Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

Azores Exploration: An Epic São Miguel Road Trip


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Blondy Cogan



Embarking on a road trip is one of the most thrilling and immersive ways to explore a destination. It allows you to venture off the beaten path, uncover hidden gems, and create unforgettable memories along the way. And when it comes to epic road trips, few places can rival the beauty and charm of São Miguel, the largest and most enchanting island in the Azores archipelago.


São Miguel, located in the Atlantic Ocean, is known for its breathtaking landscapes, dramatic coastlines, stunning lakes, and vibrant Azorean culture. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that road tripping around São Miguel has become a favorite adventure for avid travelers.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply someone who wants to soak in the serenity of this picturesque island, a road trip on São Miguel offers something for everyone. From the mesmerizing volcanic lakes of Sete Cidades to the geothermal wonders of Furnas, each day brings a new discovery and a new adventure.


During your São Miguel road trip, you’ll have the freedom to explore at your own pace, stop at scenic viewpoints, indulge in local delicacies, and immerse yourself in the island’s unique culture. As you drive along winding roads, passing by lush green pastures, charming villages, and striking cliffs, you’ll feel a sense of awe and wonder at the island’s natural beauty.


As you plan your epic São Miguel road trip, it’s important to be prepared. Make sure to have a detailed itinerary, including the must-see attractions along the way. Research the best time to visit and pack accordingly, keeping in mind the unpredictable weather. Renting a car is highly recommended as it will give you the freedom to explore every nook and cranny of the island.


In this article, we will take you on a journey through the most spectacular spots of São Miguel, offering insider tips, hidden gems, and suggestions for an unforgettable road trip adventure. So fasten your seatbelts and get ready to experience the magic of São Miguel on an epic road trip that will leave you in awe.


Day 1: Arrival in São Miguel

After a scenic flight over the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll touch down at Ponta Delgada Airport, the main gateway to São Miguel. As you step off the plane, the fresh ocean breeze will greet you, signaling the start of your unforgettable adventure.


Once you’ve collected your luggage and rented a car, it’s time to drive to your accommodation in Ponta Delgada, the capital city of São Miguel. This charming coastal town is not only a great place to base yourself for your road trip, but it also offers plenty to explore on your first day.


Start your day with a leisurely stroll along the harbor of Ponta Delgada, known as the Portas do Mar. Admire the colorful fishing boats, feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and take in the picturesque views of the marina. You’ll also find a variety of cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious breakfast before setting off on your day’s adventure.


After breakfast, head to the impressive Ponta Delgada City Gates, which date back to the 18th century. These grand gates mark the entrance to the old town and are a testament to the island’s history. Take a moment to appreciate the architecture and imagine the stories that these gates have witnessed over the years.


Continue your exploration by wandering through the charming streets of Ponta Delgada. Admire the beautiful architecture, with its intricately designed facades and colorful tiles, and feel the vibrant energy of the local markets and shops. Take a break at one of the many cafes and enjoy a traditional Azorean pastry, such as the famous Queijada or Bolos Lêvedos.


In the afternoon, make your way to the iconic Portas da Cidade, the archway that serves as a symbol of Ponta Delgada. This impressive structure overlooks the sea and offers stunning views of the coastline. Take a moment to capture some memorable photos before continuing your exploration.


If you’re interested in history and culture, don’t miss a visit to the impressive São Miguel Palace, located near the Portas da Cidade. This neoclassical building houses the Regional Government and is a testament to the island’s historical significance.


As the day comes to a close, head to one of Ponta Delgada’s many restaurants and treat yourself to a delicious seafood dinner. Indulge in fresh fish, shrimp, and other local delicacies while enjoying the cozy ambiance and friendly atmosphere.


After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along the marina and soak in the serene atmosphere. As you gaze out at the twinkling lights on the water, take a moment to reflect on your first day on São Miguel and get excited for the adventures that lie ahead.


With a satisfied stomach and a heart full of anticipation, you’ll retire to your accommodation in Ponta Delgada, ready to recharge for the next day’s thrilling road trip adventures.


Day 2: Ponta Delgada

On your second day in São Miguel, take the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Ponta Delgada. This vibrant city offers a plethora of attractions to explore, ensuring an unforgettable day of adventure.


Start your day with a visit to the impressive São Miguel Cathedral, located in the heart of Ponta Delgada. This 16th-century church is a blend of Gothic, Moorish, and Manueline architectural styles, making it a masterpiece worth admiring. Step inside to marvel at the intricate details and stained glass windows, and take a moment to soak in the serene atmosphere.


