here typically ranges between a chilly 18°C (64°F) and a more enjoyable 30°C (86°F).

Entry to the ocean is free, making it an excellent option for nature lovers and shoestring travelers. In high season, there’s a lifeguard on duty.

Good to know: Ponta da Ferraria also has a swimming pool with a spa and a restaurant – Termas da Ferraria. However, it looks like the spa and the pool have been abandoned for a while.

Ponta da Ferraria, Sao Miguel, the Azores

6. Whale Watching

The Azores is a great place to see whales! Whale watching is, therefore, a very popular activity in São Miguel. Several tour companies arrange boat tours to the Atlantic Ocean to help you get closer to the wild, marine life.

When you are surrounded by whales, dolphins, and/or turtles all around you, it is easy to understand why whale-watching excursions are among the most popular things to do in São Miguel. On some tours , you can even swim with the dolphins! Whether you are a nature lover or an intrepid adventurer, this Azores attraction will never disappoint.

Good to know: Whale watching tours leave from various locations on the island and typically last about 3 hours. It’s worth remembering that there is no guarantee that you will spot a whale. But don’t let that stop you from hopping on the boat. Often, you’ll see dolphins and other marine animals as well.

TIP: On our most recent trip to Sao Miguel, we took this whale-watching tour by speedboat and it was great. In addition to doing their best to spot whales and dolphins (we saw dozens of them!), this tour also circles around the Princess Ring Islet of Vila Franca do Campo, which is one of the most unique places to see in the Azores! You can find more info about it further below.

Whale watching is one of the best things to do in Sao Miguel in the Azores

7. Farol do Arnel

The oldest lighthouse in São Miguel, Farol Ponta do Arnel , is also the oldest lighthouse in the Azores. Arnel Lighthouse started operating in 1876. Today, it stands erect as a symbol of modernization in the county.

Pegged on the Nordeste coastline on the East coast of Sao Miguel, this cliff-hugging landmark is reachable via a steep road known for its beautiful views. This strategic location makes it a brilliant vantage point to enjoy far-reaching views of the ocean, the sunrise, and the sunset.

TIP: Just below the lighthouse is a small port with a small creek behind it. Follow the stream of the waterfall to reach the shore. Lined with small fish boats, it is a serene place to watch the rough surf crash against the rocky cliff. On the way back to the lighthouse, you will get a glimpse of the east coast and yet another brook that runs directly into the ocean.

Good to know: The road down to the lighthouse is extremely steep and has several very narrow hairpin turns. It’s really not a good idea to drive down this road unless you have a very short and powerful car. Instead, you can leave your car at the designated parking at the top and walk down to the lighthouse.

On the other hand, the walk back up is really tiring (especially when it’s hot), and quite frankly – the best views are from the top and not at the lighthouse itself. So you can just stop to admire the views from one of the two viewpoints on top – Miradouro da Ponta do Arnel and Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos.

TIP: The best view – as in the picture below – can be seen from Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos (Boats Viewpoint).

Farol do Arnel lighthouse - one of the best places to see in Sao Miguel, the Azores

8. Ponta do Sossego Viewpoint and Gardens

Spanned across 13,000m 2 in a quiet valley of Nordeste, Ponta Do Sossego is a stunning lookout point along the Eastern coast of Sao Miguel. This is a great place to enjoy unhindered views of the ocean. You can admire the scenery from three different viewpoints. But there is more to Ponta do Sossego than just the views; there is also a beautiful garden here.

The expansive green terrain of this cliff-top garden is distributed in terraces perched at different heights. Carefully manicured gardens, well-trimmed shrubs, and mossy grounds look even more beautiful in combination with unfettered panoramas of the Atlantic.

This paradisiac site includes a variety of beautiful flowers like hydrangeas, adorable cats, pleasant picnic spots, and laybys with views. Come early in the morning to hear the chirping of the birds.

Ponta Do Sossego is a locals’ favorite and a popular BBQ spot. So it can get busy during weekends. However, the parking area is quite large, so there should be no problem securing a place for your car.

Ponta do Sossego Viewpoint - one of the best things to do in Sao Miguel in Azores, Portugal

9. Ponta da Madrugada Viewpoint

Located just a 5-minute drive from Ponta Do Sossego, on the eastern tip of the island, Ponta da Madrugada is yet another jaw-dropping viewpoint.

While most tourists and locals go to the above-mentioned Ponta do Sossego for better views and more beautiful gardens, the Viewpoint of Ponta da Madrugada offers similar views and fewer crowds. Furthermore, there are bathroom facilities here and also picnic tables made of volcanic rock.

Compared to the well-trimmed grasslands of the Sossego, Madrugada has more forest feeling with wild trees, untrimmed shrubs, and rugged landscape. Both places are home to many laid-back feral cats who may want to share your picnic…

Also known as the Day-Break Side of the island, this is also a great lookout to watch the sunrise in Sao Miguel. Keen photographers would want to come back during dusk to shoot sunset as well.

Ponta da Madrugada in Sao Miguel

10. Nossa Senhora da Paz Chapel

Nossa Senhora da Paz (Our Lady of Peace Chapel) is a mix of impressive, glorious architecture and a strategic location offering a great vantage point over Vila Franca do Campo town and the Atlantic Ocean. This legendary landmark of São Miguel is pegged on a steep slope of the southern coast of the island.

According to folklore, the church was built in 1764 when a group of shepherds saw an image of the Virgin Mary in the cave where the edifice is now located.

The unique whitewashed facade sets it apart from all historic European churches on the island. Colorful hydrangeas line this pristine architecture to create an even lovelier picture.

However, there’s more to the church than what’s inside of it. Nestled on a ridge that lords the town and set in a verdant scenery of rolling hills, this São Miguel point of interest also offers dumbfounding views of the countryside.

Good to know: You can drive all the way up here from Vila Franca do Campo, but the road is very ‘local’ and quite narrow. The views from the parking lot at the foot of the chapel are amazing and you can see the Islet of Vila Franca from here as well.

Nossa Senhora da Paz - Our Lady of Peace Chapel in Sao Miguel

11. Gorreana Tea Plantation

There is no shortage of natural attractions in São Miguel. One such green retreat on the island is the family-run, 19th-century Plantacoes de Cha Gorreana . It’s located about 25 km from Lagoa do Fogo, in the Ribeira Grande municipality. Gorreana Tea Plantation is the oldest and currently one of only a handful of tea plantations remaining in Europe.

Sauntering in the estate is a serene experience and a great thing to do along the north coast of São Miguel. Teetotalers and greenery lovers will love to ramble around in the green tea fields. Self-guided factory tours help visitors learn about the routine of processing the tea. The workers are very friendly and even try to make time to answer questions of curious travelers.

Good to know: There’s a café on-site where you can enjoy freshly brewed tea. There is also a gift shop where you can buy tea and souvenirs. The factory is open daily, from 9 AM to 6 PM. More information on their website .

TIP: For the best experience, visit during weekdays when the factory is operating – that way you get to see how everything works.

Gorreana Tea Plantation - one of the best places to visit in Sao Miguel

12. Pineapple Plantations

Sao Miguel has always been known for its exotic fruit. Nowadays, one of the most popular fruit that grows on the island is pineapple . You’ll be able to taste Azorean pineapple everywhere on the island – from the breakfast buffet at your hotel restaurant to shops and markets, and also as dessert at the local restaurants.

In addition, you can also visit several pineapple plantations in Sao Miguel, where you can see how the fruit is grown and learn more about it.

