Things To Do On Sao Miguel, The Azores: A Three Day Itinerary

Stunning view over Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul on Sao Miguel, the Azores

Have you heard of the Azores? Sounds pretty exotic right? The Azores is a cluster of nine beautiful islands located in the Atlantic Ocean. Somehow the Azores aren’t very well-known and remain off the tourist radar.

I have to admit I also didn’t know a single thing about the Azores before booking a last-minute ticket to Sao Miguel, the biggest islands in the archipelago. However, the pictures on Google looked stunning so I didn’t think have to think twice about taking a trip there. It was a smart decision, Sao Miguel turned out to be one of the most beautiful islands I have ever seen!


A complete guide to Sao Miguel

In this post you’ll find:

  • Useful travel information about the Azores
  • Best things to do on Sao Miguel
  • Budget information about Sao Miguel
  • How to get to Sao Miguel
  • Where to stay in Ponta Delgada
  • How to get around on Sao Miguel
  • Printable map of a 3 day Sao Miguel itinerary

Scooter Sao Miguel


Useful travel information about the Azores

The Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal and consists of nine islands:

  • São Miguel
  • Pico
  • Terceira
  • São Jorge
  • Faial
  • Flores
  • Santa Maria
  • Graciosa
  • Corvo

The biggest and most visited islands are Sao Miguel, Pico and Terceira. Flores and the tiny island Corvo are the furthest away from the mainland, located almost 2000 kilometers off the coast of Portugal! The islands are sparely inhabited, total population is around 250.000 people. Of course being this isolated isn’t for everyone, but the Azores certainly are a beautiful place to live…

Weather on the Azores
Temperatures on the Azores range between 12 (winter) and 25 (summer) degrees Celsius. The best time to travel to the Azores is between April and October because these are the driest months.

sao miguel itinerary

Best things to do on Sao Miguel

On my trip to the Azores I visited the island Sao Miguel. Sao Miguel is the biggest island of the Azores and easily accessible from the European mainland.

Because I only had a couple of days to explore the Sao Miguel (I left Friday afternoon and came back Tuesday morning 5am…) I crammed as much sightseeing into these days as possible. On the three maps below you can find all the places I visited, there are so many things to see and do on Sao Miguel!

To explore as much of Sao Miguel in three days as possible, I rented a scooter for the first two days of my trip. On day 3 I exchanged the scooter for a tiny Smart, because the attractions I wanted to visit were a bit further away from Ponta Delgada where I had based myself.

Things to do on Sao Miguel: the South


Sao Miguel itinerary day 1: Ponta Delgada – Caloura Bay – Bahia Palace – Hike to Lagoa do Fogo

Sao Miguel attractions day 1

During the first day of my Sao Miguel trip I explored the South of the island (on a scooter) and hiked to Lagoa do Fogo.

Ponta Delgada Sao Miguel the Azores

Ponta Delgada: Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores and the perfect place to base yourself on your Sao Miguel trip. The city center can easily be navigated on foot and there are lots of restaurants, cafes and bars to grab a bite or a drink.

R 1-1 road: from Ponta Delgada to Agua de Alto, passing through sleepy little villages on a beautiful coast road.

R 1-1 road: a wonderful coast road from Ponta Delgada to Agua de Alto. Along the way you’ll pass sleepy little villages and beautiful bays.

Caloura Bay: cute and tiny harbor with gorgeous views!

Caloura Bay: a cute and tiny harbor with gorgeous views. Look at those fisherman, I don’t think much has changed here in the last decades… What a beautiful place to live!

Hike to Lagoa do Fogo: 4-5 hour hike, a steep climb from Bahia Palace hotel but definitely worth the effort. About halfway into the hike you find a levada, a water channel with clear and fresh water, along which the trail runs. The landscape is really varied and offers beautiful coast views!

Hike to Lagoa do Fogo: a 4-5 hour hike. It’s a steep climb from Bahia Palace hotel, but definitely worth the effort. About halfway into the hike you find a levada, a water channel with clear and fresh water. The trail runs parallel to the levada for most part of the hike. I loved this hiking trail, the landscape is really varied and offers beautiful coast views!

Things to do on Sao Miguel: the West


Sao Miguel itinerary day 2: Viewpoints Lagoa Verde & Lagoa Azul – Ribeira Grande – Caldeira Velha

Sao Miguel attractions day 2

During the second day of my Sao Miguel trip I explored the West of the island (on a scooter) and made a big loop via Ribeira Grande.

The view over Sete Cidades, Lagoa Verde & Lagoa Azul: spectacular, stunning, sensational!

Sete Cidades: this area is probably the most famous and most visited place of the Azores. But that pretty understandable, I mean, look at this view over Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul… There is a tragic legend explaining the difference on color the two lakes, you can read it here.

There are several hiking trails in this area, more information about these can be found here.

R 1-1 road: from Sete Cidades to Ribeira Grande, another day enjoying the beautiful coast road, passing through villages like Ajuda da Bretanha and Remédios.

