Do you want to discover one of the most beautiful places in Portugal but you don’t know how to prepare your trip?
In this article I’m going to show you a travel guide to visit the amazing São Miguel Island, in the Azores, in 5 days. After each itinerary you will find a map with all the points of interest.
Day 1 : Azores Travel Guide – São Miguel Island
1. Miradouro (Viewpoint) Lagoa do Canário
My suggestion is for you to begin your itinerary in one of the most beautiful places in the island. This viewpoint offers a magnific view over Lagoa (Lagoon) das Sete Cidades with blue and green waters, the lagoon of Santiago and Rasa Lagoon .
- Information: to enjoy this place, visit it on a sunny day.
- Tip: you will find a gate at the entrance of the lagoon – many people leave their cars there. Know that you can enter with your car and go to the viewpoint. You won’t have to walk 1 km in each direction.
2. Miradouro Vista do Rei
This 251 metre viewpoint is the best known in São Miguel Island – it will give you the opportunity to gaze at Lagoa das Sete Cidades.
Behind this beauty, you will find the Monte Palace hotel, completely abandoned for years. To discover its history and photos of before and after the abandonment, read the article 5 incredible places abandoned in Portugal.
3. Sete Cidades Village
In this village you can visit São Nicolau church and Lagoa das Sete Cidades. Don’t hesitate to drive around the lagoon until you get to the tunnel created in 1937 to maintain the water level.
4. Miradouro Ponta da Ferraria
From this viewpoint you can gaze at the sea, at the Ferraria lighthouse, at the natural pools and at the hot springs.
It is the perfect place for a picnic. You’ll find tables, barbecue places and restrooms. The other option is for you to go to the hot springs Termas da Ferraria and eat at the restaurant.
In the hot springs you can relax in the spa or enjoy the natural pools located a few metres away without paying.
In this village you can discover the isle of Mosteiros and swim in the natural pools.
6. Miradouro Tromba de Elefante
Tromba do Elefante viewpoint is one of the most unusual places in the island. The name comes from the cliff that looks like an elephant head with its trunk and big ears.
To the left of this viewpoint you’ll find a boat where you can take some amazing photos.
Day 2 : Azores Travel Guide – São Miguel Island
1. Miradouro Lagoa do Fogo
Begin your day by going to this viewpoint where you can gaze at Lagoa do Fogo, the highest lagoon in the island (575 metres) and the second biggest.
2. Caldeira Velha
You will definitely love the beauty and calmness of this incredible place. Caldeira Velha is a park where you will find an important biosphere with two pools with naturally warm water (38º in the pool that you can see in the photo and 21º in the big pool).
- Information : at the location you will find dressing rooms and showers to take cold showers.
- Tickets: 2€
3. Ribeira Grande
While in the beautiful city of Ribeira Grande, don’t miss the opportunity to eat there and to discover the amazing botanical garden, the 17th century city hall square, Nossa Senhora da Estrela church, Espírito Santo church and the beach.
4. Miradouro de Santa Iria
After visiting Ribeira Grande, go east and stop at Santa Iria viewpoint to enjoy this magnificent landscape.
5. Moinhos Beach
In my opinion, Moinhos beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the island. At the location, aside from its beauty, you’ll find a restaurant / snack bar, dressing rooms and a big parking lot 200 metres away from the beach.
Right next to the village of Salga you’ll find an amazing place with two viewpoints, a waterfall, a small pool, a beach and several picnic places.
The first thing you’ll find at the place will be Miradouro do Salto da Farinha, where you can see the waterfall and the sea.
By going through the path on the left, you will see some picnic tables and, at the end of the path, you will find the Miradouro da Pedra dos Estorninhos, where you can gaze at the sea, the beach and the pool.
To go down to the beach and the waterfall you have to go down a path just before you get to Miradouro da Pedra dos Estorninhos (which I didn’t find…) or you can go down the byroad next to the Miradouro de Salto da Farinha.
- Information: it is possible to drive the 500 metres, but you have to be careful with the slope of the road – it can be dangerous if it is wet or if you rented a small car with not enough power to go up the road.
To visit the waterfall you have to go through the path behind the house (opposite to the sea). If you visit the 40 metre waterfall in the summer (like I have) you will be disappointed because there was no water.
7. Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park
Located 5 kms from Salga, you will find in Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park a beautiful waterfall (even in the summer), a botanical garden, old water mills, a souvenir shop and a snack bar.
- Information: The waterfall is located to the right of the road and the rest of the park on the other side.
Day 3 : Azores Travel Guide – São Miguel Island
1. Lagoa do Congro
Lagoa do Congro is a lagoon with crystal clear waters, peaceful and charming. This place is far from being a tourist destination but is one of my favourite places in the island.
How to visit Lagoa do Congro?
When you find a sign indicating “Lagoa do Congro“, leave the main road and then follow the byroad that will turn into a dirt road. After 900 metres, you’ll find another sign of “Lagoa do Congro”. There, you should leave your car and walk 300 metres through a path in the woods until you get to the lagoon.
2. Miradouro do Pico do Ferro
From Miradouro do Pico do Ferro you’ll be able to see Lagoa das Furnas and Caldeiras das Furnas, where the inhabitants cook the “cozido à portuguesa” (Portuguese stew) in earth ovens powered by vulcanic activity. If you want to taste this specialty, you should make a reservation the day before.
