After being in 25 different countries, over 100 different places and over 10 different islands, it was time to visit the Portuguese Islands. We started in São Miguel island in the Azores archipelago, and we can say it’s one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to. We did a 9 day trip in São Miguel and to make your experience as good as possible we made this article were we share our tips and personal recommendations regarding to:


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Complete guide for Azores Islands in Portugal


As we use to say, São Miguel island has highest ratio of ‘WOW’ views per square meter. Breathtaking landscapes anywhere you look… Unbelievable nature anywhere you look! We only feel bad for the Azoreans… Because no matter how much they travel or where they travel to… It just won’t be easy to find a place as beautiful as the one they born in.

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Azores Cow

In São Miguel, nature did its work in an amazing way. Beautiful blues and greens everywhere, lots of hydrangeas (beautiful flowers abundant in Azores), natural pools and giant lagoons. Ah, and of course the iconic black and white cows… Millions of them! (lol) São Miguel has everything and everything is therapeutically beautiful … Especially for the soul!

Usually people do a three-four days and that’s what we were advised to do too. But those who already know us, know that we like to travel slowly, to have time to really dive in the local culture, to interact with as many locals as possible to truly experience what is like to live wherever we go! Our trip in São Miguel ended up being 9 days long, and still we felt it wasn’t enough. We left so many things to do and see.

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Best tips

  • The weather in the Azores is very tricky and it is often raining on one side of the island and super sunny on the other. With the Spotazores App, you can access webcams all around the island and check the weather live! This application has helped us a lot and we recommend you to download it before your trip to the Azores!
  • Grab your Travel Essentials, and enjoy your trip to this beautiful island of São Miguel in Azores

Best time to visit São Miguel

The main characteristic of the Azorean climate is its unpredictability: it can be sunny, rainy, windy – all in the same day! However, there are better times to visit the island of São Miguel!

For example, if you want to see whales, you will have a (much) greater chance if you are between April and June, when they migrate, however it is possible anytime throughout the year.

Still relying on the odds, its best to visit the island between June and September, as the chance of raining is lower and the temperature averages are higher. However we went in October and we had 6 great days out of the 9. But there it is, the Azorean climate is unpredictable and it is better to rely on probabilities.

Note: the ferry between islands only works until September.


Related: Is Travel Insurance really worth it? Everything you need to know [2019]


 

Transportation in São Miguel

The island of São Miguel is the biggest island of the Azores archipelago, with a surface area of ​​750 km². The public transport in the island is close to zero. With this being said, Renting a car is mandatory! The points of interest are well spread and sometimes the car is also an excellent shelter when (unexpectedly) it starts to rain.

Consequently, the island has a lot of car rental companies, and unfortunately we got to know the conditions in which some workers of the biggest companies of the island are submitted, rather, exploited. For this reason and to always help young and humble local businesses, we have had the great pleasure of using the services of Atlantic Secrets.

 
 
 
 
 
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The company launched in 2018 and is run by a very humble and friendly Azorean family. Dinarte (father and son) picked us up at the airport at almost 2 am (after a long delay of our flight), with a huge smile on their faces.

This car (photo above), which we had during the 9 days trip, was essential for our happy experience in São Miguel!!

Where to stay in São Miguel

During our São Miguel trip, we had completely different experiences regarding to the accommodation. In the first days, we stayed in the house of an Azorean friend.

Because we like to have the best of both worlds, then we stayed The Neat Hotel Avenida the rest of our time in the São Miguel Island. For a more relaxing and romantic experience right in the center of the capital, with a perfect living room to get our work done! We loved it!

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Working time on Neat Hotel Avenida

Many locals are taking advantage (and well) of the booming tourism in São Miguel and have started small businesses in accommodation. We recommend you to take this experience, because there is no better way to know the culture, traditions and the best secrets of the island than with locals.

It is also a way to help small business and the local community and its a cheap alternative for you. Since we also want to help the right people, we recommend staying at this local lodging, Casa Da Margarida. We had the pleasure to meet the owner who recommended us all the best places we visited in the island!


