The Most Epic Itinerary for Sao Miguel Island
📅 30 December 2020 | Guides, Portugal | ⌛ 35 mins
The most epic itinerary for Sao Miguel Island, you ask? Yes, you read that right!
For the last couple of years, Sao Miguel has become one of the most famous islands. It has been the nominal for an unforgettable vacation all over Europe. That’s no surprise, since the island of Sao Miguel is an absolute heaven located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Its green fields spread all over the island, accompanied with hydrangeas and beautiful lakes are attracting many nature lovers to it.
Sao Miguel island is part of the Azores archipelago, which consists of 9 heavenly beautiful islands set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Each of the Azores islands is named after its most characteristic feature, but São Miguel island is nicknamed the “The Green Island”. No wonder, since the island is like a green spot on the map.
This Sao Miguel itinerary is like no other! You will get plenty of travel tips on how to plan your trip beforehand, useful information for all of the places and a detailed day by day itinerary. Not to mention that you can always contact me and ask for a piece of advice! I will gladly help out, as I had lots of fun planning my own trip to the island! By the way, 7 days in Sao Miguel is the perfect amount of time to explore the whole island 🗺️
Sao Miguel Itinerary Map
Things to Know Before You Go
Before embarking on this adventure, it is good to know a couple of things about this 7-day itinerary for Sao Miguel:
✖ You will need to hire a car, so that you can easily visit all of the landmarks mentioned in this Sao Miguel Itinerary
✖ You are likely to drive around 700+ kilometres, so be mentally prepared! Although, driving in the Azores is a real pleasure 🛣️
✖ You will probably walk and hike around 50+ kilometres on the island, which divided by days is not as tiring as it sounds. It’s Less than 8 kilometers a day, which is less than 2 hours of walking 🥾
✖ Check the weather forecast beforehand and be flexible with changing plans. The weather in the Azores islands is quite unpredictable, so you might experience 4 seasons in a day! You can also check the WebCams of the Azores. I used them to check if I can visit the Lagoa do Fogo and Sete Cidades lakes, as they are usually covered in fog… 🌬️
✖ This itinerary for Sao Miguel is for 7 full days on the island. So if you plan to visit all that Sao Miguel island offers you will need to stay for at least 7 days! 😃
Sao Miguel Itinerary Budget Table
|Type of Budget/ Type of Expense||Budget||Value-for-Money||Luxury|
|Accommodation||150 EUR||300 EUR||400+ EUR|
|Rent a Car + Gas||150 EUR||200 EUR||450+ EUR|
|Food||200 EUR||400 EUR||600+ EUR|
|Total||500 EUR||900 EUR||1450+ EUR|
Disclaimer: The total price is for a single person for 7 full days in Sao Miguel island. This is a simple example of how much a trip to the island might cost you. No prices are not final and depend solely on the you.
Please, note that flight tickets prices may vary, especially if you are coming from North America or the United Kingdom.
Day 1 - Sao Miguel Island’s Masterpieces
Day one in Sao Miguel is devoted to visiting the island’s most notorious landmarks. The lakes of Sao Miguel are one of its most visited natural landmarks and a must-see, especially at sunset or sunrise… 🌄
Sete Cidades Village
The most legendary village of the Azores! The most picturesque place on the island of Sao Miguel! Sete Cidades is probably the most visited parish in the Azores.
That is no surprise, as the village is heavenly beautiful. It is located at the bottom of a huge crater and is looking at the Sete Cidades lakes – Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. Lagoa Verde is known as the Green lake and Lagoa Azul, as the Blue lake. The colour of the water of the lakes is mainly due to the different way the light is reflected by the surrounding vegetation.
The naming of the lakes has its own legend associated with it. As the story goes, the two lakes were created when a princess and her lover had to part ways. The tears they shed at their farewell became the lakes and the water was coloured like their eyes – blue and green. And that is pretty much the whole story. Beautiful isn’t it?!
Nowadays, there are various ways to explore the area. You can either drive, ride a bike or simply kayak around the lakes. Or simply chill on the sparkling green grass and enjoy the view!
Lagoa de Santiago
Along the way to the top of the craters is the Lagoa de Santiago. This beautiful lake with green emerald waters is hidden within the lush vegetation of another crater.
It is the perfect stop on a tour to the highlights of the Sete Cidades village. So, make sure to stop by and enjoy the beautiful nature of the island. Just a couple of steps away is Miradouro do Cerrado das Freiras, where you can enjoy a nice view over Lagoa das Sete Cidades…
King’s View and Monte Palace Hotel
The highlight of the Sete Cidades village is for sure King’s view and the abandoned Monte Palace hotel on the top of the crater.
