Home EuropeAzores Experience the Caldeira Velha Hot Springs

Experience the Caldeira Velha Hot Springs

by Andy Vanr

Relax in the beautiful thermal pools of Caldeira Velha, in a lush green tropical forest valley in central Sao Miguel Azores.  This amazing outdoor hot springs experience is unlike the more famous thermal pools at Furnas. 

We’ve got all the details to guarantee the best visit.

What can I do at Caldeira Velha?

The number one reason people visit Caldeira Velha Natural Monument is to soak in the naturally-heated thermal pools.

People in Caldeira Velha thermal pool
Most visitors relax in the Caldeira Velha Thermal Pools.

Caldeira Velha Thermal Pools

There are three pools. Pool temperatures range between 24C and 38C degrees. Choose your temperature, relax and enjoy the lush forest setting. It was raining during our March visit, which made the pools a warm, soothing escape.

The pool furthest from the entrance is the coolest pool ranging between 24C and 28C degrees. The Caldeira Velha waterfall tumbles into this upper pool adding warmed water from the valley sides. Like an infinity pool, the water overflows into a stream below. This stream feeds the middle pool.

Andy resting on Caldeira Velha upper pool wall
I’m standing at the edge of the upper pool, where like an infinity pool, the water flowing over the side to the stream below.
Person by waterfall Caldeira Velha
I had to see how warm the waterfall was at the back of the upper pool. Very pleasant!

Pool temperatures increase from upper to middle to lower pools. The lower pool is between 35C and 38C degrees.

The pools’ water comes from the area’s hot springs and valley runoff. This water is very iron-rich so wear dark colours to avoid accidentally dying your clothes an orangey-brown. Several hot springs bubble to the surface near the pools but these are not accessible. Signs note temperatures of 60C to 100C degrees.

Sign warning water temperature Caldeira Velha hot springs
Warning signs note the boiling water temperature of the hot springs.
Caldeira Velha hot springs
The boiling water from the hot springs mixes with the cooler runoff water creating the perfect pool water temperatures.

After a relaxing soak, visit the adjacent wood-sided building which compliments the beautiful forested landscape to learn about area’s volcanic story.

Caldeira Velha Environmental Interpretation Centre

Exhibits explain the volcanic formation of the Azores islands concentrating on the local area and nearby Fogo Volcano. Learn about the recognition of the Azore islands as a UNESCO Geopark, the Caldeira Velha Natural Monument, Serra de Água de Pau Protected Area and the Fogo Lake Nature Reserve.

Andy inside Caldeira Velha Environmental Interpretation Centre
The local area is the focus at the Caldeira Velha Environmental Interpretation Centre.

Caldeira Velha Natural Monument

The protected area, on the north side of the Fogo Volcano, is a steep-sided river valley about 500 metres deep by 300 metres wide. The lush green habitat has several endemic Azorean plant and animal species.  Fumaroles and hot springs provide heated iron-rich water to the set of pools nestled midway along the valley floor.

The area’s geologic and biologic diversity is protected for future generations by designation as an Azores Geosite and a Sao Miguel Natural Monument.

People in Caldeira Velha thermal pool
The middle pool at Caldeira Velha Natural Monument
People entrance trail Caldeira Velha
The trail from the entrance to the pools is about 300 metres long.

How do I to get to Caldeira Velha?

The quickest and easiest route to Caldeira Velha Natural Monument is from the north. on the regional road EN5-2A.

It takes about 10 minutes to travel the 7 kilometres south from the center of Ribeira Grande to Caldeira Velha on EN5-2A.

Many visitors arrive from Ponta Delgada, about 20 kilometres away, in about 20 minutes. On the northeast side of Ponta Delgada, take the main highway, the EN1-1A, east to ER3-1. Take ER3-1 northeast to EN5-2A. Head south to Caldeira Velha.

The parking area is before the Caldeira Velha entrance. Signs in the lot direct visitors to the path through the forest to the entrance gate.

The thermal pools are about a 300-metre walk from the entrance gate.

Caldeira Velha Map

Map Caldeira Velha driving directions important places
How to get to Caldeira Velha

Caldeira Velha Hot Springs Tickets and Reservations

A timed-entry system is in place for 1.5 hour-timed blocks beginning each morning at 9:00 am. A set number of people are allowed entry during each block. All visitors must leave at the end of their block so arrive on time to enjoy the full 1.5 hours. For example, for the block 9:00 -10:30. Arrive at 9 am and stay the 1.5 hours until 10:30 but if you arrive at 10:00, you will have to leave at 10:30 after only 30 minutes.

There are two types of tickets.

  • A Full Ticket gives access to the Interpretation Centre and the Thermal Pools. 100 of these tickets are sold in each timed block.
  • A Visit Ticket provides access to just the Interpretation Centre. 150 are available for each time block.

Tickets can be purchased online at the Caldeira Velha Environmental Interpretation Centre Ticket webpage for the next business day and beyond but not for the current day. The site allows visitors to see how many tickets have been sold by timed block. Tickets can be purchased at the gate providing tickets are still available for the applicable time block. If this is a must-visit for you, be sure to purchase your tickets early.

What are Caldeira Velha’s open hours?

Caldeira Velha opens daily at 9:00. Closing times are as follows: May to September (summer) to 19:30 (7:30 pm), November to March to 16:30 (4:30 pm) and April and October to 18:00 (6:00 pm). The last entry is 30 minutes before closing.

Know Before You Go

Are there change rooms and showers at Caldeira Velha?

Yes. There are toilets, change rooms, showers and lockers.

Is food available at Caldeira Velha?

Light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase in the Environmental Interpretation Centre.

What is the pool temperature at Caldeira Velha?

The three pools range in temperature between 24C and 38C degrees.

Is there swimming at Caldeira Velha?

The pools are not very deep or wide and are designed for soaking. They are usually too busy to allow swimming.

Is there shopping or a gift shop at Caldeira Velha?

There is a small gift shop in the Caldeira Velha Environmental Interpretation Centre.

What is the weather like at Caldeira Velha?

This area can be enjoyed no matter the weather.  You can always have a look at the nearby Lake Fogo web camera to give you an idea of the current weather in the area.

Can I take an organized Caldeira Velha tour?

Many Sao Miguel tour companies offer tours to Caldeira Velha National Monument and area.

People in Caldeira Velha thermal pool
Experience Caldeira Velha

Day Trip: Lagoa do Fogo

For the perfect day trip, add a visit to nearby Fogo Lake. 

Beautiful Lagoa do Fogo, surrounded by dense vegetation, sits in the crater of the Fogo Volcano. Viewpoints along the road south of Caldeira Velha provide panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding countryside or consider a hike down to beach.

Check out our article, Visiting Lagoa do Fogo, for more details about visiting this beautiful lake.

Lake surrounded green hills

Be sure to check out our article, Things To Do in Sao Miguel Azores, for more places and great destinations to visit on the island.

Ocean shoreline green hills

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