There are several pineapple plantations that are open to visitors, most in Ponta Delgada. The Azorean Pineapple Plantation (Plantação de Ananás dos Açores) is one of the biggest ones and it’s closest to the city center. Alternatively, check out Plantação Ananases A Arruda , a historic pineapple plantation just at the outskirts of Ponta Delgada. And there are several others…

The entrance to these pineapple plantations is usually free of charge, and you also get to taste some pineapple jam or pineapple liqueur. And, of course, you can buy pineapple and all kinds of souvenirs to take home with you.

Best things to do in Sao Miguel - visit pineapple plantation

13. Gruta do Carvão

Gruta do Carvão or Grotto of Coal is a lava cave complex. This is one of the most unusual sights and a very popular place to visit in Ponta Delgado. Since it’s indoors, it’s also a good choice when looking for things to do in Sao Miguel when it rains.

The Gruta is located on the outskirts of Ponta Delgada. It is the largest lava tube on the lush island that extends for 1,650 meters. Older documents and fieldwork suggest that the tunnel could originally have been as long as 5 km. According to the studies, streams and rivers of lava once flowed through this underground grotto.

This great geographical aspect of São Miguel also boasts unique structures such as the gas bubbles and dramatic stalactites, some with solidified lava drops.

Practical information: Gruta do Carvão lava caves can only be visited with a guide. They run several short tours a day, but it’s best to book in advance. If you have more time and want to explore deeper, there are longer tours available as well (these must be booked upfront). More information on their website .

Gruta do Carvao - one of the best things to do in Ponta Delgada

14. Best Beaches in São Miguel

No list of the best things to do in Sao Miguel would be complete without mentioning its beaches . They typically span along the north and south coasts.

The north coast experiences a powerful swell and is ideal for surfing and bodyboarding. Being milder, the south coast is perfect for gentle swims and is more loved by families.

São Miguel is a cluster of more than 20 volcanic, black sand beaches of different sizes. Of those 20, we selected 4 best beaches in São Miguel that are worth visiting the most. Take a look!

Praia dos Mosteiros

Perhaps, there is no better sunset beach on the island than Mosteiros Beach , located in the small Mosteiros town, about a 45-minute drive northwest of Ponta Delgada.

Praia dos Mosteiros is very picturesque, with dramatic rock formations that emerge from the ocean. Apart from its unhindered views of the sunset and the ocean, the beach is also famous for its super-dark black volcanic sand. The stunning landscape here is a great backdrop for photographs!

Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara

The beaches of Azores differ greatly from being very mild to mighty. Praia de Santa Barbara falls in the latter category. With its enormous surfs, this is a great Sao Miguel beach for surfers and bodyboarders. At the beach, there is a surf school where you can rent equipment or get surfing lessons.

Praia de Santa Barbara is also among the best beaches of São Miguel where you can go for a long walk, enjoy the scenery, or simply grab a bite at its Tuká Tulá café. There’s also a beach bar and an Asian restaurant.

Praia De Santa Barbara in Sao Miguel

Praia de Água D’Alto

Água D’Alto Beach is also brimming with gastronomical options, including a popular beach café with a surf-n-turf menu. It is also among the best family-friendly beaches in the Azores with facilities like showers, toilets, and a big car parking.

Being a spacious stretch of sand, Praia de Agua D’alto is a great beach for families with young children. Plenty of space to run around and build sandcastles.

Enclosed by high rocky cliffs, the water here stays calm and is perfect for swimming. However, note that the beach tends to get busy during the summer, resulting in limited vacant places in the parking lot.

Praia do Fogo

Fogo Beach is located 7 km south of Furnas village. Wrapped in tree-cloaked mountains, this beautiful beach boasts a serene setting perfect for picnicking or spending a leisurely day. If you are hoping to go on long swims, deep diving, or tanning, then look no further than Praia do Fogo .

Travelers with kids will love this beach too. With calm and shallow waters, this is among the most kid-safe beaches in the Azores. Plus, the water here is lukewarm because of the underground hot springs.

Praia do Fogo in Ribeira Quente in Sao Miguel, the Azores

15. Islet of Vila Franca do Campo

If you are looking for a more unique beach experience and want to see some jaw-dropping scenery, you may want to visit the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo . Located just off the south shore of Sao Miguel, it is like no other beach in the Azores! That’s also why we listed it separately – because it’s well worth a visit even if you’re not a beach lover.

Created by a volcanic eruption of an old underwater volcano, the Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is a very unique place, one-of-a-kind landscape. The islet is set in a perfectly circular crater, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and sapphire water of the ocean.

In addition to its unique landscape, Vila Franca Islet is also known for its variety of bird species, rich marine life, and towering cliffs with thick endemic vegetation. Amid these cliffs is calm water perfect for leisurely swimming, cliff diving, and recreational snorkeling.

The islet was made popular when the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Championship was held here. Today, it is a bustling bolthole that is busy all year round, especially popular with locals.

TIP: You can visit this beautiful beach in combination with a whale watching tour from Ponta Delgada. Or you can just take a boat to the islet from Vila Franca do Campo harbor, spend some time on the island, and return when you had enough. Boats run regularly and cost about 10 euros round-trip (kids free of charge).

Good to know: If you are not interested in swimming or snorkeling, there’s actually not that much to do on the islet… There’s a walking path towards the top, but it’s usually closed due to nesting birds, and the amazing aerial view is much more special in all the drone pictures than what you see on the island itself. You can walk around a bit, watch the waves and the birds, and take the next boat back. It’s something nice to do if you have an hour or two to spare, but don’t feel like you absolutely have to go to the island itself.

TIP: The islet is actually nicer when seen from a distance (e.g. from the viewpoint at Nossa Senhora da Paz Chapel) or from the boat. We took this whale watching tour that also circles this islet and it was much more impressive than visiting the islet itself.

Islet Vila Franca do Campo in Sao Miguel Azores

16. Hiking in São Miguel

Sao Miguel is called the ‘Green Island’ because of its lush mountainous landscape. Hiking is, therefore, one of the best outdoor activities in São Miguel.

Every trail flaunts patches of trees, patchwork fields, valleys of streams, and/or occasional waterfalls. Make your hiking adventure unforgettable by taking at least one of the hiking trails. Below are just a few of our favorites, but there are so many more amazing hikes in Sao Miguel!

Sete Cidades Caldera Hike

  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Distance: 11.8 km

The Sete Cidades Caldera hike (PRC04 SMI) is one of the most beautiful hikes in Sao Miguel! It takes you along the caldera of the famous Sete Cidades with jaw-dropping views of the lakes and the sea during the entire hike.

Good to know: This hike is a one-way hike that can be done as a loop, but that would make it about twice as long. The best way to do this is by leaving your car at the start of the hike at the parking of Aqueduto Muro das Nove Janeas, and then take a taxi from the Sete Cidades village back.

TIP: If you don’t feel like arranging the transportation by yourself, you can also do this hike with this organized tour from Ponta Delgada. They take care of transportation, lunch, and even provide a hiking pole. The tour also includes a stop at the natural hot pool by the ocean in Ferraria (mentioned higher above), so pack your swimwear and a towel.

Another option is to rent an electric mountain bike and explore this same route by bike. Going by e-bike, you can easily do an entire loop (and see other amazing places in the area) in just a few hours. They also provide a GPS with a recorded audio tour covering all the best sights, so you don’t have to worry about losing your way. We couldn’t do this because our youngest kids were too small for the bikes, but otherwise, it’s one of the best ways to explore the Sete Cidades area.

