São Miguel in the Azores is a vibrant garden in the middle of the Atlantic. With so many different landscapes and things to do, planning a route to explore the island is essential! This is the exact itinerary I use when I get friends visiting São Miguel island and now I’m sharing it with you. Insider tips from a local FOR FREE. Here’s how to do São Miguel in 4 days!

Usually I go back home, there are 2 phases.

Phase 1. For the first couple of days I’ve nothing to report. I don’t think people would be interested to read about how much weight I’ve put in with mom’s food or about my zapping sessions through Portuguese TV morning shows.

An unexplored niche for sure, but not exactly the one I want to be in as a blogger.

Phase 2 is more interesting. I usually have friends visiting so we spend some days exploring the island. Extra pressure to make sure I keep them busy with a not-too-ambitious-but-not-too-boring itinerary!

Not only I want to create a cute 4-day route, I want to create THE BEST itinerary of São Miguel! So just keep scrolling down or jump directly to one of the sections:

 

roadtrip route itinerary of São Miguel island itinerary - Sete Cidades house
New personal goal: I want to live in that house when I’m old.

Mission: create the ultimate itinerary of São Miguel

You know I love to plan itineraries. It’s kind of my thing.

I’ve done a complete Portugal road itinerary and a Croatia road trip to drive along the coast of these two stunning countries.

This itinerary for São Miguel was first created when I got friends visiting back in June 2015. They were first time visitors and loved it! So I thought I should share with you the actual route we used to explore the island in 4 days.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 2016): After this, I had more friends visiting and I’ve now tweaked the itinerary and completed it with some more information.

Important things to know about this São Miguel itinerary

  • It’s tailored for first-time visitors. If that’s your case, have a read at the top things to know before going to the Azores to complement the info here.
  • It assumes you’ll have a car. I highly recommend you get your own wheels in Azores.Check this article to find out why and for more transportation info useful for your planning.
  • It’s not intended to be a rally course. If you arrive somewhere make sure you spend AT LEAST half an hour to take it all in. Spending days straight incarcerated in a car spending 5 minutes at each sight just for the sake of seeing everything is not a good experience. Quality over quantity!
  • It should be flexible. You’ll most likely need to change something and accommodate other factors, the best example being the typically unstable azorean weather. Make sure you check the weather in advance for the major places in the island with SpotAzores website and app.

So without any more delays, here’s what I’ve put together!

Itinerary of São Miguel on a map

You can use my itinerary map in Google Maps as a reference. The pins below represent the places we’ve been (including small descriptions) separated in four different days:

  • Day 1 – Yellow pins
  • Day 2 – Blue pins
  • Day 3 – Green pins
  • Day 4 – Orange pins

Itinerary Day 1 – Yellow pins

This day is to explore the west side of the island. Make sure the weather is clear for Sete Cidades area or all that you’ll see are clouds!

Miradouro da Vista Do Rei

local itinerary of São Miguel island - Sete Cidades Vista do Rei
Vista do Rei. It very appropriately translates as King’s View.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Sete Cidades Lake) is the most well-known postcard of the Azores. You’ll see it in every brochure, ad or article about the islands.

The first contact you’ll have with the lakes will probably be from Vista do Rei (literally translated as King’s view). The spot is just at the right distance to appreciate the view over the lakes.

They’re actually the same lake separated by a bridge, they just reflect the light differently due to the surrounding vegetation. You can drive or walk around along the dirt road (Cumeeiras) to get views from different angles. As a matter of fact, this exact road is the most spetacular track on World Rallye Championship.

Vista do Rei is also the place where an abandoned hotel called Monte Palace. Built in the 70s, the site is now a popular site to get an even better perspective over the lake. You can freely explore the building, make sure you go to the top floor for a superb open view. I wouldn’t do at night though, the hotel can be creepy and I’ve seen too many horror movies!

The Sete Cidades Tale

There’s a cute little story about the reason why one of the lakes is blue and the other green. Legend has it that once upon a time a sheperd and a Princess fell in love, but were prohibited to see each other due to their different family statuses.

When they met for the last time, they cried so much that the Sete Cidades lakes were formed. The blue-eyed shepherd gave origin to the blue lake while the green-eyed princess formed the green lake.

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno

Walking on clouds #azores #nature

A photo posted by BRUNØ (@bruno_mb) on

While the view from Vista do Rei is inspiring, the one from Miradouro da Boca do Inferno will make your jaw drop. Have you ever felt goosebumps when arriving to a beautiful place? If so, it will probably happen here again.

From up there, apart from the crazy views of the mountains and the sea in the background, two other lagoons are visible: Rasa and Santiago in a complete 360 degree nature experience. The view is wide open to the entire volcanic crater of Sete Cidades, formed 22,000 years ago.

In a bright sunny day, this holds the title as the most incredible view I’ve seen. Yap. EVER.

How to get to Boca do Inferno viewpoint

  • Coming from Vista do Rei, DO NOT turn left on the first exit down to the Sete Cidades village. Continue straight for about 10 minutes, following the signs to Lagoa do Canário
  • After about 7 minutes, you’ll notice a car park on the right, where an hiking trail begins, and a small entrance to a dirt road just on the opposite side. Go in with there your car.
  • Continue for about 3-4 more minute until you see a set of stairs upwards next to some picnic tables.
  • Start the hike up. You’re 5 minutes away from paradise!

Sete Cidades

Sete Cidades is also the name of the small village down at the same level of the lake. Everything seems untouched since the 30s here, but you still can find plenty of things to do there.

Biking across the lagoon shore or kayaking inside a volcanic crater are just two of the options to spend your afternoon. These are simply some of the best outdoor activities you can do in São Miguel.

I’ve done both and still can’t decide which one is more scenic. Oh, the feeling of being literally inside a dormant volcano crater…

Whatever you do, weather is a key factor in Sete Cidades. If you happen to go on a sunny day, I can assure you the views will be breathtaking.

No more wait, find where to stay in São Miguel today!



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Ferraria

route 4-day itinerary of São Miguel acores - Ferraria
Road to the ocean @ Ferraria.

Ponta da Ferraria is a small cove surrounded by gigantic lava rock cliffs where the ocean water is warmed up by a geo-thermal natural spring beneath. Not your everyday view hun? It’s quite an experience to swim in an ocean which is a mix of cold and hot sea water while the waves slosh you around!