The King’s View or as it is mostly known, Miradouro da Vista do Rei, is located in front of the abandoned Monte Palace hotel. It is one of the well-known viewpoints on the island of Sao Miguel, which overlooks the Sete Cidades lakes. Thus, you are guaranteed to enjoy an unforgettably picturesque view.
As for the Monte Palace hotel… well it is not quite open for any visitors. Thus, any visit to the abandoned hotel will be entirely on your own. Nevertheless, the view from the top of the hotel is absolutely stunning. That is why many tourists dare to visit it, despite the fact that the hotel is falling apart.
🏨 Monte Palace Hotel Visit Overview
Monte Palace hotel is an abandoned hotel, which is not maintained and is falling apart. Stairs have no railings, the elevator shafts are open and there are no barriers at the roof. Thus, step within the hotel with extra caution. To stay on the safe side – simply follow the stairway to the top of the hotel and enjoy the view.
Lagoa do Canário
The “Snapchat” lake, this is how people call it these days, is a small serene lake on the pathway for Boca do Inferno – Sao Miguel’s most visited viewpoint. The Canary lake is known mostly for… well all the canaries that fly and chirp around 🐤
Lagoa do Canário is one of the many lakes set in volcanic craters on the island of Sao Miguel. It’s surrounded by thick pine forest, which adds up to its tranquility and makes it a great place for winding up.
The easiest way to get to the lake is to enter the pathway to Boca do Inferno on the opposite of Miradouro da Lagoa do Canário. Then, swipe to the left where the sign shows the way to Canário lake 🏞️
Boca do Inferno
This is probably the King of the Miradouros in the Azores! No, joke! This is the perfect, most incredibly jaw-dropping view you will ever witness (probably in your whole entire life). An absolutely astonishing and breathtaking, Boca do Inferno is a true masterpiece created by the almighty Mother Nature.
What makes this view so unbelievably beautiful is the fact that it overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the lakes of Sete Cidades. All of these combined create an out of this world view that will stay in your mind for a while.
If you like meditating, try visualizing this view in your mind and feel its powerful presence!
The Spa at Ponta da Ferraria
After a long day, full of beautiful views and incredible moments, it is best to dip in the hot pools of Ponta da Ferraria. This is the only place in Sao Miguel where one can take a dip in the cold ocean and be showered with hot geothermal springs!
The pool itself is secured with ropes to which you can hold, so you can better enjoy this one of a kind experience. However, make sure to check the tide times at Ferraria, as the water can be quite hot during the low tides.
Day 2 - Sao Miguel’s Hot Springs
The second day in Sao Miguel goes deeply into the island’s not so secret mystical spots. This day can be entirely spent roaming around the city of Furnas and its hot springs. Along with that, you will have plenty of time to explore its lake and try its famous Cozido das Furnas meal… 🍲
City of Furnas
You will know when you are coming near the city of Furnas by the smell coming to your nose. The city of Furnas is full of sulphur springs, geysers and thermal pools. That is why, it is one of the most visited cities in the Azores and is a preferred destination for many vacationers.
Its hots springs are known for their healing powers. The thermal waters of Furnas are known to help with skin irritation and all sorts of pains you might have.
On top of that, the city of Furnas is famous for its unique cuisine. Except for the Cozido meal, it is also recommended to try the baby corn, which has been boiled around the geysers of the city.
Lagoa das Furnas is another lake that is a must-see while on the island of Sao Miguel. It is great for outdoor activities, such as hiking. There is a hiking trail that goes around the lake and is great for a leisure walk. At the beginning of the trail are the famous geyser cookers where the famous Cozido meal is made. While at its end, one can stop by the Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, which is a magnificent old religious temple. In between, the serenity is guaranteed and is perfectly accompanied by the little waves of the lake and from time to time a bit of a chirping from here and there…
Parque Terra Nostra
If you are yarning for a dip in some hot thermal pools, the best place to do that is the Terra Nostra Garden complex. The Terra Nostra hotel has a huge pool overlooking the hotel and two smaller pools surrounded by thick vegetation. The water of the pools is never over 39 degrees Celsius, which makes it one of the hottest thermal pools in Europe.
Along with that, the Terra Nostra Park has a huge botanical garden, which is home to all kinds of tropical flora. After a refreshing dip, you can roam around the gardens and admire the beauty of this tranquil garden.
