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Must Sees From São Miguel Island, Azores

Wandering what to see in São Miguel? In this article we will cover the 11 Main attractions in The island of São Miguel, Including Beaches, Natural Parks, Activities, Food, Rivers,and other Nature Wonders.

Before reading, note that all prices were last updated in late 2023 and might have changed since then. Read the comments or visit the official pages for the most recent prices. If an activity doesn’t show prices it means that it is free.

São Miguel is the biggest one of the 9 islands located in the Azores. It is actually the one that has had more volcanic activity and that is the reason for all its diverse landscapes. In São Miguel you will be able to enjoy the beach, rainforest, hot springs, and hills. The weather is super unpredictable, so we highly recommend bringing a raincoat with you at all times. The summer season is the best time of the year to visit since it is often more sunny and less rainy. In Tralei, we have prepared 11 must-sees of São Miguel based on our own experience that will help you plan your stay there.

Here is a map that Includes all mast sees, locations, and parking spots mentioned in the article.

1. Sete Cidades

Sete Cidades is one of the most emblematic areas in São Miguel. Located in the west side of the island, Sete Cidades is a town that lays between Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. Due to the altitude of the mountains and viewpoints it is often very foggy. We were told by locals that unless the sky is completely clear down in Ponta Delgada, Siete cidades will be foggy. With the fog it often comes some rain and wind, so we advise you to take a small raincoat with you even in summer since it is kind of chilly in there. 

The road to Sete Cidades is full of amazing viewpoints in Portugese “miradouros” that, if the sky is clear, will allow you to get impressive views of the two “lagoas” (lakes). Here is a list of the best ones:

  1. Miradouro da Vista do Rei: This viewpoint is located in the southern point of Lagoa Verde, it is very accessible and there is a free parking lot available right next to it.
  2. Miradouro das Cumeeiras: The viewpoint is very accessible by car even though the road can be a little bumpy when it has rained. The views are beautiful but not the best of the lakes. 
  3. Bridge viewpoint: There is a bridge that separates the two lakes. There is a nice path to walk along the two “lagoas”.
  4. Miradouro da Grota do Inferno: The way to reach this viewpoint is through a beautiful trail that goes along the crest of the hill, so if there is visibility you will have amazing views the whole path. 

    We visited it on a foggy day, and even though there was no visibility at all from the “miradouro”, the trail, covered in fog was pretty cool since it gave it a mysterious atmosphere.

    In order to find the trailhead you need to enter the Protected Landscape Area of Sete Cidades (Zona de Paisagem Protegida das Sete Cidades) which is a park where you can picnic and wander in nature, with plenty of space to park and dine inside the area. The doors open at 6 AM during weekdays and at 10 AM over the weekends and close every day at 7PM. However, there is an available free parking lot outside, and you can still enter the park after hours.

2. Ponta da Ferraria

Ponta da Ferraria is one of the natural hot springs on the island there are two options, a free one and a paid one.

Once you get to the location you will find a huge free parking lot. There is also a white building there, that is the thermal pool, this pool was closed when we visited, and we haven’t been able to find any information on what are the seasons of operation, we only could find that the price to enter was 6 EUR.

In case you prefer the free option (or that you are left with no other choice) there is a paved trail that will take you to the natural sea hot springs. Halfway through this trail, there are available restrooms & change rooms.

In the tiny bay, which is often crowded, there are some stairs to go down and ropes to hold yourself as waves of cold water often come in. Closer to the shore, really hot water comes from the rocks. And it is the mix of the two that makes it a very pleasant experience.  It is also worth mentioning that the bay has a fair amount of algae. 

3. Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões

Ribeira dos Caldeirões National Park is the perfect space to get initiated to extreme sports, spend some time picnicking, or wander around while enjoying the sun and the views. Once you get there, there is free limited parking available, but we didn’t have any problem finding a spot. Right at the entrance there is a huge waterfall where you can walk around through a paved path and even go up to the top of it following the trail. There is also a bar where you can get snacks and plenty of spots with tables and seats where you can picnic with views to the river and nature. In the picnic area, there are also some paths that you can follow in order to sightsee the different old water mills located across the area. If you are more adventurous there is also a trail to a village that is close to there, or get immersed in the rainforest, which is a great experience too! 

Another reason to visit Ribeira dos Caldeirões is to do canyoning. It’s an easy but complete route, perfect for beginners. We want to spotlight the company Epic Adventures since Bea and Francisco (Our amazing guides and owners of the company) did an amazing job of giving us a wonderful experience. They were very friendly, the material was in really good condition, and the booking was very smooth & affordable. The canyon was easy but it had a lot of different features: rappels, slides, jumps, and zip lines. Bea and Francisco allowed us to take our time to enjoy the most out of each of those! We highly recommend Epic Adventures for any of the activities they offer, here is a link to their website:  https://www.azoresepicadventures.com/

**We are not sponsored or getting any commission from Epic Adventures

4. Salto do Cabrito

Salto do Cabrito is one of the most famous waterfalls on the whole island so it is often very crowded. There are currently two different free parking areas. The one that is closer to it is actually at the bottom of a very steep hill, but you will have to walk less than 100m to get to the waterfall. (Be careful with your car rental if you decide to go down) The other one is located a little further and on top of that steep hill. The waterfall itself was used to produce hydroelectric energy, and if you follow the pipeline you’ll get into a loop trail of about 4.8 Km where you’ll walk to the top of the waterfall and then through the rainforest all the way back to the top parking lot. 