R 1-1 road: it’s an absolute delight to drive from Sete Cidades to Ribeira Grande. The views over the oceans are stunning and you’ll pass through lovely villages like Ajuda da Bretanha and Remédios.

Ribeira Grande: town with beautiful buildings and one of the oldest churches of the Azores.

Ribeira Grande: a lovely town with beautiful historic buildings and one of the oldest churches of the Azores. Definitely allow yourself some time to stroll around this village! It’s also a nice place to stop for lunch or a drink.

Caldeira Velha: a natural hot spring in the middle of the forest where you can soak and relax. There are showers and dressing rooms. Entree fee is €2 per person.

Caldeira Velha: a natural hot spring in the middle of the forest where you can soak and relax! There are showers and dressing rooms. The entrance fee is €2 per person.

View over Lagoa do Fogo: I cannot believe there is an island with so many stunning views and gorgeous lakes! Road R 5-2 climbs up to a 950 meter high pass before descending down to sea level again. A beautiful road!

View over Lagoa do Fogo: if you continue driving road R 5-2 you’ll ascend to a 950 meter high pass where you’ll have an amazing view over Lagoa do Fogo. There are lots of twists and bends in this road, but it sure is beautiful… From the pass the road goes back down to sea level, where you can make your way back to Ponta Delgada via R1-1.

Things to do on Sao Miguel: the East


Sao Miguel itinerary day 3: Lagoa das Furnas – Calderas – Povoação – Ponte dos Sete Arcos – Chá Gorreana

Sao Miguel attractions day 3

During the third day of my Sao Miguel trip I explored the East of the island (by car) and visited a tea factory.

Lagoa das Furnas: an abandoned and crumbling church at the south side of Lagoa das Furnas, a very scenic sight.

Lagoa das Furnas: at the south side of Lagoa das Furnas you’ll find an abandoned church slowly crumbling to pieces. It’s a nice place to stretch your legs and of course the church is very Instagramable;-).

Eating a warm Bolo Levedo, the regional delicacy, at a tiny and very cute shop.Bolo Levado, jummie!

Sample the local delicacy in Furnas: when on Sao Miguel, more specifically when in Furnas, you have to eat a warm bolo levedo. A bolo levado is a sweet flat bread, typically eaten with butter or homemade jam, jummie!

Calderas: thermal activity in Furnas village. We walked around the calderas and steaming vents with their pungent sulfur smell.

Calderas: in Furnas village you can explore an area of thermal activity. Be careful when walking  around the calderas and steaming vents! Also, the pungent sulfur smell takes some getting used too;-).

Povoação: cute village with car free center and beautiful little streets.

Povoação: a cute village on the Southeast coast of Sao Miguel, with a car free village center and beautiful cobbled streets…

Chá Gorreana: one of the two remaining tea factories on the Azores (the only place in Europe where tea is grown), operated since 1883. Very interesting to visit!

Chá Gorreana: the only remaining tea factory on the Azores. Well, actually in Europe because the Azores are the only place in Europe where tea is grown. This factory has been in use since 1883, I highly recommend a visit! You can also sample the tea and buy some tea souvenirs.


Travel to Sao Miguel: practical and budget information

Budget information for a trip to Sao Miguel

Why you should visit Sao Miguel, the Azores! Check out this detailed travel guide to Sao Miguel, a gorgeous and undiscovered island in the Atlantic Ocean. Includes information about the attractions and highlights of Sao Miguel, budget information, how to get around on the island and a printable 3-day itinerary. #SaoMiguel #Azores #Europe

How to get to Sao Miguel

I booked a travel package with Tui, the price for 2 people was €500 (€250 per person) and included a return flight from the Netherlands to Ponta Delgada, transport from and to the airport of Sao Miguel and our accommodation in Ponta Delgada. I spent 3 nights/4 days on the island.

If you do not want to buy a package deal, there are several airlines flying to Ponta Delgada:

Tui
EasyJet
Primera Air
Ryanair
Sata Air Açores and Sata Internacional
TAP Portugal

I always use Skyscanner to find the best ticket prices.

Transport from Sao Miguel airport to Ponta Delgada city center

Update June 2018: unfortunately the airport shuttle bus which used to run between the airport and the city is no longer available.

You can rent a car at the airport or take a taxi into town. I don’t know the exact fee but it’s about 4km to the city center so I estimate it would be around €10.

Smart Sao Miguel

Where to stay in Ponta Delgada: the Talisman hotel

The Talisman hotel was really nice, we had a large room (actually two rooms, a living room and a bedroom with two separate beds), a spacious bathroom with a bath, air conditioning and a safe. The breakfast buffet was great, lots of food to choose from like regional fruit, thee and cheese. The staff was very friendly and accommodating, all together we had a very comfortable stay.

