Why Sao Miguel, Azores Will Blow Your Mind: The Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

Why Sao Miguel, Azores Will Blow Your Mind: The Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

My introduction to the Azores came a few years back, while watching Anthony Bourdain’s TV show. It seemed like such a mystical, intangible place and that instantly peeked my interest. Gotta love Mr. Bourdain!

Sao Miguel, Azores is a nature lover’s absolute dream. Tropical jungles, vibrant lakes, volcanos, relaxing hot springs, stunning waterfalls, epic hiking trails, breathtaking cliffside viewpoints, endless natural wonders, and lavish greens everywhere in sight. This is the Azores.

5 Things You May Not Know About the Azores

~The Azores are made up of lakes, lava fields, volcanic caves and islets.
~Sao Miguel is the biggest island and has 4 volcanos, 2 active and 2 dormant.
~Azoreans never pay more than €130 to go to mainland Portugal. If they pay more, they take their documents to the post office and get reimbursed.
~The Azores are the only producers of tea in all of Europe.
~The Azores have characteristic microclimates throughout the islands.

After spending 4 days on Sao Miguel island, I can honestly say it’s the most naturally beautiful place I have ever been (And this is saying a lot seeing as I was just in Iceland a few months earlier). Yes, it’s more naturally pretty than Iceland in my opinion. Actually, the 2 places reminded me a lot of each other in a weird way! The volcanic activity, the natural thermal pools, the black lava rocks and black sand beaches, the waterfalls (Iceland definitely takes the crown in that category), the geysers, and green moss covered landscapes.

Sao Miguel Azores

Sao Miguel, Azores is a very easily navigable island and the roads are very well maintained. Coming straight from Sardinia, Italy where I experienced the worst roads in Europe so far, the roads were heavenly to drive. The island is so perfectly manicured and well kept and the natural beauty was overwhelming. I spent a good part of my trip questioning if this place was even real.

In short…THE AZORES WILL BLOW YOUR MIND!

Where are the Azores?

The Azores are an archipelago of 9 islands located in the South Western Atlantic Ocean, about 1/3 of the way from Portugal to the East Coast of America. The Azores are part of Macronesia, along with Madeira, Canary Islands, and Cape Verde.

Most of the islands are protected and haven’t seen any damage from mass tourism. Hopefully they stay that way!

How to Get to Sao Miguel, Azores

Direct fights from Lisbon take 2 hours on Ryanair and cost around €80+ roundtrip, depending on the season. The earlier you book, the better chance of snagging the cheaper tickets. The 2 budget airlines, Easy Jet and Ryanair, just opened up flights in 2015 and it’s been a game-changer. Before this, it was extremely expensive to travel to the islands, making them a fairly unattainable destination for most. For the best flight deals, my “go-to” booking site is Skyscanner…I swear by them.

Transportation on Sao Miguel Island

Bus schedules are very infrequent on the island so I HIGHLY recommend renting a car and/or scooter. Plus, you really won’t be able to see the more off-the-beaten path places by public transport. I rented a scooter for the first 2 days and an automatic car for the last 2 days to go longer distances and it worked out perfectly.

Scooter rental in Sao Miguel, Azores, GoPro

Car/Scooter Rental

I went with Auto Ramalhense because they had good rates, good reviews, and the added bonus that they pick up and deliver your vehicle to your accommodation at no extra cost. Scooter rental costs €21-25/day (50cc horse power vs 125cc horse power). Definitely spend the extra few euros and pick the 125cc. This is not the time to be cheap!

(note: one week later in Lagos, Portugal I made the mistake of going with the cheaper 50cc scooter and it was a piece of crap. It was like a toy scooter and it took me forever to get anywhere. I also found out you’re not allowed to drive 50cc scooters on the freeway…after the fact!).

An automatic car rental costs 45 euro/day. For a manual car, expect to pay half that! If I could just learn how to drive stick dangit!

They charge only €8 to drop it off at the airport, which was so worth it seeing as I had a 7:30am flight! The company was very accommodating last-minute and overall I had a great experience. And no, this was not sponsored in any way, shape, or form.

Sao Miguel, Azores Ultimate 4-Day Itinerary

Day 1: red pins
Day 2: blue pins
Day 3: yellow pins
Day 4: purple pins

Day 1 (with scooter)

Sets Cidades (Twin Lakes)

Cete Cidades Twin Lakes

Day 1 starts out strong with one of the most magnificent lakes on the island. Actually, Cete Cidades is made up of twin lakes, one blue and one green.You can go down to the bottom and see them separated by a bridge. It’s not as colorful on the bottom but still very beautiful. It takes 25 minutes by car from Ponta Delgada and 40 minutes by scooter. If you have time, this is a popular hiking spot so give yourself ample time to explore the different pathways!