Best things to do in Sao Miguel - hiking at Sete Cidades

Praia – Lagoa do Fogo Hike

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Distance: 11 km

The Lagoa do Fogo, or Lake of Fire, trail (PRC2SMI) is an 11km linear roundtrip trail that takes you to the shore of the eponymous crater lake.

Good to know: Lagoa do Fogo is located in the center of the island, but the trailhead of this hike can be found along the south coast. We indicated it on our map at the top of the article.

The trail begins on a dirt road. It then winds through farming lands, pastures, ruins of an ancient fiber-producing factory, and traverses a dam to enter the valley of Ribeira da Praia.

TIP: You can also do this hike with this tour . So it’s possible even if you don’t have a car or don’t feel like navigating the map yourself (although all the trails in the Azores are really well indicated). Or – if you just want to see the lake from above – drive to one of the viewpoints on top and potentially hike down to the lake from Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo.

Best thing to do in Sao Miguel island in the Azores - Lagoa do Fogo

Faial da Terra – Salto do Prego

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Distance: 4.5 km

The Salto do Prego (PRC9SMI) is a 4.5km circular hiking trail that starts near the bus stop of Faial da Terra, located on the far southeastern side of the island.

Along the trail, you will come across beautiful orchards, thick rainforest vegetation, small family farms, and a bridge over a stream that takes you to the base of the Salto do Prego waterfall (more info below).

This hike also passes an old village of Sanguinho . Previously abandoned, now under restoration, a visit to this village gives you a unique perspective into what life is like in this remote part of the island.

Faial da Terra Salto do Prego hiking trail

17. Waterfalls

If you love waterfalls, São Miguel will not disappoint. Here are some of the most beautiful waterfalls to check out on the island:

Salto do Cabrito Waterfall

Streaming in Ribeira Grande, 20km northwest from Ponta Delgada, Salto do Cabrito embellishes the hiking trail PRC29SMI. But also if you are not interested in hiking, you can simply drive down almost all the way to this waterfall. The road is a bit bumpy at first and very steep afterwards, but the steep part is in very good condition, and so easily doable in a regular car.

Next to the waterfall, there are stairs leading to a metal path on a water pipe. This bridge can feel scary for those with a fear of heights but too tempting for thrill-seekers.

TIP: In summer, you can go swimming here. The water isn’t very warm, but also not so cold that you couldn’t enjoy it. It’s a perfect place to cool off after all the exploring and hiking!

Salto do Cabrito waterfall in Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal

Salto do Prego Waterfall

Salto do Prego is found on the Faial da Terra – Salto do Prego hiking trail (mentioned higher above). The trail to the waterfall is steep but not too difficult. It’s a pleasant hike of 45-60 min one way and full of stunning views.

The waterfall itself is one of the most beautiful on the island. It boasts eye-popping hues of turquoise, green, and blue.

You can plunge in its cold water – and yes, it’s very cold here, even in summer. So if you are planning to go swimming here, be sure to wear your swimming clothes as you hike and jump in as soon as you arrive – you’ll be warm after all the uphill hiking when you get here, but you’ll soon cool off in the shadow of the forest at the falls and won’t feel like swimming anymore…

Best things to do in Sao Miguel the Azores - Salto do Prego waterfall

Waterfalls in Parque Natural dos Caldeirões

Located on the north coast, Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões is a small beautifully maintained park that is home to several old water mills and two magnificent waterfalls. The falls are just 600 m apart and easy to reach via well-kept walking paths.

The first waterfall is the main attraction that gushes its way down from a tree-clung cliff. The second one is housed in a meadow-like setting, that is different but equally picturesque.

The park is free to visit. There are a little gift shop, bathroom facilities, and a small café here as well.

Cascata Ribeira dos Caldeiroes waterfall in the Azores

18. Adventure Tours & Fun Outdoor Activities

When looking for the best things to do in Sao Miguel, check out the big variety of fun outdoor activities and adventurous tours on the island. From e-biking, kayaking, quad tours, to canyoning and rappelling , you’ll find plenty to do in the Azores!

Most of these activities are quite easy and could be classified as soft-adventure. Most tours are family-friendly and we even saw a group of 75+’s in their canyoning gear. So there truly is something for everyone!

Here are some of the best outdoor experiences in Sao Miguel:

  • Caldeirões Canyoning Experience (age 10-99).
  • ATV Quad Tour at Sete Cidades (a valid driver’s license obligatory for the person driving the quad).
  • Kayak Rental & Tours (all ages).
  • Rent an Electric Mountain Bike at Sete Cidades (from 155cm (5ft 1)).

Canyoning tour in Sao Miguel Azores

Practical Tips for Visiting São Miguel

How much time do you need.

São Miguel is the biggest island in the Azores with a long list of really nice places to visit. With so many extraordinary things to do in São Miguel, it is best to plan enough time on the island. As a minimum, you need 3-4 days in Sao Miguel . That will give you just enough time to see all the ‘musts’.

However, we suggest staying for at least a week in Sao Miguel to explore both, Eastern as well as Western sides of the island. That way, you will have 3 days to spread equally about both sides of the island and still be left with one day to ensure laid-back arrival and relaxed departure.

Guide to Sao Miguel island in the Azores

Where to stay

Where to stay in São Miguel depends on how much time you have, whether you are planning to rent a car, and if you prefer to stay in one place or choose two different bases for exploring the island.

With great bus facilities, taxis, tours, and rental cars on the island, you can easily stay in one place and make day trips from there. It will result in some extra travel time (getting across the island takes approximately one hour), but it will save you from having to pack and relocate.

Good to know: If you have a car , you can choose any centrally located accommodation in the middle of the southern or northern coast. Just make sure that your accommodation has easy parking – it’s really a must! If you are not renting a car or want to take many tours, then Ponta Delgada is the best place to be.

If you have about a week and prefer to stay in two different locations , we suggest spending 3-4 days in the east, and 3-4 days in the west. For the eastern side, we recommend Furnas ( Terra Nostra Garden Hotel is a great choice there). Whereas Ponta Delgada town or the Ribeira Grande area is a good base for the western part.

Recommendation based on our personal experience: For a longer vacation in Sao Miguel, stay at one of the beautiful seaside resorts with a good central location. On the northern coast, we once spent more than a week at Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa . On another trip, we stayed for 5 nights in Caloura Hotel Resort on the southern coast.

Both are excellent places to stay, with amazing sea views, easy parking, great facilities, and a very good central location for sightseeing. Another really nice and highly-rated resort on the south coast is Pestana Bahia Praia Nature & Beach Resort .

For more information and hotel suggestions, please check our complete guide to Sao Miguel accommodations via the link below!

LEARN MORE: Where to Stay in Sao Miguel

View at Caloura Hotel Resort - a great place to stay in Sao Miguel

Is São Miguel worth it?

São Miguel is one of the most beautiful islands to visit in the Azores and yes, it’s absolutely worth a trip! It has a great mix of adventurous activities like hiking and whale watching, relaxing beaches, thermal pools, and stunning pristine nature. Dotted with specialty local eateries, one-of-a-kind European charm, and centuries-old landmarks, this stunning island offers a lot to see and do.

Besides the natural essence, São Miguel also boasts modern facilities like treatment-laden spas, picnic facilities and public bathrooms at viewpoints, housed baths on beaches, and beautiful resorts in romantic-style gardens.

