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destinations / Portugal

What to do in the Azores?

que faire à Sao miguel

What to do in the Azores? One-week itinerary in São Miguel

The Azores are an archipelago of nine islands belonging to Portugal. They are located in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km off the coast. This 100% natural destination is still little known compared to other European islands.

I chose to spend a week on the island of São Miguel, the largest of the archipelago. What to do in the Azores on a one-week trip? That’s what we’ll look at together in this itinerary.

A week in São Miguel: what to do in the Azores?

How to prepare your trip to the Azores?

When to take a trip to the Azores?

In my opinion, the best time to visit the Azores is from May to October. Given the geographical location of the Azores, the weather can be capricious. It is not uncommon for it to rain and for the sky to turn blue an hour later. The winter season is not recommended for tourism despite the mild temperatures, as it is particularly rainy.

Even in summer, pack a small mackintosh in your suitcase, which you’ll need for boat trips anyway.

 How to get to São Miguel?

As you may have understood, São Miguel is an island quite far off the coast of mainland Portugal. Therefore, there are not many options to get to the Azores – you have to fly!

I took a direct flight from Paris to Ponta Delgada (São Miguel) with Sata Airlines. In 4 hours, you are in paradise! I recommend you compare prices and book your tickets with Ulysse (get a €10 discount on your first booking with this link). The advantage of Ulysse is the French customer service, hyper responsive in case of concerns.

🏝 How to go from island to island?

If you plan a longer trip to the Azores, 2 or 3 weeks, you will have the opportunity to visit several islands of the archipelago.

 

To get around, you can take inter-island flights with the national carrier Sata Airlines, or take a boat connection on this site. 

🚗 How to get around São Miguel?

To visit São Miguel and complete this week-long itinerary in the Azores, a car is a must. I chose to rent my car with the local rental company Ilha Verde Azores and everything went very smoothly. The staff at the airport agency are lovely, which is quite rare to note 🙂 .

Book the best car rental prices at Skyscanner.

📱 How to have internet on your phone while travelling in the Azores?

As the Azores belong to Portugal, it is likely that you will have an EU option in your phone package. Remember to check if it is activated before you leave. No need to worry about the connection on the island, we had 4G most of the time.

😴 Where to sleep in São Miguel?

Good news! For this one week trip in the Azores, you can stay in just one hotel and that’s great. In fact, the island is small, so travel time between the different points of interest won’t exceed one hour at most.

For small budgets:

I recommend staying at the Hotel Arcanjo, located in a small, authentic village.
Otherwise, if you would like to stay in a flat, book the Casa de la Playa de Joaninha.A very nice and well located cottage!

For those with a bigger budget, here are my recommendations:

The guest house Casa da Ilha
Coast Flats by Azores Villas y Beach House by Azores Villas

Finally, the establishment with swimming pool and jacuzzi el Aqua – Pópulo Eco Village con piscina y jacuzzi

What is the budget for a week in the Azores?

The Azores are a budget destination – local life is actually very reasonable! As a guideline, you will find sandwiches for less than 2 euros for your lunches or beers for 90 cents.

Airfare: 150€ per person
Car hire: 250€ (you can take a city car, the roads are in good condition)
Petrol: 130€ for the week
Food: 20 euros per day per person, with a bar at lunchtime and a restaurant in the evening.
Accommodation: an average of 80 euros per night
Total = 1,520€ for a 7-day trip to the Azores, or 760€ per person.

This budget is based on my travel pattern for low season rates (i.e. outside the months of July/August), excluding activities.

 


What to do in the Azores? A week’s itinerary in São Miguel

First of all, I was particularly seduced by this destination. I have rarely felt such emotions during a trip. In fact, the only time was during my stay in Iceland (my Iceland travel guide is on this link). The island of São Miguel has been preserved from mass tourism. This is the case for the Azores islands in general. Here, we are far from the concrete landscapes as in some places of the Canaries… Here, we are in the authentic, in the heart of a luxuriant nature.

Let’s go ! I’m going to share with you my one week itinerary to visit São Miguel.

Day 1: Arrival in Ponta Delgada, on the island of São Miguel

After picking up your car and dropping off your luggage at the hotel, I recommend visiting Ponta Delgada.

🐬 Swimming with Dolphins

This experience is probably on many people’s 100 things to do list… It’s on mine anyway! 🥰 Book your wild swim with dolphins in the Azores. You’ll be telling me all about it! My activity was unfortunately cancelled due to overbooking, but I have suggested another provider than mine on the previous link to avoid any disappointment.

nage avec les dauphins acores

🤍 Downtown Ponta Delgada

To continue the trip to São Miguel quietly, take a stroll through the small centre of Ponta Delgada, which is the island’s capital. You will get a first glimpse of the typical architecture of this Azorean island.

If you want to know everything about the history of the city, book your guided tour by clicking here.

🍸 Aperitif and tapas in Ponta Delgada

Brand new and beautiful, the Forte Terrace restaurant serves delicious cocktails and tapas! The terrace on the sea front is beautiful, perfect to admire the sky tinted with the colours of the sunset.

