Some call the largest Island of the Azores Archipelago, Green Island, due to the immeasurable beauty of the green landscapes, that extend over the infinite horizon. São Miguel is mainly known by the Furnas Valley, with an intense sulfur smell, characteristic to the steam of its volcanic calderas, but also for the 7 Cities Lagoon, which seems to be taken from a painting by Van Gog, with mysterious waters painted in blue and green.
Pico da Vara is about 1103 meters above sea level, the highest point in São Miguel. Here we feel that we can touch the sky or jump over the rocks that so often cut the sea. Dream experiences wait for you. You can cover your body with the famous medicinal muds, take a bath in the famous yellow waters, therapeutic for bones, skin and other ailments, or walk through the incredible Parque Terra Nostra. Discover also the charming islet of Vila Franca, a Nature Reserve that is practically wild.
Ponta Delgada is the capital of São Miguel, a city that shows us diversity through romantic gardens, cobbled streets and iconic palaces that remind us of the economic power of other times thanks to the fertile land. Monuments such as the convents, the Matriz church and the City Doors, make it emblematic. Come with me to discover this stunning island.
1. Seven Cities Lagoon
Classified as a Protected Landscape by Natura 2000 Network, it is the biggest freshwater lake in the Azores, located in the volcanic craters that form the Island, consisting of a green and a blue lagoon, of indescribable beauty. The steep slopes that frame it, give it an unmatched bucolic and idyllic environment.
It is lined with lush green fields and there are legends about the difference in color between the lagoons. The Legend tells… that a princess with blue eyes fell in love with a green-eyed shepherd, the princess’s father forbade this love and they had one last date in which they both cried. From the blue eyes of Princess Antília the blue lagoon was born and the tears from the green eyes of the shepherd create a lagoon of that color.
The Fumaroles of Furnas can be seen from the fantastic viewpoints of Pico do Ferro and Salto do Cavalo, overlooking the lagoon. From the top of Pico do Ferro you can see a crater with 7 kilometers in diameter, reminiscent of a volcano that is inactive for too long. Hence the view over the vast volcanic crater of the Furnas Valley is unimaginable. The lagoon with the same name stands out on the right, while the valley opens on the left. This place offers us the dream. The wonderful Furnas Lagoon, the Volcano and the Caldeiras, from where boiling water geysers spring, are just some of the most admirable spots.
More than twenty sources of thermal water cross the paradisiacal Furnas Valley, where two streams also pass, one of hot water. Treat yourself with mud and enjoy these therapeutic waters. Lagoa das Furnas is endowed with a unique beauty and transmits a pacifying feeling. On its banks, one of the most famous delicacies of the Archipelago is made: the oven of the furnas (of meat or cod). Once closed, the pots are introduced into the volcanic soil and cooked there for hours. Do not forget to visit the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, which is a colossal monument and is located on the banks of the Lagoon.
3. Dona Beija Slop
Still in Furnas is the charming Poça da Dona Beija, known for its waters with therapeutic properties. The source is part of the Caldeira of the Furnas volcano, with a thermal area, consisting of a complex of five bathing areas, which fetch the waters from a single source of hot water, heated by the Furnas volcano. A mind-blowing natural experience, but be aware that it is a very crowded spot, not advisable for anyone who wants to escape mass tourism. I take a bath here, but I didn’t like, because it was full.
4. Fire Lagoon
Classified since 1974 as a Nature Reserve, this lagoon is the second largest on the island of São Miguel. It occupies about 1360 hectares in the caldera of a sleeping volcano, which forms the volcanic massif of the Serra de Água de Pau. Lagoa is enchanting for its natural beauty and extraordinary dimension. Here you can make stunning pedestrian walks, such as the “Lombadas, Lagoa do Fogo” Trail, where you will observe the fauna and flora, characteristic of this geological phenomenon.
5. Old Boiler
The Old Boiler Natural Monument is located in the Serra de Água de Pau, on the outskirts of the Fire Lagoon Nature Reserve. It is characterized by its exotic environment, occupying an area of rugged relief, surrounded by huge escarpments.
The waters of Old Boiler reach temperatures of around 35ºC, values that drop slightly when we are next to the waterfall, so the temperature can reach 25º. Bathing in this waterfall is a unique experience, and I had it! Is also worthwhile to observe some specimens of the native Azorean flora and the birds of the region.
6. Terra Nostra Park
The unbelievable Terra Nostra Park was considered one of the most beautiful in the world by Condé Nast Travel magazine. Admire characteristic flora of Azores and magnificent centuries-old trees. Here see the most notable collections of camellias in the world, with more than 600 different species. The park also has a large pool of hot, iron waters where you can bathe, just like I did. The color of the water is a strong yellow and the temperature is fantastic!
7. Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park
The most sought-after locations in the Northeast of the island, offering diversified vegetation and magnificent waterfalls that spring from the Ribeira. A lake gives tranquility to the place. Also note the Water Mills. São Miguel is an unforgettable experience!