3. Lagoa das Furnas and Caldeiras das Furnas
You can visit Lagoa das Furnas and Caldeiras before or after a good meal in Vila das Furnas. If you want to visit the lagoon, you have to pay 0,50€ per person. But it’s not all – you will have to pay parking ticket as well (0,15€ every 20 minutes).
4. Terra Nostra Park
This beautiful 12 hectare park with lush vegetation, offers a peaceful time in an impressive botanical collection (ferns, hydrangeas…).
If you pay 6€ you will have access to the park and to the rusty thermal water pool (38º C). Though you’ll have a pleasant swim, the orangy water will dirty your clothes but don’t worry because you’ll find sanitary facilities there to wash up.
- Tip: Bring a used/old swimsuit because it will be difficult to take the rust off.
- Tickets: 6€
5. Poça da Dona Beija
This place was originally a spring where the locals would bathe in a 30º naturally warmed water.
A few years ago this place underwent construction and, since then, there are many available pools for people to swim in this rusty water.
In comparisson to Terra Nostra Park, this place is better because of its opening hours (until 23h) and the price (3€).
- Tip: You should only visit this place if you don’t have time or don’t want to visit Terra Nostra Park.
- Bring a used/old swimsuit because it will be difficult to take the rust off.
Day 4 : Azores Travel Guide – São Miguel Island
1. Faial da Terra
Start your day with a 4,5 km stroll through the woods in Faial da Terra and enjoy the beautiful Salto do Prego waterfall. Along the 2 hour walk, you will find, aside from the waterfall, beautiful landscapes and even an abandoned water mill.
2. Miradouro da Ponta da Madrugada
With an amazing view over the Atlantic Ocean, this viewpoint also has all that you need to do a pleasant picnic .
3. Miradouro Ponta do Sossego
The sights from this viewpoint are magnificent but what really makes this place extraordinary is the possibility of walking along the cliff that is surrounded by hydrangeas. Don’t miss the opportunity to do a picnic in Miradouro Ponta do Sossego to enjoy a little bit more of this paradise.
4. Arnel Lighthouse
Arnel lighthouse was the first lighthouse built in the Azores. It started working on the 26 November 1876.
My suggestion is for you to leave your car when you see “Farol do Arnel” sign and walk the last 500 metres. You can drive to this location but you will find a narrow and steep road.
5. Our Lady of Peace Chapel (Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz )
You should end your day at Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz that was erected in 1764. According to the legend, this chapel was built after the apparition of Virgin Mary to a shepherd, in a cave.
From here you’ll have the perfect view over Vila Franca do Campo and its isle.
Day 5 : Azores Travel Guide – São Miguel Island
For your last days in the Azores, I invite you to discover the regional capital, the beautiful city of Ponta Delgada.
Firstly, you should leave your car at “Parque Atlântico” shopping centre, where you can find free parking, and then begin your journey at António Borges Garden.
1. António Borges Garden
António Borges Garden was created in the 19th century in a Romantic style. It is a beautiful botanical garden where you will find the most exotic species. This place was a private garden of a distinguished citizen in the region (António Borges) and since 1957 (when it was bought by the city of Ponta Delgada) it is open to the public.
2. Senhor Santo Cristo Church
Senhor Santo Cristo church was erected in the 16th century and houses the famous image of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, with an amazing set of gold accessories and gemstones dated from the 18th century. This image is associated to the biggest festivity in the city.
3. Forte de São Brás
Fort of São Brás was built in the 16th century to defend the Azores from pirates, attracted to the treasures of passing ships from Africa, India and Brazil. Inside the fort you must visit the Azores Military Museum, where decades of the archipelago military history are shown.
4. Portas da Cidade
The City Gates are a symbol of the island line of defense. They were built in 1783, east of the island, and transferred to Gonçalo Velho Square (Praça) in 1952.
5. Main Church of São Sebastião
The beautiful Main Church of São Sebastião was built in the 19th century and it has magnificent Manueline style doors.
After visiting the church and the beautiful adjacent streets, return to the “Parque Atlântico” shopping centre, back to your car but not before having something to eat in one of the many restaurants located in the top floor of the shopping centre.
6. Mother of God Chapel (Ermida da Mãe de Deus)
Leave the shopping centre and drive to the beautiful Ermida da Mãe de Deus.
This chapel was built between 1925 and 1947. In this place there was a chapel that was demolished in 1915, during the First World War. The reason why it was demolished was because it could be a target to German submarines.
Aside from seeing the chapel you will have the chance to gaze at the city, its surroundings and the Atlantic Ocean.
Your trip to São Miguel Island should end with a couple of hours sunbathing in the beach of “Água de Alto” or Vila Franca do Campo.
Overview of the 5 day travel guide in the Azores
This travel guide was optimized for nature lovers that stayed in the village of Vila Franca do Campo and wanted to discover all the places they could in 5 days.
Know that São Miguel Island has much more to offer. You can, for example, discover the island through one of the 20 available trails, go on a boat tour to see the dolphins and whales, discover the two sole tea plantations in Europe: Chá Gorreana and Chá Porto Formoso.
Are you going to visit the Azores? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room and your car by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!
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