When I was looking for my last summer destination, I was wondering: Where can I find a place in Europe where I can have some hikes and enjoy wonderful landscapes? Where can I relax in beautiful places? Where can I go to find beaches which are not as crowded as in the French Riviera? The answer was clear: São Miguel in the Azores.
São Miguel belongs to Portugal and is the biggest island in the Azores. By visiting São Miguel you can experience a lot of things. Here is a list of the reasons why you should go to this beautiful island. Let’s go to the Azores!
FEEL LIKE AN ADVENTURER AROUND THE LAKES
If you like natural landscapes, you will really enjoy a stay in São Miguel. There are plenty of lakes, all different from each other. Small, huge, blue, green, easily accessible, hidden … The bravest ones can hike around the lakes, but you can access most of the viewpoints by car.
One of my favorite lake is the one called Lagoa do Congro because of its particular emerald-green colour and because it is hidden in a dense forest.
But the most famous lakes are located in Sete Cidades. These two lakes are known because they are just facing each other … but don’t have the same colour. One is green and the other is blue. Be sure to go to the “Vista Do Rei” point of view to discover one of the most amazing spot of São Miguel and realize that you are on the top of a volcano.
By the way, you should go to São Miguel to …
FEEL LIKE A GEOLOGIST NEAR THE FORMER VOLCANOS
São Miguel is a volcanic island. You can feel it while seeing landscapes, having a bath in the hot thermal water or discovering the “caldeiras”. These huge and hot smokes are located in Furnas, more precisely near the city centre and near the Furnas lake. It smells sulphur hundreds of meters before arriving on the caldeiras place but the experience is really amazing.
FEEL LIKE AN HISTORIAN DISCOVERING THE OLD CHURCHES
The churches of São Miguel are very distinctive. They are all white with some black rocks at the edges. My prefered one is of course Nossa Senhora da Paz in Vila Campa do Franco. This church is well-known because there are stairs with blue azulejos to access it. You have a beautiful spot at the top of these stairs from where you can see Vila Campa do Franco and its small island.
The churches in Ponta Delgada, Sete Cidades and Povoação are other famous ones. But feel free to go in small cities and discover the other churches that are not in your travel guide!
FEEL LIKE A TOURIST AT THE BEACH AND IN THE THERMAL BATHS
Could you imagine going on an island without enjoying its beaches? Of course not! But don’t worry, São Miguel has beautiful ones and incredible thermal baths.
The most famous one is located in Mosteiros. I don’t know what I prefer there. The black sand, the rough sea, the two rocks offshore, … According to legend, São Miguel is a giant who is laying in the sea and these two rocks are its toes. Tips: you should go to Mosteiros just before the sunset. The colours are magical!
Another beautiful and mysterious place is the Terra Nostra garden in Furnas. You can have a bath there in a huge orange pool. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit that you can damage. The water is (very) hot, around 40°C. Make sure to have a walk in the beautiful botanical garden.
Do you want one last original experience? Go to Ferraria! You can find a natural pool at the foot of a cliff. There are some ropes in the pool because the current can be strong. If you prefer warm water, you should go to Ferraria at low tide.
FEEL LIKE AN AZORIAN BY EATING THEIR FOOD
As a great food lover, I really like to discover culinary habits of the places I visit. A lot of products you find in São Miguel are produced on the island: milk, cheese, fruits, vegetables, etc. Cheap food can be bought in the markets, especially in the biggest one in Ponta Delgada.
If you are really hungry, you should try the “cozido”. You can taste this Portuguese stew in Furnas because it is cooked underground with the volcano heat near the lake! I recommend you Tony’s restaurant which is appreciated by both tourists and locals.
Hope you would like to visit São Miguel!
By Clara from @claradrmt
A French explorer from http://unterwegs.fr/