Rest well because tomorrow we start the serious stuff for this week-long trip to the Azores!


Day 2: West of São Miguel 

🐘 Tromba do Elefante

First short stop of the day, the Miradouro das Pedras Negras which allows you to observe a cliff resembling an elephant’s trunk.

que faire dans les acores

🌋 The volcanoes and lakes of Sete Cidades

Ready to be amazed? Sete Cidades is one of the must-see places in São Miguel. Park in this car park.

Then head to the Lagoa do Canário to admire this first lake.

que faire à Sao miguel

From here, continue along the small path to the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, about 10 minutes walk away. This short walk goes through the forest, I was impressed by the lush vegetation.

visiter sao miguel en 1 semaine

From the Mirador you can see the Sete Cidades caldera, with the beautiful Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul. This caldera is one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. It started to form more than 20,000 years ago.

que faire à Sao Miguel

Canoeing in Sete Cidades

After admiring it from above, you can admire the Lagoa Azul from every angle, from the water! Book your canoe on this site, for only 10€ per hour.

📷 The igreja de São Nicolau

This lovely church is located in the village of Sete Cidades! It’s a very instagrammed photo spot with its pine tree avenue.

que faire dans les acores

🌊 Ponta da Ferraria natural pool

When you say volcanic island, you say natural hot springs! Indeed, you will find quite a few of them in São Miguel, most of which are developed. Ponta da Ferraria is a 100% natural hot spring pool, bordering the ocean. Near the rocks, the water is heated but it mixes with the ocean. Therefore, I found it cold because in May the ocean temperature is low. In any case, this place is very beautiful!

Favour the low tide times (find it on Google) so you can lounge in the water quietly.

📍 Access: Park on this car park. Then take the path to the left along the ocean. Allow about 10 minutes to walk to the natural pool. On the way, stop at the arch to watch the waves splash against the volcanic rocks… 🤩

açores sao Miguel que faire itinéraire açores 1 semaine

🌅 Sunset at Mosteiros Beach

Head to the most beautiful beach in the Azores, according to an official ranking defined by myself 😂. You can end your afternoon on Mosteiros Beach by drinking a small beer to my health for the modest sum of 90 cents and enjoying the ocean.

Wait until the sunset, because this spot is really incredible. See for yourself…

road trip Sao miguel

açores que faire


Day 3: Travelling in the Azores: what to do?

Today we will visit a part of the inland of São Miguel.

Lagoa do Fogo

The lake of Fogo, with its emerald blue colour, is splendid. Viewpoints have been set up all around it to be able to admire it. You can also walk down to the shore if you feel like it.

Access: Park at the Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo. This is in my opinion the most beautiful viewpoint! From here you can also go to the shores of the lake by a small path.

💌 Cool activity to do around the Lake of Fogo: a half-day excursion by quad or mountain bike to discover the landscapes in a different way: book here

que faire à Sao miguel

💦 Caldeira Velha

An 11-minute drive from the lake, head to the Caldeira Velha hot springs. There are pools here, and then you can also swim at the foot of a waterfall in the river, whose water is also naturally heated!

💌 Book your slot in advance on the official website. Select the “Full ticket” to have access to the thermal pools. Price €8 per person.

piscine naturelle são miguel

🌿 Cha Gorreana Tea Plantation

The Cha Gorreana tea plantation is located in the north of the island of São Miguel. It is the oldest and largest European tea plantation. You can buy tea at the plantation’s shop to bring back a small souvenir. This landscape is very exotic, it feels like Sri Lanka!

💌 Access to the tea fields: free

que faire dans les açores pendant une semaine

sao miguel açores

🤩 Sunset boat trip

To finish this day full of discoveries, I recommend booking a sunset boat ride. The trip is perfect for admiring the coastline and you can even go snorkelling!

Book here

 


Day 4: Continuation of the week-long itinerary in São Miguel

🐠 Diving around the islet of Vila Franca do Campo

This morning, book your dive to admire the seabed around the islet of Vila Franca do Campo. This islet is unusual in that it is the crater of an ancient underwater volcano. Underwater you will see the crater walls, which is really impressive!

To book :

A first dive for beginners
A diving trip for experienced divers: click here

activité Sao miguel que faire

🛶 Kayaking around the islet of Vila Franca do Campo

For those who can’t dive or want to do another activity, I recommend this kayak trip to discover the famous islet.

💌 Booking

🤍 Vila Franca do Campo

For lunch or a snack, go and eat in the small centre of Vila Franca do Campo, which will allow you to visit it. I think this is my favourite village in São Miguel: authentic, intimate, with great views of the ocean.

Vila Franca de campo que faire

visiter Vila Franca de campo

The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace

For the panoramic view it offers, you are obliged to go to Nossa Senhora da Paz, located on the heights of Vila Franco do Campo.

