21 Things to do in Sete Cidades
7 October 2023 | Guides, Portugal | 25 mins
Located in the heart of São Miguel Island in the Azores, Sete Cidades offers a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty and cultural charm. This verdant paradise, renowned for its iconic twin lakes, goes beyond its tranquil waters to present a treasure trove of 21 captivating activities and experiences. From adventurous hikes along volcanic ridges to leisurely strolls through quaint village streets, Sete Cidades invites travelers to dive deep into its enchanting allure, promising memories that will last a lifetime.
While you are following some of the most iconic Azores walking trails you will for sure witness some of the major lakes in Portugal. Sete Cidades Azores is for sure a hell of an enchanting place that will leave its mark on you!
Sete Cidades Map
Sete Cidades History
Sete Cidades, located on the island of São Miguel in the Azores, is enveloped in both natural splendor and captivating myths. Its name translates to Seven Cities, stemming from a legend about seven churches submerged beneath its twin lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. The day Sete Cidades was established is quite unknown, but it was for sure after 1375. offers a tranquil ambiance, far removed from the hustle and bustle. Historically, the Sete Cidades volcano eruptions sculpted this breathtaking caldera over millennia, resulting in a landscape of dramatic cliffs, expansive waters, and vibrant green pastures. While its geological history speaks of volcanic fury, local lore narrates tales of forbidden love and teary farewells, adding an air of mystique to this already awe-inspiring location.
So, the original Sete Cidades legend tells a very tragic love story. A beautiful princess fell in love with a shepherd, but their union was forbidden by the king. Heartbroken, they were granted one last meeting. As they wept, their tears formed two lakes: one green, reflecting the princess’s eyes, and one blue, mirroring the shepherd’s eyes. Today, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul stand side by side, an eternal testament to their undying love, and a poignant reminder of the heartfelt tales woven into the fabric of the Azorean landscape.
How to Get to Sete Cidades?
Reaching Sete Cidades offers a journey as captivating as the destination itself. Located on São Miguel island in the Azores, this natural wonder is best accessed by car. Driving from Ponta Delgada allows travelers to meander through the winding roads, revealing panoramic views of the lush island and the vast Atlantic Ocean. While there are alternative modes of transport, driving offers the flexibility to explore at one’s own pace, stop at scenic viewpoints, and truly absorb the breathtaking beauty of the region.
Sete Cidades Hike
The Sete Cidades Crater Hike is one of the most enthralling hiking trails that encircles the rim of one of São Miguel Island’s renowned volcanic calderas in the Azores. The starting point of the Lagoa das Sete Cidades starts at the viewpoint of Vista do Rei, named for King Carlos I of Portugal who visited in 1901, hikers embark on a trail that offers unmatched views of the twin lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. The Lagoa das Sete Cidades lakes, with their distinct green and blue hues, are steeped in legends of star-crossed lovers. The route, spanning roughly 12 kilometers, is of moderate difficulty with occasional steep stretches. Along the journey, hikers encounter an array of endemic flora and fauna, capturing the essence of Azorean biodiversity. The trail then concludes at the quaint village of Sete Cidades, nestled beside the lakes.
The Vista do Rei – Sete Cidades hike is probably among the best hikes in the Azores. To be quite honest, it is for sure my favourite!
Sete Cidades Village
Sete Cidades is a charming village nestled within the massive volcanic caldera of the same name on São Miguel, the largest island in the Azores archipelago. Surrounded by steep green crater walls, the village is adjacent to the twin lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul, which are emblematic of the island’s breathtaking natural beauty.
The village, with its white-washed houses and historic church, provides an authentic Azorean experience. Nature trails, viewpoints, and local eateries allow visitors to explore both the landscape and the local culture. Sete Cidades not only serves as a base for exploring the surrounding natural wonders but is also a reminder of the harmonious coexistence of nature and human habitation in such a dramatic and unique setting.
São Nicolau Church
Situated in the heart of the picturesque village of Sete Cidades on São Miguel Island, the Sao Nicolau Church stands as a testament to Azorean religious architecture and the deep-rooted faith of its inhabitants. This historic church, distinguished by its white façade and contrasting trim, offers a serene backdrop to the vibrant green surroundings typical of the Azores. Its interior is equally captivating, adorned with traditional Azorean religious art and motifs.
As you approach the Sao Nikolau church, the bell tower rises prominently, echoing calls of devotion across the tranquil village. Whether you’re seeking spiritual solace or simply want to appreciate its architectural beauty, São Nicolau Church is a must-visit when in Sete Cidades.
