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São Miguel

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Earth : Europe : Iberia : Portugal : Azores : São Miguel
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São Miguel is the largest island of the Azores, an autonomous region in Portugal.


The landscape of eastern São Miguel
  • Ponta Delgada (pop. 46,000). This is the capital and location of the main airport (João Paulo II), as well as the main economic center of the island. The historic center and most tourist attractions are located along the Avenida Infante D. Henrique which extends from the fort of São Brás in the southwest of the city to Clube Naval and the southeast Marina, and includes Campo de San Fransisco, the Matriz, the "Portas da Cidade" (the City Gates) and the new "Portas do Mar" development.
  • Ribeira Grande (pop. 30,000). The second largest city on São Miguel is the gateway to the north and 20 minutes away from Ponta Delgada. It is known for its beautiful historic center and the northern beaches known for windsurfing, as well as being one of better access points to Lagoa do Fogo crater lake.


Sao Miguel, also known as “The Green Island”, is the largest of the islands that make up the Azores, Portugal. This beautiful island inhabits about 150,000 people, is approximately 293 square miles and is located in the Atlantic Ocean 950 miles / 1520 km from the mainland of Portugal. The scenery offers stunning lakes, sandy beaches, green hills and plains and crystal blue ocean views. The varying elevations of Sao Miguel give it a rolling hills appearance with separating layers of flat farmland. The Island offers the traditional Portuguese cobble stone streets mixed with contemporary architecture and modern shops and cafes. The volcanic origin of Sao Miguel can be easily observed on the island due to cones, craters and natural boiling water springs. Prince Henry the Navigator first inhabited the island in 1431 as a place to put his many flocks of sheep and the following year the first settlers arrived. Tourists often visit the Island between June and October to enjoy the hot weather at the many sandy beaches. São Miguel has a moderate coastal climate, with fog, rain and not very hot summer temperatures. It is very humid and green.

Sustainable Tourism[edit]


In 2012 Sào Miguel has received the QualityCoast Gold Award for its efforts to become a sustainable tourism destination. Because of this award Sào Miguel has been selected for inclusion in the global atlas for sustainable tourism DestiNet. [3]

Get in[edit]

The island of São Miguel is accessible by air through João Paulo II (Nordela) International Airport (PDL/LPPD), which handles domestic/regional traffic to the island, as well as international flights from Europe and North America. SATA International (now known as Azores Airlines) and TAP Air Portugal are the primary Portuguese air carriers serving the island, although several European and North American carriers provide charter services to the island. At the end of March 2015, Ryanair and Easyjet will start operating flights from Lisbon and Porto, due to the deregulation of the market to and from Ponta Delgada.

Get around[edit]

Renting a car at the airport is one of the best ways to explore and get around the island. Sao Miguel is small enough to drive around in a day, and there is much to see that is only accessed by car.

You can also travel between the larger towns by bus.

See[edit][add listing]

The Sete Cidades twin lakes, one azure and one gray.
Sao Miguel, Azores Tea Plantation
Sao Miguel Whale Watching

São Miguel has several calderas, and hot springs can be found scattered over the island; mostly in the middle highlands.

In the west there is a caldera and volcano crater that is almost filled by the beautiful Sete Cidades twin seas and the town of Sete Cidades. Steep mountain walls surrounds the lakes, one is azure blue, the other is greyish, and this is explained in a local myth. This is the most famous site of the island and a must see!

Furnas is the place to visit if you want to see the hot springs. This hot spring and most touristy city of the island is situated in the east inland of Sao Miguel in the middle of mountains and forest. A beautiful little village, but the smell is awful!

Caldeira Velha is a beautiful national park like place to visit. A rich tropical vegetation and hot springs which flow into bathing pools are gorgeous and a must see. It is situated between Ribeira Grande and Lagoa do Fogo.

Also see the beautiful Tea Plantations in Porto Formoso. A lot of old fabrics show the old machinery and you can try the delicious black tea variations.

Do[edit][add listing]

There are some marked hiking trails on the island, for example in and around the Sete Cidades caldera. These are usually one-day trails that any beginner hiker can enjoy. Organised whale- and dolphin-watching from small boats operating out of Ponta Delgada is increasingly popular with tourists.

Ponta da Ferraria[edit]

Ponta da Ferraria is a really nice and unique place to visit on São Miguel. Ponta da Ferraria is a natural monument holding a unique geological formation. It provides Hot Water Springs used for therapeutics since fifteenth century. The best time to visit Ferraria Hot Springs is during the low tide. The water starts warming up approximately two hours before the low tide and cools down two hours after it. This water in this hot spring, with volcanic origin, reaches temperatures around 62ºC, however when mixed with ocean water, it reaches temperatures above 30ºC, depending on the tide. Enjoy this wonder of nature and go for a relaxing bath at Ferraria Hot Springs!


  • Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, One of the many religious festivities held in the Azores, this celebration is held yearly on the fifth Sunday after Easter. The town of Ponta Delgata is transformed into a town of color and lively celebration. Ponta Delgata is decorated with colorful flowers and decorative bedspreads hung from balconies. The celebration starts with the blessing of the bread and meat and the distributed of food among the needy. The festival then continues with a procession, music and fireworks.

Eat[edit][add listing]

São Miguel, Azores O Pescasor Restaurante

If you are looking for North American type of food, this is the wrong place. Sao Miguel has excellents restaurants, most of them humble, small, serving local food. Be open minded and you will try a lot of good food there. In Furnas, try the cozido (book in advance) meat and another day try cod. In downtown, just in front of the main church there is a very nice restaurant and behind it you can also find good places.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Sete Cidades, Rua Dr. João Francisco de Sousa, 34/38 Ponta Delgada, +351 962311857, [1]. This hotel is furnished in original Victorian style but is fully modernized to create a cozy and clean feel.  edit
  • Quinta das Acacias, Livramento 9500-605 Ponta Delgada (on the West Coast of the island, near the ocean and Populo beach), +351 296 642 1660, [2]. Quinta das Acacias offers cottage style living accommodations in the midst of a well kept flourishing green garden. Each cottage averages an area of 50 square meters. There are 1 or 2 bedroom units available.  edit
  • Hotel Talisman, Rua Marques da Praia e Monforte 40, Ponta Delgada, +351 296 629 502. This hotel has 53 rooms, 5 suites and includes a restaurant, bar, and esplanade.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

There is very little crime on the island. Most crimes are drug related and are generally localized in Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande. Crimes against tourists are very rare.

Get out[edit]

The other Azores islands can be accessed by boat or plane from São Miguel.

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