In a nutshell, this Atlantic-locked paradise is a lovely vacation spot for all kinds of travelers. Its unique ability to turn from romantic to adventurous and vice versa makes Sao Miguel a perfect vacation spot for honeymooners, thrill-chasers, backpackers, and holidaymakers alike. You’ll find plenty of great things to do in São Miguel and only wish you had stayed longer…

Hydrangeas on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Sao Miguel and other Azores Islands is in summer, between June and August. These are the driest months of the year. But this is also the most popular time and flights and accommodations are really expensive.

May and September – October are a bit of the shoulder months and can also be really nice, with fewer crowds and better deals. In any case, you should always pack layers and be prepared for changeable weather.

Because of the rather mild weather, the Azores can be visited the whole year round. If you don’t mind somewhat more unpredictable weather and are looking for fewer crowds, you can easily visit the islands in the lower season as well. Even in winter, the temperatures are comfortable, with an average of 12-19°C (54-66°F).

Getting to Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel is the main island of the Azores with direct flights to many international destinations , especially in the high summer season.

You can fly to Sao Miguel directly from many European countries, from Madeira, but also from the USA. There are direct flights from Boston and United just announced a new route from NY Newark Airport as well. And if you don’t find a direct flight, you can always get here via Lisbon as well.

Good to know: By far the best airline for traveling to the Azores is TAP Air Portugal . It has the best connections and the biggest offer of flights in all seasons.

So, this is our guide to the very best things to do in Sao Miguel. Just compiling this article and going through the pictures of our first trip, I felt very tempted to go back and explore deeper, and we actually did. As I’m updating this article, we have just returned from a two-week vacation in Sao Miguel, and it was just as great as the first time.

So I hope that you feel the same way and that we inspired you to visit this gem of the Atlantic! I also hope that our tips will help you to have a truly memorable trip to Sao Miguel in the Azores.

TIP: If you are also planning to visit other places in Portugal during this trip, check out our Portugal travel guide . Alternatively, take a look at the small selection of articles highlighted below.

More tips for your trip to mainland Portugal:

  • Best Towns in Portugal
  • Portugal Itinerary: Lisbon to Porto
  • Best Things to Do in Lisbon
  • One Day in Lisbon
  • Best Things to Do in Sintra
  • Best Day Trips from Lisbon
  • What It’s Like to Visit Portugal in April
  • Sintra Itinerary & Visit Info
  • Nazaré
  • Portugal with Kids
  • Top Places to Visit in Algarve
  • Algarve Itinerary
  • Best Beaches in Algarve
  • Benagil Cave
  • Ponta da Piedade
  • Best Towns in Algarve
  • Seven Hanging Valleys Hike
  • Kayaking in Algarve
  • Best Water Parks in Algarve
  • Best Things to Do in Lagos
  • Best Things to Do in Albufeira

Travel inspiration for Madeira Island, Portugal:

  • What to See in Madeira
  • Best Things To Do in Funchal, Madeira
  • Best Hikes in Madeira
  • Hidden Gems of Madeira
  • Whale Watching Madeira

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Best things to do in Sao Miguel, the Azores, Portugal

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Sunday 9th of April 2023

Exceptional good and usefully review. Wish You added coordinates of the points of interest.

Tuesday 11th of April 2023

Hi Frans, you probably missed the map at the top of this post. It has the exact locations of every place mentioned in the article (and you can easily save this map to your Google account and use it on the go). Have a great trip!

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Thanks Jurga for this informative guide, which I used to plan my Sao Miguel trip and currently spending my last few days out of 2 weeks here. Just want to mention at the Terra Nostra, no locker or shower, but changing rooms and toilet are available. They have paid locker and showers at Dona Beija. The best is Ferraria with the low tides. According to the local guides, they actually asked us NOT to shower right away after visiting the thermal pools to let the minerals sit with the skins. But yes, dark swim wears. He also said not to get the hair wet if dyed with colors. His wife is a hairdresser, so some words of wisdom! In any case, great tips!

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Thanks for sharing your experience and tips, Amy. Happy travels!

Saturday 16th of July 2022

Hi Jurga, Just wanted to thank you for this fabulous guide! I referenced it everyday and you were spot on with all your descriptions. My family and I are winding up our stay and have hit almost all of the must do’s. S. Miguel is a beautiful island! Thanks for sharing your insight! Christine

Tuesday 19th of July 2022

Thank you for your kind feedback, Christine. Glad to hear you had a great time in the Azores. Happy travels!

Monday 18th of April 2022

Hi Jurga, I am new to your blog and love how comprehensive and beautiful your posts are. I am planning 10 days in the Azores this July and I am planning on spending 5 days in San Miguel and 4 days in Pico. Is it possible to take a car ferry from San Miguel to Pico as opposed to flying? I would prefer to keep one car for the full 10 days than flying. Thank-you!

Wednesday 20th of April 2022

Hi Lesley, while it might be possible in general (but I am not even sure it is - these islands are really far away from each other), I don't think any car rental company will allow you to take a car to another island and return it there. You would have to research this, but it seems like an unnecessary nuisance - it's so much easier, simpler, and likely much cheaper to just fly between these islands. From Pico, you can visit Faial on a day trip by ferry since it's so close. We did this once in the other direction (from Faial to Pico), but even there, we didn't take a car - just booked a guided tour for a day. I would just fly and wouldn't make it more complicated than it has to be. :)

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Hi Jurga! Just wondering how easy it is to fly into the island? A few years ago we went to Madeira and it was an amazing trip but is a very tricky airport due to only having one runway into the side of the mountain. If there are high winds and the planes can’t make it in from mainland Portugal you could have your flight leaving be cancelled. It was with luck that we were able to reschedule for the next day but we paid a premium to get off the island.

Thursday 21st of October 2021

Hi Lori, I know exactly what you mean about Madeira airport. We once got stranded there as well and ended up spending the whole day at the airport before they let us leave to a hotel for a night. Not fun indeed. Madeira airport is world-known as one of the most tricky airports to land, together with places like Innsbruck in Austria. Luckily, Sao Miguel airport is much easier for pilots. I haven't heard of any common issues there. Unless there would be some serious storm, I don't think it's an issue. We have been to Sao Miguel a few times and never had any problems with flights. Fingers crossed it all goes well for you too!

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São Miguel East Van Tour

You are currently viewing São Miguel East Van Tour

  • Starts at 9:00
  • 8 people per van
  • €65 per adult, €35 per child
  • Views over Furnas lake and village
  • Observing the volcanic activity in Furnas
  • Bathing in thermal pools (optional)
  • "Cozido" stew for lunch
  • Ribeira dos Caldeirões waterfall
  • Northeast coast high cliffs

What's Included

  • Pick-up from Ponta Delgada, Lagoa or Ribeira Grande
  • Drop-off from Ponta Delgada, Lagoa or Ribeira Grande
  • Lunch (food, drink, dessert and coffee)
  • Entrance fee to the Geothermal fields of Furnas Lake (worth €3)
  • Drinking water


This tour covers the scenic highlights of the east half of São Miguel island, including Furnas, Santa Iria lookout, Ribeira dos Caldeirões waterfall and the east coast in Nordeste. Combine it with our West Tour , to see the whole island in only 2 days!

Departing from Ponta Delgada, the first stop will be the stunning Santa Iria lookout, with ample views over the north coast of the island in both directions. 

Continue to Furnas, a village built inside a volcano caldera, that provides many delights to the local inhabitants, which you’ll also have the chance to enjoy during this tour!  After a spectacular panoramic view over Furnas lake and town, descend into this magical place to experience it first hand! From observing the steamy mud pools in activity to bathing in the thermal springs (optional, not included) or watching your lunch (the famous “cozido”) being pulled from the warm volcanic soil, experiencing Furnas is something you’ll never forget!