Just make sure you don’t go on low tide as it gets VERY HOT. There are housed baths with an outdoor swimming pool, but who wants to pay when you can go for the thrilling (and completely free) swim in the ocean right next to it?

If you still have time, head to Mosteiros to watch the perfect sunset and eat some local seafood – you can’t go wrong with lapas!

Itinerary Day 2 – Blue pins

If you are traveling in one of best times of the year to see cetaceans in the Azores, make a reservation for a whale-watching tour the day before. It will take roughly half of your day.

Whale-Watching (from Ponta Delgada)

Whale watching is a must-do activity to do in the Azores, specially if you are able to
time your trip right to see several different species of cetaceans. The ideal time for this is between April and June.

A ticket is not cheap but is definitely worth the experience. We chose to go with Picos de Aventura and overall it surpassed my expectations. A great friendly staff, concerned with safety but also with having fun. We ended up seeing three sperm whales, dozens of dolphins and even a turtle – a “very good day” according to our guides.

Safe to say we had a blast (see video below!).

Little fun fact: when speaking with Paola, the oceanographer on board of our semi-rigid boat, I find out she took the exact opposite life route from me. She’s from Barcelona and now she’s living in the Azores!

Tips for Whale-Watching in São Miguel

  • If you’re visiting Faial or Pico on the same trip, I’d recommend to do the Whale-Watching there. São Miguel has good observation conditions, but they’re better.
  • Expect to pay at least 55 Euros for a 3-hour trip.
  • Most companies depart from Ponta Delgada or Vila Franca marinas, usually at three different time slots in the day (8:30, 13:30, 19:30).

Ponta Delgada

I hate to say this about my birth place, but is not worth to waste more than one or two hours in Ponta Delgada.

SHOCKING, I know.

People stare at me like an hungry raged wolf looks to an innocent lamb when I say this. But hey, it’s the truth. Putting myself on the shoes of a traveler, I’d much rather spend my precious time exploring the rest of the island.

However Ponta Delgada is a great place to base yourself in. Not only it has more restaurants, shops and overall infrastructure, but it’s also geographically located almost in the center of the island which is the definition of a good hub. It has also got a wide choice of hotels, but I do have a favorite.

Hotel Marina Atlântico, Ponta Delgada
 
Modern design, walking distance to the city center and to the ocean. It’s great value-for-money.
Book now

Lagoa do Fogo

itinerary of São Miguel açores - Pico da Barrosa
North and South coastlines of São Miguel.

We were extremely lucky to go to Lagoa do Fogo on a clear day, which is very rare up in this part of the island. First, we stopped in Pico da Barrosa to enjoy the magnificent views. It’s one of the few places in São Miguel where you can see the south and north coasts at the same time. It really puts the island in perspective.

But the highlight of the day was still to come.

Lagoa do Fogo is my favorite lagoon of them all and one of my top places not only in São Miguel, but also in the whole planet.

After a thirty-minute hike down in a dodgy trail, we had a wild beach just for ourselves. Down there, a beautiful sensation of peace – the only sound was of the seagulls in the spectacular green cliff in the opposite lagoon shore. It’s the kind of gorgeous that grabs hold of you tightly. The way up is much more challenging physically, but overall is worth the effort!

São Miguel Island route In 4 days | Lagoa do Fogo

itinerary of São Miguel | Lagoa do Fogo beach
Panorama of the beach in Lagoa do Fogo.

Every single time I go to Lagoa do Fogo I fell a bit more in love with it. Modern construction is not permitted to be built in this area, so there is no worry of the views being spoiled any time soon. This is a definite MUST-GO when you are in São Miguel.

Seagulls, crystal clear waters and a deserted beach. #azores

A photo posted by BRUNØ (@bruno_mb) on

Caldeira Velha

4-day itinerary of São Miguel Azores | Caldeira Velha
Where’s Brooke Shields?

Located halfway in the road between Lagoa do Fogo and the city of Ribeira Grande, this is a set of hot springs with a very pre-historic feel. Caldeira Velha is a hot spring (>20ºC) with a waterfall located at the end of the park. There is also a smaller and hotter spring (>35ºC). Both are stone-walled and surrounded intense lush foliage which really adds to an unique feel.

It’s just like stepping into Jurassic Park: a Velociraptor could jump out the bushes at any moment. The difference is that there’s no Chris Pratt to save you!

Not surprisingly, we spent most of the time in the smaller spring: a natural jacuzzi. If you give it some thought, you’ll be basically taking a bath with a bunch of strangers, but let these thoughts take away the experience.

Try to leave Caldeira Velha for late afternoon too. It’s just the perfect soothing end of the day. The entrance is 2 Euros (as per 2015) and you have locker rooms and showers (cold water!) available to change afterwards.

Pro tip: Use a dark and old bathing suit. The minerals in the water can easily leave an unremovable orange stain!

No more wait, find where to stay in São Miguel today!



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Itinerary Day 3 – Green pins

Our initial plan for this day had a 2-hour hiking trail in Sanguinho – Salto do Prego -leading to a waterfall in the middle of the forest. But it was too risky to do it with bad weather so we decided to skip it.

In any case, pick the day with the most dodgy weather for this route. You’ll understand why in a bit.

Lagoa das Furnas

itinerary of São Miguel island in four days - Furnas
Furnas Monitoring and Investigation Centre.

Lagoa das Furnas is one of the three main lagoons in São Miguel. The hike to the gothic church sitting in the west shore holds beautiful sights.
On the opposite shore of the lagoon there are hot springs – Caldeiras – where you can actually see boiling water in the holes and geysers as well as the holes in which they cook the famous Cozido das Furnas (Furnas stew).

Although I personally think there’s better local food available in the island, this is also a novelty. A meal cooked by Mother Nature is not your everyday lunch and gives it a special charisma.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s for the better or for the worse. 🙂

Where to eat Furnas stew (Cozido das Furnas)

There are several restaurants in Furnas village which put their stews to cook in the holes every morning. The most famous ones are Tony’s and the restaurant of Terra Nostra hotel.

If you opt to have lunch on the latter, the entrance to the Terra Nostra park and the thermal pool are complimentary (see details below).

Furnas

São Miguel itinerary in four days - Furnas
Eye-candy but not nose-candy @ Caldeiras, Furnas.

