The main island of the Azores group, Sao Migeul has a warm charm and a laid-back way of life that’s perfect for a relaxing holiday in 2017. This is a great choice of Azores island for those unfamiliar with the area, with a wide selection of tourist-friendly attractions and activities within easy reach. Sao Miguel’s main draw is its three picturesque crater lakes, Lagoa do Fogo, Furnas and Sete Cidades. Sete Cidades offers fairy-tale views with two likes of nearly ten miles circumference, while Lagoa do Fogo is the best choice for a tranquil, secluded setting nestled within a majestic range of mountains. For a leisurely day out, head to the picturesque port of Caloura, stopping to eat at one of the excellent seafront restaurants and to take a stroll along the sandy beaches at Praia and Populo. You can enjoy cultural days out at the Ponta Delgada, exploring the churches and museums and sampling fine local delicacies. Sao Miguel also offers a wide range of activities year-round ranging from canyoning, cycling, birdwatching and whale watching.
Sao Miguel offers a rich, multidimensional holiday experience with an excellent range of attractions, places of interest and things to do. Sao Miguel acts as the gateway to discovery of the Azores Archipelago and reflects the culture and diversity of the wider group of islands with its natural beauty and focus on the enjoyment of outdoor activities. The top attractions in Sao Miguel include the nearby beaches of Populo, Ribeira Quentre and Agua d’Alto, which have thick volcanic sands and a number of tide pools scattered along the island. Many of the main attractions here revolve around the island’s natural beauty and landscape, with fascinating geological formations at the Poca Da Dona Beija and Caldeira das Sete Cidades. You can immerse yourself in the wildlife and nature of the island at the Lagoa das Furnas, Jose do Canto Forest Garden or the Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes. There are spas at Fumas and Ferraria, perfect for relaxing and unwinding after a day out exploring or playing sports.
Wine and Dine
The Azores archipelago of islands feature a diverse range of cultures and cuisines, making the gastronomy of Sao Miguel one of the most distinctive on earth. On Sao Miguel one of the time-honoured traditions involves cultivating luscious exotic fruits including guavas, passion fruit and pineapple both for eating raw or for producing sweet liquers. You can combine a cultural day out with a tasting trip by visiting the green houses that are dotted throughout Villa Franca do Campo, Lagoa and Faja de Baixo and witness these traditional practices first hand. Sao Miguel cuisine is centred around fish dishes which are always very fresh. There’s a huge variety of seafood dishes here that you won’t find in many other places, such as barnacles, as well as more popular meats including beef. When it comes to appetisers, popular options include mashed red peppers serve with cheese, and Fumas’s bolo levedo cake.
Sao Miguel is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the Azores, with a gorgeous natural environment perfect for exploring, plenty of fun things to do and a selection of high quality attractions. Sao Miguel is ideal for active families thanks to its gorgeous weather and naturally beautiful environment. There are facilities for a huge range of sports in Sao Miguel, including bicycle and MTB rides, canoeing, kayaking, golf, geotourism, golf, horse riding, paragliding, surf and whale watching. This is a wonderful destination for those looking for a culturally enriching holiday, with a number of historic attractions including the Sao Sebastino Church, the Nosa Senhora das Vitorias Chapel, Castle of St Blaise and the Frades Convent.
Action and Adventure
Sao Miguel is also known as the Green Island owing to its stunning verdant landscape. The wonderful weather and pleasant natural environment make this the ideal venue for a number of adventurous activities and experiences. In Sao Miguel you’ll find the amenities and infrastructure for almost every type of sport or active experience, including cycling, big game fishing, birdwatching, canoeing and kayaking, canyoning, golf, hiking, horse riding, scuba diving, paragliding, whale watching, yachting and surfing. On the beaches of Ribeira Quente, Agua d’Alto and Populo, you’ll find tidal pools and volcanic sands scattered along the island which are great for ecotourism and exploration. If you’ve spent the day exploring and are in need of some rest and relaxation, head to one of the spas at Furnas and Ferraria to recharge your batteries ready for another action-packed day ahead.
Life's a Beach
Sao Miguel is an ideal destination for beach-lovers looking for a touch of the extraordinary. Vila Franca is an rare beach located in the crater of an ancient volcano, within a small islet off Sao Miguel. As the water is shallow with a stone-lined bottom, this is a good pool for paddling with young children and those with limited mobility. Lombo Gordo is an unspoilt beach by the mountain in the eastern part of Sao Miguel, with a man-made patch of sandy coast. As Lombo Gordo has limited accessibility and is shaded in the afternoon, there are few people here, making it good for those who prefer a quiet beach experience. If you’re looking for the most crowd-pleasing beach in Sao Miguel, try Praia das Milicias (also known as Praia Grande), which has often strong waves and more shallow water further ashore. For a distinctive beach experience, head to Mosteiros to walk the black sands. With pleasant weather and calm waters, Mosteiros is a great place to swim too.
Sao Miguel has a bustling nightlife scene with a variety of clubs, bars and theatres within easy reach. At Arco 8 at Ponta Delgada, you can enjoy a wide range of cultural performances, while the Bom Bom Bilhares in Ponta Delgada is a great place for a sociable night out and a few games of pool. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary when it comes to nightlife, head to Lava Jazz in Ponta Delgada to enjoy captivating live jazz jams, a sophisticated atmosphere and drinks. Some of the most vibrant modern clubs in Sao Miguel are Raiz at and the HC Bar and Lounge at Ponta Delgada.
From unspoilt beaches to historic attractions, Sao Miguel has plenty to keep you entertained on a romantic couples’ holiday. For an unforgettable experience, head to the Lagoa das Sete Cidades, the star of numerous postcards of the Azores. This stunning lake is so beautiful you’ll see it in almost every travel brochure, TV programme or website about the Azores. For a different perspective on the lake, visit the Vista do Rei to the Monte Palace, an old abandoned hotel that offers superb views of the lake. One attraction in Sao Miguel that is guaranteed to give you goosebumps is the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, which offers unrivalled views of the mountains and a sea panorama in the background. From Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, you can also look over the Santiago and Rasa lagoons.
The culture of the Azores is distinctive and unique, with a number of different cultures making their mark on the region throughout history. The strongest influence over the Azores is probably from the original Portuguese settlers, colonists that brought sailing ships from the south of continental Portugal to populate the Azores islands, starting with Santa Maria in 1439. Over many years, Sao Miguel’s culture has evolved to represent a blend of traditions from Portuguese heritage and more modern tourist-friendly elements. Throughout the Azores, religion remains at the forefront of the cultural identity, with numerous festivals and celebrations throughout the year. One of the finest examples of a cultural attraction is the Holy Christ of Miracles, which is situated in the Convent of Our Lady of Hope (inside the Church of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca). Here you’ll find a glorious altar and a picturesque blue-tiled corridor, with a large bust of Jesus representing the Lord of Miracles. Some of the most popular cultural festivals include the Holy Ghost Festivals, that represent the religious traditions of the Azores and are celebrated on all islands including Sao Miguel. These include the Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, which lasts three days around Easter, and the Cavalhadas de Sao Pedro, which takes place on the 29th June annually. Carnivals and festivals in Sao Miguel are a big event in Sao Miguel, with live brass bands, dancing and singing.