Home EuropeAzores Things To Do in Sao Miguel Azores – A One Week Itinerary

Things To Do in Sao Miguel Azores – A One Week Itinerary

by Andy Vanr

The 3 large crater lakes of Sete Cidades, Fogo and Furnas showcase Sao Miguel’s must-see natural wonders. With lots of hiking trails, stunning viewpoints, beaches and soothing hot springs, Sao Miguel is the perfect vacation destination.

Our 1-week itinerary has all of the best things to do in Sao Miguel Azores, the largest island of the Azores archipelago.

Sao Miguel Itinerary

This 7-Day Itinerary explores the entire island of Sao Miguel. 

Map of Sao Miguel Azores

Spend a day or more exploring each of the places on the map. Click on the place to view our detailed article.

Ponta Delgada

Beautiful Ponta Delgada is an ideal base for your exploration of the island of Sao Miguel.

The largest city in the entire archipelago, Ponta Delgada is the Azores’ main tourist and economic hub.  Find plenty of restaurants, accommodations and things to do in the city.

Much of the action takes place near the cruise port on the stunning waterfront.  Admire the city gates and take a dip in the nearby swimming pools.  Enjoy a Whale Watching tour. They are popular and depart frequently from the marina. 

Walk around town and discover its history and culture.  Visit the fortress of Forte de São Brás, which protected Ponta Delgada from attack.

Ponta Delgada has several lovely gardens, including the Jose do Canto Garden, the largest garden in the city.  Local museums, including the Carlos Machado Museums, cover everything from Azorean art to natural history.

See our article Best Things To Do in Ponta Delgada, for more great spots in the city.

Boats marina buildings background

Sete Cidades

Sete Cidades Lake is one of the most beautiful and photographed places in all of the Azores.  Seeing these gorgeous blue and green crater lakes is a “must-do”.

This is an easy 1-day road trip from Ponta Delgada. We’ve created a road trip guide to the best viewpoints and best hikes in this incredible landscape.

The Azores Abandoned Hotel, Monte Palace Hotel, is on the crater rim above Sete Cidades lake. The hotel has an intriguing history.

Our guide includes Mosteiros, on the west coast of Sao Miguel.  This beautiful, rugged coastline is made up of islets and tidal pools. 

More scenic viewpoints line the way to Ferraria and the Ponta da Ferraria Thermal Tide Pool.  Take a relaxing dip in this natural thermal pool in a sheltered inlet.  This is a great way to end the day in the Sete Cidades area.

See our article Visiting Sete Cidades for more details on this fabulous road trip.

Aerial view lake causeway centre hills surround

Caldeira Velha

Caldeira Velha is an amazing hot springs experience, located in central Sao Miguel. 

The pools at Caldeira Velha are located in a lush green valley of tropical forest, a great environment for visitors to relax in.  There are two pools to soak in, ranging in temperature from 24C to 38C degrees.

As well as soaking in the pools, enjoy walking the area’s trails and visit the onsite Interpretation Centre, which explains the area’s volcanic story.

For more information on this relaxing trip, check out our article Experience the Caldeira Velha Hot Springs.

People swimming hole green valley

Lagoa do Fogo

After the thermal pools of Caldera Velha, go down the road to Fogo Lake, a deep lake in a volcanic caldera.  The second largest lake on the island is definitely worth a visit.

Enjoy the viewpoints along the top of the caldera.  Better yet, stretch your legs and hike the short trail to the edge of the lake below. 

To discover more details, see our article Visit Beautiful Lagoa do Fogo.

Lake surrounded green hills

Furnas and Furnas Lake

The town of Furnas is famous for its thermal spas and is a great place for an overnight stay.

The largest thermal pool is located in Terra Nostra Park.  Enjoy a dip in the pool and a walk through the beautiful Terra Nostra Garden with its many themed botanical gardens. 

After exploring the town of Furnas, head to the Caldeiras das Furnas. Find steaming and bubbling geysers and enjoy a walk through another beautiful park.

