The best way to get to Săo Miguel is by plane. There are daily flights to Lisbon, a two-hour trip, and links to Boston (USA) and Toronto (Canada). Sata Air Açores flies daily to the other islands of the archipelago. From May to October, one can get to the other islands by ferry boat.
Săo Miguel is called the Green Island. Located 25ş 30’W and 37ş 50’N, it is the biggest island of the archipelago, 759, 41 sq km, 65 km length and 14 km width. Săo Miguel and Santa Maria form the Eastern Group of the Azorean archipelago.
In the middle of the XIV century, its existence was already registered in geographic maps. However, it is supposed that it was only discovered between the years of 1426 and 1439. The settlement began in 1439 with Portuguese coming from the provinces of Estremadura, Algarve, Alto Alentejo, and also some foreigners coming mainly from France.
The visitor can choose between rent a car, use a cab or the bus lines that cover the island.
Sete Cidades has two lagoons (a green and a blue one) in the interior of a crater with 12 km of perimeter.
Pico do Carvão is a viewpoint overlooking the island’s centre and the sea; it is surrounded by several lagoons, outstanding the lagoons of Canário, Rasa and Carvão due to their dimensions.
Miradouro do Escalvado is located in Ponta do Escalvado and it is a belvedere of Mosteiros parish and a viewpoint of a magnificent sunset.
Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande is a small group of fumaroles nearby the access to Vale das Lombadas, where is located a spring with the same name.
Praia dos Moinhos is a beach of a large strand of sand, located in the parish of Porto Formoso.
Praia Areal de Santa Bárbara, probably the largest sandy area, is much appreciated by surfers.
Gorreana and Porto Formoso are tea grounds where tea factories can be visited.
Lagoa do Fogo is a lagoon in the interior a crater of an extinct volcano, and it is part of a natural reserve.
Caldeira Velha is located in the hillside of Lagoa do Fogo, and is a small lake of warm water where you can take a pleasant bath.
Ilhéu da Vila Franca is a natural reserve, an islet that keeps inside a natural swimming pool. It can be visited from June to September taking the boat in the Tagarete quay in Vila Franca do Campo. Lagoa do Congro is nearby Vila Franca do Campo and worthy of a visit.
Pinhal da Paz, another reserve, offers a splendorous sight of azaleas flourishing.
Vale das Furnas is a valley that has fumaroles, hot water, and medicinal mud and water. It is crossed by two streams, being one of them of hot water. More than twenty thermal springs run through the village-places, being so considered one of the biggest hydro polis of the world. Nearby the Furnas lagoon, pay a visit to Nossa Senhora das Vitórias Chapel and the place where the famous hollows meat course is boiled under the ground. Between noon and 15h, you can observe the meat course being taken from the hollow on earth.
Parque Terra Nostra, a park located in the centre of the parish, keeps a great variety of tree and exotic plants, as well as a heated swimming pool. Pico do Ferro and Salto do Cavalo are belvederes overlooking the Furnas valley and Povoaçăo Village.
Ribeira Quente, a fishing village-place, has an excellent beach (Praia do Fogo) and the road that access to the parish has magnificent waterfall. Nordeste is a part of the island full of mountains, narrow passes, springs and belvederes.
Pico da Vara, the highest point of the island with 1105 m, the belvederes of Pico Bartolomeu, Ponta do Arnel and Ponta da Madrugada, where a beautiful sun rise can be watches expect your visit.
There are also several forest parks, a camping park in Ribeira do Guilherme, a fishing port and Lombo Gordo beach.
The pineapple greenhouses in Fajã de Baixo, Lagoa and Vila Franca do Campo are the places where the famous Azorean pineapple is grown.
Jardim António Borges and Jardim José do Canto are gardens where one can find rare vegetal species.
Museu Carlos Machado is a museum that keeps collections of paintings, glazed tiles, porcelains and pieces of national history.
Convento da Esperança is the convent where one can admire the famous image of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres.
