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São Miguel
Portugal – Azores

São Miguel

  • 7 days
  • singles, couples, w/ kids, w/ older kids
  • year-round

Sao Miguel is one of the Azores islands belonging to Portugal. The nature here is breath-taking! You will spend the whole week-long holiday on this one island, but it is really worth exploring, believe me. It's the perfect place for hiking. You'll also find here the only tea plantation in Europe. You'll do some wonderful treks and also a whale watching cruise – the chances of seeing whales are really high in the Azores (we were lucky enough to see three sei whales). If you come in July or early August you will fall in love with the hydrangeas, they are everywhere.

4.9 / 5 User reviews

Upon arrival, you will pick up your car at the airport and drive to your chosen accommodation. If you have time, go for a swim in the ocean and then enjoy your first dinner on the island.

The next day you will have quite a long walking trip ahead of you: Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades. It's a beautiful walk with great views. On the car ride back to your accommodation drive along the west coast and part of the north coast for more beautiful views.

You will start the third day at the only tea plantation in Europe! You'll then explore the beautiful Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões and then take a short drive to a couple of viewpoints. Finally, your journey will take you to the town of Ribeira Grande and to a beautiful beach.

The Lagoa das Furnas trek awaits you on day four – it's a great, easy hike. You can then relax at Parque Terra Nostra, where there is a truly incredible garden and a thermal water pool! For dinner, you'll have the local specialty Cozido à portuguesa.

On the fifth day, you will go on a 3 hour whale watching cruise – the Azores are on the migration route of a large species of cetaceans and the chances of seeing whales are really high. We were lucky enough to see three sei whales and dozens of dolphins. The rest of the day can be spent in the town of Ponta Delgada, taking in the local sights.

Day six starts with a long crossing, but you won't mind in the Azores, as there's plenty to see even during the drives. Along the way you'll stop at several viewpoints, with one being better than the other. After the crossing, you will have the Sanguinho trek, which will lead you to a beautiful waterfall where you can take a swim. In the afternoon, you'll head to the Arnel Lighthouse and follow the north coast back to your accommodation – again, breath-taking views await you along the way. Arrange your dinner at one of Ponta Delgada's excellent restaurants.

On the last day, the day of departure, it's all about the time of your flight. We spent the remaining time at the tea plantation, a short trek around the area and it was a good choice.

Author: Jirka Maleček
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Travel Info

Plane tickets – use your favourite flight search engine. If you don't have a favourite, try kiwi.com. Flights with the Portuguese company TAP Portugal are usually a bargain. It's often worth buying tickets with a 1-2 night stay in Lisbon. Be sure to check out the offer from Azores Airlines – you can also use them for local flights to one of the other Azores islands.

Restaurants – if you want to go to a nice restaurant for dinner, it’s essential to have a reservation, especially in high season. You can find some really very good restaurants in Ponta Delgada. If you want to get to know the local gastronomy and traditions a bit better, try restaurants in smaller villages – we tried a few and it was always great. Even at places where they didn't normally cook, we managed to make an arrangement to come back in an hour and they would prepare something for us. The prices at these local establishments are low.

Car renatal – use AVIS. The rental is right in the arrivals hall at the airport. Beware – the roads may be narrow on the island, so it might be a good idea to get a full insurance while renting.

Driving a car – nothing complicated, driving on the right, all regulations are followed. Some roads are narrower and lined with rocks. Distances on the island are not great, so a smaller car will suffice.

Prices in the destination –  prices in the Azores are not staggeringly high. Accommodation can be more expensive as capacity is limited. On the other hand, prices in restaurants and bistros in small villages are very low.

Calls and data – For EU citizens, everything is the same as at home. WiFi is common in hotels and restaurants and is free.

When to come here – practically any time, but in winter it will not be as warm, and it rains more often. In the summer months (July and August) there are of course a lot of people, but if you book everything in time it is not a problem.

Treks – if the suggested treks don't suit you, it's not a problem to choose other walking trips – feel free to use the VisitAzores app or the WalkMe app (which is very nicely done). The Mapy.cz app is also a good help.

Adventures – for the adventurous there is the beautiful Gruta do Carvão – Monumento Natural cave. They offer two tours and the longer one is breath-taking. Unfortunately, the number of people per tour is very limited so you have to book as soon as possible! Email address: grutadocarvao@amigosdosacores.pt.

Recommended websites: visitazores.com and on them especially the overview of the routes trails.visitazores.com.

TIP – you can make your holiday longer and go to one of the other Azores islands. You can take advantage of regular air or boat travel – there are plenty on offer.

Process

  • Check availability of accommodation and flights
  • Buy everything only after checking availability
  • Arrange your car rental
  • Book a tour of Gruta do Carvão Cave – Monumento Natural (see the Travel Info)
  • Buy the boat tickets for the whale watching cruise online
  • Make restaurant reservations for dinner at least a week in advance – especially if there are many of you in your party
  • Get your travel insurance
  • Download one of the suggested apps and download offline maps (see the Travel Info)

What will you see on the way?

Trip – Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades – São Miguel

Trip – Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades – São Miguel

Beautiful drive around Lagoa Azul. Beautiful views. Bring snacks and water. The route is not circular so either have two cars or hitchhike from your final destination back.

Gorreana Tea Plantation

Gorreana Tea Factory – Plantacoes de Cha Gorreana

These are two things in one – Gorreana Tea Factory which offers the possibility to see the processing of tea leaves and a tea house where you can taste the tea directly; and Plantacoes de Cha Gorreana – i.e. a tea plantation (the only one in Europe). It’s not very big, but it’s beautiful. Walk through the whole thing and you’ll get some wonderful photos!

Lighthouse Arnel

Lighthouse Arnel

A small lighthouse on the easternmost point of the island. There is a very narrow road leading to it so don’t drive here, it’s dangerous! From the lighthouse you can walk down to the sea. A perfect place to watch the sunrise! Beware – the way back is difficult, it’s a big hill.

Daily itinerary

Day 1

Arrival, car rental and accommodation

Car rental upon arrival. Transfer to accommodation. Exploring the surroundings of the accommodation.

Day 2

Day Trip – Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades – São Miguel

The Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades – São Miguel PR4SMI trek is one of the best in São Miguel. Variable length and difficulty of the route.

Day 3

Tea plantations – the only ones in Europe

Tour of Gorrena tea plantations. Beautiful natural park Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões. The town of Ribeira Grande. Swimming at the beach of Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara.

Day 4

Hike Lagoa das Furnas – São Miguel PRC06 SMI a Parque Terra Nostra

Easy Trek Lagoa das Furnas – São Miguel PRC06 SMI. Sightseeing and swimming in the incredible Parque Terra Nostra.

Day 5

Whales!

Whale watching cruise leaving from Ponta Delgada. Sightseeing tour of Ponta Delgada.

Day 6

Hike Sanguinho – São Miguel PRC09 SMI and then Lighthouse Arnel

Morning visit to the Oficina-Museu das Capelas. Trek Sanguinho – São Miguel PRC09 SMI and then Lighthouse Arnel. Lots of sightseeing. Dinner in Ponta Delgada.

Day 7

Last trip and departure

Walking tour around the Gorrena tea plantations. Transfer to the airport, returning the car, departure.

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