On a second day in Furnas, visit nearby Furnas Lake to see nature’s splendour on full display.

Walk through the Jose do Canto Woods Garden and the nature preserve at Grena Park.

Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas is another geothermal site.  Local restaurants bring their famous Furnas stew to be cooked underground in the hot caldera.  

For more details, be sure to check out our article, Visiting Furnas.

Orange pool front steps to house

Sao Miguel’s North Coast

The island’s north coast is a fabulous road trip. Make Ribeira Grande your base and travel along the coast.

The first stop is Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Natural Park.  In our opinion, this park has one of the best waterfalls in the Azores. Walk the paths through gardens and by historic water mills.   

The Azores are the only European tea exporter.  Make a stop at the Gorreana Tea Factory for a free tea sampling and factory tour. 

Moinhos Beach, at Porto Formosa, is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island.  Further west admire the view from Miradouro de Santa Iria, which we consider the best viewpoint on the north coast.

Ribeira Grande, the second largest city on Sao Miguel, has several excellent museums to visit, including the Grande City Museum, Franciscan Museum and the Casa do Arcano Museum.

Continuing west, travel through the charming towns of Capelas, San Antonio and Bretanha.  There are several lovely coastal walks in these towns.

For more details on this road trip, check out our article, Sao Miguel’s Beautiful North Coast.

Long coastline steep tree-topped cliffs plateaus

Sao Miguel Hiking

The geology and natural beauty of the Azores is one of the biggest draws to the islands.  The best way to experience it, is to hike Sao Miguel’s well-marked and well-maintained walking trails.

In our Azores Hiking Guide, we’ve listed the major hiking trails on Sao Miguel. 

We’ve ranked our Top 5 Hikes, including the Salto do Prego Trail and the Sete Cidades Hike.

To plan your island hikes, see our article, Hiking in the Azores – A Guide to the Best Trails.

Lake steep cliff road on top

Know Before You Go

When is the best time to visit Sao Miguel Azores?

The best weather is June to Aug, but that is also peak tourist season.  With temperatures stable all year long, a visit in the shoulder seasons is very enjoyable.

How many days should I spend in Sao Miguel Azores?

Spend 7 days on the island of Sao Miguel to get the most out of your visit. 

It is very easy to adjust your schedule based on the amount of time available.  Some may spend only 1 day, visiting just Ponta Delgada.  A longer stay is also reasonable as it is simple to rent a car and see the island from end to end.  With so many hiking and beach options, it is easy to spend more than a week on Sao Miguel.

How do I get to Sao Miguel Azores?

Sao Miguel is the main gateway to the Azores archipelago. Sao Miguel’s airport, Ponta Delgada (PDL) is located 2 kilometres west of the city.

North American visitors can catch daily flights from Boston or Toronto to the Azores. For European visitors, there are plenty of flight options from both the United Kingdom and mainland Portugal. Connections to the other Azores islands leave Ponta Delgada daily on Azores Airlines.

How to get around Sao Miguel (public buses, taxis)?

There are public buses on Sao Miguel however, the schedules can be limited and confusing.

Taxi services are also available on Sao Miguel. 

With bus and taxi options somewhat limited given the size of Sao Miguel, we believe having your own vehicle is a better option.

Where can I rent a car on Sao Miguel Azores?

We recommend renting a car for your visit to Sao Miguel, to give you better access to the island’s many attractions. You can rent a car at the Ponta Delgada airport or in the city of Ponta Delgada.

More to Explore in the Azores – Faial Island

There’s more to discover in the Azores. In addition to Sao Miguel, we recommend visiting Faial Island.

On this tiny island, stay in Horta, known for its world-renowned marina and stunning ocean-side pools and beaches. More natural wonders await inland, including the dormant Faial Caldeira and Capelinhos volcanoes.

For complete details, see our article 3 Days on Faial Island.

Road to lighthouse mountain sea

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