For this first road trip to the Azores we chose to explore Sao Miguel island, called the green island by its inhabitants, it is the largest and most populated, it is easily accessible thanks to its international airport.
Program is tight : hiking, swimming, visit of a tea plantation…
Here is the TOP 10 of the places and activities we loved and that you can not miss.
1 – Hike around Sete Cidades
It’s probably the most famous landscape of Azores.
From there you can see several lakes:Verde Lake, Azul Lake, Santiago Lake and Rasa Lake.
The Verde Lake and the Azul Lake owe their name to the reflection of the vegetation and the sky on their surface. More surprisingly, these two lakes are connected, which makes the fact even more amazing.
Legend says that these two lakes formed when a princess and a young shepherd who fell in love got separated. Their tears gave birth to those lakes which now have the same color as their eyes. Isn’t it romantic?
Many hikes can be made around this area, note that it’s possible to go around these two lakes by car and also take a path on the ridges to have a panoramic view.
2 – Swim at Ponta da Ferraria
Even in April, swimming in the ocean seems very optimistic, let’s say that the air is not very hot but when we are talking about water that’s another story!
Well don’t go to fast ! Because we found the perfect spot for this : The natural swimming pool of Ponta Ferraria.
Located to the west of the island, this small heaven, allows you to swim in a water of 40 degres. Watch out, intermittently! Indeed the water of the ocean is very close to water from geothermal sources (very hot). Almost unreal.
Location : When you arrive at the Termas da Ferraria car park, take the little path to the left of the building to access to the natural swimming pool. Access is free.
Extra tips : go at low tide, otherwise it’s heckling! Big waves rush into the pool and it’s immediately less relaxing.
Do not forget water shoes, more convenient and safe to walk on the rocks once you are in the water.
3 – Visit the Chá Gorreana tea plantation
It is the largest and oldest tea plantation in Europe, you can visit the factory and buy all the variations of tea produced there.
You can try a nice hike in the tea plantation, sea view is amazing !
4 – Explore the Caldeira Velha natural park
Want to swim in a hot water waterfall in the middle of a rainforest? Let’s go to the Caldeira Velha natural park in the center of the island.
There you can go for a hike in a lush forest, swim in a hot waterfall (25 degrees) but also in a natural swimming pool heated by the volcano. Be careful it is very very hot! it takes few minutes to go in.
This is a magical place, don’t miss it.
November to Febrary from 9am to 5pm – March to October from 10am to 6pm
Price : 2 euros
Toilets and showers are available in the park. Again do not forget your water shoes.
5 – Climb the highest peak of the island: Pico da Vara
This is probably the most difficult hike we have done!
It lasts 3 hours for 7 km, it is the highest peak of the island, 1103 meters. It starts with 1 km of climbing in a forest straight out of a sci-fi movie.
Even if the weather was not so good that day, the diversity of landscapes and the immensity of the place will offer you an incredible experience. This time, yes, you feel like you are alone in the world!
6 – Lunch break at Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego
Everywhere in the Azores you will cross on your way small signs “Miradouro” (points of views). Most of the time you will discover small gardens with dining areas, ideal for a break!
One of the most magical we’ve seen is the Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego in the north-east of the island, a real pleasure for the eyes.
7 – Marvel at the beauty of furnas area
The Furnas lake is one of the most beautiful in the Azores. To watch it from the best point of view, go to the Miradouro do Pico do Ferro.
A very nice hike starts from this point. It descends into the valley to bring you down to the lake where you will discover the famous fumaroles escaping the Furnas volcano.
For those who want to try an exceptional food experience, try “cozido”, this is a local meal made from pork, beef, chicken, chorizo, black pudding, cabbage, potatoes and sweet potatoes. It is cooked for 5 to 6 hours in a cavity created in the burning ground.
8 – Relax at Terra Nostra
Also in the Furnas Valley, you can visit the Terra Nostra Gardens.
12 hectares of trees, flowers of all kinds, it is a little supernatural how the species are all living together (more than 600 varieties of camellias, pins, palm trees, bromeliads, Japanese maples, etc.).
In the middle of this park you will discover the magnificent residence of Vicomte de Praia and it’s famous ferruginous swimming pool.
At first glance, its color is not attractive, but this water rich in iron, is very good for the skin, so you can throw it into the water.
Thermal swimming pools are also accessible and with 40 degrees, relaxation is guaranted !
Opening : 10am to 6pm
Price : 8 euros
Changing rooms are available on site to change
9 – Admire Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz)
Nestled on the heights of the small town of Vila Franca do Campo, this chapel was created in 1764. We saw many churches but it is distinguished by its location and its unusual architecture!
From there you will have a breathtaking view of the city.
10 – See the sunset at Mosteiros Beach
What could be best at the end of the day than a beautiful sunset on the beach, isn’t it?
So imagine if, in addition, it is a black sand beach. We let you judge!
And here is our top 10, so what’s you’re favorite ?
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