In the afternoon, continue heading east, to the gorgeous waterfall of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, another mandatory stop of São Miguel island. Then reach Nordeste, the most forested and rural area of the island, and enjoy views of the  breathtaking high cliffs that characterize the east end of the island.

Relax with a pleasant road trip back to your hotel 

Meeting Point

Pick-up free of charge from Ponta Delgada, Lagoa and Ribeira Grande towns.  Please provide a pick-up location in one of these areas. 

Pick-ups start at 9:00 in Ponta Delgada and not before 9:20 in Ribeira Grande. Please allow some time to get to you, as we may have multiple pick-ups and you may not be the first on the list.

What to Bring

  • Warm clothes and raincoat (weather conditions change quickly in the Azores and are worse at high viewpoints)
  • Sturdy shoes (tour requires short walks on ground floor)
  • Bathing suit and towel in case you plan to do the thermal pools (entrance fee not included)

Why Book with us

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We believe sustainable tourism is what is right for the Azores, not mass tourism, therefore all our tours are run in small groups, in a peacefull and relaxed way

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Which Azores island is perfect for you?

Sandra Henriques

Apr 15, 2024 • 8 min read

tour sao miguel azores

The islands that make up the Azores each have a unique draw, from impossibly picturesque hiking trails to lively festivals © Westend61 / Getty Images

Sandra has recently returned from her native Azores, where she was researching the upcoming Pocket Azores guidebook, out in October 2024. Here she shares her local knowledge of the archipelago to help you choose the best island for your trip.

Famous for hiking trails and lagoons, inactive volcanoes and whale watching, the Azores  naturally appeal to the outdoorsy. But these islands are also rich with a unique cuisine, exceptional wines, vibrant cultural events and traditional celebrations.

The Azores keep growing in popularity as a tourist destination, but some islands remain off most travelers’ radar. Sure, a lot of this archipelago’s appeal comes from its beautiful landscapes, where nature is practically untouched yet not entirely out of reach. But the landscapes change from island to island, sometimes within the same one, which is why “seen one, seen them all” doesn’t apply here. Read on to find the perfect islands for your Azores adventure.

A narrow track leads down a lush hillside towards a gleaming white lighthouse complex, set at the top of a cliff looking over the sea

1. Santa Maria

Best island for summer festivals  

Dubbed “the sunny island” by Azoreans, summers here see plenty of glorious days of beach weather – an oddity by Azores standards. But the promise of morning-to-evening days spent soaking up the sun and the salt of the ocean isn’t the only reason why travellers flock here during the summer months. On my early morning and practically empty flight to Santa Maria, on a late-January weekday, most of my fellow passengers were locals returning home or going on a business trip.

In mid-July, the village of Anjos welcomes blues fans to the three-day festival Santa Maria Blues . Then, at the end of August, Praia Formosa becomes the epicenter and main stage of Maré de Agosto , Portugal’s oldest music festival, turning 40 in 2024.  Marienses (Santa Maria residents) certainly know how to put on a memorable show. 

Read more:  All you need to know for your first trip to the Azores

Hot spring baths set in a lush landscape with tropical plants and steam rising from the volcanically heated water.

2. São Miguel

Best island for things to do 

The largest island, São Miguel gets the most tourists and has frequent flights from various destinations two to five hours away. For many visitors it's a good compromise between spending time on a remote island but without feeling like you’re too far away from home.

Here, you can spend the morning discovering lagoons in Sete Cidades , then while away the afternoon soaking in a thermal bath heated by an underground volcano in Furnas. In the evening you can sample international cuisine and discover local artists at O Quarteirão, a neighborhood in the historic center of the island’s capital, Ponta Delgada. 

And on one of those pesky rainy days, when sightseeing goes out the window, stroll around the shopping center or catch a movie. 

Read more:  How to get the most out of the Azores without renting a car

Crowds are watching as two women dressed in period gowns stand on a float during a parade through the streets of Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, for the Sanjoaninas festivities.

3. Terceira

Best island for culture 

Terceira has a certain majestic quality – perhaps a trace of its former life as the heart of the Portuguese Kingdom. The celebration of local heritage is strong here, from the dozens of carefully kept, colorful​​​  impérios (small temples built to display symbols of the Cult of the Holy Spirit) that dot every village and town on the island, to the cobblestoned streets of Angra do Heroísmo’ s historic center, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal . 

The island has birthed notable intellectuals, artists and writers. But there is room for less highbrow cultural manifestations, including the sarcasm-riddled song and dance shows called Bailinhos during Carnaval, and the live music and street parades during Sanjoaninas  in June.

A red-roofed, Dutch-style windmill without its sails stands against a bright blue sky.

4. Graciosa

Best island to visit with family  

Graciosa is one of the least touristy islands. On the surface, the second smallest island in the archipelago seems to have little to do – by comparison with the rest, of course. But this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve doesn’t need to flaunt deep lagoons and waterfalls to get your attention. 

In half a day, you can drive around the island and hit all the must-see spots, and locals will state this fact to you. But it’s perfect if you’re traveling with younger kids who get fussy on long drives. The road trip includes spotting a whale-shaped rock off the coast, entirely molded by nature. You can even take them on an adventure, walking down a stone spiral staircase into the heart of Graciosa’s inactive volcano, Caldeira (or Furna do Enxofre). 

The island is also home to burro da Graciosa , an endangered species of donkey that has been rescued, protected and bred by a local nonprofit organization. Anyone can visit the farm to see the donkeys from afar, or pet them if they come closer to the fence. 

Local tip: Graciosa is famous for its red-roofed, Dutch-style windmills. Most of them are no longer operational and have been turned into short-term rental houses by their owners. 


5. São Jorge

Best island for hiking 

Whether you arrive on the island by sea or by air, São Jorge resembles the scaly back of an enormous dragon fast asleep in the middle of the ocean. On this long and narrow island, most towns and villages are wedged between the sea and steep cliffs on volcanic ground that slid down the coast and formed fajãs (coastal plateaus). 

Even though some of these fajãs can be reached by car, being able to get to them as locals did in the old days, via official trekking trails, makes São Jorge the best island for hiking.

Local tip: Given the island’s rough terrain, all official trails on São Jorge range from moderate to hard, which require some hiking experience. Trekking boots and poles are recommended for a safe and comfortable hike.   

Read more: Discover the 7 best hikes in the Azores

A humpback whale breaches the surface of the sea, with Pico island in the background

Best island for local heritage 

Called “the mountain island” for being home to Portugal’s highest peak, Pico is also historically a land of whale hunters and winemakers. 

Watching whales took over from hunting them in the mid-1980s, with plenty of former hunters teaching whale-watching companies all they knew about the mammals and how to track them. You’ll see the former industry presented at museums and old processing factories. Today, whale-watching tours have become one of the most popular activities on Pico. 

Producing wine from vines that grow on volcanic soils, sheltered from the wind and the ocean by basalt rock walls, proves that picoenses  (Pico residents) are ingenious. The winemaking industry is currently reaping the fruits of a renaissance on the island, with the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture becoming recognized by UNESCO in 2004. 

Local tip: Regular, year-round ferry rides connecting Faial, Pico, and São Jorge – also known as the “Triangle Islands” – mean that island-hopping between the three is easy. While the tendency is to stay on Faial (partly because of flight frequency), Pico is a better island to use as a base – Madalena on Pico is a 30-minute ferry ride from Horta on Faial; São Roque on São Miguel is 50 minutes from Velas on São Jorge. 