Pico do Faial
Located on the picturesque island of Faial in the Azores, Pico do Faial isn’t to be confused with the main Pico Island nearby. This peak offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, encompassing the azure waters of the Atlantic and neighboring islands on clear days. The lush greenery and elevation make it a favored spot for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
Pico da Cruz
Often shrouded in mists and presenting a mystical allure, Pico da Cruz is a prominent peak that captivates with its natural beauty. From here, viewers can observe a tapestry of green meadows, rugged coastlines, and, on some occasions, the distant silhouettes of neighboring islands. The serenity and vantage point it offers make it a sought-after location for both photographers and trekkers.
Boca do Inferno
Boca do Inferno is one of the most photographed spots on São Miguel Island and literally means “Mouth of Hell”. Contrary to its ominous name, this viewpoint provides a mesmerizing view of the Sete Cidades lakes, the ocean, and the surrounding caldera. The unique vantage point offers a layered view of multiple lakes, craters, and the verdant landscape, making it an essential stop for anyone visiting the Azores. The contrast of the serene landscapes with the dramatic name is part of what makes this location so memorable.
Miradouro do Vista do Rei
This is perhaps the most iconic Sete Cidades viewpoint on São Miguel Island. Named after King Carlos I of Portugal who visited in 1901, the Vista do Rei viewpoint provides a panoramic view of the Sete Cidades crater and its twin lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. The contrast of the blue and green waters against the lush crater walls is breathtaking and often captured in photographs of the Azores.
Miradouro da Lomba do Vasco
Located on the south side of the Sete Cidades caldera, this viewpoint offers another angle of the mesmerizing twin lakes. The encompassing view captures the rolling hills and farmlands, presenting a harmonious blend of natural and cultivated landscapes.
Miradouro das Cumeeiras
This viewpoint runs along the rim of the Sete Cidades crater, giving visitors an up-close experience of the caldera’s vastness. The trail here is perfect for those looking to absorb the expansive scenery on foot.
Miradouro do Cerrado das Freiras
Nestled in the heart of the island, this viewpoint provides vistas of the verdant valleys and the shimmering coastline. It’s a tranquil spot, less frequented by tourists, making it a peaceful retreat for nature lovers.
Miradouro do Pico do Paul
Situated at a higher elevation, Pico do Paul offers a bird’s-eye view of the dense forests and the patchwork of agricultural fields. On clear days, the vast Atlantic Ocean can be seen gleaming in the distance.
Miradouro do Pico do Carvão
This viewpoint is renowned for its diverse vistas. From here, one can see both the northern and southern coasts of São Miguel, and the mosaic of volcanic cones, lakes, and lush forests in between. It’s a testament to the island’s geological history and natural beauty.
Lagoa do Canário
Located near Sete Cidades on São Miguel Island, Lagoa do Canário is a small, serene lake ensconced amidst lush forests. The emerald-green waters of this lake, coupled with the dense surrounding vegetation, provide a tranquil and picturesque setting. It’s a lesser-known gem, allowing for a peaceful escape from the more frequented tourist spots.
If you want to visit the Lagoa do Canario, along with a couple of similar, but less-known lakes like Lagoa de Eguas and Lagoa Rasa, you can opt for the Serra Devassa hiking trail. This is for sure one of the best hikes in Azores and it takes around 2 hours and is a pretty pleasant hiking trail to try out!
Tip: Right before the entrance for the Lagoa do Canario, there’s a parking spot when you can leave your car.
Lagoa do Santiago
Situated in a volcanic crater, Lagoa do Santiago is a captivating lake with dark green waters that contrast vividly with the surrounding verdant landscapes. Just above the lake is the Miradouro da Lagoa de Santiago, a viewpoint that offers panoramic vistas of the lake and its encompassing crater. From here, the lake appears as a green jewel set amidst the rough textures of the volcanic terrain. It’s a spot that showcases the raw beauty and geological richness of the Azores and is one of the best Portugal lakes to see.
Located on the verdant island of Sao Miguel Island in the Azores, the Lagoa Empadadas area is not just a singular lake but a collection of water bodies set amidst a dense forested region. Within this area, there are two main lakes: the Lagoa Empadadas Norte and the Lagoa Empadadas Sul. These adjacent lakes, enveloped by luxuriant ferns and moss-covered trees, provide a serene and almost mystical environment. The stillness of the waters often mirrors the overhanging clouds and surrounding foliage, creating a picturesque setting.
These lakes, situated on the higher grounds of the island, are not just a visual treat but also popular spots for picnics, nature walks, and bird-watching. The Lagoa Empadadas area is a testament to the rich geological and natural diversity of São Miguel, and it beautifully encapsulates the tranquility that the Azores are renowned for.
