The author Lea Rose Allbaugh smiling for a photo on one of the viewpoint, near one of the best places to stay in São Miguel Island

Where to Stay in São Miguel Island (Best Places in 2023)

👉 Jump to: Best Places to Stay in São Miguel Island | Neighborhoods & Areas | Tips | FAQ

Today, I’m going to guide you on exactly where to stay in São Miguel Island. If you’ve never visited before, it can be hard to know the best places to stay. 

This island may be small, but there are tons of accommodation options to choose from. While most tourists choose to stay in Ponta Delgada, there are other places to stay in São Miguel to consider. In this guide, I’ll cover the 4 most popular areas – and give suggested places in each.

If this guide helps you, bookmark my guide to the best things to do in Sao Miguel. Or plan your trip following my Sao Miguel itinerary.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

Best Places to Stay in São Miguel Island

Just looking for a quick answer on the best places to stay in São Miguel? Here are my top picks: 

Ok, let’s do a deep dive of the best areas and neighborhoods in São Miguel Island: 

4 Best Areas & Towns to Stay in São Miguel Island

Sao Miguel Island is the largest and most popular island in the Azores archipelago. Lakes, volcanic zones, and mountain peaks are spread throughout the island. The best places to stay are spread out. Here are four of the most popular areas to stay: 

Ponta Delgada (South Coast)

The Saint Sebastian Church from the outside in Ponta Delgada
Church of Saint Sebastian in downtown Ponta Delgada

👉 Best Area For Visitors Without a Car | ✨ Best Ponta Delgada Hotels: Hotel Do ColegioIlha Hostel & SuitesOut of the Blue

Ponta Delgada is situated on the south coast of São Miguel. Ponta Delgada is by far the largest and most popular town on the island, and where most tourists choose to stay. 

The town itself is charming and classically Azorean, with tons of restaurants and shops to enjoy. 

Ponta Delgada is also the home base for many guided tours, such as van tours and whale watching. This makes accessing attractions without a car easy. Plus, the airport is only a 10 minute drive from downtown Ponta Delgada, and connected by public transport.

In addition to the town of Ponta Delgada, the surrounding southern coast is also home to family-friendly beaches and towns (check out Vila Franca do Campo). Many of São Miguel’s best hotels are located on the south coast, such as the popular Caloura Hotel Resort

Even if you don’t choose to stay here or in Ponta Delgada, it’s worth taking an afternoon to explore this area! 

Pros of Staying in Ponta Delgada:

  • Central location
  • Easy place to stay without a car
  • Tons of restaurants and shops
  • Great location for taking tours
  • More hotel options
  • Charming downtown scene
  • Museums and attractions close to town

Cons of Staying in Ponta Delgada:

  • Street parking can be limited and tricky
  • Not as many nature attractions close to town
  • More pricey than other areas

📚 Ponta Delgada Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Visitors Without a Car
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsHotel Do ColegioIlha Hostel & SuitesOut of the Blue

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Ponta Delgada

🍽️ Where to Eat – A Tasca ($$), Taberna Açor ($$), Cais da Sardinha ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – The Gin Library, Bar Do Pi, Sunset Beach Restaurant & Bar

🎟️ Top Attractions – Whale watching, Mercado da Graça, Jardim Botânico António Borges, Ponta Delgada marina 

Ribeira Grande (North Coast)

Overlooking view of the main town of Ribeira Grande
View of Ribeira Grande’s main town

👉 Best Area For Resorts | ✨ Best Ribeira Grande Hotels: Santa Barbara Eco-Beach ResortHotel Verde Mar & SPAVolcanic Charming House

If you want to stay somewhere that has the amenities of a bigger town but quieter than Ponta Delgada, try Ribeira Grande. 

Ribeira Grande is the second largest town after Ponta Delgada, and is a great choice for couples and families looking for resorts. Located on the north coast of São Miguel, Ribeira Grande boasts incredible sunsets, great surfing, and proximity to popular attractions.

You’ll need a rental car to get by in Ribeira Grande, so keep this in mind when choosing where to stay in São Miguel. Resorts like Hotel Verde Mar & SPA and Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort are located here and have 4-5 star ratings. In Ribeira Grande, you’ll also have more dining options than other villages. Check out Bar Restaurante Caldeiras and Restaurante O Silva. 

Nearby attractions include surfing at Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara, hot springs, and Gorreana Tea Plantation. Ribeira Grande is also just a short drive from nature attractions like Lagoa do Fogo, hiking trails, and waterfalls.

