Exploring the Azores: São Miguel

Beaches and Sun | | 4 minutes

Sitting in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,600 km west of continental Portugal, is an archipelago of nine volcanic islands. These are the Azorean islands. From the rugged mountains to the lush green valleys and quaint little towns, the Azores are relatively remote destinations just begging to be explored.

Specifically, the 9 islands sprawl in a northwest-southeast direction across over 600 km of ocean and are naturally divided in to three subgroups:

  • The Eastern group includes the islands of Santa Maria and São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands.
  • The Central group includes Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, and Faial.
  • The Western group includes: Corvo and Flores. 

These islands were slowly settled over a few centuries, so they each have a distinct vibe to them and still retain some old traditions from the original Portuguese settlers. The Gulf Stream keeps the climate mild and consistently inviting even though the Atlantic can be a bit chilly. 

The island of São Miguel is the largest and most populated of the Azores.

São Miguel is the largest and most populated of the islands. Ponta Delgada is the capital and with cobbled streets and markets, shops, and cafés, its charm is palpable.

There are plenty of things to see and do around this island. The city, while small, is vibrant and teeming with culture and history. From visiting old churches, a 16th century fort, or a museum all about the natural history of the Azores to just laying on the beach or catching a mini-expedition out to see whales and dolphins that congregate in the waters off the archipelago, you won’t be bored.  

What to see on São Miguel

The unspoiled atmosphere of the Azores means that there is so much to explore and appreciate. Green and blue lakes fill up volcanic craters entrenched in bright green vegetation. The Azores speak for themselves and the tourism industry seems to put the landscape and its benefit above anything else. It has a diverse tourism offering that appeal to any holidaymaker. From your classic beach days basking in the brilliant sunshine to some off-the-beaten-path options like hiking an active volcano, mountain biking, relaxing in mud lakes and hot springs, snorkeling, canyoning, swimming with dolphins, paragliding, or scuba diving, there is something to please everyone.

Specifically in São Miguel, the unique landscape acts as a playground for some amazing activities. Simply, there is so much to see but here are our highlights:

Lagoa das Sete Cidades

The Lagoon of the Seven Cities sits on the west side of the island. It consists of two ecologically different lakes divided by a strait. The Green and Blue lakes are the highlight, which according to legend, were formed from the tears of a shepherd and princess who shared a forbidden love.

Lagoa do Fogo

Fogo Lake sits in the crater of an extinct volcano right in the middle of the island. It is a gorgeous lake that you can reach with a quick drive or by hiking. The roadside viewpoint offers spectacular views, but you can also make the decision to hike the half hour descent to lakeside. 

Caldeira Velha

Caldeira Velha is a group of three natural hot springs on the north slope of Fogo Volcano near the Lagoa de Fogo that visitors can take a dip in. They sit in the middle of a lush rain forest and they even come complete with their own waterfall.

Boca de Inferno

Image from Jose Constantino, Flickr

This hike and viewpoint might just be one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen. The panorama will offer unparalleled photo opportunities and you can truly get a feel for how volcanic activity has shaped these islands. 

Where to stay on São Miguel

Click&Go offers various accommodations in Ponta Delgada so that everyone can get a taste of the island life. Whether you are a value-seeker or looking to splurge on amazing accommodation, we’ve got you covered.

3* Vila Nova Hotel

If you are a value-seeker, your best bet is the Vila Nova. This three star hotel is near the historical city centre and extremely close to a traditional shopping area. It’s an ideal location to host your visit to the island and is a very comfortable property. 

4* Talisman

This mid-range hotel is a perfect spot. It comes complete with an impeccable pool, stylish interior, and many coveted amenities. From its privileged location in Ponta Delgada, this is a great place to jump start a visit to the island. 

5* AzorHotel

This highly-rated hotel option is quite luxurious and idyllic. The views are right over the water and the interior is chic and comfortable, offering an impeccable and beautiful accommodation to visit just as beautiful an island. 

Think you’re ready for a little bit of island life? The Azores are the perfect location and the island of São Miguel offers a great starting point. 

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