Interesting folktale: Do you know why one lake is green and one lake is blue? Legend has it that a Princess and a shepherd fell in love. After the Princess’ father forbid them from seeing each other, they met one last time and cried so much that these 2 lakes were formed. The green from the tears of the green-eyed Princess and the blue from the tears of the blue-eyed shepherd. Now their tears will remain together in eternity! It doesn’t get any more romantic than that! ♥

Miradouro Do Rei

This is the tourist view that most people stop at and is a great introduction to the twin lakes. It’s far away, but close enough to really appreciate the distinct colors of these beautiful bodies of water.

Tip: you can continue on the dirt road and drive around the top for different views of the lakes.

Lagoa do Canario Miradouro

Lagoa do Canario Miradouro

This was by far the BEST viewpoint on the island for me. The peak is roughly 800 meters above sea-level, with a view of the mountains, the twin lakes, the caldera, and the sea in the backdrop. It’s SPECTACULAR. AMAZING. OUT OF THIS WORLD. Honestly one of the most EPIC views I have ever seen with my 2 eyes! It rivals the viewpoint of Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos and gave me goosebumps at first sight. What a beauty!

Tip: there is a parking lot before the dirt road that you can park and then walk 20 minutes or so…but you can also drive down the dirt road to the entrance to the viewpoint (which I did because it was freezing and windy outside).

Ponta da Ferraria

30 minutes away from Sete Cidades on the Western part of the island lies Ponta da Ferraria, a geothermal area of natural hot pools on the cliff sides. Walking down to the natural pool you will notice black lava rocks everywhere and it’s really a site to see. It was very Icelandic-like if you ask me. The popular hot pool is connected to the ocean and it makes you question, how in the world is it that warm if it’s connected to the ocean? I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely warm! The best part is that it’s FREE!! Unfortunately I didn’t have my swimsuit with me so I just laid on the black rocks to stay warm in the sun. It’s a very relaxing place and you could spend a whole afternoon there.

Ponta da Ferraria Sao Miguel, Azores

Tip: there is a spa area that charges 6 euro to enter, giving access to a thermal pool. (But why pay to use a man-made structure when you have the natural equivalent just steps away for free?). There is also a snack bar and restaurant inside if you’re hungry. There aren’t many options around to choose from, so it may be your only choice to eat.

Day 2 (with scooter)

Caloura

Caloura Sao Miguel, Azores

I just passed through this town quickly, but worth a mention is the unexpected pool that’s literally inside the ocean and connected to the land by a long rocky walkway. At this point it was pouring down rain so I just ran down and snapped a photo real quick.

Vila do Franco Campo

A cute little seaside town with a black sand beach. But the main attraction is the very close Badeinsel ilheu de Vila Franco do Campo. It’s an islet that seems to be a stone’s throw away from the town. As I was driving away and up a hill, I could see the bay inside the islet and it looked so awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t get over to the islet as boat trips only go in the summer. It was such a tease!

Lagoa do Congra

A quick 12 minute ride from Vila do Franco Campo is one of my favorites Lagoa do Congra. This lake was recommended by my awesome Airbnb host and isn’t on any tourist map. However, you will see signs for it on the roads thankfully. After turning onto a dirt road, you will keep going about 6-7 minutes then park near the sign and hike down. It’s a very peaceful and gorgeous hike down to the lake.

Lagoa do Congra

The woods are so tropical, and it feels like a mini Amazon jungle. The hike is super easy and takes about 10 minutes. The lake is freakishly green and there won’t be another person in site. All you will hear are the sounds of joyful birds chirping everywhere. Nature at its finest.

Lagoa do Fogo

Lagoa do Fogo

Another magnificent lake with bold green hues. It looks kind of glossy and the colors change with the sun. The best part is that you can hike down to the sandy beaches at the bottom for crystal green waters.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to hike down. Out of all the things I saw on the island, this is the one I really wish I had more time at. Until next time…

Caldeira Velha

Imagine fairytale pools inside a tropical jungle oasis and you have Caldeira Venlha. It’s one of those unique places that makes you feel like you’re going to wake up from your dream any second. No need to pinch your travel partner, it’s real! It has one big waterfall pool and one smaller hot pool. Awesome place!

Caldeira Velha Sao Miguel Azores

Cost: €3 entrance fee.

Ribeira Grande

If you have time, make a stop in Ribeira Grande on your way back to Ponta Delgada. It’s a quaint little town on the water with a beautiful bridge. It’s one of the prettier towns I saw on the island and also would have liked more time here.

Ribeira Grande Sao Miguel, Azores

Day 3 (with car)

→Warning: day 3 will be action packed so get an early start!

Gorreana Tea Plantation

Did you know that Europe’s only production of tea comes from the Azores? I had no idea! Gorreana tea plantation has been operational since 1883. The plantation is in a gorgeous location overlooking the water and that alone warrants a visit.

Gorreana Tea Plantation

Tip: you don’t need to buy any tea because there are free tea tastings of local green and black tea. Just ask for it! There was a tour bus when I went around 9:45am so to avoid them try to get there as soon as it opens! The ride is 30 minutes from Ponta Delgada with a car.