Parque Terra Nostra in Furnas Overview:
🎟️ Price: 8 EUR
⌚️ Working Hours:
Monday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tip: There is a parking area with very few places to park. You can park next to the football stadium up the street where you will find plenty of spaces.
Day 3 - São Miguel’s Most Mystical Spots
The third day follows some of the island’s most mystical places, which tend to be quite hidden from the public. These not so well-known places are some of the most picture perfect places on the island and are worth a visit…
Lagoa do Fogo
The hardest to capture landmark on the island of Sao Miguel – Lagoa do Fogo, the Fire lake. Lagoa do Fogo is usually covered in thick fog or clouds, or both. It’s very rare to capture it on a sunny day. That is why it is one of the most desired and interesting landmarks in Sao Miguel island.
Visiting the lake is not as hard, as seeing it on a sunny day. Thus, it is recommended to check the Web Cams upfront or opt for a guided tour.
Anyhow, to easily reach Lagoa do Fogo, go to its parking lot where you can easily descent to its beach. Or stop by the Pico da Barrosa viewpoint, which is the highest spot in the area. There you will have plenty of options to get down to the lake, as there are many hiking trails that lead to its beaches. Along with that, you will be able to enjoy some of the best views of the lake from above.
However, be very cautious while hiking around the lake, as there are lots of seagull colonies. During the breeding period, between April and May they can be quite aggressive, so keep your distance.
Lagoa do Congro
Lagoa do Congro is one the lesser-known sights on the island of Sao Miguel. As such, it does not attract many visitors to its shores and the fact it is not easy to reach makes it the most tranquil place on the island.
Thus, if you want some peace and quiet, away from the crowds at Lagoa do Fogo and Sete Cidades, this is your place. Enjoy the emerald green waters of the lake, the gentle chirping of the birds and the beautiful lush forest surrounding it.
The lake is situated between rows of fields and forests. Thus, you will have to rely on your navigation to find its trail. Nevertheless, it takes around 20 minutes to descend to its shores and admire this magical place.
Vila Franca do Campo and the Islet
This small parish was once the capital of Sao Miguel island. Unfortunately, the city was demolished by an earthquake that happened in the 15th century and the capital was moved to Ponta Delgada. However, the parish of Vila Franca do Campo was later rebuilt and is now a thriving fishing and yachting port.
The parish of Vila Franca do Campo is mostly known for the famous Vila Franca Islet and for the beautiful chapel that sits on the hills of the city. The chapel of Our Lady of Peace is prominent for its beautiful zig-zag stairways and the painted azulejos (tiles) covering its stairs. Along with that, it provides a unique view over the region and the Princess Ring Islet.
The Vila Franca islet is basically a crater of a long gone submerged volcano. It is great for outdoor activities and water sports such as diving and snorkeling. Visiting the Vila Franca Islet is one of the highlights of the city and it can easily be added to a whale watching tour.
Day 4 – The Heart of Sao Miguel
Day 4 of the Sao Miguel itinerary is exploring the heart of the island. It’s going through Europe’s finest tea plantations to one of the most magical places on the island – Caldeira Velha…
Gorreana Tea Plantation
It is definitely not the typical landmark you would think of visiting, but Gorreana Tea Factory is one of a kind. The tea plantation has been established back in 1883 with the help of Chinese settlers. Ever since Gorreana Tea Plantation has been supplying Europe with the finest green and black teas nowhere to be found. It is good to note that the factory is prominent for its fine produce and uses no chemicals to grow it. Thus, I encourage to visit it early in the morning for a cup of tea and some tea-growing lessons.
While you are at the plantation you can check the whole process of producing tea and even try it free of charge… ☕
Nearby is one of the most important viewpoints in Sao Miguel – Miradouro de Santa Iria. Many years ago, it was a place where a couple of battles for independence were fought. Nowadays, it provides a beautiful vista over the northern part of the island.
Salto do Cabrito
Cabrito waterfall is one of the most visited waterfalls in the Azores. It is close to the parish of Ribeira Grande, which is known for its hot springs. This is where the hiking trail to the waterfall starts and goes through lush Laurissilva vegetation.
Salto do Cabrito is situated into a huge gorge, which is coming out of the lush vegetation. It is almost set into a secluded area away from the city, but not so far away. Thus, it is pretty easy getting to, which makes it one of the most well-known waterfalls on the island.
Parque Natural da Caldeira Velha
This biosphere reserve in the middle of Sao Miguel is probably the most magical thermal spa complex on the island. It is guaranteeing to take you to another world, full of humongous endemic vegetation and natural thermal pools.