As you continue your exploration, make your way to the Carlos Machado Museum, housed in a former convent. This museum offers a glimpse into the history and culture of São Miguel, featuring artifacts, paintings, and exhibitions that highlight the island’s rich heritage. Spend some time wandering through the museum’s halls and learning about the island’s fascinating past.


Next, head to the enchanting Jardim António Borges, a picturesque park located just outside the city center. This lush green oasis is home to a diverse collection of plants and trees, including exotic species from all over the world. Take a leisurely stroll through the park, admiring the colorful flora, and find a peaceful spot to relax and soak in the tranquility.


No visit to Ponta Delgada is complete without exploring the iconic Forte de São Brás, a historic military fort that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the ocean. Walk along the fort’s walls, take in the stunning vistas, and imagine the fort’s role in protecting the island from invaders in centuries past. Don’t forget your camera, as this is a prime spot for capturing unforgettable photos.


After immersing yourself in the history and natural beauty of Ponta Delgada, it’s time to indulge in the city’s culinary delights. Make your way to the Mercado da Graça, a bustling farmers’ market where you can sample a variety of local products, including fresh produce, cheeses, and seafood. Engage in friendly conversations with the vendors, learn about their traditional farming methods, and savor the flavors of São Miguel.


In the evening, take a leisurely stroll along Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, also known as the promenade, which runs along the coast of Ponta Delgada. Enjoy the sea breeze, watch the waves crashing against the shore, and take in the vibrant atmosphere of the city. As you walk, you’ll discover a multitude of restaurants and bars where you can savor a delicious dinner and relax with a drink while reflecting on the day’s adventures.


With a heart full of beautiful memories and a deeper appreciation for the culture and history of Ponta Delgada, it’s time to return to your accommodation and recharge for the next day’s road trip exploration.


Day 3: Sete Cidades

On day three of your São Miguel road trip, get ready to witness one of the most breathtaking natural wonders the island has to offer – Sete Cidades. Sete Cidades is a small village located on the western side of São Miguel and is famous for its stunning twin lakes, surrounded by lush green hills and majestic cliffs.


Start your day by driving to the Vista do Rei viewpoint, which offers a panoramic view of the Sete Cidades lakes. As you stand on the edge of the viewpoint, you’ll be awe-struck by the sheer beauty and tranquility of this natural masterpiece. The contrasting colors of the Blue Lake and the Green Lake, formed by the reflection of the surrounding vegetation, create an otherworldly sight that will leave you speechless.


After taking in the view, it’s time to explore the lakes up close. Take a scenic hike around the lakes’ rim, immersing yourself in the serene ambiance and soaking in the breathtaking scenery. Along the way, you’ll pass by charming little villages, picturesque fields, and maybe even encounter some grazing cows or sheep.


For the adventurous souls, consider renting a kayak or paddleboard and venturing onto the lakes’ calm waters. Paddle at your own pace, savoring the tranquility and the unique experience of being surrounded by nature’s beauty.


As you continue your exploration, make your way to the village of Sete Cidades itself. This peaceful and quaint village is a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll and connect with the locals. You may even stumble upon a charming café or traditional restaurant where you can stop for a quick snack or a hearty meal.


A highlight of Sete Cidades is the famous Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, or Hell’s Mouth viewpoint. The viewpoint offers an incredible perspective of the cliffs and the crashing waves below, as well as the picturesque village nestled between the lakes. Take a moment to appreciate the raw power of nature and the dramatic beauty of this unique landscape.


Before leaving Sete Cidades, be sure to visit the Lagoa do Canário viewpoint. From here, you’ll have a stunning view of the Green Lake surrounded by dense vegetation. This is an ideal spot to capture some postcard-worthy photographs and create lasting memories of your visit to Sete Cidades.


As the day draws to a close, make your way back to Ponta Delgada, reflecting on the awe-inspiring beauty you witnessed in Sete Cidades. Relax and rejuvenate at your accommodation, knowing that you’ve experienced one of the most spectacular natural wonders that São Miguel has to offer.


Day 4: Furnas

Day four of your São Miguel road trip takes you to the enchanting town of Furnas, known for its dramatic volcanic landscapes, geothermal wonders, and relaxing hot springs. Located in the eastern part of the island, Furnas offers a unique and unforgettable experience.


Begin your day by visiting the Furnas Lake, a picturesque crater lake surrounded by verdant hills and lush vegetation. Take a leisurely walk along the lake’s edge, breathing in the fresh mountain air and admiring the tranquil beauty of the surroundings. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a kayak or a paddleboard and explore the lake’s calm waters.


After working up an appetite, indulge in a traditional Furnas Cozido, a hearty stew cooked using the natural geothermal heat in the Furnas region. This delicious meal consists of different meats and vegetables that are slow-cooked underground for several hours, resulting in tender and flavorful dishes. Visit one of the local restaurants offering Cozido and savor this unique culinary experience.


