São Miguel – what to do and places to visit

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São Miguel is the bigges island in the Azores Archipelago. Here you’ll find magical places and landscapes that make it one of the most visited islands by tourists throughout the year. Its lush green landscapes have earned it the nickname “The Green Island.”

To get to know São Miguel – at least minimally – we recommend staying for 3 to 7 days so that you have enough time to explore the island and participate in various available activities. In the case of a 3-day stay, for example, you will only get to know the main points of interest and – we are sure – you won’t be able to enjoy it as much. Still, a 3-day getaway is perfect for getting a taste and later returning for more.

Não perca o nosso guia para Visitar São Miguel em 3 dias.

There isn’t a specific time or season recommended for visiting São Miguel. Throughout the year, its temperatures and humidity are always in tune. This allows you to enjoy and explore São Miguel at any time of the year. However, the summer months are when the tourist influx is highest.

Are you visiting São Miguel Island? We recommend this activity. ➡️ Whale and dolphin watching (click for more information)

Note that, due to its typical and characteristic climate, you may experience rain, sun, cloudy or clear skies all on the same day. There are also areas where it might be raining in the south of the island while it’s sunny in the north. As you can see, it’s a true paradise with a mix of various weather conditions.

Veja também: Fotos da Ilha de São Miguel

How to get to São Miguel Island

To reach São Miguel, you’ll have to do so by air. Consult the Trips to the Azores page for more details on travel packages including flights, accommodation, and – in some cases – car rental and activities.

As a starting point with direct flights to the Azores, you can travel from the following countries: Portugal (Mainland Portugal and Madeira), Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.

So that you can explore and tour around, we recommend renting a vehicle. Various group transportation services, guided tours, or even a personal guide are also available, which you can check out on the activities page in the Azores.

Places to visit in São Miguel

From natural hot thermal pools to the various lagoons scattered throughout the island, there are several must-visit points of interest for those visiting São Miguel Island.

During your trip to visit the locations below, you may pass by various viewpoints and other points of interest. Don’t hesitate to stop at all of them. You’ll be able to see different parts of the island and the sea from other perspectives.

Lagoa das Empadadas

Lagoa das Empadadas - Ponta Delgada, São Miguel - Açores

It’s on the way to Sete Cidades that you’ll find access to Lagoa das Empadadas. A volcanic lagoon divided into two bodies of water separated only by a strip of land (visible in the image above). The lagoon is also known as “The Secret Lagoons of São Miguel.”

Miradouro da Grota do Inferno

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno - Lagoa do Canário - São Miguel, Açores

In various promotional campaigns for the Azores destination, you’ve likely seen this image of the Grota do Inferno Viewpoint. From this viewpoint, you can appreciate the Sete Cidades Lagoon, Rasa Lagoon, Canário Lagoon, Santiago Lagoon, and even an area of the Sete Cidades parish.

At 730 meters above sea level in this magical location, you can see the sea, the mountains, and the lagoons. It’s an excellent spot.

Lagoa de Santiago

Lagoa de Santiago - VIsta do Miradouro - São Miguel, Açores

Lagoa de Santiago – Vista do Miradouro

From the Grota do Inferno Viewpoint, you can observe the Santiago Lagoon from afar. It’s a deep lagoon located in the Devassa Mountain Range, sitting at 334 meters above sea level. In the past, it wasn’t possible to see it because the surrounding lands were private, and access was prohibited.

On the way to Sete Cidades Lagoon, on the descent, you can get a closer look at the Santiago Lagoon from its viewpoint.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Lagoa das Sete Cidades, São Miguel - Açores

The Green and Blue lagoons that make up the Sete Cidades Lagoon are one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. A must-visit location. You can enjoy their panoramic view from the Vista do Rei viewpoint. We also recommend visiting the parish of Sete Cidades where you can enjoy the surrounding beauty of the lagoon up close.

Ponta da Ferraria

Ponta da Ferraria - nascente termal - São Miguel, Açores

(C) CristinAires

This is a bathing area with unique characteristics where thermal springs are found, allowing you to enjoy a bath in warm waters in the midst of the sea, given the area where the springs are located.

It’s also where you’ll find the Ferraria Thermal Baths with various spa services.

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo, São Miguel - Açores

Similar to the Sete Cidades Lagoon, listed above, Lagoa do Fogo is also one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal. This is the second-largest lagoon on the island. At this location, there is a dormant volcano that formed about 15,000 years ago. In this area, you can also choose to take a hiking trail and get a closer look at the lagoon.

Termas das Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande

Termas das Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande, São Miguel - Açores

This is one of the places where you can witness live the active volcanic calderas on São Miguel Island, with their steaming waters and high temperatures. In this area, there is also an area for cooking stews with nine available holes.

Cascata do Salto do Cabrito

Cascata do Salto do Cabrito - Ribeira Grande, São Miguel - Açores

Foto: ribeiragrande.pt

Near the Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande (listed above), in Ribeira Grande, you can take a short trail where you’ll find the beautiful Cascata do Salto do Cabrito (Salto do Cabrito Waterfall). With a height of about 40 meters, you can admire the pure water falling from this waterfall. Access can be made near the Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande area through a hiking trail starting near a geothermal power plant (Pico Vermelho).

