1.Go whale watching
Whale watching is a popular activity in the Azores, as you would expect for a place surrounded by the ocean. Whaling was once a major part of Azorean economics. Sao Miguel’s visitors can now head out to sea to see one of these majestic beasts.
You’ll start your adventure in Sao Miguel by heading to Vilafranca do Campo, located on the south coast of the island. Terra Azul offers boat tours all year round, but whale-watching is most popular in warm-weather months.
The spring is a great time to spot whales as they start moving up to the northern breeding grounds from their warm waters around the equator. You might be lucky enough to see a huge whale such as a blue or humpback. Dolphins, birds and Portuguese Man o’ War are also common.
Sao Miguel is a great place to go whale watching compared with other Azores islands because most tours include an excursion around the picturesque Islet of Vila Franca do Campo.
2.Do a culinary tour in Ponta Delgada
The Azores are known for their unique food culture. The Azores are able to grow almost anything under the sun and produce 30 percent of the milk in Portugal. They also have excellent beef and fish.
Hungry Whales Food Tours is a great way to discover more about food and drinks in Sao Miguel, and on the Azores. The Wine and Food Evening Walking tour, was a great way to get into the best restaurants in Ponta Delgada. Also, we got to try six types of Azorean beverages!
3.Eat cozido in Furnas
Geologically, the Azores islands are relatively young. The volcanic origins of the Azores are evident everywhere. Sao Miguel Island still has plenty of geothermal power right beneath your feet.
Local restaurants in Furnas make their speciality stew, cozido Das Furnas by burying large pots along the lake shoreline. Mother Nature cooks the beef, pork and chicken stew, along with sausages, vegetables, for several hours.
You can find cozido das Furnas in almost every restaurant in Furnas. Restaurante Tony’s is a favourite place to eat the dish. Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, Miroma and Restaurante Tony’s are also great choices. Be aware that the portions of cozido can be huge. A stew platter can easily serve three people, even if you are a heavy eater.
4.Explore Lagoa Sete Cidades
A trip to the Azores is not complete without stopping at the Vista do Rei overlook, located on the western end of Sao Miguel Island. The twin lakes Lagoa Azul & Lagoa Verde can be seen from this popular viewpoint.
You might be lucky enough to catch the moment when the sun makes both lakes look their respective colours, blue and green. The area offers other activities, such as hiking and exploring an abandoned hotel located across the street from the parking lot. Sete Cidades, a lakeside village is also worth visiting.
5.Visit the Gorreana Tea Factory
Since 1880, Cha Gorreana in the northern part of Sao Miguel Island has produced high-quality tea. Cha Gorrean Tea Factory, located on Sao Miguel island’s north side is one of the best things to do.
The tour is free, you can wander through acres of tea plantations, or enjoy tea with a pastry at the café. Don’t forget the tea shop on site. Tea makes a great Azores souvenir!
6.Bathe in Furnas Thermal Pools
Furnas is a picturesque town that offers much more than stew.
The beautiful Terra Nostra city park, located in the heart of town, features an elegant, large swimming pool. The water of the swimming pool is heated by geothermal springs to an enticing 104 degrees. The majority of things in Sao Miguel is free. However, there’s a cover fee to enter the pools. On site, there are bathrooms, showers and changing rooms.
Remember to pack an old swimsuit in your Azores packing checklist. Terra Nostra’s waters are rich with iron and minerals, which can stain fabrics!
7.Explore the West Coast of Sao Miguel
Sao Miguel Island is home to stunning views of the ocean, but its West Coast has a special charm. In this region, the Farol da Ferraria Lighthouse and the Mosteiros Beach with its black sand are two must-see attractions. Stop at Ponta da Ferraria to see an ocean heated by geothermal sources.
8.Boca do Inferno overlook
The view from Boca do Inferno overlooking Lagoa de Santiago is spectacular. Sete Cidades, Lagoa Azul and Lagoa de Santiago are also visible just past Lagoa de Santiago.
The short hike through the forest from the parking area to the viewpoint is stunning and atmospheric when it is foggy. You won’t see anything in fog. If the view is worth the effort, check the weather first.
9.Walk through Ponta Delgada at night
Ponta Delgada is the capital of Azores. It’s not one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. The city is not as charming as it appears, despite its cobblestone streets.
Ponta Delgada is a magical place when the sun goes down. Bars and cafes are lit up. Street vendors and brightly-lit boats are set up on the waterfront promenade. Enjoy a glass of wine or a light snack while you’re in the Azores.
10.Enjoy the Vigia de Sao Pedro
The Azores are crisscrossed by trails, and hiking is one of Sao Miguel’s best activities. Many hiking trails are popular and well-known, including the Furnas valley hike and the Vista Do Rei trails. However, you should not overlook lesser-known ones.
The 12km Vigia de Sao Pedro hike runs from Calhetas to Pocos do Sao Vincente, on the northern side of Sao Miguel. This wide, flat dirt road is perfect for biking or walking. You’ll see beautiful ocean views along the way. There is also a chapel from the 16th century and the Buraco, which is a huge sinkhole in the coast.