Go round the island (1 day)
Leave from the west part of Ponta Delgada, passing through Relva (stop at the belvedere), Feteiras, Candelária, Ginetes (visit Ponta da Ferraria), Várzea, Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado (a belvedere over Ferraria, islets and Mosteiros parish); go down to Mosteiros, to the beach and natural pools, and return from the same road to Estrada Regional. Go through Bretanha (Joăo Bom, Pilar and Ajuda village-places), Santa Barbara, Santo António (stop at the viewpoint), Capelas (a fishing port), Oficina Museu (a museum to find the past), and Săo Vicente. Turn aside to the seashore, to visit an excellent belvedere nearby an ancient whale factory. Continue to Fenais da Luz, Calhetas, Rabo de Peixe and Ribeira Grande, where one can visit a museum and fumaroles. Cross Ribeirinha parish, and visit the lighthouse and the fishing port. Return to the main road, turn on the left and go to Miradouro de Santa Iria, Porto Formoso (Moinhos beach and a Tea factory), Gorreana (another Tea factory), Maia, Lomba da Maia, Fenais da Ajuda, Lomba de Săo Pedro and stop at the belvedere of Salto da Farinha. Continue to Salga, Achadinha, Achada, Feteira Grande, Feteira Pequena, Algarvia, Santo António Nordestinho, Săo Pedro, Fazenda and Nordeste. In Nordeste, you should visit Ribeira do Guilherme mouth, the fishing port, and the lighthouse. In direction to Povoaçăo, go through Pedreira, Lombo Gordo beach, and the belvederes of Ponta do Sossego and Ponta da Madrugada. In the road to Povoaçăo, pass through Água Retorta and take the road down to Faial da Terra. Get back by the same road and continue to Povoaçăo, an inviting village-place. Go to Ribeira Quente (a fishing port with an excellent beach) and Furnas where the fumaroles, the lagoon and Terra Nostra Park deserve a visit. Take the road on the south coast, go down to Amora beach, pass through Ponta Garça (lighthouse), Ribeira das Tainhas, and Vila Franca do Campo, where Vinha d’Areia beach, chapel of Nossa Senhora da Paz, yacht-harbour and islet are places to visit. Leave toward Ponta Delgada passing through Água d’Alto (beach), and deviate to Ribeira Chă parish to visit the ethnographic museum and yard. Get back to the main road, stop in the belvedere overlooking Caloura, continue to Água de Pau and turn to the road to Caloura (seaside resort); return by the same road and continue then to Lagoa (natural swimming-pools, museum, blacksmith tent, pottery factory), pass through the beaches of Pópulo and Milícias, Săo Roque, arriving at Ponta Delgada. The visitor can choose to go round the island on the other way, departing in direction to Săo Roque, Lagoa, going through the south coast and returning through the north coast.
Sete Cidades and Mosteiros Departing from Ponta Delgada toward Mosteiros, turn right after the belvedere in direction of Covoada; follow by the road of Pico do Carvăo and stop at the viewpoint over the north coast, and admire the lagoons of Carvăo and Canário; stop also at the belvedere of Vista do Rei, with a panoramic view over the lagoons and Sete Cidades parish. Go down to the village place and the lagoons, stopping at the belvederes of Cerrado das Freiras and S. Tiago lagoon. Leave the parish by the road of Seara, toward Várzea; stop at the belvedere of Escalvado, overlooking Ferraria, the islets and Mosteiros parish. Go down to Mosteiros, a seashore resort with a beach and several natural pools. Return to Ponta Delgada by the south coast, passing through Várzea, Ginetes, Candelária, Feteiras and Relva. You can also return through the north coast, passing the parishes of Bretanha, (Joăo Bom, Pilar, Ajuda), Remédios, Santa Bárbara, Santo António and Capelas.
Lagoa do Fogo, Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande and Lombadas Leave Ponta Delgada through Lagoa, and take the road to Lagoa do Fogo (Fire’s Lagoon), which offers a panoramic view over the south and north coasts of the island. Stop at the top of Pico de Fogo, where you can admire Lagoa do Fogo. Go down toward Ribeira Grande and stop at Caldeira Velha, a heated natural pool, Ribeira Grande, Caldeiras da Ribeira Grande and Lombadas. Return to Ponta Delgada through the road of Ribeira Grande.
Furnas Leave Ponta Delgada, pass through Ribeira Grande, Porto Formoso, Gorreana, Achada das Furnas road, and stop at the belvedere of Pico do Fogo. In the road descending to Furnas, stop at the belvedere of Salto do Cavalo, a viewpoint over the Furnas valley and Povoaçăo village. In Furnas parish, pay a visit to the fumaroles, the lagoon, park of Terra Nostra and a nursery area of plants and trout. In several restaurants, one can taste the famous hollow’s meat course. Get back to Ponta Delgada by the south coast, passing through Vila Franca do Campo.
