Want to make the most of your trip to Sao Miguel? Just follow my 5 day Sao Miguel itinerary – or adapt it to your needs!
Sao Miguel Island may be small, but it packs a serious punch as a destination in Portugal. From stunning crater lakes to lush greenery like you’ve never seen before, there are countless things to do in Sao Miguel.
This itinerary guides you through all the top sights and attractions, and suggests places to stay, eat, and drink along the way.
Let’s get planning!
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5 Day São Miguel Island Itinerary
Day 1 – Sete Cidades & West Side of the Island
For your first day in Sao Miguel, hit the ground running with the Sete Cidades lakes. After breakfast, drive up to the famous Miradouro da Boca do Inferno for an easy, 45 minute hike to this spectacular viewpoint. Afterwards, head to the next viewpoint, Miradouro da Vista do Rei for more natural beauty and a visit to the abandoned Monte Palace hotel.
At this point in the afternoon, drive from the abandoned Hotel Monte Palace down to the town of Sete Cidades. Make a stop along the way to see Santiago Lake. For lunch, go to Lagoa Azul. Spend the rest of your afternoon enjoying the shores of the blue lake and green lake.
When afternoon rolls into evening, head to the town of Mosteiros for dinner and a sunset on the island’s west coast. For one more viewpoint on your way out, stop at Ponta do Escalvado.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Sete Cidades Quinta da Queiró ($$$, mountain views), SENSI Azores Nature & SPA ($$$$, luxury & boutique), Mosteiros Place ($$$, outdoor swimming pool)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Lagoa Azul ($), O Poejo ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Casa Do Povo Bar ($), Lagoa Azul ($)
- 👉 Pro Tip: To avoid crowds at Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, come early in the morning or evening. This attraction is extremely popular and it can be tricky to find a parking spot in the parking lot.
Day 2 – Furnas & East Side of the Island
After breakfast, drive up to Miradouro da Pico do Ferro to see Furnas Lake from above. Next, drive down to the base of Furnas Lake. Walk around Caldeiras das Furnas and watch pots of Cozido be lowered into the natural volcanic boilers. Then, drive along the lake to the parking lot at Jardim da Lagoa das Furnas where you can walk to Mata Jardim José do Canto.
Next, head into the town of Furnas. Find a place to park and enter Terra Nostra Park. It’s time for a dip in the thermal baths! For lunch, you can have Cozido at Restaurante Tony’s or Restaurante Terra Nostra.
To finish up the day, drive to the natural park, Ribeira dos Caldeirões. This park feels like a true paradise with waterfalls and gardens. Your last stop is the stunning Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego in Nordeste.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Terra Nostra Garden Hotel ($$$, close to hot springs), Octant Furnas ($$$, spa & wellness center), Furnas Lake Forest Living ($$$, private villas)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Restaurante Tony’s ($$), Restaurante Terra Nostra ($$$), Espinha.Come ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: The Gardner ($$), A Quinta ($$)
- 👉 Pro Tip: If you plan on having Cozido for lunch in Furnas, you will need to call and make a reservation at least 24 hours before. This is so your Cozido has time to be prepared.
Day 3 – Lagoa do Fogo, Caldeira Velha, and Ribeira Grande
If there’s good weather, spend your morning at Lagoa do Fogo, which is only half an hour from Ponta Delgada. Start at the viewpoints Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo and Miradouro do Pico da Barrosa. Then, hike the Lagoa do Fogo Trail which will take you to the base of the lake. Have a picnic and admire the views, but you can’t swim here.
In the afternoon, head to Caldeira Velha for a dip in the thermal pools. Next, drive a little north to Salto do Cabrito waterfall. If you’re up for another attraction, head to Gorreana Tea Factory to tour the tea plantation and relax with a cup of tea.
By evening, head back towards Ribeira Grande. Here, you can stroll the beach at Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara and explore the town. Enjoy a local dinner at Restaurante Faria.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort ($$$, mountain & sea views), Hotel Verde Mar & SPA ($$-$$$, spa, pool, & ocean views), Volcanic Charming House ($$$, pool & garden)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Bar Restaurante Caldeiras ($$), Restaurante O Silva ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Tuká Tulá ($$), Pacheco – Snacks & Drinks ($)
- 👉 Pro Tip: If you get to Lagoa do Fogo and it’s really foggy, wait about 15 minutes. The fog will usually roll through so you can at least see a clear view and snap a picture.
Day 4 – Ponta Delgada & Whale Watching Tour
Start the day with brunch in Ponta Delgada. Intz48 Coffee Roasters Azores is a great spot. Then, spend time exploring the town and walking the “Avenida,” or marina area.
Around noon, depart for one of these popular whale watching tours. These tours depart from either Ponta Delgada’s marina, or nearby Vila Franca do Campo. Tours take about three hours. Although seeing marine life is never guaranteed, this is a must-do tour in Sao Miguel. Once you return to land, head up to the nearby pineapple plantation, Plantação de Ananás dos Açores.
For the rest of the afternoon and evening, explore more Ponta Delgada attractions like Jardim Botânico António Borges or Gruta do Carvão. For dinner, head to A Tasca. Here, you can have fresh, tasty seafood and enjoy a nice meal.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Hotel Do Colegio ($$, central location & swimming pool), Ilha Hostel & Suites ($$, central location, hostel & suites), Out of the Blue ($$, good for solo travelers)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: A Tasca ($$), Taberna Açor ($$), Cais da Sardinha ($$)
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Bar Do Pi ($), Sunset Beach Restaurant & Bar ($$)
Day 5 – Adventure Tour, Ponta da Ferraria, and a Sunset
This last day on the itinerary is all about doing whatever attractions and tours are left on your wishlist. Customize this day’s schedule accordingly.