Next, venture to the Terra Nostra Park, a botanical garden that boasts a fascinating collection of plants from all over the world. Take a leisurely stroll through the lush garden, marvel at the vibrant colors and scents, and discover hidden trails that lead to serene ponds and peaceful spots for relaxation. The highlight of the park is the Terra Nostra Thermal Pool, a natural hot spring pool with warm, iron-rich water. Take a dip in this rejuvenating pool and let the mineral-rich waters revitalize your body and soul.


As you continue your exploration of Furnas, make sure to visit the famous Furnas Caldera, a volcanic crater that showcases the island’s geothermal activity. Marvel at the bubbling hot springs, fumaroles, and steam vents that create an otherworldly atmosphere. Take a guided tour or wander around the area to fully appreciate the raw power of nature.


Before leaving Furnas, make your way to the Poça da Dona Beija thermal baths. These natural hot springs offer a unique bathing experience, allowing you to relax and unwind amidst the lush tropical surroundings. Immerse yourself in the warm and mineral-rich waters, letting the therapeutic properties soothe your muscles and melt away any stress or tension.


As the sun sets over Furnas, return to your accommodation in Ponta Delgada, reflecting on the day’s incredible experiences. Furnas will leave you in awe of the island’s volcanic landscapes and the harmony between nature and human ingenuity. Rest up and get ready for more adventures that await you on your São Miguel road trip.


Day 5: Nordeste

Day five of your São Miguel road trip takes you to the northeastern part of the island, where you’ll discover the charming and picturesque region of Nordeste. Known for its rugged coastline, stunning viewpoints, and scenic hiking trails, Nordeste offers a delightful escape into nature.


Begin your day by driving along the scenic coastal road to Ponta do Sossego, one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in Nordeste. As you stand at the edge of the viewpoint, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Take a moment to savor the tranquility and appreciate the raw beauty of this untouched landscape.


From Ponta do Sossego, continue your journey to the picturesque village of Nordeste itself. This charming village is known for its well-preserved old houses and serene atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, where you’ll find colorful gardens, traditional Azorean architecture, and local artisan shops.


Next, make your way to the idyllic Parque Natural dos Caldeirões, a beautiful park with cascading waterfalls, lush greenery, and charming footbridges. Enjoy a peaceful walk through the park, crossing wooden bridges and admiring the crystal-clear waters that flow through the rock formations. This is a perfect spot to connect with nature and breathe in the fresh air.


Continue your exploration by visiting the Gorreana Tea Plantation, the oldest tea plantation in Europe. Take a guided tour to learn about the production process and the history of tea on the island. Afterward, relax in the plantation’s tea house, where you can savor a cup of freshly brewed tea while gazing out at the scenic landscape of rolling green hills.


No trip to Nordeste is complete without a visit to the stunning Salto do Prego waterfall. Located in the lush Faial da Terra valley, this hidden gem is reached through a scenic hiking trail. The trail takes you through towering forests, charming villages, and picturesque landscapes before revealing the breathtaking waterfall. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.


As the day comes to an end, make your way back to Ponta Delgada, taking in the final views of Nordeste’s rugged coastline. Reflect on the day’s memorable experiences and be grateful for the opportunity to have explored this lesser-known gem of São Miguel. Rest up and get ready for the final days of your epic road trip adventure.


Day 6: Ribeira Grande

On day six of your São Miguel road trip, venture to the vibrant town of Ribeira Grande, located on the northern coast of the island. With its charming historic center, pristine beaches, and exhilarating outdoor activities, Ribeira Grande offers a perfect balance between culture and natural beauty.


Start your day by strolling through the historic center of Ribeira Grande, known for its well-preserved architecture, colorful buildings, and traditional azulejo tiles. Take a moment to admire the impressive town hall, São Sebastião Church, and the lively square, where locals gather for socializing and events. Explore the quaint streets, browse through local shops, and soak in the lively atmosphere.


After exploring the town, head to the picturesque Santa Bárbara Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. With its golden sands, clear turquoise waters, and dramatic cliffs, this beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk along the shore. Take the opportunity to relax and recharge while taking in the mesmerizing coastal views.


For those seeking adventure, Ribeira Grande offers excellent opportunities for surfing. Grab a surfboard and hit the waves, as the town is known for its consistent surf conditions. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll find waves suitable for your skill level. Strap on a wetsuit and ride the waves, experiencing the thrill of surfing in the Atlantic Ocean.