Nordeste, Povoaçăo, Furnas, Vila Franca and Lagoa Leave Ponta Delgada toward Ribeira Grande; stop at the Santa Iria belvedere, Porto Formoso, where you should visit the beach of Moinhos and the tea factory. Continue passing through Gorreana (another tea factory to visit), Maia, Lomba da Maia, Fenais da Ajuda, Lomba de S. Pedro, and stop at Salto da Farinha belvedere. Continue to Salga, Achadinha, Achada, Feteira Grande, Feteira Pequena, Algarvia, S. António Nordestinho, Săo Pedro, Fazenda, arriving then at Nordeste. In Nordeste parish, visit the Foz da Ribeira do Guilherme (the mouth of Guilherme stream), the lighthouse of Ponta do Arnel, the fishing port, and the forest park. Leave Nordeste village to Pedreira, visiting the Lombo Gordo beach and the belvederes of Ponta do Sossego and Ponta da Madrugada. Visit Água Retorta, Faial da Terra and arrive at Povoaçăo village. Take the road to Furnas; in Furnas you must visit the fumaroles, the lagoon and the forest park. Leave the village; pass through Ponta Garça (lighthouse), Ribeira das Taínhas and Vila Franca do Campo. Here you can visit the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Paz, the yacht-harbour, the islet and the pottery workshop. Take the road to Ponta Delgada, passing through Água D’Alto (a beach), Ribeira Chă, Água de Pau, Caloura (a seashore resort), Lagoa (municipal pools, museum and ceramics factory), Săo Roque, arriving at Ponta Delgada. The same itinerary can be done the other way around, beginning on the south coast and returning by the north coast.
The visitor can rent a car, use a taxi or opt for the island bus lines. The itineraries of the buses are as follows: Itinerary
1 – Ponta Delgada, Fajă de Baixo, Fajă de Cima Itinerary
2 – Ponta Delgada, Ramalho, Relva, Feteiras, Candelária, Ginetes, Várzea, Mosteiros. Itinerary
3 – Ponta Delgada, Ramalho, Relva, Feteiras, Candelária, Ginetes, Várzea, Sete Cidades Itinerary
4 – Ponta Delgada, Fajă de Cima, Capelas, S. António, Sta Bárbara, Remédios, Ajuda, Pilar, Joăo Bom, Mosteiros Itinerary
5 – Ponta Delgada, Fajă de Cima, S. Vicente, Aflitos, Fenais da Luz Itinerary
6 – Ponta Delgada, S. Roque, Praia do Pópulo, Lagoa, Água de Pau, Água d’Alto, Vila Franca do Campo, Furnas, Povoaçăo Itinerary
7 – Ponta Delgada, Pico da Pedra, Calhetas, Rabo de Peixe, Ribeira Grande Itinerary
8 – Ponta Delgada, Ribeira Grande, Achada das Furnas, Furnas Itinerary
9 – Ponta Delgada, Ribeira Grande, Lomba da Maia, Fenais da Ajuda, Lomba de S. Pedro, Salga, Achadinha, Achada, Feteira Grande, Feteira Pequena, Algarvia, S. António Nordestinho, Săo Pedro, Fazenda, Nordeste. Itinerary
10 – Nordeste, Pedreira, Água Retorta, Faial da Terra, Povoação.
Several religious and secular festivities animate the island, outstanding the festivities in honour of Senhor Santo dos Milagres, which take place in the fifth Sunday after Eastern. All the municipalities and village places have their cultural week. During summer time, all the parishes celebrate their patron saint; these festivities include concerts performed by local philharmonics, local bands and folklore groups, but also nationally known artists. For night entertainment, the visitor can choose between bares, discos, pubs and cinemas existing in Ponta Delgada and other places in the island. We suggest a visit to the Public Library and Regional Archive of Ponta Delgada, and to the different museums and ethnographic houses present in all the municipalities of Săo Miguel Island.
The festivity in honour of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres takes place annually on the fifth Sunday after Eastern, and constitutes the greatest religious celebration, not even for the inhabitants of S. Miguel, but also to all people of the Archipelago. The image of Senhor Santos Cristo dos Milagres leave Convento da Esperança, a monastery where the image is kept and worshiped, on a procession through the streets of Ponta Delgada.
This festival has also a secular part: a fair of economical activities, exhibitions, and the traditional food and drinks points of sale in the streets. Hundreds of people, emigrants, tourists and people from the islands visit Săo Miguel during this time. From April to June, the festivities of Divino Espírito Santo are celebrated in all the Azorean parishes, and are the most traditional of the Azorean islands. Another manifestation of the religiosity of the people is the Procession of Senhor dos Enfermos, which takes place in several places in the island in the first Sunday after Eastern.
The procession that takes place in Furnas is very beautiful, passing through streets covered of carpets made of flowers. During the summer months, processions and festivities in honour of the parishes’ patron-saints take place in almost all villa-places in the island. The pilgrimage (romeiros) is a unique religious manifestation; groups of men cover the whole island walking, saying prayers, during an entire week.
