21 Things to do in Furnas
4 October 2023 | Azores Islands, Portugal | 25 mins
Furnas is only 44 kilometers away from Ponta Delgada and it is perfect for a full day trip on Sao Miguel Island. Nestled within São Miguel Island of the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, Furnas is for sure a Portugal hotspot with its’ treasure trove of geothermal wonders. This enchanting valley has carved its niche as one of the island’s most exciting destinations. Dive deep into nature’s embrace as you soak in the therapeutic hot springs of Terra Nostra Garden and Poça da Dona Beija.
Venture to Furnas and let this picturesque spot of São Miguel take you on an unforgettable Azorean journey, where nature’s magic and culinary delights await your discovery.
So, how everything started? First, the name, Furnas meaning comes from describing the region’s abundant geothermal springs and bubbling mud geysers and literally means “caves”. Founded in 1522 following landslides in Villa Franca do Campo, the former Azores capital, Furnas became instrumental in reconstruction efforts.
After the earthquakes, its forests provided timber to restore key structures, notably a church led by Rui Gonçalves da Câmara. By 1553, overharvesting prompted reforestation efforts by Manuel da Câmara. Infrastructure developments, especially roads, soon supported cattle herding. The construction of a chapel in 1613 marked religious significance, and even after a 1630 volcanic eruption, the community rebounded with new roads from the 1680s Baron of Larangeiras.
The 19th century saw English influence, as land near the crater lake was bought and turned into a summer home, Grená, by English Consul-General Vines. This residence eventually hosted notable visitors. By the 1840s, Furnas had over 1,300 residents, marking its importance in São Miguel’s history.
Furnas Lake Hike
A hike around the Furnas lake is probably one of the highlights of Furnas. You can easily start it from the parking spot at the Furnas crater lake, close to the entrance of the Furnas village and next to the Largo das Três Bicas. Let’s not forget that this is one of the free things to do in Furnas and should be added to your Furnas itinerary!
The pathway will lead you through the enchanting sites like Igreja de Santana and the mystical Poça da Dona Beija hot springs. Then, go down the scenic route till you spot the mystical Lagoa of Furnas lake. Take a left, and let those cobblestones lead you around the lake. Get ready for a historical treat as you encounter the 19th-century gothic marvel, Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, and wander around the lush Mata Jardim José do Canto garden. Don’t forget to snap a pic at Casa dos Barcos – it’s a slice of rustic charm!
Then, following the pathway you will reach the Furnas Monitoring & Research Centre and an area brimming with nostalgia – think ancient coal oven ruins and Europe’s largest Norfolk Island Pine.
Stroll along the serene lake bank dotted with artsy wooden sculptures. Venture past the Grená Park and Pico do Ferro trail crossing and arrive at the geothermic wonderland of Furnas Caldeiras or as people know it the Caldera, or the Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas. Right there, at the Caldeira das Furnas you will find the notorious Cozido à Portuguesa simmers, also known as Fumarolas, where food is cooked by the Furnas volcano’s own warmth!
People also know this place as the Furnas beach, but I can assure you that nobody goes sunbathing there, as well as swimming. It is good to note that this is pretty forbidden there.
Finally, pass by the Pico do Ferro viewpoint crossroad and the ticket area until the regional road beckons. Swing a left, follow the road and you’re back at the vibrant village center. Voila!
How to get to Furnas?
Furnas is just … away from Ponta Delgada. Getting to the parish of Furnas is quite easy by car and it takes around 45 minutes of scenic drive around Sao Miguel Island.
There are other options to get to Furnas, like taxis, and regular bus services, but they can be rather inconvenient. You won’t get the freedom you are yearning if you opt for this one. Thus, I can conclude that the rent-a-car is probably your best option.
Near Furnas village, within Jardim Público da Courela, lie the Caldeiras Vulcanicas or as they are popularly known – the Caldeiras das Furnas. These hot springs, born from volcanic activity, symbolize the region’s explosive history. Their steaming waters and mud pools narrate the tectonic tales beneath.
More than geology, they’re central to local culture, especially in preparing the Cozido das Furnas stew using the Earth’s geothermal heat, giving it a distinctive taste. Many visitors, drawn to the Caldeiras, not only marvel at its geothermal spectacle but also seek the therapeutic benefits of the “Água Santa” waters, believed to have healing properties.