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

About 12 minutes East of the tea plantation is Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes (Caldeiroes Park). I LOVED this place and it became one of my favorites on the island. It was the jungle playground that I dreamed about as a kid. There were perfectly paved pathways, waterfalls, springs, and woods, leaving you to roam wild with your imagination. I had the whole place basically to myself so the childhood fantasy might have been played out a little. Just saying… πŸ™‚

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes

Tip: make sure you don’t miss the big waterfall on the left side of the parking before the little bridge. I almost did! I only noticed it on my way out of the park.

Cost: entrance is FREE.

Miradouro da Despe-te Que Suas

Miradouro da Despe-te Que Suas

Next, go to Miradouro da Despe-te Que Suas. This had a great view of the cliffs with a huge heavenly umbrella tree. This viewpoint was so nicely decorated with flowers and that epic tree that I think I enjoyed it more than the actual view itself. Go figure.

Farol do Arnel

Farol do Arnel Sao Miguel, Azores

The most famous lighthouse on the island and only a few minutes south of Nordeste. You must walk down 15 minutes of a very steep hill to get to it. It was sort of anti-climactic for me and I would skip the walk down. Instead, drive 3-4 min south to Miradouro da Vista Dos Barcos for the best view of the lighthouse from afar!

Parque Florestral (and Pico Bartolomeu viewpoint)

This is a protected national forest that I accidentally stumbled upon while I got a little lost. It was really cool to drive to the top, blazing through the foggy skies. It was a bit cloudy/foggy at the top, but still had amazing views of the island. Look for the sign for the viewpoint called Pico Bartolomeu.

Parque Florestral

On the way to this viewpoint you will be astonished at the abundance of hydrangeas and cedar trees you will pass, tightly packed into this perfectly manicured forest. As I cut though the dense misty fog, I felt so small in the presence of these towering trees. It was eerie, yet peaceful.

Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego

Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego

Next, go to Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego, a gorgeous flower garden near Nordeste overlooking the mountainous cliffs towering over the sea. This was number 2 for the best view of the island for me so don’t miss it! There were also a lot of kitties there…that’s all.

Miradouro da Ponta do Sosssego, Sao Miguel Azores

Tip: this place was a little hard to find as the only sign for it is at the entrance. To get to it, drive south from Farol do Arnel and pass the signs for Pedriera. It should be about 5-7 minutes from Farol do Arnel.

Miradouro Santa Iria

Miradouro Santa Iria

On your way back to Ponta Delgada, stop at Miradouro Santa Iria for spectacular views of dramatic cliffs from all angles. It’s one of the higher viewpoints, so you can look down upon all the epic cliffs plunging into the water. It’s one of the most “known” viewpoints on the island, and for good reason!

Day 4 (with car)

Your last day should be one of rest and relaxation after all the running around you’ve been doing. So go ahead and treat yourself!

Furnas Village Day

On your way to Furnas village, stop at Miradouro do Pico de Ferro to see Lagoa Furnas from above. The stop is a few minutes before the village and you will see a small sign for it.

Terra Nostra Park

This is where you will find the “golden jacuzzi” I like to call it. The large thermal pool is around 38+ decrees Celsius. There are no lockers but changing rooms and an outdoor (cold) shower.

Terra Nostra Gardens, Sao Miguel, Azores, GoPro

Tip: near the changing rooms, there are 2 smaller jacuzzis set inside the woods that are kind of hidden. Also, the sulfur from the thermal pool with stick to your bathing suit, so make sure you wash it thoroughly when you get out. I would avoid wearing a white bathing suit at all costs.

Cost: €6 entrance fee and €2 to rent a towel.

Dona Beija Thermal Springs

This thermal area is composed of 5 smaller hot pools. I really liked the setup of this place and it was a lot prettier and more cozy. It’s about an 8 minute walk from Terra Nostra. Dona Beija also had better changing facilities with paying lockers and a shower, and is open until 10pm if you want to do some night soaking.

Dona Beija Thermal Springs

Cost: €3 entrance fee and €2 to rent a towel.

Furnas-Caldeiras

Furnas Caldeiras is located on the bottom of the lake and is where you can see the geysers up close and watch them aggressively bubble. It smells really bad from the sulfur (obviously), but it’s cool to see, especially if you’ve never seen something like that before.

Cost: €0.50 cent entrance fee and € 0.40 cent parking.

Where to Stay in Sao Miguel, Azores

Airbnb all the way baby! I stayed in the capital city Ponta Delgada, because it was less than 10 minutes from the airport, and because it was a good base to explore the island. The farthest place on the island I visited was 1 hour by car, so not bad at all.

Sao Miguel, Azores Airbnb

I loved my Airbnb and for $21/night it was an absolute steal! Here is the Airbnb listing if you’re interested. And for first time users, you can use my coupon for $25 off .  (OR if you’re already an Airbnb member, you can sign up with a new email and get the same discount!). I rented a room in a huge house in a quiet part of the city and was super happy with it.

