Before researching this trip, I truly did not know much about the Azores. We saw United’s flight deal to Sao Miguel and said why not? As I started looking at what we should do and how we should do it, I knew that this place was going to be special. The island turned out to be that and so much more. I can not wait to go back and visit more islands next time.
Before diving into my best tips for visiting Sao Miguel, I want to tell you a little about the island. This is the biggest island in the Azores and is known for its lush greenery. While it is the biggest, you are able to drive around the whole island in about 4 hours. Of course that will take longer with stops. So, after being there for 4 days here are a few things you can’t miss:
This town is about 45 minutes away from Ponta Delgada. The first one we stopped at was Poça da Dona Beija. I think I can speak for all of us that this was our favorite hot spring. The ticket as of June 2022 was 8 Euros and you’ll have around an hour and a half at the springs. There are a total of five thermal pools that you can go into. There are showers, changing rooms and bathrooms that you are able to use. If you don’t have a towel to use there are some for rental as well. Our next stop was to Parque Terra Nostra which is a garden which dates back to 1775. The main thermal pool will be right as you walk in. You’ll know that you have arrived as the water is orange from the iron. Closer to where the showers and bathrooms are are two smaller thermal pools that we enjoyed more. There was less people in these which made it a little more relaxing. The cost to get into this garden is 10 Euros and you are also able to explore the garden as well.
When visiting hot springs around the island in general wear a dark bathing suit/ one you do not care about anymore. The iron in the pools will stain your suit and will most likely not come out. The same can be said about the towels you bring as well. Our airbnb host had brown towels for us to use for this and specifically told us not to use the white ones.
These represent viewpoints around the island and they offer some amazing views of the island. Our favorite view point was Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego. If you are coming to Sao Miguel when the hydrangea’s are in bloom or near bloom this viewpoint is a must see. We saw this on our first full day on the island and didn’t stop talking about it the rest of the trip. For another coastline view of the island head to Miradouro Pedra dos Estorninhos. This view point can be done on the same day as Ponta do Sossego.
This may seem like an odd tip at first but as you keep reading you’ll understand why I have included this. For a day and a half there was very heavy fog around the island. I had read that fog can be an issue for certain views but that it could clear up after a little while. For us this was not the case. We tried to still see certain viewpoints of Sete Cidades twice but did not see anything. I have read that Lago Do Fogo can have a similar issue however we were lucky enough that we saw it pre-fog. The key with dealing with the fog is either having enough days to come back to the place or having an alternative if its going to be sticking around. We were still able to see other points of interest thankfully. However we missed the main view that we were looking forward to on the West Coast of Sao Miguel.
Sao Miguel offers multiple waterfalls that you can see. However the one that truly can not be missed is Ribeira dos Caldeiroes Sao Miguel. This National Park is something else. I am not sure if it was because everything was extremely green or what but it was just gorgeous and so unexpected. I was also surprised that we did not have to pay to go in! This could have been due to us arriving to this spot later in the day. There are also other waterfalls around the island that I would love to check out on another trip back to the Azores.
Definitely think about renting a car for your trip. It’s really the only way to get around. Overall Sao Miguel has convinced me to explore the other islands in the Azores. The food is so fresh and the island itself is just not overrun yet by tourist so it made our time there very enjoyable. We had some shock just seeing how well kept even some of the more remote viewpoints were. I would recommend a trip to Sao Miguel to anyone!