Pros of Staying in Ribeira Grande:

  • Central location
  • Less touristy vibe
  • A good location for staying in resorts
  • Beautiful sunsets 
  • Lots of attractions and sightseeing nearby 
  • Can be less expensive than Ponta Delgada

Cons of Staying in Ribeira Grande:

  • You’ll need a rental car to get around
  • Street parking can be limited and tricky
  • Limited hotel options 

📚 Ribeira Grande Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Resorts in a Central Location
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsSanta Barbara Eco-Beach ResortHotel Verde Mar & SPAVolcanic Charming House

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Ribeira Grande

🍽️ Where to Eat – Bar Restaurante Caldeiras ($$), Restaurante O Silva ($$), Restaurante Faria ($)

🍸 Where to Drink – Tuká Tulá, Pacheco – Snacks & Drinks

🎟️ Top Attractions – Surfing at Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara, Salto do Cabrito waterfall, Caldeira Velha hot springs, Lagoa do Fogo, Gorreana Tea Plantation

Sete Cidades (West Side)

Overlooking view of a lake in Sete Cidades
You can see the lakeside town on the left hand side, in its scenic and perfect location

👉 Best Area For Hiking & Lakes | ✨ Best Sete Cidades Hotels: Sete Cidades Quinta Da QuieroSENSI Azores Nature and SPAMosteiros Place

A visit to the Azores archipelago is all about nature. So, if staying somewhere scenic and surrounded by nature is a top priority, Sete Cidades may be the place for you.

Side note: to prevent any confusion, let me clarify the name. Both the iconic volcanic crater lakes (pictured above) and the town on its shores are commonly referred to as Sete Cidades.  

Sete Cidades is located on the west side of São Miguel surrounded by mountain peaks and two other small lakes. This is an incredible area for hiking and outdoor activities including camping, paragliding, and paddle boarding.

The town of Sete Cidades is an ideal place for a relaxing holiday because you get direct access to the famous blue and green lakes. And even though this is the island’s most popular attraction, the town here is a quiet and quaint choice for where to stay.  

Pros of Staying in Sete Cidades:

  • Lots of nature and sightseeing here 
  • Quiet and tranquil nature atmosphere
  • Proximity to lakes and outdoor attractions
  • Good hiking trails

Cons of Staying in Sete Cidades:

  • You’ll need a rental car to get around
  • Less restaurant and shopping options
  • Limited hotel options

📚 Sete Cidades Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Hiking & Lakes
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsSete Cidades Quinta Da QuieroSENSI Azores Nature and SPAMosteiros Place

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Sete Cidades

🍽️ Where to Eat – Lagoa Azul ($), Food & Friends Food Truck ($), O Poejo ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – Casa Do Povo Bar, Lagoa Azul

🎟️ Top Attractions – Sete Cidades lakes, hiking, Monte Palace Hotel ruins, Miradouro da Boco do Inferno, Ponta da Ferraria hot springs

Furnas (East Side)

Clear blue sky over the small town of Furnas
The small town of Furnas

👉 Best Area For Local Attractions & Hot Springs | ✨ Best Furnas Hotels: Terra Nostra Garden HotelOctant FurnasFurnas Lake Forest Living

Does the idea of soaking in a thermal pool sound appealing? What about tasting Portuguese stew that’s cooked through volcanic activity? If this sounds interesting, then Furnas may be the place to stay for you. 

Located inland on the east side of São Miguel, Furnas is a small town known for its thermal hot springs and lake attractions. 

Furnas is a great place to stay for couples and families since it’s well suited to travelers of all ages. Terra Nostra Park is a main attraction here, which includes Terra Nostra Garden Hotel and the thermal pools located within the park.

If you’re visiting São Miguel for just a short trip, I’d only recommend coming here for a day trip. But if you’re staying on the island for more than a week, booking a few nights in Furnas could be a fun way to see a different side of the island.