A gently curving stretch of light brown sand leading to calm water, with a town visible on the other side of the bay.

Island with the best beaches 

On most islands in the Azores, natural swimming pools outnumber sandy beaches, and Faial is no exception, with five beaches to its seven natural pools. The cool Atlantic waters (sometimes even in the summer) also don’t exactly pinpoint the islands on the map of best beach destinations. Nevertheless, Faial’s stretches of sand are worth visiting.

Praia do Almoxarife is hands down the beach with the best view. Imagine lounging on the black sand or taking a dip while looking across the water at Portugal’s highest peak, Mt Pico. 

Praia de Porto Pim is a local favorite within walking distance of Horta city center. The proximity to an urban area doesn’t taint the beach-going experience at all, and the bay is like a shelter. 

Calla lilies are in the foreground of a verdant tropical landscape, with waterfalls tumbling from the top of a foliage-covered cliff face

Best island for untouched nature 

Most people who visit Flores believe that this is the most beautiful island in the Azores, comparing it to such destinations as Hawaii, Switzerland, and Ireland.  

The evergreen island has dozens of waterfalls cascading down vertiginous cliffs into the ocean or into ponds of fresh water, seven lagoons nestled in the pits of collapsed volcano craters and a rugged coast hiding caves and tales of pirates – and only a handful of these delights are within human reach.   

Local tip: When the weather turns unexpectedly on Flores, locals have a fun saying: “Here today, tomorrow in Flores.” Granted, stressed travellers may miss the irony in this tidbit of local wisdom when they begin to foresee the domino effect of cancelled flights. If you’re staying three days on Flores, give yourself some leeway and plan for two extra days of traveling time – don't book connecting flights for the same day you plan to arrive on or leave Flores.

A view looking down on Vila do Corvo, a small town with tightly packed houses with terracotta rooftops.The island of Flores is visible on the horizon.

Best island to relax 

With no noise, no traffic (well, hardly any cars, for that matter), no pollution, and no fuss, Corvo, the smallest of the nine islands, is perfect for unplugging and recharging.   

Walking the maze of narrow cobblestoned streets that cut through impossibly close houses and patios that once protected corvinos (Corvo residents)   from harsh winds and pirate invasions does make you believe that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. And these islanders have been making a life here for four centuries. 

Local tip: Most people hop here on a boat from Flores, do a quick tour around town and visit the volcano Caldeirão. But to fully experience life on the most remote island in the Azores, plan your trip to account for a one-night stay (at least) on Corvo.

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Things to do in Sao Miguel in the Off-Season

W e spent the last 2 weeks of November on the island of Sao Miguel right smack in the off-season. Of the 14 days we spent on the island, we only had 3 days without rain, but we managed to have a fantastic trip, and you CAN too!

There are still many things to do in Sao Miguel at this time of year, but the best thing about visiting in the off-season is that you have the island to yourself! Unlike the summer months, the locals are not harried by tourists which makes them happier, the result? You will be too!

One of the most underrated and frankly, little-known island vacation destinations, Sao Miguel is a part of the stunning archipelago known as the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 2 hours off the coast of mainland Portugal (and direct flights 5 hours from the United States, either Boston or New York).

Also known as Europe’s Hawaii due to its lush vegetation and volcanic activity, Sao Miguel island is a surfer’s paradise with magical waves for beginners as well as pro surfers, volcanoes and waterfalls for nature lovers, and plenty of thermal pools and spas for relaxing.

The weather on the island is extremely unpredictable, especially in the winter months and you should be prepared for it to change several times a day as well as be completely different from one end of the island to the other. Here is what we did during our stay and what we recommend you do while visiting during the offseason.

Visit Farol do Arnel Lighthouse

Farol do Arnel lighthouse in Nordeste is a great location to enjoy a beautiful and calm sunrise or sunset. It is the oldest lighthouse on the island and in fact, the oldest in the Azores. During the winter there may be too much fog in the morning so you may be luckier at sunset. We visited twice, once in the late morning and once in the late afternoon.

To access the lighthouse, park in the car park off the EN1-1A at the top and take the narrow, winding road down on foot (we absolutely do not recommend driving down, especially with an unfamiliar rental car). The lighthouse is located halfway down and is only open on Wednesdays from 2-4 pm, but you can still walk to it and take some gorgeous pictures with the unending sea as the backdrop.

Or if you have a drone, you can get shots like this. By the way, there are many areas on the island where droning is allowed.

If you keep walking down to the bottom, you should be able to see a small village, or rather a very tiny fishing village. It is at sea level and a great spot for photography and watching the waves crash against the port and the coast. But remember, if you walk down…you have to walk all the way back up!

Also, note that you can get a great view of the Farol do Arnel Lighthouse from the Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos lookout or viewpoint from the EN1-1A 23 road.

More lighthouses to visit in Sao Miguel

Another great spot is the Santa Clara Lighthouse located on the cape of Ponta Delgada. It has a big red lantern that used to be a part of the old lighthouse of the Tower of Belem in Lisbon. With the crashing waves behind it on the horizon, the red lighthouse and the green scenery make for a beautiful picture.

São Miguel has one more gorgeous lighthouse that is a must-visit – the Ginetes Lighthouse or the Ponte da Ferraria Lighthouse . The historic building offers some of the most stunning views of the ocean, and if you walk down to the shore, you’ll be amazed by the geothermal spring that merges with the ocean water.

Winter weather for Sao Miguel, Azores provides you the opportunity to photograph the lighthouses with lots of drama! Crashing waves, fog or mist, gloomy clouds, it all sets a mood! Consider black and white photos too for even cooler shots!

Explore the Views

As you drive around the island and climb the volcanic peaks and mountains in Sao Miguel you will have plenty of opportunities to take in the viewpoints called miradouros. The government has done a fantastic job of reserving pullouts, small parking lots, and picnic areas all along the main road so that you can enjoy the spectacular views even in the winter!

In the offseason you may have to return multiple times to the same spot to finally see them, but once you do they are worth it! Here are some of our favorites.

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno

I am not sure that you can claim to have visited Sao Miguel if you don't visit the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno. No São Miguel itinerary. is complete without them and we visited several times. In the early morning, there was lots of fog and mist but we had the hiking trails (and the sky for droning) to ourselves.

In the late morning, the fog burned off, and we could see more of the beautiful lakes, but there were more people.

It is a very nice walk from the parking lot (Parque estacionamento Lagoa do Canário) past the Lagoa do Canário (that you can see through the trees) to the main footpath that leads to the views of Lagoa das Sete Cidades.

In the winter, I recommend hiking boots, something higher than your ankle as the hiking trails will be muddy.

Miradouro Da Vista Do Rei

The other breathtaking viewpoint is Miradouro Da Vista Do Rei (Viewpoint of the View of the King or King's View). From this location, you can see see the twin multi-colored lakes – the blue lake (Lagoa Azul) and the green lake (Lagoa Verde) – of Sete Cidades surrounded by the lush green crater.

Even though it was winter, we still got to see a glimpse of the famous Azores hydrangeas. I can't imagine what it is like in the spring!

Miradouro de Pico do Carvão

The Miradouro de Pico do Carvao is in the Sete Cidades region. You get a beautiful view of the Massif das Sete Cidades mountains as well as the north and south coast of the island.

From the EN1-1A, if you follow the M508 towards Lagoa do Canário you will run across fantastic aqueducts still intact.