Next, make your way to the Lagoa do Fogo, a stunning crater lake situated in the heart of the island. Take the scenic drive up to the viewpoint, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the pristine lake surrounded by lush green mountains. If weather permits, embark on a hike down to the lake, immersing yourself in the untouched nature and feeling a sense of serenity as you explore the peaceful surroundings.


In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Ribeira Grande Municipal Market, a lively hub where you can find a variety of fresh local produce, handicrafts, and traditional products. Engage in friendly conversations with the vendors, sample some of the region’s finest cheese, and perhaps purchase a few souvenirs to bring back home.


As the day draws to a close, savor a mouthwatering meal at one of Ribeira Grande’s many seafood restaurants. Indulge in the island’s renowned seafood delicacies, such as grilled octopus or fresh fish, while enjoying the cozy ambiance of the town. Raise a toast to the adventures and experiences you’ve had during your São Miguel road trip.


With a satisfied appetite and a heart full of memories, return to your accommodation in Ponta Delgada, as you prepare for the final day of your epic road trip journey.


Day 7: Return to Ponta Delgada

On the final day of your São Miguel road trip, it’s time to bid farewell to the captivating beauty of the island and return to Ponta Delgada. Although the adventure may be coming to an end, there are still plenty of memorable experiences to be had on your journey back.


Start your day by taking one last scenic drive along the winding roads of São Miguel. As you traverse the picturesque countryside, take the opportunity to soak in the stunning landscapes one final time. Admire the rolling hills, the lush green pastures, and the charming villages that dot the island’s interior.


As you make your way back to Ponta Delgada, consider stopping at some of the viewpoints and attractions that you might have missed on the way to your other destinations. This is a chance to discover hidden gems, capture additional photos, and fully appreciate the island’s diverse landscapes.


Once you arrive in Ponta Delgada, take some time to reflect on the incredible journey you’ve embarked upon over the past week. Think about the stunning viewpoints, the delicious culinary experiences, the invigorating hikes, and the moments of tranquility and connection with nature.


Spend the rest of the day exploring any remaining attractions or activities in Ponta Delgada that you haven’t had a chance to visit yet. This could include visiting historic sites like the Portas da Cidade or immersing yourself in the local culture by exploring the city’s markets and shops.


In the evening, toast to the memories you’ve made during your São Miguel road trip by indulging in a traditional Azorean dinner at one of Ponta Delgada’s renowned restaurants. Feast on delectable Azorean seafood, accompanied by a glass of local wine, and savor every bite as you reminisce about the adventures of the past week.


After dinner, take a leisurely stroll along the marina of Ponta Delgada under the enchanting night sky. Breathe in the salty air, listen to the sound of the waves, and feel the peacefulness settling over you. Reflect on the incredible beauty and warmth of São Miguel, knowing that you’ve experienced a truly unforgettable road trip.


As you return to your accommodation for a final night’s rest, let the memories of your São Miguel road trip fill your dreams. The island’s beauty, charm, and adventures will remain with you forever, serving as a reminder of the incredible journey you’ve undertaken.



Your São Miguel road trip has come to an end, but the memories and experiences you’ve gained will last a lifetime. Over the course of seven incredible days, you’ve immersed yourself in the natural wonders, rich culture, and delicious cuisine of São Miguel, creating a tapestry of unforgettable moments.


From the vibrant streets of Ponta Delgada to the breathtaking landscapes of Sete Cidades, Furnas, Nordeste, Ribeira Grande, and beyond, each day brought new adventures and discoveries. You’ve witnessed the beauty of volcanic lakes, explored historic towns, indulged in traditional cuisine, and reconnected with nature in its purest form.


Your road trip allowed you to experience the island at your own pace, taking detours to hidden viewpoints, trying local delicacies, and forging connections with the welcoming locals. You’ve marveled at dramatic coastlines, relaxed in hot springs, hiked through lush forests, and embraced the serene atmosphere of the Azores.


As you reflect on your journey, you realize that São Miguel is more than just an island; it’s a place of wonder, serenity, and authentic experiences. Its landscapes seem to have been crafted by an artist, its towns exude charm and history, and its people embody warmth and hospitality.


Whether you were exploring the bustling streets of Ponta Delgada, gazing at the breathtaking vistas of Sete Cidades, or immersing yourself in the tranquility of Furnas, each moment was an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of São Miguel and forge a deeper connection with the island.


As you leave São Miguel, you can’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for the experiences you’ve had and the memories you’ve made. The island has left an indelible mark on your soul, and you know that, someday, you’ll return to explore even more of its hidden treasures and enchanting landscapes.


So, until then, hold onto the memories of your São Miguel road trip, let them inspire you to continue seeking new adventures, and carry the spirit of the Azores with you wherever you go. São Miguel has welcomed you with open arms, and its beauty will forever remain etched in your heart.