Vila Franca do Campo village celebrates the festivity in honour of Săo Joăo in June 24th with marches and shows. In Ribeira Grande, in June 29th another festival takes place: the “Cavalhadas”; it is a parade of horsemen, colourfully dressed, that march through the streets to Săo Pedro Church, where they greet in verse the patron saint. Then, the parade follows to the Municipal Hall Square, right beside Espírito Santo Church (also known as Senhor dos Passos ou Misericórdia) and the Municipal Garden, where a embassy pay courtesy to the municipal authorities; the parade rounds three times the Garden (in front of the Church) asking for God Protection and the living presence of the Holy Spirit through faith. Follows a circle around Mother Church and Santo André Chapel, the brother of Saint Peter, and the parade continues through all streets of the city’s parishes.
The procession ends at Mafoma Palace. Using the raw material offered by nature, the handicraft of the island is very rich and diversified: dolls dressed in typical clothing made of maize leaf, sword grass, sackcloth or cloth; flowers made of fish scale, pieces of bone and whale tooth; wicker-work, blankets, quilts and carpets manually weaved; the blue hand painted pottery of Vila Franca do Campo and Lagoa; and the panels of Ribeira Grande, which are hand painted over raw glaze.
The richness of the folklore is present in the typical clothing, colourful in women and sober on men, in the dances and also in the typical songs. The folklore groups have been developing an excellent research on old traditional songs; they were able to reproduce in rigor the clothes, music and dances from former times. In some places, the festivities in honour of Espirito Santo include “foliőes”, men wearing red mantles (opas), which animate the parades with their songs.
São Sebastiăo Church (Mother Church) – built in the XVI century with elements of Gothic and Manuelino styles. In the XVIII century, alterations were made in the façade according to the dominant style of the time, the Baroque.
S. José Church – built in the beginning of the XVIII century; its chancel is covered by tiles of the XVIII century. It keeps images from the XVII and XVIII centuries.
S. Pedro Church – built in the XVII and XVIII centuries, it keeps images from the XVII and XVIII centuries.
Nossa Senhora da Esperança Convent and Chapel – built in the XVI century, it is the place where the image of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres is worshiped. It has much valuable tiles in its low choir.
Todos os Santos Church – its building began in the XVIII century. Its façade, which construction began between the years of 1738 and 1740, was never concluded due to the expulsion of the Jesuits.
Santa Bárbara Church – It keeps images from the XVII century and wood carvings in its altar. Nossa Senhora da Conceiçăo Church – It’s of Baroque style, dating back from the XVII century. Sant’Ana Chapel – It is of Baroque style, dating back from the XVII and XVIII centuries.
Mãe de Deus Chapel – It was built in the XIX century, having an excellent panoramic view over the city.
Sant’Ana Palace – Building from the XIX century, the seat of the Regional Government Presidency.
Carlos Machado Museum – lodged in Santo André Convent, it exhibits a varied and valuable collection of paintings, sculptures, ethnography, zoology, botanic and mineral examples.
City Hall – Baroque building from the XVII and XVIII centuries, it is the seat of the Ponta Delgada Municipality Presidency Vila Franca do Campo Săo Miguel Church (Mother Church) – built in the XV century.
São Pedro Church – it was built in the XVIII century and its façade is in Baroque style. Santo André Church – it is part of the Convent with the same name, founded in 1567.
São Francisco Convent – founded in the XV century, it was rebuilt after the seismic crisis of 1522; it was enlarged in the XVII century, and recently adapted to serve as country house tourist lodging. It is furnished with époque furniture and modern art pieces of great quality.
Nossa Senhora da Paz Chapel – It is a belvedere with a panoramic view over Vila Franca do Campo.
Museum – valuable ethnographic collection. Santa Cruz Church – built in the XVI century, it was remodelled in the XVIII century, added with elements of Manuelino style.
Nossa Senhora do Rosário Church – built in the XVI century and altered in the XVIII century.
Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Chapel – built in the XV century. Frades Convent – built in the XVII century with a façade of Baroque style.
Nossa Senhora dos Anjos Church – located in Água de Pau parish, it was built in the XVI century, and its façade in the XVIII century in Baroque style.
Nossa Senhora da Conceiçăo Fortress – in Água de Pau parish, was built in the XVII century Caloura Convent – built in the XVI century, its present aspect of Baroque style is a result of a XVII century alteration. As it is private property, the visits are limited to the owner disposability.
Nossa Senhora da Estrela Church (Mother Church) – It presents in its high-choir an XIX century Arcanum, representing pictures of the Old and New testaments through small figures made of bread pith, alum and gum-Arabic.
