Nicknamed the “Green Island”, São Miguel is the largest and most populous island in the Portuguese Azores. It’s home to the archipelago’s attractive capital, Ponta Delgada, and is renowned for its mesmerising volcanic scenery, which includes crater lakes and steaming hot springs.
Things to do in São Miguel
For most visitors, Ponta Delgada is their first introduction to São Miguel Island and features an attractive waterfront promenade dominated by the 16th-century Forte de São Bras. Explore the exhibits of the Azores Military Museum before admiring the Convento e Capela de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, which houses a highly revered image of Christ. Also not to miss are Ponta Delgada’s iconic three-arched city gates and the cultural history exhibits of the Carlos Machado Museum.
One of São Miguel Island’s most photographed natural landmarks is Lagoa das Sete Cidades, a spectacular crater lake designated as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal. Explore along the walking trails that hug the shores of the Green and Blue lagoons or marvel at both from the Vista do Rei viewpoint, which was named following a visit from King Carlos in 1901.
East of São Miguel Island is the town of Furnas, which is famed for its exciting geothermal activity. See its boiling “caldeiras” in action, soak in one of the inviting thermal pools or join the locals in cooking Portuguese stew in the steaming fumaroles. The stunning waters of Furnas Lake can be explored by kayak or stand up paddleboard.
Getting around São Miguel
João Paulo II Airport is a 10-minute drive from Ponta Delgada and has seasonal flights to destinations across Europe. Buses travel around the island and throughout Ponta Delgada but renting a car is the most convenient way of exploring São Miguel’s natural attractions.