The house was like a mini mansion and I had so much space! I really felt like I was in a fancy place and was splurging, it was great! The best part was the host who was amazing from the start. He was so helpful with anything and made the BEST recommendations of what to see on the island. This is one of my favorite aspects of staying in an Airbnb…you get easy access to some great tips only a local would know. #WINNING.

Travel Insurance for The Azores

I never go on a trip anymore without travel insurance. Never. Too many bad things can happen (and they have unfortunately). Shit happens when you least expect it. Travel insurance is especially important when traveling to islands, as you may need to be air-lifted to the mainland in the worst case scenario. Do you know how much air-lifting costs? Think at least 5 digits (I.e. Expensive AF!).

My favorite travel insurance that I have been using for the past 4 years is World Nomads. I have made 3 claims so far and have been reimbursed for all 3 without any hassle. I highly recommend them.

Sao Miguel Tours

If you don’t really want to lift a finger and have everything planned out for you, I would recommend the tour company Get Your Guide. I usually like to do thing on my own, but when I do a tour, I usually choose this company and have been pretty satisfied. You can check the Sao Miguel Tours below.

 

Final Thoughts on Sao Miguel, Azores

Sao Miguel, Azores

Hold on, planning my next trip back, brb! But really, the Azores are a truly unique place with a natural beauty that has been unmatched in all my travels. It’s overwhelmingly gorgeous with so much to offer and hasn’t yet been corrupted by mass tourism. If you’re thinking about going, go NOW! It won’t stay off-the-radar for long. If you need any more info, feel free to send me a message!

 

RECOMMENDED TRAVEL GEAR FOR TRAVEL TO THE AZORES:

1.Sony Alpha 6000 Mirrorless Camera: I made the switch from my huge DSLR and I wouldn’t go back. It’s light, compact, and takes amazing photos!

2. Sony 10-18mm Wide Angle Zoom Lens: this wide angle lens is the key to landscape shots. I use this lens more than the original and am super happy with it. It’s not cheap, but super worth it if you want to get those special nature shots. Honestly, I would purchase the Sony alpha 6000 camera body only and save up for this lens to go with it.

3. E Bags Packing Cubes: the biggest life changer to keep me packing light! This is my biggest travel gear obsession and I have NO idea how I traveled without them before.

4. LifeProof NUUD Waterproof Case (iPhone 6): this helps protect my phone from water, sand, dirt, and the numerous drops that incur while I travel. I love it!

5. GoPro Hero 4 Session: I am a proud GoPro ambassador and obsessed with GoPro selfie pics if you didn’t notice! (I have recently upgrade to the 5, but this is the one I used in all my Portugal photos). It’s super small, compact, and easy to travel with. Plus it’s so much fun to use! πŸ™‚

6. GoPro Hero 5 Black: My newest addition and I must say the BEST GoPro on the market. This is an essential item when you’re traveling solo to get all your cool shots (and of course underwater pics).

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a super small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep my site add free (I hate ads!). I only recommend products that I have used before on my own and that I truly love πŸ™‚

WHERE IS THE MOST NATURALLY PRETTY PLACE YOU’VE EVER BEEN? HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE AZORES? DID IT BLOW YOU AWAY AS WELL? I WANT TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS! ♥

Liked It? PIN IT for later! πŸ™‚

Sao Miguel, Azores 4-Day Itinerary

 

58 Comments

  1. Great article, really reassuring and makes me wanna go there even more!!!! Hubby and me are planning a trip there with our almost 2 year old! Hubby has uncles and aunties living in Achadina, so we will most probably stay at their place. In your opinion, is it a good vacation destination with a toddler? πŸ™‚ Thank you for your advice!

    Reply
    • That’s hard for me to answer since i don’t have kids and have no experience in that area. Hope you enjoy your trip!

      Reply
  2. Hello,

    I have messaged you on your Contact me section regarding a few queries in planning a trip to Ponta. It will be greatly appreciated if you could possibly reply via my email address.

    Thanks,

    Chintan

    Reply
      • Hey thanks, I have emailed you.

        Reply
  3. My boyfriend and I are heading to Sao Miguel in early September and are excited to explore the island. Thank you for such a great post, it will be helpful as we plan out our 6-day trip! I was wondering, however, if you had any tips on what to pack in terms of clothes and gear. I have read in a couple places that the dress is casual, but haven’t found much information. Any insights and suggestions would be helpful, thank you!

    Reply
    • The dress is pretty casual there! And Sao Miguel is made up of microclimates so the weather is always changing wherever you go. My advice would be to dress in layers and peel them off if you’re hot. And def bring a rain jacket!

      Reply
  4. My husband and I just returned from Sao Miguel and followed this itinerary to a T!!! It made for stress free planning each day and every spot was BEAUTIFUL! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Reply
    • Omg yay! I love to hear that! I’m glad you loved it. It’s such a special place and now you know exactly how awesome it is! <3

      Reply
  5. I will be going for 3 nights 4 days, do you think this is enough time for the island?