Related: 7 types of accommodation for different Travel Styles


What to do or see in São Miguel Island

Regardless of how long you decide to stay in São Miguel, you will always leave behind things to do.! The tourist attractions in São Miguel are endless and we also wanted to explore what the locals would recommend! After our 9 day trip this is the list of our favorites things to do and places to visit in São Miguel Island:

Terra Nostra Park

To be honest, we do not usually visit these kind of parks, because they are usually very modified by the man. But this one is different!! Terra Nostra Park has conquered us! To start this park is huge (from one end to another, it takes about 90 minutes), the biggest in Europe, full of flowers and trees of all kinds and shapes representing the flora of the island! Beautiful nature to lose sight of! But the best is yet to come, as the most interesting thing about this park is the thermal water tank. This tank is fed by a spring of thermal water at a temperature between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius. This water is loaded with minerals (including iron), so if you have long hair, do not make the same mistake as Matilde, tie your hair and do not put it in the water.

 
 
 
 
 
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Boca do Inferno Viewpoint

With so many breathtaking views, São Miguel also has many amazing viewpoints and we chose 2 of our favorites. The ‘Boca do Inferno’ viewpoint is perhaps the most famous of the island and for that very reason, it will have many tourists! But it will make up for it! We recommend you to check the tip of the viewpoint, but as soon as you can, get away from the confusion and take the opportunity to explore more around the area. We had an incredible experience when we far away that we only heard nature again and meditated on a mountaintop. Give it a try, but be careful!

 
 
 
 
 
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Ribeira dos Caldeirões Waterfall

San Miguel has many beautiful waterfalls! This was our favorite not only for its stunning beauty but also for the wonderful garden that surrounds it (pictured below), where you can enjoy a coffee with a wonderful view. We loved that detail!

 
 
 
 
 
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Ermida da Nossa Senhora Da Paz Church

Another point that is on every tourist’s list! But that again, we recommend you to visit too! The church is absolutely beautiful. But what really fascinated us was the view we had from it (photo below). You could not only see the vilage Vila Franca do campo but also the islet. We recommend you to visit this place in the morning, because the latter, the fuller it gets!

 
 
 
 
 
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Ponta da Ferraria

Ponta da Ferraria is one of the places that most surprised us. Natural pools of hot water just by the ocean. During the low tide it’s a very relaxed natural pool that reaches temperatures above 35 degrees. With the high tide, the cold water of the ocean blends with the pool cooling it each time a wave passes. We recommend you to visit the pools at low tide but rising!

You also have the possibility of the artificial thermal baths in the same place which you have to pay an entrance fee. These natural pools can give you a lot of peace and tranquility, but you are sure to check the tide before you go!

Lagoa do Fogo

No exaggeration, we visited this lagoon 3 times in our 9 day stay on the island! This is one of the highest points on the island. Unless you go very early, it is likely that the top will be covered by clouds… Which will make it difficult to see the lagoon. However, when you can see it the view is just epic!

 
 
 
 
 
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Santa Iria Viewpoint

This is our second choice of viewpoints in São Miguel. It has an incredible view over the immense ocean and other green areas and it has probably the best sunset point on the island! And you can’t see it in the picture (below) but the cows were there too! Right next to us!

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Lagoa do Congro

Coincidence or not this was the place more recommended by the locals we talked to. In fact it was one of the places that most impressed us! We managed to be in this place alones and we felt super deep in the nature surrounding us! Just try to stay in this place a bit longer than just enough to take the Instagram photo.

Lagoa do Congro São Miguel Azores
Lagoa do Congro – São Miguel, Azores

 

(Abandoned) Hotel Monte Palace

Let us start by letting you know that because of being abandoned, this place is closed to the people …  At least should be! The truth is, everyone goes in any way. Even if you have to jump a wall to do it! This Hotel is our top list due to the view it has over the most popular lagoon of the island – ‘Lagoa das Sete Cidades’ (photo below). But let us warn you that if you really want to go to this place, you must hurry! Finally, after 27 years abandoned, the Monte Palace Hotel was bought and in the near future it will no longer be a tourist attraction.

Hotel Monte Palace
View from the Hotel rooftop to the Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Blue Lagoon

To visit the blue lagoon, you have to take a short trek which is totally worth it! For those of you who visited Gerês, this will look very similar to many of Gerês’ landscapes. Unlike all the lagoons in Gerês, in this one we did not dive, but only because the weather did not allow us!

Poço Azul São Miguel Azores

 

Pineapple Greenhouse

We have to be honest. We had no idea how the pineapple plant would look like or how it grew! Perhaps for this reason we found our visit to the Arruda plantation so interesting. In the end, we could even taste a pineapple jam or cake!