Pros of Staying in Furnas:

  • Good attractions nearby
  • Lots of greenery and farmlands
  • Best place to stay for hot springs
  • Small, centralized town center
  • Good boutique hotels here

Cons of Staying in Furnas:

  • You’ll need a rental car to get around
  • Street parking can be limited and tricky
  • Further from the beach

📚 Furnas Mini Guide 📚
Best Area to Stay for Local Attractions & Hot Springs
Google Map

✨ Best HotelsTerra Nostra Garden HotelOctant FurnasFurnas Lake Forest Living

🏠 ApartmentsBrowse Top Rentals in Furnas

🍽️ Where to Eat – Restaurante Tony’s ($$), Restaurante Terra Nostra ($$$), Espinha.Come ($$)

🍸 Where to Drink – The Gardner, A Quinta

🎟️ Top Attractions – Terra Nostra Park, hot springs, Furnas Lake, Caldeiras das Furnas & Fumaroles, Jardim José do Canto

Tips for Staying in São Miguel Island

You’ll Likely Need a Rental Car to Get Around São Miguel Island

A scenic road in São Miguel Island

If you’re staying in Sao Miguel for more than five days, you’ll probably need (and want) to rent a car. Renting a car from the Ponta Delgada airport is most convenient, but there are other places around the island to do so. Seeing the island by car is the best way to sightsee. 

Driving a Manual Car is Recommended 

If you choose to rent a car in São Miguel, it’s not a bad idea to select a manual over automatic. Just about all the roads in Sao Miguel are paved and smooth, but there are still quite a few steep, winding, and dirt roads. If you can drive manual, opting for this option will make handling difficult roads easier.

Consider a Vacation Rental 

Although there are plenty of nice hotels throughout Sao Miguel, sometimes it’s nice to just stay somewhere with more space. You’ll find lots of water view rentals and mountain chalet rentals

Luckily, Sao Miguel has tons of vacation rental properties. These can be found all over the island, in off-the-beaten path spots and the areas mentioned above. There are properties that range from countryside houses, to mountain chalets, to villas with lake and ocean views. 

Another advantage to staying in a vacation rental is that there’s the potential for easier parking. In accommodations like Ponta Delgada and other towns, this can be a bit trickier. Being open to vacation rentals only expands your possibilities for accommodations. 

Suggested vacation rentals include Casa do Castanheiro, Casa de Pedra, or Sete Cidades Lake Cabin.

Pack for Changing Weather

The author smiling for a photo with a view on her bcaground

The cliche in Sao Miguel Azores is that you can experience all four seasons in one day. I found this to be pretty true. The subtropical climate in the Azores means the weather can shift from sunny and warm to cold and rainy. 

Dressing in layers and keeping a rain jacket handy is essential. I highly recommend bringing some transitional pants and a waterproof and wind breaking jacket. I packed these for my trip and they were a lifesaver!

To make sure you remember everything, just use Sky’s handy packing list for Portugal!

Wear Shoes with Good Grip

Don’t skimp out when it comes to packing shoes for the Azores. I highly recommend packing a pair of hiking shoes or other durable shoes with good grip. Sao Miguel Azores is a nature destination after all. You can expect steep hills, cobblestones, dirty and rocky trails, volcanic rock, and more. Protect yourself and your feet. 

📚 Read Next: Where to Go in Portugal

Wear an Old or Darkly Colored Swimsuit at Thermal Pools

Many of the thermal pools around Sao Miguel have a natural orange clay. This includes the thermal pools at Terra Nostra and Poca da Dona Beija. 

This clay is totally harmless to you (it’s actually rich in iron!), but to your swimsuit? Not so much. The clay can stain fabrics and take awhile to remove. I recommend wearing an old or darkly colored swimsuit to prevent any hassle.

In addition, don’t wear jewelry into the thermal pools unless it’s solid gold, as it may tarnish.

Visit Natural Volcanic Pools During Low Tide

View of a natural volcanic pool in Sao Miguel Island

Swimming in a natural thermal pool in the ocean is super cool, but there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Firstly, it’s best to go during low tide so you don’t encounter rough waves or any potential safety hazards. 

Secondly, I recommend wearing protective water shoes since the inside of the pool is volcanic rock, which can be quite sharp and rough.

Know that English is Widely Spoken

Foods and drinks served in Bar Restaurante Caldeiras

To my surprise, everyone I met in Sao Miguel spoke good English. Of course, I recommend picking up a few Portuguese words while you visit, but know that you’ll be able to get around without much of a language barrier. 

Book Your Accommodation in Advance

When it comes to booking accommodations, tours, and even restaurant reservations, book ahead. This especially goes for things in Ponta Delgada. The timeline for bookings will vary with each of these things, but it’s smart to not wait till the last second. Things tend to book up around Ponta Delgada and the rest of the island, especially if you visit in the summer.

You can search top hotels in Ponta Delgada on Booking here, or top rentals on VRBO here.