    Reply
    • Yep! MY whole itinerary is for 4 days so perfect.

      Reply
    • Love your blog and thanks for the great itinerary!! I am visiting Azores in June and you have really helped me. The only concern I have is that I am afraid of heights and want to avoid roads where I will be right on the edge of a cliff. Are there any roads that I should avoid – I am fine being high up as long as there is some land on both sides but I can’t handle driving right on the edge!!!

      Reply
      • Hey! So glad you found my itinerary helpful! Umm, i honestly don’t remember which roads were on a cliff and which weren’t as I was there 2 years go. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember anything too narrow. But if you are concerned, might be better to rent a car versus scooter to feel more secure. Good luck πŸ™‚

        Reply
  6. Hi Crazy,

    I have to say your write-up is spot on and one of the best I have read about this paradise island. I have returned to S. Miguel, Azores 28 times and can’t get enough. There’s something truly mystical and magical about this place that without effort forces you to connect with the abundant natural beauty of its deep blue ocean, lush green landscapes, and 500 years of culture and traditions. Fantastic fresh food and great hospitality from the locals adds to the wonderful experience. I agree with you there’s no other place like it on earth and I’ve been to some of the better known “paradises” on earth and nothing matches up to S. Miguel, Azores. It has it all!

    Manny
    p.s. love the name, Crazy!

    Reply
    • WOW!!!! 28 times? There must really be something special that makes you return so much!!! I am definitely going to return one day to explore more. I also want to see some of the other islands. Thanks for the kind words about my article πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Miradouro Salto do Cavalo, Miradouro das Furnas just past the Furnas golf coarse, and the Furnas golf coarse are all must see as well.

        Reply
        • Sweet! good to know for next time πŸ™‚

          Reply
  7. Thank you soo much for this detailed itinerary! It was SO helpful! Just one question when looking on Google Maps it said many of the drives were longer than what you said (e.g. Gorreana Tea Plantation to Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiros says 30 minutes, but you said 12 minutes). What directions did you use when driving around. We do have a rented car.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi!! I used google maps on my phone when i was there. I put in the next destination from where i was started and then wrote down the times as i went along. Not sure why it’s coming up as different on google maps. I just checked again on my phone just to make sure and its saying 13 mins. Maybe you entered the wrong place by accident? These locations are super close to each other πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. This post is so detailed and helpful, thank you! 2 questions for you!
    1. Scooters: When I was in Belize, they wouldn’t let me rent a scooter without a motorcycle license. Is that going to be an issue in the Azores?
    2. How far in advance do you think I should book my AirBnb? Can I wait until maybe the day before I arrive? I like to leave myself room to be spontaneous πŸ™‚
    Thanks for all the helpful info!

    Reply
    • Hi Molly,
      They never asked for any motorcycle license so shouldn’t be an issue! What time of year do you plan on going? If it’s peak season, I would book a few weeks in advance. If low season, a few days in advance.

      Reply
  9. We are an adventurist family of 4. We were in Iceland last summer and LOVED it!, we are looking for another fabulous summer vacation !, can u give more details (activities and accommodations on adores and portugal. Should we go through a travel agent?

    Reply
    • Hey Kim! No need to go through a travel agent unless you really don’t like planning it yourself. You can easily follow my itineraries for what to do! πŸ™‚ Definitely look into renting on Airbnb for your time in Portugal. It’s super cheap and you can rent out a whole apartment for your family. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  10. Hi there!
    I loved your post! I will be in the Azores for two days in early September and am considering renting a scooter. A few questions, were there secure places to park the scooter and leave it for a while for hikes etc…? Also were the rides generally safe/easy/ low traffic? Thanks again for your post, it has been so helpful to read your itinerary!

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel,
      Ya I felt super safe and the road conditions were excellent! There weren’t many cars on the road at all. In regards to parking, there was usually a little lot….sometimes down a dirt road. In some cases you can just leave it at the entrance to the hike, no problem! Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world so I wouldn’t worry too much about someone stealing your scooter. Just bring the key with you! In general, there weren’t many people around in the places I went! You should be fine!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  11. Hi Crazy Travelista,
    My wife & me are flying to The Azores on the coming Sep.
    I’ve read your blog with a lot of interest & enjoined it completely.
    Your blogs are well organized, clear & Accompanied by great pictures.

    It’s a real help for Planning a trip.

    Thx a lot,
    Oded

    Reply
  12. Hi there!