Miradouro de Santa Iria

Miradouro de Santa Iria - Ribeira Grande - São Miguel, Açores

The Santa Iria Viewpoint is one of the most popular stopping points, offering an incredible view of the northern area of São Miguel Island. This viewpoint is located at an altitude of 190 meters.

Caloura

Caloura - Lagoa, São Miguel (Açores)

Caloura, a small parish in the municipality of Lagoa, where you can enjoy its bathing area. The landscape around its natural swimming pool is one of the main attractions of the locality. It’s also where you’ll find the fishing port of Caloura.

Not far from the bathing area, discover and enjoy Caloura Beach. A beach for total relaxation in a place of extraordinary beauty.

Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo

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The Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is one of the main attractions of this municipality. The islet is a crater of an ancient submarine volcano classified as a natural reserve. Its natural pool, inside the islet and circular in shape – connected to the sea by a narrow passage – make this place an excellent choice for enjoying moments of relaxation. You can also swim and dive.

Between June and September, it’s possible to visit and spend a few hours on the Islet of Vila Franca. This is when there is regular maritime transport service between Vila Franca do Campo Harbor and the Islet.

Vale das Furnas

The Furnas Valley is located in the parish of Furnas and is one of the places in São Miguel where you can appreciate the ongoing volcanic activity on the island up close. A visit to the Furnas Caldeiras area is a must, where the characteristic smell of sulfur is always present in the air.

Lagoa das Furnas

Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas, São Miguel - Açores

You can get to know the Furnas Lagoon up close by taking a hiking trail or simply enjoying its beauty along the road by car. It extends laterally to the regional road along its extensive dimension.

It’s in this area that you’ll find the famous Furnas Caldeiras, where the Cozido das Furnas is cooked – a typical Portuguese stew cooked in holes underground.

Parque Grená

Parque Grená - Furnas - São Miguel - Açores

It’s at Furnas Lake where you also have access to the fantastic and restored Grená Park. You’ll find unique scenery filled with flora and fauna, waterfalls, and streams.

Parque Terra Nostra

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It’s in Terra Nostra Park where you can appreciate and find endemic flora of the Azores in one place, as well as from other countries. A team of gardeners daily takes care of and preserves all the plantation. Many of them come from countries with completely different climates from those found in the Furnas Valley.

In this location, you’ll find the largest hot water pool, built in 1780, present on the island. You can enjoy a unique experience in a relaxing bath with thermal characteristics.

Poça da Dona Beija

Poça Dona Beija - Furnas - São Miguel - Açores

Foto: pocadadonabeija.com

Similar to Terra Nostra Park, at Poça da Dona Beija, you’ll find several pools of hot thermal waters. You can enjoy relaxing thermal baths in pools of various depths.

Ribeira Quente

Ribeira Quente, São Miguel - Açores

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In the neighboring parish of Furnas, in Ribeira Quente, you can enjoy one of its greatest attractions: Ribeira Quente Beach or Praia do Fogo. It’s a unique sandy beach in a very calm area.

The name Praia do Fogo (Fire Beach) comes from the presence of several submarine hydrothermal springs, which make the water warmer. Sometimes, in some areas, you can feel the warm sand under the seawater. It’s a unique sensation.

Salto do Prego – Sanguinho – Faial da Terra

Salto do Prego - Sanguinho - Faial da Terra, São Miguel, Açores

The Salto do Prego Waterfall (Sanguinho) in Faial da Terra can be visited via a 4.5km hiking trail with a duration of 2 hours. It’s a moderate difficulty trail. Upon reaching the waterfall, you’ll experience a unique sensation of beauty and nature in a magical and unique location.

Ribeira dos Caldeirões

Visitar São Miguel em 5 dias

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Located in the municipality of Nordeste, Ribeira dos Caldeirões is a place with history. This is one of the most visited places in this municipality due to its great natural beauty, waterfall, and mills. These Water Mills were part of the history of Nordeste and – even today – it’s possible to see how corn was ground in the past.

Jardim António Borges

Jardim António Borges - São Miguel - Açores

One of the most emblematic gardens in the city of Ponta Delgada. With an area of ​​about 2.5 hectares rich in varied flora, it doesn’t even seem like you’re in a space that is in the middle of the city and close to a shopping center. It’s worth exploring.

Jardim José do Canto

Jardim José do Canto - São Miguel - Açores

Another incredible garden, also located in the city of Ponta Delgada, which features plants from various regions of the world, as well as endemic plants. Its name refers to its founder, José do Canto, a man who was highly cultured, passionate about nature, and knew the secrets of botany.

Activities to do on São Miguel Island

Other places to visit on São Miguel Island

The places listed above are just a few of the many that you can and should visit during your stay on São Miguel Island. There are many other places you can visit and enjoy, see more here.

Enjoy your stay on São Miguel Island and experience nature in a unique and memorable way.