This area of São Miguel is the one with most active volcanic phenomena. In Caldeiras, the hot springs and steam holes give the whole area a VERY strong smell of sulfur. Anyhow, you get to see in loco how does it feel and smell when planet Earth is alive.

During my childhood, the highlight of going to Furnas was getting to eat the corn cooked in huge bags directly in these mud holes. I searched for the old ladies who used to sell it, but they weren’t there. IF YOU ARE READING THIS, PLEASE BE THERE FOR ME NEXT TIME!

In Furnas, there’s this amazing modern new hotel with a built-in spa:

Furnas Boutique Hotel, Furnas
 
Located in Furnas, its full-wellness program and nature-inspired-interiors make it the ideal place to relax. Book now

Furnas Thermal Springs

itinerary of São Miguel acores portugal - Terra Nostra Park Hotel
I promise it feels better than it may look @ Terra Nostra Park.

One of the main attractions in São Miguel are the hot spring waters and pools where everyone can treat yourself with a mineral-enriched bath. And Furnas is the best place to do that!

Head to either Poça Dona Beija or to the pool inside Parque Terra Nostra. Both experiences are very similar so I’d say you only need to go to one of them. You’ll feel like a vegetable being cooked in 35-40ºC warm water anyway. I call it a relaxing human soup!

Terra Nostra is just a huge pool in the heart of a tropical garden which holds a luxury and relaxing hotel. The park itself deserves a visit, it feels likes straight out of Jurassic Park.

I personally prefer the hot springs in Dona Beija though. It’s a recently refurbished set of 5 open-air pools at different temperatures that somehow seems more authentic and enjoyable. A night bath there is an awesome experience!

Tips for Furnas thermal springs

  • Entrance fee is 3 euros in Poça Dona Beija and 6 in Terra Nostra (as per 2016).
  • Pick the most gloomy and cloudy day (or night?) you can for this. A hot bath feels good when it’s actually colder outside!
  • Bring an old and dark swimming suit as light-colored clothing gets stained by the sulphur in the water… forever!
  • Towels can be purchased at an extra cost.

Nordeste

itinerary of São Miguel azores portugal - Miradouro Ponta Sossego
Quite a powerful view.

The district of Nordeste is the wildest and most remote in São Miguel. The vegetation is thicker, the sea cliffs are more steep and roads are more sinuous. There no particular sight to see but at the same time everything around you is impressive and worth stopping your car to take it all in.

Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego and Miradouro da Ponta da Madrugada viewpoints will make your jaw drop of how intense the scenery is. Both are very similar. A vibrant flower garden decorates the path to the edge of green huge scarps contrasting with the blue vast ocean. 

A bit farther north, there’s also Farol do Arnel, the oldest lighthouse in the Azores. If you really want to go down, I strongly recommend going there on foot. The road down there is 35º steep (!), so there is a real chance your car won’t have the power to back up. And that’s definitely not a good place to be stuck in.

Itinerary Day 4 – Orange pins

If this is your final day in the island, it’s time to finish the loose ends for a well-rounded exploration of the island.

Vila Franca Islet

Home to a stage of Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Ilhéu de Vila Franca (Vila Franca islet) is one of the most popular sunbathing places in Azores.

It encloses a almost full-circle bay perfect for swimming or snorkeling, so make sure you don’t forget your mask!

Tips for the Vila Franca islet

  • There is a regular boat connection between the Vila Franca marina and the islet operating in the summer months only.
  • Note there are very limited spots to lay your towel. While there is a small beach, it completely disappears during high tide, so I suggest opting for the concrete spots on the opposite side.
  • As per 2016, you can now buy tickets online.

Lagoa do Congro

Lagoa do Congro is a relateively off the beaten track lake in the heart of São Miguel. While Sete Cidades, Furnas and Fogo receive more and more tourists every year, this one remains remote and hidden.

The hike down through the forest is already cool, but it’s at the shore level that the magic happens. It will feel like someone set the saturation level to the max – a vibrant green will take over your eyes.

The silence down there is deafening and only disturbed by the splashes of fish jumps and the birds singing. It’s just like those meditation soundtracks, the only difference being this is the real thing. Perfect place to unwind!

How to get to Congro lake

  • Coming from Vila Franca, follow the signs to Furnas (direction East).
  • After about 10 minutes, there’s an exit to the left clearly stating “Lagoa do Congro”. Take it.
  • Continue for about 5 more minutes and turn left on a dirt road.
  • Continue through the middle of pastures about 5 more minutes. The entrance to the hike path should be noticeable on the right as there are usually a couple of cars parked.
  • The hike down is easy. It should take you 10-15 minutes (it all will be worth it, I promise!)

Gorreana

road trip itinerary of São Miguel island azores - Gorreana hiking trail

road trip itinerary of São Miguel in Azores - Gorreana
Not exactly sure what I was trying to achieve here. But it does look cool.

Working since 1883, Gorreana is the only tea plantation in Europe which produces quality biologic black and green tea. There are free tea tastings available in the area of the processing plant.

Apart from the start of one of the official hiking trails in the island, the tea plantation itself is a stunning scenery overlooking the sea and a great opportunity to change that old Facebook cover. This place always reveal our inner Kardashians and creative photo skills.

Pro tip: Even though you might not be interested in the way the tea is made, there are FREE tea tastings inside!

Porto Formoso

This beach is a bit more off the beaten track, as it’s not an usual choice for those visiting the island for the first time. But for people who had never put their feet in dark sands, I thought it is interesting to incorporate a volcanic beach experience in the mix.

Although Água d’Alto is my favorite beach in the island, the scenery around Porto Formoso is somewhat more quaint and charismatic. It’s perfect to relax after some intense days!

Miradouro de Santa Iria

road itinerary of São Miguel island azores - Miradouro Santa Iria
I love you São Miguel!

Another well-known viewpoint of São Miguel. From up there you can enjoy a clear view over a big portion of the northern coast. It’s a great spot for watching the sunset and a great farewell to São Miguel.

Where to stay in São Miguel

I recommend staying at least three to four full days in São Miguel. If possible, allow yourself some more time to unwind and explore the landscapes the island has to offer.

Ponta Delgada is a good place to set up a base. It’s well connected and has loads of restaurants and shops. If you’re looking for a more remote experience more in touch with nature, Furnas or Sete Cidades might be better for you.