    I’m going to Sao Miguel in September with my parents and your blog got me so excited! They are older and visiting friends, so I will be renting a car and doing my own thing just like you did. Your guide will be so helpful! I was just wondering about footwear. I see you wore running shoes. Did you find that okay for the hikes and getting around the terrain over there? I don’t have hiking shoes and don’t want to spend the money buying them if I don’t absolutely need them to get around while I’m there.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Natalie,
      Glad you found my blog! Ya running shoes are totally ok for Sao Miguel. None of the hikes were that tough and really no need to buy hiking shoes! I don’t even own a pair of hiking shoes but am thinking about it for Machu Picchu. But yes, you should be fine!! Maybe bring a light rain jacket because the climate changes so quickly and it does tend to rain a little! Good luck and have the best time!!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Thanks first your pics and ideas for Azores. My husband and I leave for Sao Miguel in 6 weeks. We will definitely go to these places. Did you find a favorite restaurant? Can’t wait to see this paradise.

    Reply
    • That’s great news! I’m sure you’ll have a blast and I think the weather will be a lot warmer than when i went! I didn’t explore restaurants too much unfortunately as I have e gluten allergy and therefore cant try most the foods. This is why i rarely give restaurant recs on my blog because I usually cook my food in an Airbnb. Or I find a gluten free restaurant and keep going back to it haha.

      Reply
  14. Thank you so much for your blog. I just returned from Sao Miguel and your guide was like my bible while I was there. I basically followed in your footsteps. πŸ™‚ It helped me tremendously during my week there. It was awesome. Thanks again!

    Reply
    • YAY! So glad it helped! I hope you enjoyed your time, its such a magical place!!

      Reply
  15. If I were going for a week, would you recommend the entire time on San Miguel or is that too long? What other islands have you heard about?

    Reply
    • Hey! If you follow my itinerary 4 full days is enough! There is a LOT to see, but I started early and got a lot done! I have heard Flores is amazing and I’ve seen pics of some beautiful waterfalls. If I go back, I would like to visit there! So you could do 4 days in Sao Miguel and then 3 days in Flores! πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • I ended up booking a trip for 5 full days, and plan to use your itinerary as a guide. thanks!

        Reply
        • Yay!!! That way you will have plenty of time to see it all with no rush. Have so much fun! πŸ™‚

          Reply
  16. Hello! This post was the greatest thing I’ve read in a while, so thank you very much!

    I’m studying in Barcelona right now, and have always dreamt of going to Sao Miguel. I know you mentioned it a little, but you were solo for this trip, right? I’m 20 years old, and want to know if it’s safe enough to travel here alone? (I don’t mind it, I love traveling alone, but my dad always gets nervous haha). My other question is, what were the major costs of getting to the island and once you were there? I’m on a bit of a budget, but also definitely willing to spend to get here. Lastly, I’m planning on getting there on a Sunday night late(midnightish), and leaving late Thursday night (my flight is may be around 9ish). And I’m planning on just renting a scooter for the trip. Do you think that would allow me enough time to see everything on your itinerary?

    Thank you so much again! This was such an enjoyable read and wicked informative!! I look forward to hearing back from you πŸ™‚

    Best,
    Mary

    Reply
    • Hi Mary!
      Thanks for the message, I’m so glad you liked this guide. Well,you can tell your daddy that Portugal is rated one of the top 10 safest countries in the entire world! I was solo and felt totally safe.

      The cost of the flight from Lisbon was very cheap, I think less than $100 round trip (I dont remember exactly but I think I wrote the exact amount in the post). Yes, that should be enough time to see everything. But maybe since you are leaving at 9ish on the last day, I would maybe do day one on my guide on your last day (because its to more close destinations on the island). Like i mentioned in the post, I wouldn’t use a scooter for the farther destinations, its way too far. Plus you probably wouldnt have time since the scooter is MUCH slower.

      Also, you must rent the scooter that’s 125cc. Its a few bucks more a day and way faster…and you’re actually not allowed to ride the slower one that’s 50cc on the highway with cars.

      But ya, you would definitely need a car for the 2 days where the destinations were farther away! Let me know if you have any more questions!!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  17. Thanks for sharing all your tips and photos from the Azores! My fiancΓ© and I are planning to get married on Sao Miguel next summer, and we were hoping to find a beautiful location for an outside ceremony. Now I know that the twin lakes around Sete Cidades are well-known for its beauty and viewpoint, but our major concern is accessibility. Obviously we don’t want to take a huge hike in a wedding dress, and our family would probably also not be very happy. So, could you tell me whether there is a way to get to those viewpoints by car? Or is there another spot that you would recommend? It would have space for around 40 people.

    Thanks in advance πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Inga,
      Thats awesome you plan on getting married there, congrats!!! As far as the most epic viewpoint, Lagoa do Canario Miradouro, you can get pretty close by car and then walk the rest 5-8 minutes, but it’s not something you can do in high heels and a wedding dress, its dirt. As for the other viewpoint where you can see both the lakes closer, Miradouro Do Rei, you can park in the lot and see the view from there, although there may be other people there looking too. I’m not sure if you would have to get permissoin from the city to undertake any public ceremony there so i would check up on that for sure! Either way, good luck and hope you have an amazing time in Sao Miguel!!!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  18. Hello!!!! I am heading to the Islands soon. I was wondering if you booked the scooter/car in advance or if they were available when you got there. Thanks for the great post and suggestions! I have also enjoyed reading other comments!