Tips & Tricks for Visiting:
The parking to the park is free and you can freely park wherever you want.
Try the steam cooked corn. It costs 1 EUR.
Free Flowing Spring Water in Furnas, São Miguel Island, Azores
In Furnas’ heart, various springs, known as “água azeda” or “sour water,” dot the landscape, each with unique tastes and reputed health benefits. Highlights include:
Água Azeda do Rebentão: Cold, at 15.6ºC, believed to treat dandruff and aid digestion.
Água Azeda: Famous for its distinctive flavor and ornate blue and white tiles, it has a temperature of 15.9°C.
Iron Water: A 34.4°C thermal spring, often used for allergies.
Água Santa: At 95.5°C and a basic pH, it’s renowned for cold treatments when mixed with honey, cinnamon, and rum.
Água do Caldeirão & Padre José: Hot springs known for respiratory and cholesterol treatments, respectively.
Água da Morangueira: A 41.2°C spring, believed to treat liver and kidney issues.
Água Dr. Bruno: At 20.4°C, it’s said to alleviate flatulence and bleeding.
Água Glória Patri: Commonly found in local stores, it’s neutral in pH and emerges at 17.5°C.
Each spring offers a unique experience, making Furnas a haven for wellness enthusiasts.
Parque Terra Nostra
Terra Nostra Park in Furnas is a natural sanctuary offering therapeutic relaxation. Perfect for botanists, wellness enthusiasts, or anyone seeking peace, it’s a top Furnas attraction. It is also, one of the best Furnas parks out there.
The thermal pool, with its mustard hue, is laden with minerals known for healing muscle pain and skin issues, promoting relaxation. This park also boasts a historic garden, established in the 18th century. It’s now among Azores’ most extensive botanical gardens, showcasing a vast range of both endemic and exotic flora, from fern gardens to cycad sections.
This is for sure one of the things to do in Furnas this weekend!
Tips & Tricks for Visiting:
Visit During Off-Peak Hours: Early mornings or late afternoons offer a quieter experience, allowing for a serene exploration.
Pack a Dark-Colored Swimsuit: The mineral-rich waters of the thermal pool can stain light-colored clothing.
Mind the Pathways: After rainfall, certain areas can become slippery, so always be cautious.
Allocate Ample Time: With so much to see, it’s worth dedicating a few hours to fully appreciate the park’s beauty.
Grena Park & Cascata do Grená
Tucked away in the lush landscapes of the Azores Islands, Grená Park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. The Azores, renowned for its vibrant flora and fauna, offers parks like Grená as a serene escape. Wander through well-maintained trails, discover endemic plant species, and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance that’s characteristic of the Azorean outdoors.
The Azores islands, with its volcanic terrain, is home to numerous cascades and waterfalls, and Cascata do Grená promises to be a hidden gem among them. Feel the mist on your face as you approach the cascade and listen to the symphony of falling water blending with the calls of local birds. A visit here is a rejuvenating experience, bringing you close to nature’s untamed beauty.
To get to Cascata do Grena, you just need to follow the signs in Grena Park, which will lead you to a quite pleasant hike up the hill. From there you can observe the lake, the enchanting pine forest and the waterfalls.
In ancient times, without ovens, people ingeniously sought ways to cook food. On São Miguel Island, nature offered a solution with its bubbling hot springs. This gift birthed the unique culinary masterpiece known as Cozido das Furnas.
This Azorean specialty from Furnas is a hearty medley of meats – beef, pork, chicken, and sometimes chorizo or blood sausage, partnered with local vegetables like cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and yams. Instead of traditional cooking methods, the ensemble is placed in a pot and buried in geothermal grounds near Furnas hot springs.
Thanks to the island’s volcanic activity, the underground steam slowly and meticulously cooks the stew. After simmering in nature’s oven for hours, the outcome is a delectably tender dish, enriched with the distinct flavors of volcanic earth.
Believe me, tasting this stew is an experience you shouldn’t miss!
Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitorias
Nestled amidst lush greenery, this Gothic-style chapel holds more than just religious significance; it’s the embodiment of a poignant love story. In the late 19th century, a wealthy Azorean, José do Canto, commissioned this chapel. But it wasn’t merely an act of devotion. You see, José was deeply in love with his wife, Maria Guilhermina Taveira Brum. Sadly, Maria fell ill, and as her health waned, José promised to build a chapel in her honor, hoping for divine intervention.
The stunning Capela de Nossa Senhora das Vitórias is that very promise brought to life. Tragically, Maria passed away before its completion. As a result, this chapel also serves as her final resting place, making it a poignant symbol of everlasting love.
As you step inside, the beautiful stained glass and intricate woodwork might just make you feel the deep love and pain José felt. The ambiance, combined with the surrounding tranquility of Furnas Lake, creates a touching, contemplative atmosphere.
Igreja de Santana
Situated in the heart of the quaint village of Furnas in the Azores lies the Igreja de Santana, a symbol of both religious devotion and local architectural prowess. This church, with its distinct façade and bell tower, stands as a testament to the island’s rich colonial past and the deep-rooted Christian faith of its inhabitants.
Constructed during the 18th century, the Igreja de Santana showcases a blend of baroque and neoclassical architectural styles. As you step inside, the church’s interiors greet visitors with intricately carved wooden altars, traditional Azorean tiles, and stained-glass windows that narrate biblical tales in a cascade of colors.
But it’s not just the architecture that captivates; the church has been an epicenter of community life for centuries. It has borne witness to countless baptisms, weddings, and community events, intertwining its history with that of the people of Furnas.
Apart from its religious significance, the church’s strategic location offers panoramic views of the surrounding lush landscapes and the ever-mysterious Furnas volcano, making it a sought-after spot for both spiritual seekers and travel enthusiasts.
Mata-Jardim José do Canto
In the Furnas valley on São Miguel Island, Azores, the Mata-Jardim José do Canto lies a botanical treasure waiting to be explored. As one of the top things to do in Furnas, this garden encapsulates the legacy of José do Canto, a famed Azorean botanist. His love for flora is evident in the garden’s vast collection of plants, some of which are rare gems from across the globe.
Beyond its green splendor, the garden offers an oasis of calm. Serene pathways, soft murmurs of water, and aromatic blooms create a meditative atmosphere, perfect for unwinding. It’s not just a garden; it’s a testament to nature’s beauty and the vision of a man who wanted to share it with the world. Whether you’re a nature lover or seeking tranquility, Mata-Jardim José do Canto promises a delightful escape.
This for sure should be on your list of Furnas things to do!
Miradouro do Picco Ferro
Perched high above the verdant Furnas Valley and its iconic lake, Miradouro do Pico Ferro offers one of the most panoramic views in the Azores. The vantage point showcases Lagoa das Furnas in all its splendor, surrounded by lush greenery and the distant peaks. This viewpoint is a photographer’s dream, particularly during sunrise or sunset when the light casts a magical hue over the landscape.
An accessible parking area and pathway make it a comfortable stop for all visitors.
Miradouro Pedras do Galego
Miradouro Pedras do Galego is a hidden gem in Furnas, São Miguel, offering sweeping vistas of the Azores’ lush landscape. This secluded viewpoint provides panoramic views of Furnas’s verdant terrain, patchwork farmlands, and the distant glimmer of the Atlantic. Unlike busier sites, Pedras do Galego ensures a serene experience, making it a favorite for photographers and nature enthusiasts. Located amidst Furnas’s geothermal wonders, it’s an essential stop for those exploring the region. Its tranquil ambiance and breathtaking scenery capture the untouched beauty of the Azores in a singular frame.
Miradouro do Salto do Cavalo
Nestled in the hills to the northeast of Furnas, Miradouro do Salto do Cavalo provides a breathtaking view of not just Furnas Valley, but also the northern and southern coastlines of São Miguel Island. The name translates to “Horse’s Leap,” hinting at legends of old. On a clear day, the horizon seems endless, with the azure ocean waters meeting the sky. The viewpoint, surrounded by dense foliage and endemic flora, is a tranquil spot perfect for reflection and relaxation.