Monte Palace Abandoned Hotel
Overlooking the Sete Cidades lakes, the Monte Palace stands as a haunting relic of luxury from a bygone era. Built in the 1980s, this 5-star hotel operated for less than two years before being abandoned. Its decaying structure, juxtaposed against the backdrop of one of São Miguel’s most iconic natural wonders, offers a surreal experience. The eeriness of its empty halls and overgrown courtyards has attracted urban explorers and photographers from around the world, keen to capture its post-apocalyptic ambiance.
Muro das Nove Janelas
Often referred to as “The Wall of Nine Windows,” this historic structure is a testament to the architectural and civil engineering prowess of earlier generations in São Miguel. This old aqueduct, with its nine arched windows, was designed for water passage and has become a symbol of the harmonious blend of functionality and aesthetic appeal. Today, it stands as a scenic backdrop for visitors and a reminder of the island’s rich history.
Aqueduto do Carvão
The “Carvão Aqueduct” is another emblematic structure on the island, constructed to facilitate the distribution of water across certain areas of São Miguel. Its stone arches, reminiscent of ancient Roman aqueducts, cut a striking figure against the lush landscapes of the island. While it’s no longer in functional use, the aqueduct serves as a historical marker and a favorite spot for photography enthusiasts.
Translating to “Hydrangea Road”, Estrada Hortênsia is one of São Miguel’s most enchanting routes where you will witness the Azores hydrangeas. The road is lined with vibrant hydrangea bushes, especially during blooming seasons, turning the stretch into a vivid tapestry of blues, purples, and pinks. Driving or walking down this road feels like traversing through a floral wonderland, making it a unique and unforgettable experience on the island.
Situated on the western tip of São Miguel, Mosteiros is a picturesque fishing village known for its unique black sand beaches formed from volcanic activity. Beyond its sands, the village is famous for the offshore islets, which are remnants of ancient volcanic craters and provide a captivating silhouette against the setting sun. The town offers a blend of serene landscapes, from its tranquil beaches to lush fields, making it a peaceful retreat from busier parts of the island.
Ponta da Ferraria
A geothermal wonder, Ponta da Ferraria is where the island’s volcanic legacy meets the vastness of the Atlantic. Here, natural hot springs flow into the ocean, creating a unique spa experience where visitors can bathe in warm waters while surrounded by the coolness of the sea. The rugged coastline and the interplay of hot and cold waters make this spot a must-visit for those seeking both relaxation and adventure.
Where to stay in Sete Cidades?
Sete Cidades offers diverse accommodation options catering to various budgets and tastes. For an upscale stay, the Sete Cidades Lake Lodge stands out, with cozy establishment offering comfortable lodgings with a view.. Another sought-after choice is the Vista do Vale, which provides panoramic views of the valley and is nestled amidst lush greenery. Of course, there are plenty of other choices to pick from:
Sete Cidades Lake Lodge – A serene lakeside retreat in the heart of nature.
GRANARY’S HOUSE – A cozy, rustic abode reflecting island traditions.
Casa da Cruzinha – Combining comfort with Sete Cidades’ rich heritage.
Blue OceanView Relaxing Cottage – A cottage with unrivaled ocean views and tranquility.
Vista do Vale – A peaceful stay overlooking Sete Cidades’ lush valley.
Where and What to Eat in Sete Cidades?
So, here’s the list of Sete Cidades restaurants. The Green Love Lakeside Lounge is a must-visit, offering an array of local and international dishes, all complemented by its stunning lakeside vistas. Not far from there, the Restaurante Lagoa Azul, nestled by the Lagoa Azul, stands out for its fresh seafood dishes, traditional Azorean cuisine, and its laid-back ambiance. While in Sete Cidades, you might come across the Cozido das Furnas, a unique stew prepared using the island’s geothermal heat. Morning visitors should indulge in Bolo Lêvedo, a delightful sweet bread, while dessert enthusiasts will relish the Queijadas, creamy cheese pastries. Given São Miguel’s maritime geography, fresh seafood dishes, especially those featuring local catches like lapas and cracas, are delish.
The Best Sete Cidades Tours
Sete Cidades, with its picturesque landscapes and serene lakes, offers a myriad of tour options that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the best tours around and in Sete Cidades:
Spot Açores is one of the best things invented for the Azores Islands! It is for sure your go to place when you are deciding what and when to visit. These cameras are located in different areas of all the Azores Islands and will for sure help you navigate easily your trip. The best part is that you can check the weather around the Azores Islands and tweak your holiday to become a never ending sunny trip.
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I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article about visiting the Azores islands! Let me know if you found it useful or would like to add something below 😉