    Reply
    • Hi! I did book the scooter in advance for 2 days and then decided I wanted to switch to a car for the last 2 days..I got lucky that they had one more car available…but I would definitely book in advance. I also went in low season so it wasn’t too busy. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  19. Hi!
    Beautiful pictures! Very well written and informative itinerary. We are planning to go there in December. Will it be a good idea from the weather point of view? Will the thermal baths and natural parks remain open?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Ozu!
      Im not sure about all the parks being open in December as I went in April. You would have to check with them individually. I would assume the thermal baths are open year round but i could be mistaken. I would definitely check on that before you head over there. Have a great trip!! Sao Miguel is an outstanding place!

      Reply
  20. Yes, we did have a blast and Sao Miguel is a little piece of Heaven that has not been discovered by many tourists yet. I posted pictures multiple times a day and several people commented that it is now on their Bucket list.

    We rented a car. We found a deal on Travelzoo and the car rental was included. Travelzoo is a great site with MANY deals to all over the world.

    It was all so beautiful but my favorite is probably a tie between a four hour hike in Sete Cidades and the hot spring in the ocean. The hike was tough but the view made it all worth the while! I cannot explain the feeling I got when I took it all in, but I don’t have to since you saw it too .

    I have traveled my fair share (not as much as you) and Sao Miguel is at the top of my list for overall beauty. I want to go back to explore the other islands.

    I also did canyoning – I can check that off my bucket list haha. I loved all the foods and pastries too.

    Thank you again and I hope others find your blog and have as wonderful of an experience as we did. Egypt is on our list in the near future. I saw your do’s and don’ts but didn’t see where to visit. Any recommendations?

    Reply
    • So good to hear! I didn’t do much of the hiking there due to the crazy weather..I’m sure the views were amazing! And the hot springs were SO cool! That was one of my favorites as well! Canyoning looks so fun, I may need to try that sometime!

      In terms of Egypt, I only visited Cairo, Giza (where the pyramids are), and Dahab. Dahab is located on the Red Sea and super laid back. I really enjoyed it! It’s also where I did my first scuba diving ever! The coral was incredible and super bright! The pyramids were amazing as you could imagine! You get hassled a bunch to buy stuff all around them so that is something to look forward to haha. I didnt really care for Cairo honestly, it was super dirty and too hectic/noisy. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but to each their own. I really wish I would have gone down to see Aswan and Luxor so i may need to go back to see that!

      Reply
  21. I just got back from the Azores with my husband and another couple. We followed your recommendation to the T and what a lifesaver!! Your pins were extremely helpful and I’m sure we wouldn’t have known about half these places without doing extensive research, was it not for your blog. Thank you, thank you! we had an AMAZING time and there is so much beauty to explore in the island of Sao Miguel.

    Reply
    • OMG that makes me SO happy! YAY!I’m glad I could help! And now you can understand my love for Sao Miguel!! Its just so natural and beautiful! What was your favorite part? Did you rent scooters or a car? I’m sure you had a blast! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  22. If you go back, try some some island hopping. I would recommend Sao Jorge, Flores, and Pico. All the islands offer something a little different. Flores and Sao Jorge have some great waterfalls and are great for canyoning. Look up Lagos dos Patos on Flores. (You can canyon Sao Miguel too.). Sao Jorge has some impressive cliffs and fajas – Bourdain visited one one his trip. And, cheese! Pico is the tallest point in Portugal and is literally just as it’s name describes, a peak. It’s great to hike to the top on a clear day. Pico has some unique vineyards too to explore. Wine making had stopped on the island due to disease and has recently returned. The other islands aren’t so bad either. Santa Maria has the driest climate, not saying much for the Azores, and white sand beaches. Corvo is a unique little island – a giant caldera (or caldeira). Faial has a famous port, Horta, where sailors stop while crossing the Atlantic. They paint the sidewalk with murals. It also had the most recent volcanic eruption in the Azores, 1957, at Capelinhos. It still looks like a waste land. Graciosa I don’t know much about other than a unique cave/grotto. Terceira has a US army base and a unique culture and architecture because of Flemish migration when the island was first inhabited. Not that Sao Miguel isn’t wonderful with more to see and do. Wonderful pictures. Happy and safe travels!

    Reply
    • Wow, you really seem to know a lot about the islands. I would LOVE to go back!!! Flores and Graciosa wer eon my list but i didnt have time for all 3 and just stuck to one. It was a great introduction to the Azores. Ohhh and I didnt know Anthony Bordain visited Sao Jorge, now I gotta go! He’s the one that introduced me to the Azores! Sao Miquel wa sone of of my favorite places I have ever visited and I definitely want to go back and explore more of those beautiful islands!!! I will be back! Thanks for the tips! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  23. What an inspiring article. I love travelling solo and the Azores caught my eye not too long ago. I’m from London so it’s not too far either!
    I’m pretty sure I’m going to follow your itinerary when I’ve saved up enough money to go next year. The only slight worry I have is the driving, as it would be my first time driving abroad and on the other side of the road! What are the road conditions like? And how did you navigate your way around the island? Satnav? or good old fashioned road signs?