These are my two best hotel suggestions in the island:

My top hotel recommendations in São Miguel

 

Hotel Marina Atlântico, Ponta Delgada
 
Modern design, close to the city center as well as the seaside. Great value-for-money.
Book now


 
 

Furnas Boutique Hotel, Furnas
 
Located in Furnas, its full-wellness program and nature-inspired-interiors make it the ideal place to relax. Book now

Or search for yourself!

To make your life easier, you can start your search with my pre-selection of the hotels/guesthouses/villas in the island of São Miguel. The list only includes rooms with wifi and with good-to-excellent reviews, hard to go wrong with these!

São Miguel Flight + Hotel Deals

I usually don’t use travel agencies to book holidays. I have to make an exception for Azores Getaways because I really think they have some pretty good prices for flight + hotel to the Azores – starting at 499USD.

I particularly recommend using them if you:

  • Are flying from the United States
  • Don’t have much time to plan your holidays
  • Like to have everything sorted when arriving your destination

If you don’t fall into these categories, you’re better off by booking your flight and hotel in São Miguel independently:



Booking.com

How to get around in São Miguel island

Public buses are available, but they don’t run frequently nor get to the most remote areas where the best landscapes are located.

So renting a car is key. I recommend either Autotlantis, Ilha Verde or Micauto. These are regional companies which usually have the best prices in the island.

Other heavy weights of the car rental like Avis and Sixt tend to be more expensive, but have the advantage that you can pick up the car right at the airport.

TRAVEL NUMBERS @ SÃO MIGUEL, AZORES

These are the exact numbers of when a couple of my friends visited in 2015. We were 3 in total.

  • DURATION OF THE STAY: DAYS
  • TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED ON FOOT: 41,9 km
  • TOTAL DISTANCE COVERED IN CAR: 312,0 km
  • ACCOMMODATION: 0EUR (thanks again Mom!)
  • TRANSPORTATION
    • Car Rental: 62EUR
  • FOOD&DRINK
    • Meals: 93EUR
    • Drinks: 14EUR
    • Other regional food (S.Jorge cheese and Gorreana tea): 3,50EUR
  • OTHERS
    • Whale-watching: 55EUR
    • Lagoa das Furnas entrance fee: 0,50EUR
    • Caldeira Velha entrance: 2EUR
  • TOTAL COST (€): 230EUR/pax

These are the exact numbers per person. EUR=€.

More resources about the Azores

Have you used this itinerary to visit São Miguel? Which other places you recommend to add? Tell me about your experience below!

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149 comments

  1. Bruno! Thanks for a great and detailed guide to the highlights of the island. Its clear you take a lot of pride in your homeland and want people to enjoy it. My gf and and I just went to the azores for the first time last week spending a few days in Flores then ~4days in Sao Miguel. Your guide was indispensable. Despite having a shorter time frame due to rain/fog the first day, we were able to see nearly everything on your guide in 3days of hopping about the island in our rental car. Thanks again!

  2. Greetings Bruno,
    Thank you very much for this. It is very informative and useful.
    Could you please tell me about mobile sim cards, should I buy from there or I can bring my own from Lisbon, will it work there? Does all areas in the island have cell coverage? What is the best sim card I can buy for phone call and internet use?
    In addition, about Care Rental, I will do Online booking to pick up and return from/and to the airport of Ponta Delgada, is this the best way? What is the best deal I can get?
    Appreciate your feedback.
    Thanks again for the great blog!

    1. Mobile network operators are exactly the same as the ones in the mainland, so your sim card will work in the islands. There are some more remote areas, but coverage should be Ok.

      Regarding car rentals, I can’t tell you what is the best deal, you will need to look into the specific dates you’ll be there. I suggest looking at Skyscanner for this and compare the rates. Unless your hotel has free pickup service, I’d say pickup/dropoff in the airport is more convenient. 🙂

      Have a great trip!

  3. I am in ponta delgada right now, after a 3 days drive around the island. Your itinirary was hellpfull but it would help more if you explain how to get to some of the places… especialy the *miradouro da groto do inferno* i could not find it. Allso… there is a missunderstandig between *terra nostra parc* and the terra nostra garden in furnass… so i missed 2 places i wanted so much to see…
    No the people didn’t know…

    1. Thanks for your feedback, I tried to be as detailed as possible but certainly didn’t cover EVERYTHING. I will look into updating this post in the future and will make sure this is on the changes list.

      Terra Nostra Park is the park in Furnas which contains Terra Nostra Garden Hotel inside.

  4. Wow! Awesome blog! Hubby and I are going to Terciera in Nov for 6 days. We decided to fly to Sai Miguel for the weekend. With only 2 days what would you say are the highlights of the island that we could see? We will be staying at Terra Nostra in Furnas. We are in our early 60s and enjoy nature. Thanks so much for your time!

    1. Furnas and surroundings is definitely one day. Go to Lagoa do Fogo as well, but only if weather allows. Else, head to Sete Cidades. Enjoy your stay!

  5. HI I am traveling to Sao Miguel in little over a week. I am trying to decide between just staying in Sao Miguel or heading over to Pico to hike Pico Mountain. I will be in Soa Miguel 5 days including the days I enter and leave. Going to Pico would be a 30 hour excursion. Can you recommend what may be the better decision. This article was great, and has put a lot more insight into my trip.

    1. I can’t recommend what is the best for you, I personally think Pico and São Jorge deserve more days. But if your goal is solely to hike the mountain, go for it!

  6. This review is amazing, thank you so much! We’re going in a couple of weeks, I was just wondering if you could give me a bit more detail about the trails that you walked on? Thank you again, this itinerary has been so helpful 🙂

    1. We actually didn’t go to a lot of trails due to time constraints, we hiked down Lagoa do Fogo and a bit of the Gorreana trail. There are many others you can try with different lengths and difficulty levels. I’d try Sanguinho!

  7. Awesome review! I am travelling to Azores in Oct-Nov, from Canada and staying two weeks on three of the islands. Can you help me out? I am a Veteran of the Canadian Army and a medical cannabis advocate and patient, are there any tips or leads you could pass on to help me out? If so please contact me directly at rre420@gmail.com

    1. Is there a medical cannabis community there? Where would he the best place to find someone to help me in my search. And what can I expect to pay for quality cannabis or hasish.. To treat my chronic pain and PTSD.

