Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) – What to Visit and Points of Interest


Ponta Delgada is located on the south coast of [São Miguel Island](https://byacores.com/en/sao-miguel-island/), also known as the “Green Island.”

There is much to explore and do in the city/municipality, including visiting monuments, fantastic ancient churches, a 16th-century fort, and a museum documenting the natural history of the Azores.

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Ponta Delgada - Points of Interest and Places to Visit

From the Marina of Ponta Delgada, you can embark on a tour/expedition to see the whales and dolphins that gather in the archipelago’s waters.

Don’t forget the breathtaking landscapes of São Miguel Island: there are ancient volcanic craters now filled with lakes, wildflowers, and lush forests on their shores.

Suggestions for places to visit in Ponta Delgada:

### #01 – Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Lagoa das Sete Cidades
Lagoa das Sete Cidades
Fotografia de Nuno Vieira

This is one of the most famous wonders of the Azores, featured in various promotional materials.

[Lagoa das Sete Cidades](https://byacores.com/lagoa-sete-cidades/) consists of two lakes in a volcanic caldera, with steep walls around the coast rich in conifers and ferns.

The two lakes (blue and green) are divided by a historical bridge. Choose a clear day and enjoy the panoramic view from the Vista do Rei viewpoint on the south side of the caldera. Next to this viewpoint is the abandoned [Monte Palace Hotel](https://byacores.com/en/hotel-monte-palace-azores/).

For another perspective, don’t miss the fantastic view from the [Grota do Inferno Viewpoint](https://byacores.com/en/miradouro-da-grota-do-inferno-in-sao-miguel-azores/).

### #02 – Convento de Nossa Senhora da Esperança
Convento Nossa Senhora da Esperança

Spiritually, this convent from 1545 is one of the most important not only in the Azores but also in Portugal. This is due to the image of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, offered to the convent’s founders by Pope Paul III in the early 16th century.

The well-known [Festas do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres](https://byacores.com/senhor-santo-cristo-dos-milagres/) are celebrated annually between April and May.

The building is also something to behold, with a square tower featuring three layers of windows. The church has a baroque altar with gilded wood and beautiful tile panels.

### #03 – Portas da Cidade – Centro de Ponta Delgada

Portas da Cidade
Portas da Cidade
Fotografia de Tiago Pacheco

Near the sea, on Avenida Marginal, in the São Sebastião parish, you’ll find the famous three arches. The [City Gates](https://byacores.com/en/portas-da-cidade-ponta-delgada-sao-miguel-azores/) are the main postcard image of Ponta Delgada, featuring the city’s coat of arms.

These arches were moved to Praça Gonçalo Velho Cabral to serve as a monument when Avenida Marginal was built in the 1940s and 50s. Originally located by the old pier, they date back to 1783.

They are made of regional volcanic stone. The square in front is paved with the famous Portuguese mosaic pavement in an ornamental pattern.

### #04 – Gruta do Carvão
Gruta do Carvão - São Miguel, Azores

Still in the city of Ponta Delgada, the [Gruta do Carvão](https://byacores.com/gruta-carvao/) is another volcanic marvel of São Miguel. This is the island’s largest lava tunnel, extending underground for over 1.6 kilometers.

If the island’s geology interests you, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Inside the cave, you’ll find bizarre formations like stalactites and stalagmites worth observing.

The basalt walls in some areas are oxidized, giving them a strange yellowish glow. There is a video presentation before the tour. After watching the video, it’s time to navigate tight spaces and dress appropriately for the adventure.

### #05 – Igreja de São José

Campo de S. Francisco, Ponta Delgada
Campo de S. Francisco, Ponta Delgada
Fotografia de Cristina Aires

In the same square as the Convento de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, this important church belonged to the dissolved convent of São Francisco.

Built in 1709, it features many characteristics of Portuguese colonial architecture, along with the baroque exuberance that was fashionable at the time.

