7 Days of Adventure in São Miguel, Azores
The largest and most diverse island in the Azores archipelago, São Miguel is an absolute jewel and outdoor lover’s paradise. Imagine lush rolling hills, mist covered volcanos, crystal-clear lakes, gorgeous waterfalls, hot springs and the most vibrant landscapes. With this 7-day itinerary, you can explore charming towns, go on an exhilarating ATV ride through the mountains, enjoy the local food and explore the breathtaking landscape.
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Where to stay
Sul Villas & Spa
Stunning coastal Azores hotel with minimalist design that frames the nature.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Sensi Azores Nature and Spa
A 5-star property focused on experiences for the senses within a short drive to the Lagoa das Sete Cidades.
Octant Ponta Delgada
In the heart of Sao Migel, this mid-sized contemporary hotel overlooks the marina and has a full spa and a restaurant serving local fare.
$100 spa credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Day 1: Sete Cidades Area, Ponta da Ferraria and Mosteiro Beach
Begin your adventure with a visit to the iconic Sete Cidades, potentially the most famous attraction on São Miguel. Behold the breathtaking views of the two-colored lakes from the viewpoints of Vista do Rei and Boca do Inferno.
From here, hikers can embark on two challenging trails: the Vista do Rei-Sete Cidades Trail or the Canário to Sete Cidades trail. If you’d rather explore the area on four wheels, take a 3.5 hour ATV tour that will take you to the highest peaks for the best views on the island.
After a day of exploration, relax at Ponta da Ferraria, a natural swimming pool heated by a nearby thermal spring. If you prefer more warmth, head to the nearby wellness complex and indulge in its heated pool (for a fee). Finally, catch a stunning sunset at Mosteiro Beach, just a short 15 -minute drive from Sete Cidades
Day 2: Lagoa do Fogo and Cascata do Salto do Cabrito
If the weather allows, venture to the majestic Lagoa do Fogo, a pristine crater lake nestled amidst stunning landscapes. Enjoy breathtaking views from the best viewpoints, such as Miradouro do Pico da Barrosa, Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo and Miradouro do Pico da Vela.
Next, marvel at the beauty of Cascata do Salto do Cabrito, a 20-meter-high waterfall near Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande. Bring your bathing suit! There’s nothing quite swimming underneath a waterfall.
For a more leisurely afternoon, relax on the serene Praia de Santa Barbara beach or explore the charming town of Ribeira Grande. Conclude your day with a visit to the thermal baths of Caldeira Velha, where you can unwind in the soothing natural hot springs.
Day 3: Whale and dolphin watching
São Miguel is renowned for its abundant marine life, with over 25 different whale species residing in its waters. From April to October, these gentle giants can be spotted on tours departing from Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca do Campo. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even swim with dolphins in their natural environment.
Remember to book your whale-watching trip early to have the flexibility to reschedule in case of adverse weather conditions.
Day 4: Unveiling the marvels of Furnas
Prepare for a day of geothermal wonders as we head to Furnas, situated on the eastern part of São Miguel. Explore Lagoa das Furnas, a scenic crater lake perfect for a relaxing hike. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the preparation of Cozido de Furnas, a traditional Portuguese stew cooked in the steaming holes of Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas.
Admire the panoramic views of the Furnas Valley from Miradouro do Pico do Ferro, and venture to Caldeiras das Furnas to witness boiling mud pots and steaming geysers. For ultimate relaxation, unwind in the therapeutic hot springs of Poça da Dona Beija or the Terra Nostra Baths.
Day 5: Exploring Nordeste's hidden gems
Get an early start and venture off to Nordeste, a less-visited but equally enchanting part of São Miguel. Explore the charming town of Nordeste and savor the breathtaking views from Ponta da Sossega viewpoint, Ponta da Madrugada viewpoint and Pico do Bartolomeu viewpoint.
Visit the Farol do Arnel lighthouse and revel in the natural beauty of Parque Ribeira dos Caldeiroes. For the avid hiker, the Fajã do Araujo trail and the Lomba da Fazenda trail offer exceptional trekking opportunities.
Day 6: Discovering Ponta Delgada
Today, we explore the charming city of Ponta Delgada, the capital of São Miguel. Stroll through its historic streets and visit notable sights such as Portas de Cidade, the 18th-century city gate and Praça Gonçalo Velho Cabral, the main town square. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the Fort of São Brás, now a fascinating military museum.
Pineapple enthusiasts will delight in a visit to a local pineapple plantation, where you can learn about pineapple production and sample delicious pineapple jam and liqueur. To continue the cultural exploration, head to the Tea Factory of Chá Gorreana in the Northern part of the island, Europe's oldest tea plantation and witness the traditional tea-making process. There’s a lovely walking trail that will take you through the tea plantation and give you sweeping views of the island and ocean.
Day 7: Free day to unwind
On your last day in São Miguel, you have the freedom to explore more of Ponta Delgada. Consider visiting Gruta do Carvão, where you can descend into an ancient lava tube, gaining insight into the region's volcanic activity. While in Ponta Delgada, don’t miss a visit to Jardim Botânico José do Canto. Dating back to the mid-19th century, this botanical garden spans over 30,000 square meters and boasts an impressive collection of plants from all corners of the world.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, 10 Days of Romance and Adventure in Beautiful Crete.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Portugal.