      Thanks

  8. Great blog Bruno! I will be traveling to Sao Miguel in late September for four days. I based my itinerary on yours! Very helpful!! Thank you! 🙂

  9. This looks like a great itinerary, really helpful! We’ll be visiting for the first time
    In a few weeks so will definitely try out your schedule. Thanks!

  10. Excellent blog and review, full of useful information from an insider, thanks a lot for sharing! We are going to visit Sao Miguel from 15th to 22nd September and I am wondering if we can still visit Ilhéu de Vila Franca? You mentioned above you were calling them, can you share a phone number for the company operating the boat trips during summer? I couldn’t really find any information about them…

    1. Thanks a lot I will make an inquiry with them directly! Can’t wait for visiting the Azores!

  11. Hi Bruno! Your blog has been so incredibly helpful in planning my trip to Portugal at the end of the month. We booked a hostel in Ponta Delgada and from your post, it seems like renting a car is the best bet. However, I saw below that you said parking in Ponta Delgada is chaotic. Do you have any other recommendations for us? Thanks so much! Appreciate your help.

    1. Maybe chaotic is a bit exaggerated, but it’s hard to find a free spot. If you’re willing to pay or stay outside the city center you should be fine.

  12. Hi! Great post, I’m headed to Sao Miguel in January. Was that the daily car rental price that you stated? or total price (which seems ridiculously cheap, but just checking).
    Thank you!

  13. Hello! Thank you for such a well put together post!! This is going to help me plan our latest adventure (7 days in Sao Miguel~June 2017!)
    Since we are staying the entire time on this 1 island- do you think its worth different accommodations? Or is getting from coast to coast easy enough to stay in 1 central spot? And if so, do you have suggestions? (looking for a B&B type of place as opposed to a hotel)

    Thanks in advance!!

    April~from Canada

    1. My bad….i see your hotel suggestions (at first i thought it was spam ;P) But I still would like to know if you would recommend being at 1 location the entire time….thank you!

    2. No spam, just targeted personal suggestions which you may follow or not! 🙂

      I think with 7 days you can try two different locations to give you different points of view. Maybe a few days in Ponta Delgada and the rest a bit more remote?

  14. This is very helpful! Thinking of trying to visit the island for about a day and a half- not much time at all but wanting to at least go. Is that a reasonable time frame to see highlights, granted not everything will be seen? Thank you for the advice about renting a car!

    1. I wouldn’t advise to rush. 1 day and half is not enough for everything in São Miguel, so I would stick to one or two main sights.

  15. We have been in Sao Miguel for 7 days in the last week of June, staying at Pousada de Juventude in Lagoa, an ideal place for car trips.. We have learned well your trip plan and it helped us a lot to plan our own trip. We were lucky (and patient) enough to see all the highlights, including Bocca do Inferno which honored us with ten minutes of clear view. We have been even at Picco do Fero, above lake Furnas. It is a beautiful island which we have already recommended to our friends in Israel.
    However, regarding the food, we didn’t find any highlight, even not at Cais 20. Similar restaurants in Lisbon were much better.

    Thanks very much !

    1. Thank you very much for sharing your experience.
      I can safely say ten minutes in Boca do Inferno is already something to celebrate on!

      For the food, I still think there is a lot of room for improvement. The last few times I went to Cais 20 I didn’t actually like it at all, hence I remove it from my suggestions here on the website. There’s still great food in a handful of places around the island though!

      Thanks again and have a great day!

  16. Hi Bruno
    I am able to work remotely for my company for a year and I have chosen to spend 2 months in The Azores as it looks amazing . I have chosen to spend a month on Sao Miguel and then another month in Faial .
    Your blog is very helpful and made me even more excited. I have done a lot of research already but it was great to read all your information .

    However I thought I would check . I am fairly confident that English is widely spoken , is this true.
    I will be on my own for some of my stay and unfortunately I only speak English (shameful I know ) 🙁

    1. I think you can get around with English more or less okay. Younger generations can speak the basic of the language.

      I’m sure that after one month you’ll be able to say some words in Portuguese though! 😀

  17. Love your blog, and the spirit with which you travel!

    We are headed to Sao Miguel and had planned to rent bikes in PD. Do you know if biking is common in the island (are there bike routes or will we be on the main roads)? We thought to do an adaptation of your itinerary, PD-SeteCidaded (overnight), the bike to Lagao de Fogo (overnight), then bike to Furnas (overnight) and return by bicycle to PD. Overall three nights. Are we crazy? (Answer is probably yes generally, but more specific, for brig bicycle tourists on the island!)?

    1. Short answer: yes, you’re crazy, but I love the idea!

      Long answer: Unfortunately there are no bike routes around the island, you’d have to use the same road as cars. Doing the routes overnight you’ll find much less cars, but you need to be really careful so that they can see you. Some of the roads in São Miguel get really dark at night.

  18. This was the best itinerary ever! My 3 adult children and myself went to everything on the island that you talked about and more. Just not in the same order. We expanded on it and spread it over 8 days. We even went to the places that you were not able to go to such as the trail hike at Salto do Prego. It’s a beautiful island! You were very helpful!!
    Thanks,
    Annette from Canada

  19. Found this in the nick of time. We arrive in a few days and will use this to get around. Only one concern, I Am Canadian and the only one who can drive stick. It’s a 9 seater van. I am told they tend to tailgate on the island, according to my FiL who is from there but won’t drive this trip. Will the roads be okay for me?

    1. To be honest, I didn’t know what tailgate was until Googling it.
      I don’t see anyone doing that nowadays…

      Also I don’t see any reason for concern, roads are perfectly safe to drive in Sao Miguel. You can just encounter a random herd of the cows on the middle of the road, just wait for them to pass and smile 🙂

    2. That’s perfect! He has not been back in 25 years so I have been trying to convince him we will be fine. We are very excited! Thanks for the itinerary! We will take selfies with the cows! 😀

  20. Man i used this as a framework for my 3 day roadtrip through Sao Miguel and you saved me tons of time and energy, not having to see any other source. Just checked this in the airplaine and saw and experienced the best of the island! Thanks!