What makes Caldeira Velha such a magical place is the fact that its pools are all natural and not man made. The thermal water in them is usually not more than 30 degrees Celsius, which is less than in Furnas. The complex has 3 pools, among which the last one has its very own waterfall pouring geothermal water. The park of Caldeira Velha is worth a visit and a dip in its warm healing waters, especially after a day on the road… 🌴😌
Parque Natural da Caldeira Velha Overview:
🎟️ Price: 8 EUR
⌚️ Working Hours:
November to Match: 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM
April to October: 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM
🧐 Tip: You are allowed to stay a maximum of 2 hours at the pool. So, don’t stay more, as you might have to pay additionally.
Day 5 - Sao Miguel’s Best Waterfalls
The island of Sao Miguel is home to lots of waterfalls compared to the rest of the Azores islands. Thus, the 5th day of the itinerary for Sao Miguel is for exploring the south part of the island, where its waterfalls are hidden…
The Hot Waterfall of Ribeira Quente
The King of all the waterfalls in Sao Miguel – the Hot Waterfall of Ribeira Quente! This waterfall is probably the hardest one to reach, plus it is humongous and pours hot water.
It is located between two tunnels on the EN2 road, only 10 minutes away from Furnas. Before the tunnels there is a parking where one can park. However, it is not advisable to cross the street, especially if there is fog. Anyhow, many enthusiasts manage to reach this waterfall by crossing the road and reaching the gap between the tunnels. From there, follow the muddy pathway leading to this magnificent waterfall…
❗❗❗ The pathway to the waterfall is not secured, thus you will be on your own. Make sure to wear proper shoes and be very cautious once in between the tunnels. Do not walk in the middle of the road!
Salto do Prego
Located deep into the forest surrounding the parish of Faial da Terra, Salto do Prego is one of the most remote waterfalls in Sao Miguel. The waterfall is a well-known stop on the famous Sanguinho hiking trail and is definitely worth the tough hike. The trail offers a visit to another waterfall – Salto do Cagarrão, which is a bit further from Salto do Prego and takes less than an hour to reach.
In the beginning, the trail starts with a narrow pathway following a small stream, until it goes into a lush Laurisilva forest. Following the pathway, you will reach Salto do Prego in less than an hour and be able to admire the beauty of this tranquil place…
Day 6 - The North
On day 6 of this Sao Miguel itinerary, you will have the chance to explore the beautiful views of the north part of the island. Along with that, you will get the chance to visit some of the most hidden waterfalls and park in Sao Miguel…
Farinha and Poco Azul Waterfalls
The Farinha and Poco Azul waterfalls are some of the most hidden waterfalls on the island of Sao Miguel. However, they can easily be found by following the hiking trail to Salto da Farinha, which connects the parsishes of Achadinha and Salga.
The hike to Salto da Farinha is considered to be one of the best hiking trails of the north part of the island. It is going through following one of the most scenic pathways of the island and gives a clear view of the north part of the Sao Miguel. The first stop along the way are the chain waterfalls of Poco Azul where one can take a refreshingly chill dip. Later on, the trail will take you to the famous Salto da Farinha waterfall, which is one of the biggest waterfalls on the island.
Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes
Located in the northeast part of Sao Miguel, this park houses some of the most picturesque waterfalls on the island. The Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes is one of the protected areas on the island and just like Caldeira Velha is home to many endemic species.
The pathways of the park are easy to hike and are perfect for leisure walking. There are plenty of areas for rest or for having a picnic. Along with that, the park is one of the historically important areas of the island. It is home to a couple of water mills dating back to the 16th century, which were used to help the landlords of the Azores. They are quite well-preserved and are worth a visit too, so don’t skip them 🤩
The Miradouros of the North
The north part of Sao Miguel is for sure all about the scenic views and there are plenty of them to visit.
The Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos is going to stun you with its beautiful scenery. It is providing a clear view of the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean and is giving a glimpse of the lighthouse in the Azores – Farol do Arnel.
Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego is guaranteeing to make your jaw drop with its beautiful gardens overlooking the ocean. From this viewpoint you can easily spot other miradouros like Fajã do Araújo , Ponta da Madrugada and Ponta da Marquesa near Nordeste.
Day 7 - Ponta Delgada
The last day of this itinerary for Sao Miguel is recommended to be spent in the capital of the Azores – Ponta Delgada. It is the perfect way to wind down and get some rest after all of those days on the road…
Things to do in Ponta Delgada
Ponta Delgada has become the capital of the Azores in the 1522, after a devastating earthquake destroyed its previous capital – Vila Franca do Campo. Ever since the city has been the center of the island in economic and social aspect.