There is also a hiking trail in this area called Rota do Pico do Carvão e Aqueduto (Pico do Carvao aqueduct route) that will take you along the aqueducts. It is 8 miles, so plan for that!

Miradouro Ponta do Sossego

This beautiful lookout near the village of Nordeste was one of my favorites. Not only does the view remind me of Hawaii, but there is a small botanical garden leading up to the viewpoint with tropical flowers to admire. And there are lots of picnic tables and barbecue pits to enjoy a family outing or a meal.

This spot is known for its spectacular sunrises. During the tourist season, it is a very popular spot. People will actually sleep in their cars to get a chance for a good spot to see the sun rise over the ocean.

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire) is a volcanic lake near the center of the island that was created as a result of volcanic activity in the Agua de Pau area. 

There is a 4-mile out-and-back trail that starts near Vila Franca do Campo and finishes at the Lagoa do Fogo viewpoint which then continues along the edge of the lagoon.

Another viewpoint is a little off the beaten path on the way to Lagoa do Fogo, known for its sunsets, the Miradouro do Pico da Barrosa. The turn-off is along the road that many people take to visit Lagoa do Fogo and is hidden behind a row of radio masts which most people discount or ignore. In truth, it is well worth the diversion to see.

Visit a tea plantation 

Chá Gorreana is the biggest and most well-known tea plantation. It is also the only working tea plantation in Europe today. You can walk through their fields at no cost as it is part of a walking trail. In the winter it is more of a dirt road and you will need good boots.

If it is raining you can still Visit and view their production process. From picking the tea leaves to packaging. The company remains small-scale and they create flavorful teas while preserving the oxidants. Have a flight of tea in their tasting room or enjoy a cup of your favorite from their covered terrace and ignore the rain…we did!

You can also visit Fábrica de Chá do Porto Formoso , a second tea plantation that produces tea and showcases the ancient method of tea production of the 19th century. Guests can also taste several types of teas in their tea room or on the terrace when the weather permits. 

Visit a pineapple plantation

There are over 6,000 pineapple plantations on the island, but only a few are open to the public. You may not want to visit the plantations in the rain but you can still enjoy the pineapple drinks and treats. (Even if you don't visit a plantation all the local restaurants will have pineapple desserts!)

The most popular of them is Ananases A Arruda . With a history of over 100 years, the plantation can be visited free of charge and visitors can watch the entire process of pineapple cultivation. They also have free tastings and their special Pineapple Liqueur for sale. 

Another delightful spot is the Azorean Pineapply Plantation where you can visit the traditional pineapple greenhouses, enjoy pineapple delicacies in the bar, and try artisanal pineapple ice cream. 

Pineapples Santo António is also a historical landmark worth checking out. Along with pineapple liqueur, you can also find pineapple cookies here.

Visit the Cerâmica Vieira Factory

The art of Azorean tableware can be seen in the Cerâmica Vieira Factory which was founded in 1862 and has remained in the family for five generations (here is a little bit more history ). It is a must-see where visitors can take in the process of making crockery on the potter’s wheel and the hand-made wall tiles with beautiful blue decorations.

It is said that the way the tableware is made has remained almost unchanged since the first settlers of the island. Here, the artisans dominate the production of these gorgeous sets. At Christmas time the factory makes figurines for nativity scenes as well. If you decorate your home with nativity scenes during the holidays, I encourage you to have a look.

It is the indoor perfect stop to do a little shopping (I never leave Portugal without some type of tile, I am a fan!) or to just get out of the rain!

Ribeira dos Caldeirões

On a day when it was just a bit drizzly, we visited Ribeira dos Caldeirões, a waterfall park with beautiful falls and streams. If you walk along the river, you can see several beautiful waterfalls along the way.

The park is a protected area, houses a lot of flora and fauna, and is a great place for exploration, including hiking, and swimming. Initially, the area had water mills built in the 16th century harboring centuries-old history of Azorean families that you read and learn about as you visit each part.

We tried to do part of the hiking trail but didn't get too far as conditions were a bit slippery, but we did enjoy the falls. Do note it is not really safe for unsupervised children (remember, other countries have different standards of safety). It can get quite slippery, so keep an eye out at all times!

Visiting waterfalls is a good overcast day activity as they photograph better when it is not too sunny. You don't need good weather to enjoy them.

Hot Springs on the island of Sao Miguel

One of the best things about visiting the Azores in the off-season is that when bad weather hits, whether it is raining or just overcast, it is the best time to visit the mineral hot springs, thermal baths, pools, and spas. I mean seriously, I could not imagine sitting in 100-degree water in the summer!

Furnas- Terra Nostra Park

Sao Miguel has several geothermal hot springs, and one of the most popular ones is in the town of Furnas in the Furnas Valley. It has a relaxing pool experience and the beautiful Terra Nostra garden to explore. Located in Terra Nostra Park, the pool is almost like a large pond surrounded by botanical gardens on all sides.

The hot springs are the size of an outdoor swimming pool. The water in the pool is warm to hot with a water temperature between 95-104 degrees and rich in minerals, especially iron which gives it an orange color. Keep in mind that the iron water can damage your swimwear and towels, so don’t wear anything too fancy.

There are other thermal baths in Furnas called Poça da Dona Beija that have 5 different thermal pools. To me, they look like giant hot tubs and it is very popular with families and groups.

Furnas Sao Miguel is also known for its local dish Cozido das Furnas, a stew that is slow-cooked underground by heat from volcanic rock. Watching the locals pull the pots in and out of the ground is a show in and of itself and each restaurant has an area where they cook their daily offerings. Families from the village can cook here as well.

It is the perfect comfort food after a trip to the hot springs, however, growing up as a Portuguese-American who was exposed to this stew, along with soupish, while growing up, it wasn't high on my list to experience as I already “knew” the meal. We did have a similar dish in Lisbon so Mr. Misadventures could have the experience.

Caldeira Velha

Classified as a natural monument, Caldeira Velha is a huge volcanic crater with a landscaped path that leads to lush tropical vegetation, waterfalls, and small pools filled with sulfurous water. It is an ideal place to relax and unwind. There are 4 pools with warm water and a waterfall at the end of the park.

The pool with the waterfall is not warm water which was a bit of a shock when I dipped my toe into the pool below the cascading water! I can see where this one would be popular in the summer! The park also has an Environmental Interpretation Centre to help visitors understand the various volcanic zones, phenomena, biodiversity, and geodiversity.

Termas das Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande

The spa complex of Termas das Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande dates back to the 19th century and holds a lot of Azorean history within its walls. The waters here were first used in the 17th century to cure illnesses.

The demand for spas with volcanic water kept increasing and thus a spa complex was built to cater to the needs. You can take advantage of rejuvenating baths, volcanic mud massages, and even soul immersion spa services.

Ponta da Ferraria

This thermal spring is not for the faint of heart! An underwater geothermal spring, Ponta da Ferraria emerges from the ocean and heats up the surrounding waters. Along with the deep blue sea and the dark basalt rocks, the atmosphere is of pure tranquility and calmness…but not in the winter!

The currents and the crashing waves can become dangerous in certain weather. Which was exactly what happened when we visited. But man, were the waves spectacular!

During milder weather, there are several ropes and ladders to help you stay afloat or sit and relax on the shore without venturing completely inside. The geothermal spring seeps into the ocean water and is usually around 64-82°F at low tide. The water from the spring can go as high as 141°F so be careful during the peak of low tide. When the Sao Miguel weather turns bad, warm up here!