  21. Hi Bruno,
    You are doing a great job with your blog. I will start next Sunday to Sao Miguel and will stay 2 weeks at Furnas. I guess that we will do some of your recommended trips.

    Regards Giuseppe

  22. Hi Bruno, thank you so much for your blog. I’ve just started looking into a trip to Sao Miguel for next year and this has been really helpful.

    My husband and I are looking in to potentially going on day tours to different parts of the island for convenience (and cheaper than taxis maybe?) but we’re not really ‘tour’ people as we don’t want to be rushed. Do you know if day tours are good to do and generally give enough time to see the island?

    Many thanks,
    Natanya

    1. Like I mentioned in the article, I highly recommend getting your own wheels.

      If that’s not an option, that is a hard question to answer since now tour companies are popping like mushrooms, each with its itinerary and experiences. What kind of tour would you like to do?

      You can even go for a private tour for more freedom, but these are way more expensive!

  23. Boas Bruno,
    Nao percebo como te da 62 euros no aluguer de carro. Ja fiz varias simulacoes nas companhias que referis-te e nenhuma da valores tao baixos como esse.
    De resto, o guia esta espetacular.
    Parabens.

    1. Pagámos 62 euros por pessoa, cerca de 180 no total por 3 dias.
      São valores de 2015, mas fiz uma reserva semelhante este ano e o preço foi muito similar.

      Obrigado, um abraço!

  24. Hello Bruno, Going there for the first time with my mom to visit where both my parents are from (Nordeste) , and my mom hasn’t been there since her last visit in 1969. Do most shops & restaurants accept U.S dollars ? and how much would a typical sit down dinner cost in dollars ?

    1. I am not aware of any place accepting US dollars in São Miguel. A “normal” eating out dinner will cost you around 12-20 Euros per person, let’s say around 20 USD.

      There are much cheaper places though.

  25. Hi Bruno,

    Im going to Sao Miguel for the first time next month. Can you tell me if i rent a car from autatlantis can i pick it up at the airport? (Ponta Delgada airport)

    I find your blog and information very helpful and I will be following most of your recommendations on my trip.

    Thank you,
    Maria

    1. I don’t think Autatlantis is at the airport. Only the big ones – Sixt, Europcar, etc and Ilha Verde.

      Hope you have a great time and the weather helps!

    2. I’m confused because you said before that they were not at the airport but on the autatlantis website they have that option, so i don’t want to book it and than when I get there it’s not realy in the airport that I pick up the car. Thank you anyways, Maria

  26. I just posted this on your FB page, but I’ll add it here as well: My husband’s family is from São Miguel, and he last visited the island with his father in 1987. We are bringing our three children this summer, and I would love to find a restaurant he has raved about. He said that the meal was cooked underground, but the restaurant was “in the middle of nowhere” (not in Furnas). While this restaurant may not even exist anymore, I am going to try to find it! Any ideas?

  27. Hello and thanks for the great blog post! I’m heading to Sao Miguel for 5 days in July and I am hoping to hike/camp for most of the time. Do you have any information on tent camping on Sao Miguel? It’s a very hard topic to find info online!

    Thanks so much – I can’t wait to come to the island and follow your recommendations!

    1. You can find some camping parks throughout the island. Wild camping is illegal, but you “can” still do it in some places. Don’t do it in natural reserves though! (e.g. Lagoa do Fogo).

  28. Hi Bruno. Thanks for your inspiring and make-me-smile blog. I had it for breakfast while wondering how windy it can be here (candelaria). You helped us planning this and some other day :)! And I hope I will find the corn selling old ladies ;-).
    Enjoy your day wherever you are!

  29. Great article! I’m actually going to spend 4 days in S. Miguel and I have one thing that is not clear to me: where do you have to hike and leave the car behind to get to certain attraction?

    1. Where you leave your car is dependent on where exactly you want to hike. There are some small car parks improvised next to the start of some trails. Does that answer your question?

  30. We’ll be arriving by ship at Ponta Delgada in October and will have 8 hours to explore the island by rental car. Would we have enough time to drive to Nordeste via the southern coast, stopping at Furnas Valley on the way? (How long to reach Nordeste?) If so, should we return to Ponta Delgada via the north coast or retrace our route along the south coast? An alternative might be to drive the south coast only as far as Povoacao then backtrack to Furnas and head to the north coast on EN2-1A, passing through Ribeira Grande on our way back to Ponta Delgada. (We have been to the west side of the island on a previous trip.) Would appreciate your thoughts. thank you.

    1. Well, 8 hours is not much, but I suggest make the best out of it. Go to Nordeste one way and come back the other way!

  31. Ah, this entry is perfect! I was literally looking for an itinerary by a native. Leaving on Sunday, staying for 6 days, so a 4-day hit list is ideal since we like to have empty time for relaxing and surfing. Thanks!

  32. We have a 7-day trip planned in São Miguel in early May. Besides hotel and flight, is there anything you advise booking *in advance* of the trip vs. booking when we are there (booking only a day or two in advance)? We are interested almost everything São Miguel has to offer! (Canoeing, paragliding, whale watching, scuba/snorkel, biking, hiking, hot springs, etc.) Many thanks for the helpful post and tips!

  33. Thanks for all the info. As I am leaving for Sao Miguel tomorrow, what is the best place to snorkel that can be reached from shore?

    1. Not sure what you exactly mean, but snorkel is quite tricky because the waves tend to be big. Try places like Mosteiros, Capelas, Vila Franca.

  34. This is great information. My husband was born in Sao Antinio and came to the U.S. in 1972 when he was 7. We are going there in a couple weeks and cannot wait. This is his first time back.

    1. Thanks Christine. I’m sure he will find a lot of things different but I’m sure the essence of a laid-back and nature-friendly island is the same! 🙂

      Have a great journey!

  35. hi Bruno,
    First of all, thank you for your blog posting. I’ve been doing a lot of research and this is by far the most informative piece I’ve found. Thank you!
    We just booked flights to visit the 2nd week in April for 3 days. Are there any restaurants you would recommend we try? My boyfriend and I love good food (especially seafood), are pretty adventurous and want to try something local to the area if possible. If there’s anywhere you would suggest we’d appreciate it.

    Thank you!
    Becca

    1. Thanks Becca, glad you found it useful.

      I highly recommend A Tasca in the city center of Ponta Delgada and Cais 20 for seafood. You can find lots of seafood restaurants in Lagoa too. Alabote comes to mind right now.

