Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal

Alayna

Traveler | Canada

       

The island of Sao Miguel is the main island of the Azores, a collection of volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic island. The Portuguese islands are so far from the mainland that it’s like visiting an entirely different country. The relaxed island vibe has yet to really be impacted, as tourism is just starting to pick up there.  Ponta Delgada is the capital city and where the main airport is located.

Beautiful Landscape.

Photo Copyright Alayna

This likely where you would fly into and also serves as a jumping off point to visit the other islands of Azores. Ryanair has started to offer budget tickets; otherwise TAP Portugal uses it as a layover spot from North America to Europe.

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The island is quite small, making it possible to stay in the same hotel every night and do just day trips from that location. Ponta Delgada is centrally located and has the most options available, though we found a decent selection of places around the island and appreciated moving around.

My recommendation is to rent a car when you’re there. It’s the cheapest and best way to get around. There are buses and tours, and if you are only there for a layover (which I don’t recommend) then they would be okay, but if you want to really explore and experience the island a car is the best way to go.  Beware that all of the roads on Google maps are not actually roads! We got into trouble when we decided to drive around Setes Cidades. It’s only really a hiking trail or for an all-terrain vehicle. Our little Chevy Spark stalled on a single lane steep incline, wedged between concrete walls, with an angry jeep behind us. Luckily my boyfriend stayed calm enough and was able to get us moving again. This happened a couple times on rough roads- it might be worth getting a vehicle with a little more heft!

Majestic Scenery.

Photo Copyright Alayna

WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?

 

The weather is incredibly unpredictable and diverse. It could be pure sun when you start climbing the mountain and be a dense fog by the time you reach the top. My best advice is that if the weather is clear, make sure you do the hikes you want to, don’t wait! The best times to visit are from April to September, where the rainy days are closer to 1 in 3. It rains and is foggy quite a bit, but that makes it incredibly lush and green, and waters the thousands of gorgeous hydrangeas that line the roadways. There are many lookouts/ stops along the roads with impeccable gardens that you would have to pay big bucks to see anywhere else, but here they are just bathroom break spots! It’s crazy! The most amazing lookout we stopped at for exactly this reason was Miradouro do Por-do-Sol.

HOT SPRINGS!

 

Rainy days are a perfect excuse to go visit the hot springs! Furnas  (a fitting name) boasts hot spring tubs to bath in, and around the island you can find natural ones, including the Calderia Velha which has a hot spring waterfall! For an interesting treat you can try the local dish of root vegetables cooked underground from the natural heat, but you have to order this a day or two in advance.

Hot Springs!

Photo Copyright Alayna

FAIAL DA TERRA

 

We stayed at a cozy place in Faial da Terra, where we were about the only tourists there overnight. This is a small village, which has a nice hiking trail up to a waterfall, Salto de Prego. We happened to be in town for a street party, where they welcomed us and we danced on the street with the locals (though we got quite the stares during it).

LAGOA SETES CIDADES

 

Lagoa Setes Cidades is the main attraction of the island, with twin lakes that appear to be different colours because of the different vegetation that grows on the bottom. You can only really tell if the sun is shining, otherwise they look similar. There are many hiking trails around this area, and to walk around would take all day. There is a lookout Miradouro da Vista do Rei, where you can look out over the lake from an abandoned hotel.  The images you see in all the advertisements the trail and handrails is called Miradouro da Boca do Inferno. We had an impossible time trying to figure out where it was, eventually we did, but it was an extremely dense fog and you couldn’t see anything.

Wowow!

Photo Copyright Alayna

BOOK NOW!

 

Besides the scenery, the food is delicious. They have their own cheese production and it is fantastic. Even one of the best beers I’ve ever had was on Sao Miguel. It’s a relaxed island with friendly people and beautiful views that luckily is still a bit of a hidden travel gem. Go there before everyone realises how great it is!

 

SMOOFLY RECOMMENDATION for Ponta Delgada.

 

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