 
 
 
 
 
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Gorreana Tea Fields and Factory

This is one of those (very) tourist spots but one that you should not miss! You can have a complete experience: visit the factory, see the process and watch the workers packaging, try the teas and visit the tea fields (photo below). All this free of costs.

Gorreana Tea Factory São Miguel Azores

 

Nossa Senhora da Vitória Church

São Miguel is full of beautiful churches! But this one stood out! It looks like a castle from a fairy tale and in the front there is a wonderful lake, Furnas Lake. Surrounded by a giant park, this is a very quiet place, perfect for a picnic and a well spent day.

 
 
 
 
 
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Where to eat

As you know, we do everything to save as much as possible on our trips  and in addition to accommodation, Another area we save is in food when avoiding dinner / lunch outside. Whenever possible we cook and that’s what we did in San Miguel. However, we also really enjoyed new experiences and local food and the 3 sites we thoroughly recommend!


Related – Budget Travel – How we traveled Asia for 10€/day


Sabores

This ”restaurant ” is a small food stall, located within the Grace Market, with healthy and vegan alternatives. We advise to try the vegan sandwich, it is so good!

Suplexio

For those who do not eat meat, eating out in São Miguel can be difficult. It happen not having choices and ordering soup as alternative. What soups did they have? Beef soup and chicken soup! Definitely not easy… But, then we discovered this place, the Suplexio, with delicious soya burgers and we knew immediately this place had to be on the list!

A Tasca

You can not miss this place! But to go you need to book table 2/3 days before. Nop, we are not kidding! We were not the only ones to realize that the food at this restaurant is wonderful! If you like fish, we recommend you to try any of these dishes, the tuna steak, the fish stew with puff pastry and of course, the limpets as entry!


Related: Ultimate Travel Essentials: 3 things you can’t forget


These are our best tips and recommendations after a 9-day super happy trip in São Miguel. The list could go on and there are many more things to do and see in the island, but these were our favorites!

If you’ve already been to São Miguel and you feel that there is something that shouldn’t be missing in this list, please leave a comment. This will help us and everyone who reads! We really enjoyed our time on the island and we really hope you enjoy yours too!

Share with someone who might be interested in visiting the island of São Miguel in Azores!

With love,

Matilde and Miguel

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This Post Has 13 Comments

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Yay thanks so much Vera! This feed back totally means a lot to us. 🙂

  1. Hey!
    OMG Great article about Azores 🙂 I really want to go now! Nice pics
    Many thanks,
    Best and continue!
    Trip To Europe Tips

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Yay!! We are so happy you liked it 🙂 Azores is totally worth to visit, it is still so virgin *.* Thanks for you feedback! 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    Hello. I have been listening to you today together with my students and they were so amazed at your personal stories. Thanks a lot to make the difference and to let them know that gapping is an experience for life. The best of lucks.

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Thank you so much! It was a pleasure to talk!
      Professora, ficamos muito contentes que tenha gostado da nossa apresentação, assim como os seus alunos! Estamos mesmo cá para inspirar e mostrar novas alternativas ao dito ”percurso normal”. Muito obrigada pelo seu apoio 🙂

  3. Natividade Batista Gomes

    There are no coincidences in life…. Thanks for your amazing life stories. My students from ESSB loved it and are eager to follow your steps. Learning a lot through gapping

    1. TravelB4Settle

      It was a big pleasure to be in ESSB! What an amazing school! Thank you so much for receiving us so well!
      Obrigada pelo apoio e pelas palavras professora, ficamos realmente agradecidos que tanto professores como alunos tenham gostado!
      Caso tenha interesse, também já temos acesso ao nosso website em português. No topo da página temos umas bandeirinhas para escolher o idioma. Mais uma vez, muito obrigada pela forma excelente como nos receberam na ESSB, foi um prazer enorme falar para uma audiência tão simpática 🙂 Até para o ano 🙂

  4. Paulo Coelho

    What a wonderful place!!!! I already know where I’m going with my family … hahahha. Thank you for the tips!

    1. TravelB4Settle

      We can promise you, you’ll absolutely love it! Not )only) because it belongs to our country, but it is one of the most beautiful places we have been too!

  5. Lilla Faluhelyi

    HI there!
    Would you be able to tell me the whereabouts of the Blue Lagoon you have mentioned?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. TravelB4Settle

      Hey there Lilla! 🙂 Clearly, there is a translation barrier. If you search for “Poço Azul São Miguel Açores” you will easily find it! Be careful because it is not super easily accessible. Enjoy!

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