      Have a great trip!

    2. hi Bruno,
      Thank you for the reply! Much appreciated and can’t wait to try both.

      Becca

  36. Dear Bruno, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of the island. This is possibly the most useful blog post I’ve ever read. I like your style of writing with lots of enthusiasm and humour. So thank you!

  37. Ola! Eu e os meus amigos estamos a pensar ficar em ponta delgada por 7 dias. o teu itinerario pareceu-me espetacular! e vai ser de grande ajuda.
    Só estamos com problemas neste momento é encontrar alguma maneira simples e barata de fazer a travessia para o pico e para as flores… mas tudo o que vimos ate agora é carissimo! tu como São miguelense quais são os teus conselhos? OBRIGADA

    1. Olá Sara.
      Não tens muito mais opções a não ser pela Atlântico Line (ferry) ou pela SATA (avião). A não ser barcos/veleiros privados…

      PS: Sou micaelense 🙂

  38. Thank you so much for writing this! Sao Miguel is my primary bucket list destination. When Google Earth was released, around 2005, I used to spend hours spinning the globe, clicking a random location, and zooming in and viewing the photos. Cete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo confirmed for me that this island is the most beautiful place on Earth. I can’t wait to visit. My plan has been to propose on the tree-lined path in front of Sao Nicolau church in Sete Cidades, or in the garden down the street which outstretches into Lagoa Azul. All with a photographer to capture the moment. I just need to find the right girl first! At least I now have an idea of when to go (June) and what other amazing sites to focus on. Thanks again.

    1. Wow you seem to have it all figured it out!! Good luck on your quest, I’m sure she – whoever she is – will have a great time in Azores!

  39. Hi Bruno,

    First, thank you for your itinerary. I think it’s gonna be pretty useful for my next trip.
    We are flying from Lisbon to Sao Miguel on June 25th until June28th. We only have three days there.
    Also, we already booked all our night, in the same accommodation in Ponta Delgada. However, is it a better idea to sleep near from each activities?

    Thank you very much for your answer.

  40. Hey Bruno, many thanks for sharing such a detailed and well-written itinerary with the rest of the world. I wonder if you could tell me if it is easy and secure to camp around the island? Is there a lot of camping areas throughout the island or should I base myself in just one spot and move around every day to visit different places? Also, I am trying to make this trip as low-cost as possible but until now I am by myself in it, so I am not sure if It is financially viable to me to hire a car. If I do not find company, would you recommend travelling around by public transportation? Any tips on it? I will be in the island for 4 full days. Many thanks in advance for replying! All the best

    1. Camping is secure but can be illegal in many reserves and natural parks. There are some buses around the island, but I highly recommend getting a car, as they don’t run frequent and don’t get to many of the more beautiful areas of the island.

    1. Hi Bruno,
      Hmm more on nature and recommended hiking trails? How about scuba diving as well? Have you also tried that?

  41. What are the laws about medical marijuana like over there and is it hard to find or can you take your own medicine without getting in trouble?

  42. Great blog, so insightful!

    We’ve just booked to visit in the last week of March and now I am so excited. We’ll be there for Good Friday – do you know if most shops/restaurants/sites/etc will close for this holiday?

    Thanks

  43. Hi, it’s amazing review and tip for me! I have a question. I am looking forward to visiting Azores Islands in September. Are there any places that I can enjoy beaches? Or could u recommend right islands for me to enjoy swimming?

  44. Hi, I’m new to your blog, but I wanted to conemmt on what I have read about your journey around Portugal. I’ve never been to the Azores, but I have been to Portugal (Lisbon, in fact) and I think it is so great how certain aspects of culture are universally appreciated food, architecture, beautiful landscapes/scenery, and traveling in general. Every new place that I visit, I always tour the city snapping as many photos as possible; I make it a priority to visit many different restaurants, and I always try to practice the language, even if I only have a pocket-size-dictionary-knowledge of the language Those things, for me, really make for a great traveling experience.Traveling to places like the Azores really gives you such a grand world view, it teaches you about other cultures, as well as your own. Thanks for sharing your perspective on the beauty and gastronomical splendor of the Azores!

    1. “De nada” Jhonaiker. 🙂

      While there is no “right” or “wrong” way to travel, I agree trying to learn a lot of the local culture and food is definitely more rewarding.

      You need to explore the Azores one day!

  45. Great information! We’ve booked a week in may, very excited! Just wondering if you would recommend staying in one place and using it as a base, or moving around and staying in 2-3 places? For whale watching and diving do you know if you get better prices for reserving on the spot once you are there rather than through a website in advance? Thanks!

    1. Hi Katie,

      All depends on what you want to. Distances are not that high and if you base yourself in Ponta Delgada you can be in the west and east extremes of the island in about an hour.

      As for whale watching, prices should be the same booking online or on the spot.

  46. I was wondering if there are ferries or inexpensive flights from Porto. I prefer the ferry and if so how long of a ride would it be end of August? Thank you!

  47. Hi, thanks for the post. I came across your post while planning a surprise birthday trip for my husband and I couldn’t resit. I think i’m gonna book the flight tickets soon (from Munich). My question is, could we do this touron a motorbike? is there a place we can rent one on the island cause my husband is such a passionate rider. would the weather in early June good enough for it? Thanks, P

    1. I think Azores make a great surprise trip!

      Motorbikes are actually a great way to get around, just mind there are some very curvy areas in the island (particularly in the North and East). It’s fairly straightforward to rent one, I can recommend you Autotlantis or Micauto!

      Weather in June is perfect, please check more details on the best time to visit Azores in: http://www.geekyexplorer.com/best-time-to-travel-to-azores

      Have a great stay!!

    2. Hi Bruno,
      thanks for the quick reply. Would you recommend any of the island nearby? cause we have more than enough time i’m thinking of taking advantage of the free flights between islands from sata and would like to visit another island for 1-2 days. which one would you recommend us?

    3. Please note that by using the free flight you only have (at most) 24 hours in São Miguel. There are some strict conditions to use this service, check SATA’s website for more detail.

      If you want to visit other island, I recommend Pico, São Jorge or Flores. These are the more scenic islands, with loads of impressive landscapes.