Miradouro do Lombo dos Milhos
A lesser-known gem, Miradouro do Lombo dos Milhos, offers a unique perspective of Furnas and its lake. Situated on the western side of the lake, it gives visitors a closer view of the village and its surrounding geothermal activity. The steam vents and geysers, spouting from the earth, can be seen from this point, reminding visitors of the volcanic forces that shaped and continue to influence this remarkable landscape. The serene ambiance and the gentle sound of nature make it a great place for a peaceful pause during your Furnas explorations.
Centro de Monitorização e Investigação das Furnas
Going further around the Furnas lake, you will get to the Centro de Monitorização e Investigação das Furnas (Furnas Monitoring & Research Centre). It is dedicated to understanding and preserving the unique environment of the region. Established to study the intricate ecosystems of Furnas, the center plays a crucial role in conservation efforts. Visitors are treated to interactive exhibits showcasing the area’s biodiversity and geological wonders.
A highlight is its focus on the volcanic origins of the Azores and the ongoing geothermal activity. Dive deep into the scientific wonders of the island and witness conservation in action at this enlightening center.
Casa dos Barcos
Casa dos Barcos stands as a testament to Azorean elegance and history. Once a residence belonging to José do Canto, the famed Azorean botanist and philanthropist, today it’s an emblem of relaxation and exploration in Furnas.
Reaching Casa dos Barcos is straightforward. From Furnas village, follow the signs leading to Lagoa das Furnas. The property is situated directly on the lake’s edge, and there’s ample signage pointing towards it. The drive itself is scenic, offering picturesque views of the Furnas landscape.
Parking is available near the site.
Queijaria do Vale
At the heart of Furnas lies a boutique cheese-making venture, originating from a longstanding dairy farm. Recognizing the distinct taste potential of Furnas’ ‘sour waters’, an innovative family member introduced Queijo do Vale. This artisanal cheese is produced with fresh milk from the family’s farm, where cows thrive in the verdant Lagoa Seca Valley.
Queijo do Vale is available in four varieties: a harmonious blend of oregano and garlic, a classic creamy version, a semi-matured type, and a thyme-infused flavor. While many local supermarkets stock it, for a comprehensive insight into its production and heritage, visiting their establishment at Rua do Caminho Novo is recommended. There, you can understand the nuances of this cheese’s creation and contribute to a valued local enterprise.
Nestled in the heart of Furnas town on São Miguel Island, Azores, stands a quirky marvel: the upside-down house. This whimsical structure isn’t just a delight for selfie enthusiasts and photographers but has a practical twist too! Though it may look like someone’s eccentric residence, it’s actually a cleverly disguised housing for an electrical transformer.
Cascata e Aquário das Furnas
Nestled within the stunning landscapes of Furnas on São Miguel Island, the Cascata e Aquário das Furnas offer a combination of natural beauty and unique island aquatic life that is sure to captivate every traveler.
To reach Cascata e Aquário das Furnas, start from the heart of Furnas village. There are well-marked signs directing visitors towards the attraction. The pathway is relatively straightforward and accessible for most. However, as always in natural environments, it’s wise to wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking.
Salto do Rosal
Salto do Rosal, might not be the most obvious spot around, but it is for sure one of the best things to do in Furnas. Tucked away in the verdant landscape of Furnas on the island of São Miguel lies the Salto do Rosal, a waterfall that remains one of the Azores’ less-trodden treasures.
To reach Salto do Rosal, visitors typically start from Furnas village. From here, follow the signs towards Pico do Ferro, a popular viewpoint. Before reaching Pico do Ferro, you’ll find signs directing you to Salto do Rosal. The path can be a bit challenging, so it’s recommended to wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for a bit of a hike.
Upon arrival, the cascading waters of Salto do Rosal will greet you, surrounded by lush vegetation, offering a tranquil spot ideal for relaxation and taking in nature’s beauty. The mist from the falls and the sound of the water hitting the rocks below creates a mesmerizing ambiance.
Cascata da Ribeira Quente
Sao Miguel’s crown jewel among waterfalls is undoubtedly the Hot Waterfall of Ribeira Quente near Furnas. Tucked away amidst verdant tropical greenery and nestled between two tunnels, this cascading beauty remains one of the Azores’ most elusive sights.