What to bring to the thermal spas in Sao Miguel

  • Bring the bare minimum with you. There is not a lot of space to put your things down. You can rent lockers in some places, which we did, but we didn’t find them or didn’t use them.
  • Bring your own towel. Some thermal sources rent towels, but most do not. I recommend a quick-drying camp towel . They are super light and get the water off you fast.
  • Bring flip-flops or water shoes, I wore my JBU by Jambu Ariel Water Ready shoes or something similar.
  • Water bag for your cell phone.

Scenic Spots at the Seaside

Located on the south of the island, Caloura has a great panoramic vista and a microclimate that makes for sunnier and less humid days. The fishing port is one of its main attractions. Visitors can swim in an artificial saltwater pool that leads to the sea.

The “famous” Bar Caloura is located here. It is a beautiful spot for a drink, but I would skip the food, I had better in many other places on the island. 

Porto Formoso

A little beach town near Ribeira Grande, Porto Formoso has a beautiful sandy beach and a natural mineral spring. Locals and tourists can soak in these potassium-rich spring waters for therapeutic mineral treatments.

Água d'Alto

Água d'Alto is considered the best beach in Sao Miguel and is a very popular area for family picnics and surfing.

Água de Pau

The small coastal town of Água de Pau has a rich architectural history. The several water fountains were once the main centers of community and fraternization. The town has a beautiful church, Igreja Matriz de Água de Pau, made with basalt rocks.

It also has a gorgeous chapel in white, blue, and turquoise. The Monte Santo viewpoint is a great way to take in the green parish and the deep blue sea all at once. 

Surfing in Sao Miguel

From a surfing perspective, Sao Miguel is a dream come true. The island has a constant swell that generates in the North Atlantic Ocean near Newfoundland and is a premium surfing island all year round, especially during the winter, followed by autumn and spring.

Some of the best surfing spots can be found on Mosteiros Beach in the west, Santa Bárbara, Monte Verde, and Santa Iria in the north of Ribeira Grande, and São Roque, Água d'Alto, Calhetas, Populo, Rabo de Peixe in the south. If you’re a novice, you can find some surf camps or surf hostels, or small hotels in the villages that have surfing guides to help you get on board.

Food & Drinks in Sao Miguel

I think there are 10x as many cows as people on the island, which means great beef and dairy! Try the queijo fresco as a starter with bread, and don’t forget the spicy (slightly) red sauce that goes with it. The butter is fantastic, and the yogurt too! There are plenty of beef stews, several steak options, and delicious beef dishes.

How can we forget seafood? It is an island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, after all! There are lots of squid and octopus dishes, seafood and rice stews, grilled fresh fish, and shrimp. Heaven! We also ate sushi several times which was hit or miss.

I don’t know where the pigs are but there is a ton of chorizo found on the island. Made with pork meat, it is similar to Spanish chorizo, but has less paprika than its neighbor to the east, and tastes a bit smokier. And if you are into it (like Mr. Misadventures) try the blood sausage served on top of a pineapple.

Our favorite restaurant was O Silva (R. Direita de Cima 41, Ribeira Grande), where we ate twice. On our first trip, we had grilled squid, and on our second, the roasted octopus, both of which were excellent.

Soup is a big part of Portuguese culture, so don’t miss out on the soup of the day served at any restaurant. It is cheap, filling, and equally delicious!

If you aren't sure about the food, don't worry! The Hungry Whales have a fantastic food tour – and a fantastic reputation!

Renting a Car in Sao Miguel

When renting a car in Sao Miguel, go for the smallest car possible! The island roads are extremely narrow, the Azoreans aren’t the best drivers (or parkers) and in the city, it is sometimes impossible to navigate the tiny streets even in a small car.

In addition, get car insurance (so you will need to budget for that, basically take your rental price and double it) because scrapes on the outside of the car would not be unheard of given how much room you have to pass between cars. The mountainous roads are dangerous, with very sharp corners and you do not want to be on the wrong end of an accident.

Tips on exploring in Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel has several small towns that are worth visiting. If you want to get off the highway and explore, follow the “Acesso locale” signs. No matter where you’re going, beware of the tiny roads. Another notable thing is that people park wherever they want most of the time, so you might have to navigate a bit carefully.

Be careful when you walk in town

Be extremely careful when exiting buildings, stores, restaurants, bars, or anything in Sao Miguel. There are either no sidewalks or sidewalks that are 6 inches (if you are lucky!). If you step out without looking, you may end up being hit by a car.

Picnic Areas

There are beautiful picnic areas throughout the island with gorgeous views. If you are going to be out and about during the day, consider packing a lunch (or a sunset apero) and stopping at one of these “merendas” spots.

Guided Tours

If you don't feel comfortable renting a car, then there are plenty of guided tours that have half or full-day itineraries to take you to all the sites and spas. There may not be as many operating in the winter, but they are operating and we saw plenty.

I recommend the following:

  • Ponta Delgada: Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo Tour
  • São Miguel East: Full-Day Van Tour with Lunch

A little more about Sao Miguel

Sao Miguel is the largest island (290 square miles) of the Azores archipelago, one of 9 islands off the coast of Portugal. It is an autonomous region, meaning it can govern itself. Azoreans only claim to be Portuguese when there is a national or international fútbol (soccer) tournament, otherwise, they are quite proud and consider themselves Azorean and not Portuguese.

Besides surfing, the Azores are known for their whale watching and have plenty of whale-watching tours where you can see sperm whales (and bottlenose dolphins too). There are a lot of water sports and spelunking or caving etc. but you can't do any of it in the winter. So that is important to you, then make sure you plan your trip for spring, summer, or fall.

Sao Miguel Azores Weather Offseason

During our two weeks on the island, we had mostly rain, but not all day long kind of rain. It was tropical showers with temperatures in the 60s and humidity. There was usually a breeze and we had 4 days of sunshine. Even with that weather, we were able to do so much and it is totally worth it to have the island to ourselves!

A Few Things to Note about the Ponta Delgada Airport

The Sao Miguel airport is called Ponta Delgada (located in the largest city of the Azores) and is an international airport. Besides flights coming in from continental Europe (via Lisbon) there are flights to Sao Miguel Azores from the United States. Year-round the 2 airlines doing these direct flights from New York and Boston are Azores Airlines (SATA) and TAP Air Portugal.

In the summer, there is also a direct flight from Oakland California (read this fantastic book, The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores to learn why). Also in the summer, United Airlines flies direct.

  • It is an outdoor airport, so there is no protection from rain or heavy winds.
  • The planes load from the front and rear so pay attention to your seat number as it may be quicker to go from the back.
  • Weather can definitely impact your trip with delays or cancellations, so consider a plan B all the time!

The one thing I would have changed about our stay

We rented an apartment for two weeks in the center of Ponta Delgada. Given that we ate out of town, shopped out of town, and visited outside of town, next time I would stay outside of the city in a smaller village or town.

Visiting the Azores in the winter is tricky, but the reward of having the Green Island (Ilha Verde) all to ourselves, the attention of the locals, low season rates, and a nature-lovers paradise to explore at our feet makes it very worth it the Misadventures family!

I would also return to Nossa Senhora da Paz in Vila Franca Do Campo because we visited at the end of a very long day and I didn't have the strength to walk up all those stairs, but the view from the bottom of the shrine of the was still fantastic!

How about you? Have you been to any island in the Azores? Do you want to? Do tell!

Like it? PIN it!

The post Things to do in Sao Miguel in the Off-Season appeared first on Misadventures with Andi .

Packed with craters, lagoons, and waterfalls, there are plenty of things to do on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores, even in the off-season!


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