    4. ah thanks for the info, I must have misread it. By the way, which village is the best place to stay on Sao Miguel, in term of atmosphere and scenery? Since we dont like to move around much I would like to choose two places to stay each for 3 nights. Thanks, you’re really helpful.

    5. and from which company did you rent your car for €62 for 4 days? I checked the Micauto and Autalantic sites and their offers are a lot higher.
      Besides, do you think Vila Franca Do Campo is a great place to stay overnight?
      Thanks a lot for all the informations. I really enjoy reading your blog. And we both love Barcelona a lot. Hope we’ll go there again soon.

    6. As mentioned, 62EUR is the value per person. To get the final rental value you should multiply by 3 (around 180EUR).

      Anywhere in the island can be a good place to stay, it all depends on your travel goals!

      Cheers!

  48. Hi Bruno
    Loved your Itinerary. We have just booked flights and hotels in Ponta Delgarda and Furnas in July. Its our first time and have used your info when booking. Have booked Hotel Marina Atlantico and hopefully(waiting for confirmation) Terra Rostra Garden Hotel. Looking for car hire next. Very excited about our trip, Thanks for all the info!!!

    1. Great choices, glad I was useful!
      Hope you have a great stay and don’t forget to eat some “bolo lêvedo”, local pineapple and lots of fish! 🙂

  49. Very interesting. Glad we have already booked. We are going in March 2016. So looking forward to our visit. Even more so now. Love your lovely photos. Going with husband, son and his wife and two granddaughters (10 and 7).

  50. Beautiful! And I love your photos! During my visit in Sao Miguel, I felt in love with Furnas, volcanic city with thermal waters. I dedicated a small post, I hope you like it 🙂

    1. Furnas is such a quaint place, isn’t it?

      Thanks for sharing your experience Paulina. However unfortunately I can’t allow links in comments, so I’ve removed yours. Hope you understand.

  51. Hello Bruno!
    Thanks a lot for a decent plan!:) We will spend 5 days on Sao Miguel in January, so your itinerary is more than handy! A quick question if you don’t mind… I’m currently doing through Airbnb accommodation options on the island. Where (which part of the island) would you recommend to stay in January (we plan to rent a car)? Would it be warmer season, I’d definitely stay near the ocean, but not sure what would be the best in Jan…
    Thanks in advance,
    Andres

    1. Hi Andres,

      Interesting question. It’s winter season, the sea can be rough and the winds can be quite powerful.

      I would probably choose a completely scenic location like Sete Cidades. Even with bad weather, the landscape is stunning there!

      If not, I’d opt to stay in the outskirts of a city – e.g. Ponta Delgada or Lagoa. Things can be surprisingly “off the beaten track”, and you can have good views if you’re lucky.

      Make sure you check the Airbnb voucher to have discount (“Travel Smart” section).

      Enjoy your holidays!

  52. Olá Bruno,
    first: I just found this blog and I really enjoyed reading it, thanks a lot for all the detailed information!
    A friend of mine and me aro going to Sao Miguel in a few days, we will stay there for a week. I would really like to go horsebackriding, can you by accident recommend any quinta or riding school there?
    Muito obrigada;)

    1. Hey Tina,

      I have never done it in Azores, but I know there’s a lady who does it in Sete Cidades. You can also go with Quinta da Terca, they organize riding tours around the island.

      Enjoy!

    2. I am back now and did a ride at Quinta da Terca, I would recommend it to everybody who is interested! It was great!;)
      Thanks a lot for the advice! And i really loved the island, it’s just stunning and the people are so nice:)

  53. We arrive next Saturday evening and will be booking a car from the airport to get to Capelas where we are staying.
    We’ll be arriving after 2100hours. Is there anywhere we can get something to eat enroute?
    Thanks for your blog and working it all out – we will base our week on the island around this.

    e

    1. Well, it’s marginally on route, but you can head to Ponta Delgada center to have a good meal. I recommend A Favorita or A Tasca.

      You can also try Quinta dos Açores, in Fajã de Cima. I guess it will be open at that time.

      You welcome, hope you have a great time!

  54. Hi Bruno,

    Thanks for your detailed blog, my husband and I are travelling to Sao Miguel in a week for 10 days! We will be hitting up all the places you suggested and wanted to ask if you had any recommendations for activities in the evening, like live music or bars. Thanks again for your blog and any new tips!

    Love,
    Sarah

    1. Hey Sarah!

      10 days is great, it allows for a very decent exploration of the island.

      Nightlife in São Miguel is not that lively, I’m afraid. Portas do Mar has a decent collection of seaside bars and there are some live music on weekends in Baía dos Anjos.

      Other area worth to explore is Rua dos Mercadores, also in Ponta Delgada. There is a cool bar in one of the side streets named Travessa dos Artistas.

      Enjoy!

  55. This itinerary couldn’t be more perfect! We’ve been traveling in Spain and Portugal for a few weeks and are heading to the Azores tomorrow. We’ll be there exactly four days. Since we’re past the summer season, we’ll skip the trip out to the island on the south side of the island, but what about whale watching? I know it’s not the best time of year, so should we spend that time seeing other sights on the island or is it worth a try?

    Thank you for such a wonderful, detailed itinerary!

  56. Hi, This is truly a great blog ! We are planning a trip to Sao Miguel for 6 days in 2 weeks (end of September) , your blog is well written, fun to read and very informative. It gave us very useful information and assisted in planning the trip. I have a question regarding the availability of Taxis in the village of Sete Cidades, We will rent a car and do the Walking from Vista do Rei to Sete Cidades (parking near Vista do Rei) and would like to take a taxi back to the parking from the village. Do you know whether there are available Taxis in the village or surroundings which we could call?
    Many Thanks, Eran

    1. Sorry for the late reply, I’ve just seen this!

      Unfortunately I’m not aware of any radio taxi in Sete Cidades, but it belongs to the Ponta Delgada district. I’m sure if you call their radio taxi – 00 351 296 382 000 – you can get one. Else, ask in the village itself, I’m sure someone will get you a number. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed this article Eran. Enjoy the Azores!

  57. Is parking convenient, free, and self explanatory in most of these spots? Visiting next month for our honeymoon, have never been before. Thanks for all the input!

    1. Parking should be fine, except in the main city, Ponta Delgada, which actually can be a bit chaotic.

      Let me know if you need anything else, I’m here to help!