This chapel is magnificent! Its originality lies in the steps that lead to its entrance. You can admire the landscape from all sides, the ocean and the islet in front, and the fields on the rest. Very nice spot for the sunset too, even if you won’t see the sun dip all the way down.

quelle ile choisir dans les açores

🤤 Diner with a view

I’ve unearthed a great place to enjoy extra fresh fish, where the atmosphere is authentic, with an incredible sea view, all at largely reasonable prices. What more could you want?

It’s at Restaurant Caloura. Call to make a reservation just in case as it would be a shame to miss it.


Day 5: Continuing the road trip to São Miguel

This day will be full of activity so I suggest you get some good rest the night before! I’ll let you organise yourself as you wish depending on the hours available.

🐳 Cetacean watching

The Azores are among the most beautiful whale sanctuaries in the world. If you are wondering what to do in the Azores, you should know that whale watching is therefore a must-do activity. It is possible to see around twenty different species. Around the island, there are blue whales, the largest animal on earth. They weigh about 150 metres and are 30 metres long.

💌 Book your tour online

⚠️ This activity is weather dependent, mine was cancelled unfortunately. 😢

Canyoning in Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

To refresh yourself and above all have fun, canyoning is the ideal activity! This outing is accessible to all, from 6 years old. The setting, in the heart of the lush vegetation, is super pleasant. 😍

💌 Info & booking

canyoning são miguel

🍸 Gin tasting

As a gin lover, I had the pleasure of tasting a 100% local gin “Baleia”, distilled in São Miguel by an English gentleman who fell in love with the island! I found it so good and original that I bought 2 bottles to bring back in my suitcase. Part of the profits are donated to an association for the protection of the whales of the Azores.

Besides his own gin, Ali has an impressive collection of 600 references in his “Gin Library”. Please note: the explanations are only in English.

Book your tasting on his website

 

baleia gin


Day 6: What to do in the Azores Visit São Miguel, Nordeste and Furnas

🤍 The Miradors route: Nordeste

If you are really life motivators, you can wake up early and watch the sunrise at Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego as it is located on the east side of the island.

Alternatively, if you’re like me 😴 sleep in and take a leisurely drive after a good breakfast to Nordeste. Nothing special to do here, except enjoy the scenery and stop at any viewpoints you like.

road trip dans les acores visiter les acores 1 semaine

💦 Cascata do Salto do Prego

There are quite a few waterfalls in Saõ Miguel. This one is very pretty and doesn’t require much walking. You can swim but, I warn you, the water is cold!

📍 Access: The start of the hike is from this GPS point. Count 2 km to reach the waterfall.

cascade sao Miguel

Secret spot with a view of the Lagoa das Furnas 🤫

You liked it a lot on my Instagram stories and I understand you! This spot is located at the very top of a huge waterfall and allows you to swim while admiring the Lagoa das Furnas.

📍 To get there, park in this car park. Take the path on the right of the climb to the mirador, well to the right of the small shop. You can’t miss it, it is very visible. Then you have to walk for about 10 minutes to this GPS point. As soon as you cross the bridge with green fences, turn left into the forest. The waterfall is only 50 metres away.

There is no signal there, but you can find your way with the GPS signal, which remains active (or download the Maps Me application). You just have to search for the place before you lose the network. 😎

que voir dans les açores

🤍 Mirador do Lagoa das Furnas

After enjoying this secret spot, return to the car park and climb to the Mirador do Pico do Ferro. The unobstructed view of Lagoa das Furnas is breathtaking! 🥰

mirador lagoa das furnas

💦 Hot springs in Furnas

The Furnas valley lies on an ancient volcano, so you can observe volcanic phenomena here. So there are 2 places to bathe in hot springs in Furnas! I only tested one of them:

Poça da Dona Beija, the one I chose a bit randomly. There are 5 or 6 pools to swim in, the water is 39°C. The price is 8€ per adult for 1h30 on site. You can take your tickets directly there. Open from 8.30am to 11pm (magical at night!).

Parque Terra Nostra, which is much bigger as it is a 12 hectare garden. There is only one thermal pool but it is huge. If you like vegetation and want to walk around the park, this is the place to be. Price: 10€, open to the public from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Ticket office on site.

sao miguel açores

🌋 Caldeiras das Furnas

To observe the volcanic phenomena of the Furnas Valley, go here. Access is free. You will see geysers, gas coming out of the earth, pools of boiling water. It’s impressive, but it stinks of rotten eggs 😂.

🤤 Dinner at Tony’s

Tony’s restaurant is an institution in Furnas. Here you can enjoy the famous “Cozido”, a kind of Portuguese stew steamed from the volcano.

You need to book 24 hours in advance to eat this dish. Otherwise, they serve other delicious specialities with huge portions!


Day 7: End of the week-long itinerary in the Azores

It’s the departure day and therefore the end of this one week road trip in São Miguel! I’ve condensed it to 6 days so that you can have some margin to do everything, in case of bad weather. Because yes, as I told you, the weather can be capricious in the Azores.

I hope I have helped you in the organisation of your trip and that you now know what to do in the Azores, in São Miguel. I remain at your disposal in the comments below for any questions.

Other routes in Portugal 

See you soon and with passion,
Aurélie

 

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