The blue and white tiles covering the walls, the images from the 1600s and 1700s, and the carved rosewood furniture are worth a few minutes of your time.

### #06 – Museu Carlos Machado
Museu Carlos Machado - São Miguel, Azores

In the old Convent of Santo André, founded in 1876, you’ll find the oldest museum in the Azores. It was founded by [Carlos Machado](https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Machado) – a 19th-century naturalist.

This is the ideal place to learn about the [History of the Azores](https://byacores.com/en/?p=34128), with exhibitions on geology and mineralogy, as well as many plant and animal specimens (many marked by Carlos Machado himself). As it is an old convent, there is also liturgical art in the adjacent Jesuit faculty, with paintings, silverware, and tiles.

See also: [Museums in the Azores](https://byacores.com/museus-acores/)

### #07 – Forte de São Brás

Forte de São Brás
Forte de São Brás
Fotografia de Daniel Santos

Built in 1552, this fortress guards the western end of Ponta Delgada’s harbor and is still used as a base by the Portuguese Navy.

Despite significant changes in the 1800s, it remains an absorbing relic of colonial days when Ponta Delgada was under constant threat from pirate attacks.

You can explore the upper platforms still equipped with cannons and more modern artillery. There is also a small military museum with old heavy weapons, vehicles, uniforms, and models.

### #08 – Miradouro do Pico do Carvão

Vista panorâmica Ilha de São Miguel
Vista panorâmica Ilha de São Miguel
Fotografia de Bruno Sousa

Just ten kilometers from Ponta Delgada, this viewpoint offers a complete view of the western side of São Miguel.

The scenery is pastoral and spectacular, with green slopes and pastures filled with cows and lined with coniferous forests. From this location, you can also see a large number of volcanic cones on the island.

### #09 – Lagoa das Empadadas
Lagoa das Empadadas, São Miguel, Azores

Continuing the route, after passing Pico do Carvão, you will find [Lagoa das Empadadas](https://byacores.com/lagoa-empadadas/), on the way to Sete Cidades.

This is a paradisiacal place perfect for a picnic. The seclusion will captivate you: until you enter the crater, the water is completely obscured by dense cedar trees.

In the spring months, the scenery is especially delightful, as pink azaleas bloom along the shore, enriching the beauty of this place.

### #10 – Pinhal da Paz
Pinhal da Paz, São Miguel - Azores

A few minutes from the center of Ponta Delgada, this is an exquisite park planted in the early 20th century.

Initially a private property, the original owner planted exotic species like Japanese sugi pine, eucalyptus, and bamboo on about 49 hectares of rugged volcanic land.

The plantation was abandoned by the 1990s before being restored and turned into a public park. It is a popular spot for family outings and picnics.

### #11 – Whale Watching – [Observação de cetáceos](https://byacores.com/observacao-cetaceos/)
This is a must-do activity when visiting the Azores, offering unique moments like the one in the video below:

As a crucial whale reserve, there is whale activity in the Azores year-round, with dolphins, sperm whales, common dolphins, and Risso’s dolphins being resident species that can be seen in any season.

Companies offering Whale Watching Activities in the Azores >

### EXTRA – Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo
Fotografia de Nuno

From Ponta Delgada, about half an hour away, you can reach this fantasy-like scene, which, along with Sete Cidades, is one of the must-see wonders of São Miguel. Lagoa do Fogo is located in the Municipality of Ribeira Grande.

This lake fills a caldera created by an eruption in 1563, explaining the name “Lake of Fire.” It is one of the highest points on the island.

It is recommended to visit this place on a clear day; if it’s foggy, you won’t be able to appreciate the beauty of this fantastic lake.

There is much more to discover and explore in Ponta Delgada, on São Miguel Island. See also Locations and [Points of Interest on São Miguel Island](https://byacores.com/en/sao-miguel-what-to-do-and-places-to-visit/)