Luxury, Food & Adventure in São Miguel Island

Deborah Collier Travel Agent wearing sunglasses with ocean in background
Curated By

Deborah Collier

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  • Portugal

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Beaches

  • Food & Wine

  • International Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Island

  • Local Food

Rocky coast along the water in Azores, Portugal
Curator’s statement

São Miguel Island in Azores, Portugal is the largest of the truly magical Portuguese islands archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With its striking landscape and natural beauty, it is a must-see destination.

São Miguel offers a unique getaway with so much to explore, see and do, including: hiking, diving, surfing, biking, golfing, kayaking, canoeing and whale-watching. You can also explore and experience the geothermal springs, lush emerald green mountains, dormant volcanos and the island's historic towns. 

For foodies, the Azorean culinary scene is an epicurean gastronomic delight. Here you can experience everything from seafood to the famous Corzido, which is Portuguese stew! Plus, this destination is only a 4.5-hour flight from London, 5 hours from Boston or NY and 2.5 hours from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada. So, what are you waiting for?

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Where to stay in São Miguel Azores, Portugal

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Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort

On the north coast of São Miguel, this resort retreat celebrates its beach and mountain setting with intimate villas, an ocean-facing infinity pool and raft of activities.

Fora Perks
  • €25 room credit.

  • Welcome treat in room on arrival.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out.

Terra Nostra Garden Hotel

Iconic Azores Islands hotel with elegant accommodations and a lush garden park for leisure.

Octant Hotels Furnas

A serene getaway in the Azores with a focus on hot springs, health and elevated local gastronomy.

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Things to do in São Miguel Azores, Portugal

View of mountain and ocean with blue skies

Hiking & Adventure in São Miguel

Visit Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes for an adventure hike and waterfall viewing. 

Sete Cidades Twin Lakes is found in the western part of São Miguel and is listed as one of the 7 wonders of Portugal. It is one of the most photographed places in the country with breathtaking views across the magical blue lake and a green lake in the middle of a three-mile wide caldera resplendent with lush landscape and beautiful hydrangeas.

If you would like to hike, the trails take at least two hours either way, so be sure to wear the right gear, bring water and watch out for the weather. If you would prefer to go kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding, equipment can be rented from the village at the bottom of the caldera. 

Visit Areais de Santa Bárbara to either indulge in surfing or kitesurfing, swimming or just sit back and enjoy watching the surfers! This beach has hosted a World Surf League Qualifying Series Prime event since 2010 and is one of the most visited surf spots in São Miguel. 

Plantations & Local Food in São Miguel

Chá Gorreana organic tea plantation — the oldest and (currently) the only tea plantation in Europe — a traditional family business spanning more than 135 years.  It is located on the north coast of São Miguel, the Ilha Verde. Enjoy a cup of tea while taking in the beautiful plantation landscape and sea views. 

Don't miss a visit to the Arruda Pineapple Plantation, the only place in the world where pineapples are grown in glasshouses. This is a self-guided tour where you can go at your own pace. You will view pineapples in their different stages of growth. There is also a gift shop where you can find all sorts of goodies pertaining to pineapples.  

Experience food cooked underground in Caldeira das Furnas, where the hot volcanic earth is used to cook a delicious crock pot stew called Cozido D' Portuguesa, which is a traditional meat and vegetable casserole/stew that is pulled from the earth and rushed to nearby restaurants for lunch. There is also a food truck by the side of the lake where you can purchase a small serving. We tried the Cozido D' Portuguesa at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel in Furnas and it was fabulous. 

São Miguel Lighthouses

Ponta do Arnel Lighthouse is located on the tip of Arnel in the far northeast region of the island. It is the most beautiful and oldest lighthouse of the Azores and is open for guided tours on Wednesdays where you can learn about its rich history and activity. Otherwise, you can visit any other day and take in the stunning ocean vistas. Due to the steep terrain in getting there, it is advised to walk rather than drive to the lighthouse.

After visiting, go straight to Vista dos Barcos Viewpoint via Regional Road. Here, you will have a complete view of the Arnel Lighthouse and the Fishing Port, as well as a panoramic view of the immense blue ocean surrounding the coast of the Northeast.

On the westernmost coast of São Miguel, in the small locality of Ginetes, is Ponta da Ferraria Lighthouse: the largest and second oldest lighthouse in São Miguel. This is also well worth a visit for its spectacular views. 

São Miguel Thermal Baths & Natural Pools

Thermal baths and natural pools of Ponta da Ferraria Azores. You need to visit here at low tide to enjoy the natural pool. 

Tidal pool of Caloura in Caloura, São Miguel. The Tidal pool of Caloura is located at the south coast of São Miguel in a small harbor. On one side, there's a tall basaltic cliff, which is great for its panoramic view. On the other side, you'll find a coast with small bays and small caves build by the sea over centuries.

Terra Nostra Garden Thermal Hot Pools, Furnas. Good to know: If you eat at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel restaurant or the Gardener Bar & Terrace, you get free entrance to the gardens and the thermal pools. The patio is situated in a beautiful setting where you will enjoy lunch and take in the views before venturing off to the thermal pools.

Check out Caldeira Vehla near Lagoa de Fogo (or “Lake of Fire”). Here you'll find three man-made thermal pools and a natural waterfall that are heated by the nearby Fogo volcano situated amongst beautiful, lush foliage. 

Places to eat & drink in São Miguel Azores, Portugal

Dirt path surrounded by green foliage and pink flowers

Where to Eat & Drink in Furnas

À Terra (European/Portuguese/Pizza): Located in the Octant Furnas Hotel and offering the best tasting pizza from their wood-fired oven and incredibly fresh greens. They have an extensive wine list and the waiters are very knowledgeable about all of the wines. The restaurant itself is trendy and modern with an open-style kitchen with an under-glass terrace. The service was friendly and attentive.

Terra Nostra Garden Hotel restaurant (Cozido D' Portuguesa, Azorean cuisine): Offering a vast array of wines and a delectable menu featuring the hearty Furnas Cozido stew and other unique meals using local ingredients. This restaurant is up to par with the expectations of any wine connoisseur or avid foodie, who will appreciate the impeccable service and ambiance this restaurant is known for.

The Gardener Bar and Terrace Beautiful outdoor setting overlooking the thermal pools. Here you can enjoy their unique cocktails and signature drinks and enjoy light meals such as their selection of Azorean cheese with jam, burgers, sandwiches or salads all made with the best Azorean ingredients.

Where to Eat & Drink in Ponta Delgada

À Terra Azor (Mediterranean/European/Portuguese): Impeccable service and ambiance and delectable food.

Otaka (Japanese/Asian/Contemporary/Healthy/Peruvian): Otaka is a top-notch Japanese fusion restaurant. Truly amazing food, cooked and presented to perfection and combined with incredible wine pairings and excellent service. The very best of very fresh local products straight out of the Atlantic.

Ta Gente for wine, tapas and gin

Azores Forever: A bar/cafe with great fast food.

Where to Eat & Drink in Mosteiros and Ribera Grande

Sunset in Poço da Pedra Bar, Mosteiros.

Manuel Flor Casa de Pasto (European/Portuguese) in Ribera Grande.

Areais (Japanese/Sushi/European): Located at the Santa Barbara Luxury Eco-Beach Resort in Ribera Grande, Areais offers outstanding views, service and food!

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Deborah Collier

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