Nossa Senhora da Conceição Church – built in the XVIII century.
São Pedro Church – it was built in the XVI century, and rebuilt in the XVIII century. Săo Francisco Church – from Baroque style, it dates back from the XVII century.
Espírito Santo Church – from Baroque style, it dates back from the XVII century. Museum – it keeps a vast collection of local ethnography.
Ribeira Seca Fountain – dates back from the XVI century.
Nossa Senhora das Victórias Chapel – it was built in 1884 in Nordic Gothic style.
Matriz Velha Church – located nearby the place where the first settlers disembarked.
Santa Bárbara Chapel – It is considered the oldest monument of the Island, although it doesn’t present any characteristic of the time it was built, the XV century.
Săo Jorge Church (Mother Church) – dating back from the XV century.
Museum – varied ethnographic collection. Besides the referred monuments, a great number of churches and chapels are scattered all over the island, and worthy of a visit not only due to their architecture, but also to the artistic and cultural patrimony they represent. There also several private buildings or official departments of great architectonic value.
São Brás Fortress – built in the XVI century and enlarged in the XIX century.
Portas da Cidade (City Gates) – built in the XVIII century
Pools of Pesqueiro and Săo Pedro in Ponta Delgada; the beaches of Pópulo and Milícias in Săo Roque; the pools in Lagoa, the beaches of Baixa da Areia in Caloura, Água d’Alto, Vinha da Areia in Vila Franca do Campo, Ribeira Quente, and Lombo Gordo; the mouth of Guilherme stream in Nordeste, the beach of Praia dos Moinhos in Porto Formoso, the beach and pools in Ribeira Grande, natural pool of Poços in Săo Vicente, the beach and natural pools in Mosteiros and the pool in Feteiras.
Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca do Campo have modern yacht-harbours with the necessary facilities
The diving spots in Săo Miguel are a true paradise: an unbelievable underwater world, inhabited by shoals of big fishes. Diving experiences and spots that you will remember forever. Specialised companies offer several possibilities: courses, baptisms, diving in caves, in wrecks, all through the coast of the island. For more experimented divers, there are excursions to Dolla Bará, Joăo de Castro bank, and Formigas islets, situated approximately 55 miles from Săo Miguel Island. Unique diving spots, moments you will never forget.
São Miguel Island is a paradise for those who love fishing. Depending on the season, fishing in the streams and lagoons is allowed with a license granted by the Forestry Services; this department can also give information about the possible species capture. In most streams and lagoons of the island, trout, rainbow trout and eels can be captured. In Sete Cidades and Furnas lagoons, pike, carp and perch can also be found. In Fogo lagoon, excellent specimen of trout and sometimes carp are possible captures. In the lagoons of São Bráz and Rasa, one can capture blackbass. The capture of trout is only allowed with the use of artificial baits. Several companies offer the possibility of practising big game fishing. The tuna fish season occurs from April to June, and the Atlantic blue marlin and Indian mackerel season from July to October. The bottom fishing is possible during all year, and captures of wreckfish, red fish, big fish, sea bream, and grouper are possible. Trolling is also possible, capturing so barracuda and sharks, depending on the baits
S. Miguel has two golf courses: the Batalha golf course, about 10 km from Ponta Delgada, with 27 holes, and Achada das Furnas golf course with 18 holes. Both are in excellent condition for the practise of this modality. In Fajă de Cima, about 3 km from Ponta Delgada, tennis courts are at disposal.
The natural beauty of the island is an invitation to a walk through nature. If you wish for maps of walking tours, ask the local operators that will give you all the necessary information. The visitor can also use the services of qualified guides. There are no dangerous species ou snakes in the island.
With the help of specialised guides, you can practise horseback riding through the existent paths in Furnas, Mos teiros, Pico da Pedra, Aflitos and Ponta Delgada, and also have riding lessons. The visitor can also enjoy a ride in a horse-down cart through the historic centre of Ponta Delgada, as well as a Rural Tour that guides the visitor in the experience of reliving the culture in the parish of Ginetes.
Quiet tours around the city can be enjoyed, travelling in a horse-dawn cart or in “lagarta” a tourist train.
Spend a splendid time with the living nature and sea. During a sea tour, the visitor can watch whales and dolphins and enjoy a good fishery..
Sea sports as surf, body board, jet-ski, canoeing, windsurf, and others are always possible in an inviting sea. Radical sports also find here in the island the perfect conditions for their practises: paragliding, down hill, rappel, paintball and so on. Look for further information in the local operators.