    Thanks a lot,
    Holly xxx

    Reply
    • Hi Holly! You will love the Azores! As for the driving on the opposite side, I just did for the first time in South Africa and it was wild! haha. A little scary at first but once you get the hang of it, it becomes natural honestly! The good thing about Sao Miguel island is that there aren’t many other cars on the road! The conditions of the roads are actually really good too! As for navigation, I got a local Vodafone SIM card and used my Google Maps. Im seriously lost without Google Maps haha. The Azores are a great trip to do solo! Hope this guide helps you out! Good luck! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  24. Jessica,
    Thank you for your answers and so sorry to have asked so much. I live outside of DC as well in Maryland! We should meet sometime as our interests are similar. ps. my hair is sooper thick as well and i only wash once or twice a week – thanks for inspiration! Which GoPro do you have? thanks and have a great day!

    Reply
    • No worries, any way I can help :). They actually have some travel meetups in DC that I get invites for. I’ll let you know next time I receive one. I haven’t gone yet because i cant stand driving into downtown DC with the traffic haha. As for the GoPro, I use the Session 4 (the little cube). I love it but sometimes it doesnt want to turn on. It takes great footage though when it wants to cooperate πŸ™‚

      Reply
  25. All that being said- I stumbled across your pics while researching for a future trip to Greece and now have stayed up all night looking at your pics and reading your blog..lol. First I was wondering where do you reside and do you travel alone? How do you take some of the beautiful pics you take with you in the pictures? timer? camera stand? I will probably be traveling alone and thats why I ask – I have never driven a scooter- is it easy? and how did you take it down that dirt road in Lagoa do Canario Miradouro? Please tell me you didn’t take it over that steep hill ahead of you in the picture with a drop! Oh and did it start pouring rain while you were on the scooter!? and did you have to drive it in that? Second, I was wondering how in the world you have time to curl your hair when getting up early in morning to explore?!! It looks gorgeous! I love travel but I am also huge on photography so I would have to take some pics..yours are great! After all that traveling, my hair would look a mess – I am considering the Azores as a future trip due to your blog post about it – Would you say that all the thermal springs were worth it? If you could leave out any part of trip to shorten, what would it be? I am asking tons of questions…sorry. Last, I was looking through alot of your other destination pics and really wanted to ask you since you have traveled alot – of all the places you have been (and i know they are equally unique) which would you recommend the most? I would love to do what you are doing- It really boggles my mind how you are able to do it – Im thinking to myself, she must be rich -and what about work–so many questions because I want to be doing exactly what you are doing with the exploring of the world-we only live once and I am half way to 40. Hope to hear back. You are beautiful and I love reading about your adventures. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Hey! Wow i dont even know where to start with all the questions hehe. I live right outside of Washington DC in the USA! Yes I usually travel alone and i love it!! I use my GoGpro with a selfie stick and im obsessed! I have a tripod and sometimes i will set my camera on it with the timer, but rarely ever. I usually just use my GoPro when im traveling alone! And no im not rich haha, far from it! I have just made major sacrifices in life and dedicated my life to travel. I never go out to eat or spend money on material things anymore. Experience over things!!! πŸ™‚ As for the Azores, it was amazing and its so hard to leave any parts out. Yes the hot springs were definitely worth it and it was nice to go there the last day and relax from all the hectic travel plans. The scooter was a little scary on the main roads but you get used to it. I only used the scooter for the closer destinations and then rented a car for the further ones! IT does suck if it starts raining though, I had to find some place for shelter until it sopped. But it only rained for like 10-15 mins. Oh and about my hair, I usually just curl it once, and then it stays like that for days. I have naturally curly/wavy/frizzy hair so the curls stay. I also dont wash my hair everyday as my hair is dry and thick. So it lasts for up to a week! Dry shampoo is my friend :). Oh and my favorite place in the world is Italy! I have spent lots of time there and there are still so many places i want to go! Every region is so different from the next and I never get bored exploring new places there. Croatia and Greek islands are next on my list. Gorgeous waters, great food, and nice people! PS: you’re so young so you have plenty of time to see the world! Just do it!!!!! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  26. Hello, Me and my family are planning our trip to the Azores and Madeira for next year. What time of the year did you go? it looks amazing and great that there weren’t a lot of crowds. Thanks, Jess.

    Reply
    • Hi Jessica! I went in April and while it was a bit chilly, the weather changes there constantly. The island has a characteristic microclimate and that means the temp is different every 30-60 minutes while you’re driving through the island! It only rained twice for a total of like 2-3 hours so it wasn’t bad. It would have been nice to go when its hot to get to go to the beaches. But overall, I had an awesome time and still experienced so much!

      Reply

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