You can find the best room rates for the Talisman hotel on Agoda and Booking

How to get around on Sao Miguel

Public transportation on Sao Miguel is very limited, therefore I recommend to get your own set of wheels. To explore the island, I rented a scooter for two days (€50 in total) and a Smart for one day (€40), both at Auto Ramalhense. Petrol for the scooter was €5, petrol for the Smart was €15; total transportation costs were €105.

There are plenty of rental companies on Sao Miguel, but I was very happy with the service of Auto Ramalhense. They brought the scooter to our hotel and returned two days later to pick up the scooter and drop of the Smart. They also came by to pick up the car at the end of the day. Altogether the rental process was very easy!

Also read: 10 reasons to visit the Azores

Ocean view from the Northeast of Sao Miguel - the Azores


Printable map of attractions on Sao Miguel

I had a great holiday on Sao Miguel, it was short but definitely a great introduction to the amazing Azores. You can download the budget breakdown infographic and the 3-day itinerary below. If you have any questions about traveling to Sao Miguel, leave a comment below or contact me!

Looking for more travel planning resources? Check out the Phenomenal Globe Travel Planning Library and my Travel Resource page!

Why you should visit Sao Miguel, the Azores! Check out this detailed travel guide to Sao Miguel, a gorgeous and undiscovered island in the Atlantic Ocean. Includes information about the attractions and highlights of Sao Miguel, budget information, how to get around on the island and a printable 3-day itinerary. #SaoMiguel #Azores #EuropeWhy you should visit Sao Miguel, the Azores! Check out this detailed travel guide to Sao Miguel, a gorgeous and undiscovered island in the Atlantic Ocean. Includes information about the attractions and highlights of Sao Miguel, budget information, how to get around on the island and a printable 3-day itinerary. #SaoMiguel #Azores #Europe

18 Comments

  1. December 7, 2015 / 11:06 am

    Beautiful pictures! And such an extensive itinerary! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!

    • Lotte
      Author
      December 7, 2015 / 1:07 pm

      Thank you Liz:-) It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! I only visited 1 of the 9 islands, 8 more to explore;)

    • Lotte
      Author
      February 9, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      Thank you Paulina:-) Your list is great, it seems I have to go back in May/June to watch the whales!

  2. Lotte
    Author
    February 27, 2016 / 9:30 am

    Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the post:-)

  3. Lotte
    Author
    March 15, 2016 / 8:13 am

    Very welcome Ryan, glad you like the pictures:-)

  4. Sara
    April 19, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    Hi Lotte! I was wondering if the Smart Car you rented was automatic or manual?

    • Lotte
      Author
      April 19, 2016 / 11:21 pm

      I am not sure but if I remember correctly it was a manual car. Have a great trip!

  5. July 5, 2016 / 9:56 am

    This brought so many memories back. Glad you enjoyed my home island!!

    • Lotte
      Author
      July 6, 2016 / 10:10 am

      Wow, so cool you are from the Azores! It must have been a great place to grow up. I had such a great (and much to short) time on Sao Miguel and would love to return one day:-).

    • Lotte
      Author
      December 6, 2016 / 4:40 pm

      Thanks Sliva, good to know there are camping options on Sao Miguel as well!

  6. Andrea
    April 22, 2017 / 1:18 am

    My husband and I are planning to come to Sap Miguel tomorrow through Wednesday. Unfortunately the forecast calls for rain. Any suggestions as to what to do on the island in inclement weather!

    • Lotte
      Author
      April 22, 2017 / 2:46 pm

      Hi Andrea, hmm I don’t have many suggestions as we were very lucky with the weather. But visiting the tea factory is one suitable indoor activity. Walking around in Ponta Delgada could also still be nice as long as you pop into a warm and dry cafe regularly (and it isn’t raining superhard;-). I hope you’ll enjoy your trip despite the rain!

  7. March 4, 2018 / 8:17 pm

    Jeepers!! I found a great last minute deal for the Azores too and DIDN’T ACT ON IT because I’m an idiot. Now really wishing I had, it looks amazing!

    • Lotte
      Author
      March 5, 2018 / 8:44 pm

      Haha next time don’t hesitate, the Azores are stunning:-)

  8. Erin
    May 4, 2018 / 8:56 pm

    What time period did you go? We are considering this June but I was worried the island wouldn’t be warm enough so I’ve been dragging my feet on purchasing plane tickets. It’ll be the first int’l trip for our 1 year old!, so I wanted it to be a memorable and enjoyable one for her (and us) since it will be a long long long flight from Alaska. Thanks for the information!

    • Lotte
      Author
      May 9, 2018 / 6:00 pm

      Hi Erin,

      Wow that sounds like a wonderful first trip for your 1 year old:-). According to Google June is one of the driest months and the average temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius. I visited the Azores at the end of September and experienced similar temperatures. I highly recommend the Azores, I’m sure it will be a memorable trip, but I can imagine the long flight isn’t the best part about the journey. My husband and I are expecting our first child in July, so we’ll also have to learn to fly with a baby;-). Enjoy your trip!

      Lotte

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