Its uniqueness lies not just in its towering height, making it the tallest on the island, but also its thermal origins. Venturing to this waterfall is not for the faint-hearted. The challenging path through the tunnels en route to Ribeira Quente demands utmost caution. Yet, for those daring adventurers who make the trek, the reward is a breathtaking, thermal masterpiece waiting to be admired.
Best Way to Get There: Follow road EN2-A2 from Furnas to Ribeira Quente and stop before the tunnels. There is a tiny parking which you can use and act with extra caution.
Quite close to the parish of Furnas, you can find one of the top spots on the Sao Miguel island– Castelo Branco. Its origins remain shrouded in history, constructed by private hands with a purpose – to oversee and control the lush lands that stretched beneath its gaze.
Today, this charming relic has transformed into a panoramic viewpoint. Travelers are invited to ascend and catch a breathtaking vista: the serene Lagoa das Furnas on one side and the picturesque town of Vila Franca do Campo on the other. Each angle promises a postcard-worthy snapshot of the Azores’ beauty.
Designed reminiscent of a medieval “Domus Fortis”, the compact tower boasts two interior levels and is adorned with classic battlements. A step inside feels like a journey back in time.
Where to stay in Furnas?
Furnas boasts a range of accommodation options that fit various budgets and preferences. For a luxurious experience, consider the Furnas Boutique Hotel, which offers thermal pools and a modern spa. Terra Nostra Garden Hotel is another popular choice, located within the famed botanical gardens and providing access to thermal baths. For budget travelers, there are several guesthouses and B&Bs, such as Quinta de Santana, that offer a more intimate experience of Furnas.
Here’s a list of the BEST Furnas hotels where you can stay at:
Terra Nostra Garden Hotel – Terra Nostra Garden Hotel offers a luxurious stay amidst botanical wonders.
Landescape Furnas – Landescape Furnas showcases nature’s geothermal artistry.
Furnas Lake Forest Living – Furnas Lake Forest Living provides serene lakeside retreats.
Furnas Boutique House – Furnas Boutique House marries modern elegance with local charm.
Quinta de Santana – Quinta de Santana presents a rustic sanctuary set in verdant tranquility.
Where and What to Eat in Furnas?
Furnas is renowned for its culinary traditions, particularly the “Cozido das Furnas,”. This is Furnas stew that is slow-cooked by using geothermal heat. So, here are some of Furnas restaurants; for an authentic experience, dine at Tony’s, a highly-rated restaurant specializing in this dish. If you’re seeking a variety of Azorean cuisines, Restaurante Vale das Furnas is a must-visit. For those with a penchant for seafood, Caldeiras & Vulcões Restaurante offers an array of fresh catches prepared in traditional styles. And of course, no visit to Furnas would be complete without tasting the local pastries and bread, best enjoyed in the quaint bakeries dotted around the village.
Chalet da Tia Mercês – At Chalet da Tia Mercês, sipping tea becomes an educational experience. Witness the magic as geothermal warmth turns green tea to purple. This tea is harvested from Europe’s only two commercial tea plantations, both located on São Miguel Island: Gorreana and Porto Formoso. Pair your vibrant volcanic tea with a delectable homemade delight from the Chalet.
Bolos Lêvedos – Bolos lêvedos from Furnas are to be tried, especially if you yarn for something sweet. Nothing beats the pleasure of biting into one that’s just come out of the oven. These versatile delicacies are excellent as mini-pizza bases, burger buns, or simply enjoyed with a smear of cheese and jam.
The Best Furnas Tours
The best Furnas tours unveil its boiling calderas, where locals cook traditional “cozido” underground, and the therapeutic thermal springs, perfect for rejuvenation. Below are some of them:
Full-Day Furnas Azores 4×4 Tour from Ponta Delgada
Furnas Valley Full-Day Volcano and Tea Plantation Tour
São Miguel: Furnas Hot Springs at Night with Dinner
Furnas: Night-Time Experience with Thermal baths and Dinner
São Miguel: Furnas and Nordeste Full-Day Tour with Lunch
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.
This blog post has affiliate links, which might give me a percentage if you make a purchase. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you. It will help me to keep running this website, so thanks in advance for your immense support!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this article about visiting Furnas, Azores Islands! Let me know if you found it useful or would like to add something below 😉