Uber is Not Available in São Miguel Island

Clear blue sky over a harbor in Sao Miguel; Island

Uber is available in many European countries now, including mainland Portugal

However, Uber is not currently available in the Azores

If you need a transport to or from the airport, there are local taxis you can take. For taking taxis around the island, you can order one from your hotel or hostel. Or, you can use an app called “Taxi-Link,” which works like Uber.

Don’t Expect White, Sandy Beaches

Sao Miguel Azores is a volcanic island. Evidence of the island’s long volcanic history is all around. This is especially the case on Sao Miguel’s beaches, which are located on the north and south coasts. Instead of soft, white, sandy beaches, expect to see sand that ranges from gray to black in color. It looks really cool and part of what makes Sao Miguel unique. 

FAQs About Where to Stay in São Miguel Island

Overlooking view of waves on an ocean in Sao Miguel Island

What is the best island to stay on in the Azores?

Sao Miguel Azores is the largest and most popular island to stay on in the Azores. 

How do you get around in Sao Miguel Azores?

A car is the best way to get around Sao Miguel Island. Either by renting a car, or taking guided tours. You can compare car rental prices on Discover Cars.

Where can I stay in Sao Miguel without a car?

Ponta Delgada is the best town to stay in Sao Miguel if you don’t have a car.

How many days do you need in Sao Miguel?

Five days or more is recommended in order to see the top attractions in Sao Miguel.

Where is the best place for first-time visitors to stay in Sao Miguel Azores?

Ponta Delgada is the best place to stay for first-time visitors. Ponta Delgada is centrally located and has the most options in terms of Sao Miguel hotels, dining, and shopping.  

What is the easiest way to reach Sao Miguel Azores?

If you’re coming from North America, there are direct flights you can take to Sao Miguel. This includes cities like Toronto and Boston. Otherwise, I recommend flying into Lisbon, Portugal and then flying into Sao Miguel. 


Depending on what you want to see and do here, I hope this guide helps narrow down where to stay in Sao Miguel Island! 

If you’re interested in how to get cheaper international flights, we have a great guide on that!

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  1. Hi Lea

    My boyfriend and I would like to visit the Azores this summer (July-August, 2 weeks in total) and I stumbled over your blog as I was browsing the internet for information about the archipelago. It has helped me very much so far and I’d like to thank you for all your great tips 🙂
    I’ve been trying to find out what the average daily expenses would be for us since I couldn’t find any helpful information about that. We would most likely be backpacking, but would probably book cheap(er) apartments rather than hostel dorms. Would you happen to know where I can find out more about that or do you have any tips on that too?
    Thank you very much in advance! Best wishes from Switzerland, Arianna 🙂

    1. Hi Arianna,
      Thank you for the kind comment! I’m so glad it’s been helpful 🙂 I don’t have a specific number as far as daily expenses go, but I found traveling Sao Miguel Island to be reasonably cheap. However, I was there in the off-season, which can make a difference.

      Your biggest expense will probably be your accommodations, rental car, and gas. Groceries were quite cheap when I was there in October, and cooking at your accommodations is a great way to save money. Restaurant prices varied, so it just depends on where you eat. Another expense to budget in is the cost of any tours you plan on doing. For me, this was the biggest expense since I didn’t rent a car. As far as activities and attractions go, most of the things to do in Sao Miguel Island are outdoors, so you won’t spend too much money in this area.

      Overall, I’d recommend comparing different websites for things like accommodations (for example, vs Airbnb) and booking things like rental cars and tours ahead of time, so there’s more availability. I hope this helps!

  2. Hi Lea,
    Thank you for creating this blog and the very helpful posts you’ve shared.

    My wife and I are planning a stopover in Sao Miguel on our way to Lisbon over the Christmas holidays (for 3 days- Dec 23rd to Dec 26th). We are vegan / vegetarian.
    Do you have any suggestions in terms of places to stay and restaurants to try? We realize most places may be closed at this time of year, so finding accommodation that serves vegan options for breakfast would be a minimum, but any tips and suggestions would be really helpful. Thank you.

  3. Hi Galib, I’m so glad you’ve found my guides helpful! All of the hotels mentioned at the top of this article (except for the budget and solo traveler options) list vegan as an option for their on-site restaurants. SENSI Azores Nature and SPA specifically lists vegan breakfast as an option. I would contact these hotels to confirm that their offerings work for you and your wife but these hotels are a great place to start! As far as restaurants go, Rotas da Ilha Verde is a highly rated vegetarian restaurant. The supermarkets in Ponta Delgada also have a good variety of produce because much of it is actually grown on the island of Sao Miguel. I hope this helps and have a wonderful trip!

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