Once you’ve had breakfast, spend your morning doing one of Sao Miguel’s many adventure tours. This could be paragliding or even paddle boarding on Sete Cidades lakes. Another alternative is to spend the morning and afternoon hiking. Sete Cidades Caldeiras Trail is a solid option.
For lake scenery and Salto do Prego Trail is beautiful for seeing greenery and countryside. For lunch, head into the towns of Sete Cidades or Mosteiros.
To end the day, I highly recommend going to the natural swimming pool at Ponta Ferraria. This natural pool is in volcanic rock on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s probably the most unique natural hot spring on the island! After this, finish up your trip with a nice dinner in Ponta Delgada.
- 🛎️ Where to Stay: Mosteiros Place ($$$, outdoor swimming pool), SENSI Azores Nature & SPA ($$$$, luxury & boutique)
- 🍽️ Where to Eat: Pizzeria Fantasia ($$), Food & Friends Food Truck ($),
- 🍺 Where to Drink: Quiosque Pé da Areia ($), Cafe Cervejaria Moniz ($)
- 👉 Pro Tip: If you plan on going to the natural hot springs at Ponta Ferraria, don’t go during high tide. The best time to go is in the evening during low tide. Also, be careful when driving down the road to reach it. It’s quite steep and curvy.
São Miguel Itinerary Map
Here is a Google Map with all the stop, attractions, and hotels mentioned in this post.
How to Get Around in São Miguel Island
If you’re visiting São Miguel Island for more than a few days, I highly recommend renting a car since driving is the easiest way to get around. You can search and compare agencies on Discover Cars.
The island of Sao Miguel has a bus system, but having your own car will save you time and allow you to personalize your trip better.
The main downside to renting a car is that parking in narrow streets can be tricky. If you do rent a car, it’s a good idea to rent a manual one.
If you’re planning a shorter trip, not renting a car is definitely doable. Instead, you can get around by taking guided full day van tours. This is also a good option for visitors who are less mobile or don’t want to worry about directions and logistics.
👉 Planning to Visit More of Portugal? Check out Sky’s full 10 day Portugal itinerary.
São Miguel Itinerary Planning Tips
Tip #1 – Check the Forecast, But Don’t Rely on It
The weather on Sao Miguel Island is tricky. Temperatures and conditions can change quickly, which makes the forecast unreliable at times.
To make the most out of your trip, just keep an eye on the weather before hitting up attractions like Lagoa do Fogo, Sete Cidades, and Termas da Ferraria.
Tip #2 – Tweak this Itinerary, as Needed
Depending on the amount of time you have and all the attractions you want to see, I recommend tweaking this itinerary as needed. You may also need to move things around, weather depending. I just recommend sticking to attractions and sights within similar areas (i.e. north, south, central, etc.).
Tip #3 – Pack Layers
As I mentioned, weather here can vary, and change quickly. Pack transitional clothing like these transitional pants and this waterproof and wind breaking jacket. Also pack a bathing suit for the natural thermal pools, and shoes with good grip.
Tip #4 – You Can Rent a Car at Different Places
If you plan on renting a car, you have a couple options. If you want to keep things simple, you can rent a car from the airport in Ponta Delgada. There are also different car rental companies around Ponta Delgada.
You can search different pickup points and compare agencies on Discover Cars.
Tip #5 – Ponta Delgada is the Most Popular Place to Stay, But There are Other Options
For the sake of convenience, this itinerary is loosely based on staying in Ponta Delgada. This is because Ponta Delgada is the largest town and the most popular place to stay. However, this itinerary can still be followed pretty closely if you choose to stay in another area.
See my guide to where to stay in Sao Miguel for a deep dive of all the main areas of the island.
Tip #6 – Fly Into Lisbon, Or Direct from the US East Coast
If you’re flying from North America, there are a couple flight options I’d recommend. Flying into Lisbon is one option, and you can get cheap direct flights to Sao Miguel from here. You can also fly direct to Sao Miguel via international flights from Toronto, Montreal, New York City, and Boston.
You can search flights to Sao Miguel on Kayak.
FAQs About Planning an Itinerary for Sao Miguel
How many days do you need in Sao Miguel?
At least a week in Sao Miguel is ideal to experience the island. However, you can pack in the top sights in five days if you follow this itinerary.
How long does it take to drive Sao Miguel Azores?
It takes about four hours to drive around the island of Sao Miguel.
How much time do you need in Ponta Delgada?
I recommend spending at least one afternoon walking around Ponta Delgada’s city center. This includes the main downtown and seeing places like Portas da Cidade and strolling the marina. Grabbing a meal at a local restaurant is also a must. If you have more time in Sao Miguel, dedicate at least one day to the town, its botanical gardens, and attractions.
What is the best time of year to visit the Azores?
The summer months are the most popular time to visit the Azores since the weather is the best. However, spring and autumn are also good times, and less crowded.
What is the best island to visit in the Azores?
Sao Miguel is by far the most popular island for first-time visitors. It’s the largest island in the Azores and has varied scenery with lots to see and do.
That’s it for this Sao Miguel itinerary! You can see all our Portugal travel guides for more.
Sao Miguel isn’t just a place, but an experience. Whether you stay for a few days or an extended trip, a little planning goes a long way on this incredible island. There are tons of options here for things to do and where to stay so take some tips from this guide and have a wonderful trip to the Azores!
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