Nowadays, Ponta Delgada is an economically thriving city and is the biggest one in the Azores. However, do not expect fancy shopping centers, a bustling nightlife and crowded streets. Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores, and as such, it provides the tranquility of the islands – just that. That is why, it is the perfect way to finish off your 7 days in Sao Miguel…
Mercado da Graca
If you are a food lover, head to Graca market where you will find plenty of local produce. Whether you are craving some fine cheese or fresh fish, this is the place. You can also find lots of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables to chew on.
The market is closed only on Sundays, so make sure to visit it during the week.
Santuário do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres
This sanctuary has been built in the 15th century and has been occupied by nuns by the order of Saint Francis. The convent is one of the most religiously important buildings in Ponta Delgada and is home to incredible religious treasures.
Usually, the sanctuary is known mostly for its yearly celebrations happening in devotion to the Saint Christ of Miracles. During the celebrations, you will enjoy live music, street markets and various cultural events…
Portas da Cidade
The Portas da Cidade are certainly Ponta Delgada’s most iconic hirstorical monument. The gates are composed of three arches, which are displaying the coat of arms of the city and the royal family of Portugal. They were built in the 18th century they have been the entrance to the city for the past couple of centuries…
Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião
Just a couple of steps away from the Portas da Cidade is the Igreja Martiz de São Sebastião. It has been built in the 15th century by the orders of its patron Sao Sebastiao, right after the great plague that devastated the islands.
What is interesting about this church is its astonishing Manueline architecture, which is typical for Portugal’s religious buildings. Later in time, Gothic and Baroque details were added to its façade, which changed its outlook a bit. Nevertheless, the church is worth a visit for its beautiful outlook and for its historical importance to the city.
Jardim António Borges
This public botanical garden is one of the most beautiful places in Ponta Delgada and is set in the heart of the city. It was founded in the 19th century by António Borges who was an Azorean businessman and politician. Inside of the garden there are numerous exotic plants and flowers, which are creating an incredibly ambient athmosphere.
Although, this botanical garden is not like that of the Terra Nostra Garden in Furnas, as it is still worth a visit, especially if you need to unwind…
Museu Carlos Machado
The museum of Dr. Carlos Machado has been founded in the end of the 18th century. At first, there were very few collections like Zoology, Botany, Geology and Mineralogy, which are now considered historical artefacts. Nowadays, the museum holds various Religious collections, Costume collections, Arts and Music collections, Regional and African ethnography and many more.
Carlos Machado Museum Overview:
🎟️ Price: 5 EUR
⌚️ Working Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Closed on Mondays. Sundays are free of charge.
The Pineapple Farm
Arruda Pineapple Plantation is the best-known pineapple plantation near the city of Ponta Delgada. It is known for growing a special type of mini pineapples that take 2 years to fully grow. Probably, that is why the price of those pineapples at the market is higher… 😁
🍍 The Growth Process of Arruda Pineapple Farm 🍍
The way the Azorean pineapples are grown is unique. Firstly, the pineapples are planted in greenhouses where a special method for growing is used – “hot bed”. Then, the soil is fertilized with special organic and earth matters. Eventually, the process is finished with the so-called “smoking” of the pineapples. The smoking is sort of intoxification for the plant, which makes it bloom faster and is done for 8-10 days. After 18 to 24 months, one can harvest the pineapples and enjoy their incredible taste! 🍍
Sao Miguel Outdoor Activities
7 days in Sao Miguel are surely enough time to explore the island and enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities. However, I have included some of the top outdoor activities to take part in:
Caldeirões Canyoning Experience: Caldeirões park offers its visitors canyoning on the waterfalls to rush your adrenaline and have some fun! Caldeirões park is perfect for beginners in canyoning!
Salto do Cabrito Canyoning: If you want to level up in canyoning, then you can try climbing Salto do Cabrito!
São Miguel’s Hidden Gems: Want to see more hidden waterfalls around Sao Miguel? Then, you should definitely check this guided tour!
Sao Miguel Whale Watching Expedition: If you want to learn more about the way of living of whales, dolphins, turtles and eventually spot some… Sign up for this tour with an experienced marine biologist!
Ponta Delgada Food Tour: Fancy trying all of the traditional dishes and pastries of the Azores? Then, opt for this tour for foodies in Ponta Delgada!
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I hope that you liked this 7-day itinerary for Sao Miguel island in the Azores. Did you have the chance to visit the island?
Which sight is your favourite?