The trail is not indicated so we will create a further post with more info soon.

5. Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo or Lake of Fire is a Volcanic Lake located in the middle of the island. It is often super foggy, like the rest of the island, but when the sky is clear the views from the viewpoint (Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo) are very beautiful. 

There is also free parking 30 meters away from the viewpoint. From the “miradouro” there are also a couple of trails that we recommend, one that goes up the hill and another one that gets closer to the lake. We only had the chance to experience the one that goes up along the crest, and it was totally worth it. We walked for about 10 minutes up the hill and we got a full view of the lake, which was better and less crowded than the one at the main viewpoint.

6. Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores islands. Located in São Miguel, it is one of the biggest cities, with around 70,000 habitants. The airport is located here and it is wonderful to wander around for an afternoon. The harbor area has some nice bars and pubs where you can enjoy live music at night. 

We recommend Taberna Açor to have either lunch or dinner. The food is typical Azorian but be careful about how much you order! The servings are pretty big and you will get full quickly. Our favorite was the Fisherman’s soup on the bread. 

7. Tea plantation Gorreana

The tea plantation Gorreana, located north of Lagoa do Fogo, is the oldest and currently the only one in Europe. The highlight about the plantation is the special shape of the tea crops. In Tralei, we think that the best time to go visit it is during the golden hour, since the tea plants get a special color with the sun and the sunset is very beautiful from there. 

Since the factory was closed at the time we went, we parked in the plantation area, however, during the day you can park in the factory, tour the plantation and even enjoy a free cup of tea!


Furnas is a town characterized by the smoking calderas that are located right in the middle of the town due to its geothermal activity. You can park nearby and walk through them. You can smell the Sulfur all over the area that is close to the calderas, and notice that the water is HOT! We also encourage you to drink from the fountains and taste it, since it has a “special flavor”.  

Furnas is also very famous for its hot springs. There are two of them in town: 

1. Poça da Dona Beija: These hot springs are the fancy ones and are open everyday from 8:30AM until 11:00PM. Notice that these hot springs are the only ones open until late at night!

There are different pools with different depths where you can enjoy the water at 39ºC. The water is clean and in constant movement. Some of the pools also have a little bit of hydromassage fountains, but it is not recommended to be underneath them for a long time.


2. Parque Terra Nostra: These hot springs are located inside of a botanical garden and are open everyday from 10:30AM – 4:30PM. There is a big pool that you can swim into, even though the water is not crystal clear like in Dona Beija. Be aware that the towels and swimsuit that you bring can get stained due to the mineralization of the water, so choose acordingly. This also applies to recently polished nails, tinted hair, and some jewelry. 


It is also worth mentioning Furnas Lake (Lagoa das Furnas). The lake itself does not offer many activities, but the surroundings do. 

Right next to it, there is the Antigo Pomar das Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas, which are the old calderas from the lake with the special feature that the traditional dish Cozido is cooked in them. You should book it in advance if you want to try. In case you want to picnic, there are also some tables you can use for free. In order to park close to the Caldeiras you will have to pay 3€. However, you can also park on the other side and enjoy a 5Km walk around the lake until you reach the the Caldeiras. From that same spot you can also initiate a trail to Miradouro do Pico do Ferro, where you will be able to see the views from Furnas and more. (You can also reach the Pico do Ferro viewpoint by car. )

9. Cascata da Ribeira Quente

Cascata da Ribeira Quente or Ribeira Quente was a huge waterfall which is not that famous and therefore not crowded at all. You can get as close to it as you want as long as you are willing to take the risk of getting wet! The catch? There is no trail to get there and the trailhead is hard to find. But Tralei is here to help you! 

First, park your car safely by the road around this area and then walk until you are in the opening between both tunnels (exact coordinates can be found here). Those are the stairs where the “trailhead” is located. After the stairs, you will have to jump from side to side of the tiny river or just walk through it (it is shallow). The road to the waterfall is also full of picnic tables where you can stop and cook some barbeque, and the views of the surrounding nature are also really nice.

10. Beaches

Since the weather is extremely unpredictable you should not plan for a whole day sunburning on the beach. However, we do recommend two of them, one in the north and the other one in the south. 

Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara (NORTH)

This beach is equipped with bathrooms and a huge parking area and it is recognized as one of the best ones for surfing in the Azores. The sand is white and there are some big waves. However, it is also a comfortable beach to swim in. 

Praia do Fogo (SOUTH)

This black sand beach is located in the south. It also has a nice parking area, but it doesn’t have bathrooms. It is a good place to see the Portuguese man o’war, the jellyfish. Those are very dangerous since they can be lethal for kids or people with a compromised immune system. Be aware that you can see them from far away since they float and have really nice blue and purple colors. However, their tentacles can have a maximum length of 25 meters. Their venom is also active even after they are dead, so it is crucial not to touch them. 

11. Vila Franca do Campo Island

This island is about 500m from São Miguel’s coast. There are many options to get there. By boat, private tour or kayaking. However, if you want to get to the inside bay of the island, you can only do it by boat, due to their regulations. This is also a really good place to snorkel and dive on a nice day. At the harbor, you will find multiple shops that offer the different services. We could not get there due to a storm, but we think it’s a worthed experience, due to the special shape of the island!

If you think we forgot to mention anything, don’t hesitate to write in the comment section if you think we missed any important attraction in Sao Miguel!

Thank you for reading!

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