Azores. The highlight of this whole trip. To be honest, I didn’t even know Azores existed before planning this trip. The only Portuguese city I knew I had to visit was Lisbon, cause obviously it was the capital. That was all my knowledge of Portuguese geography at the time. However, after officially deciding that we would we be travelling to the land of pastel de natas, a quick google search lead me to an incredible image of the Lagoa de Santiago. Basically, that’s all I needed to see to convince me that I needed to do whatever it takes to go there.
I’ve got to admit though, when you only have two weeks to travel and you’re trying to see as much as possible in two different countries, you end up having to keep your visits rather short, which was the case for our stay in Azores. Despite it being 2 hours off the coast of Portgual by plane, we simply could not pass up our opportunity to visit those picturesque lagoons. So we planned out two days in our trip for Azores, and frankly, we barely scratched the surface. Especially cause the Azores is actually a cluster of nine islands, yet we only visited one.
We spent our two days on the main island of São Miguel and resided in it’s largest city of Ponta Delgada. Knowing we had such a short amount of time to visit and that we would only be visiting one island, we still managed to accomplish everything we had set out to do, which involved the iron hot springs of Furnas and the dual coloured lagoa of Sete Cidades.
Despite having barely spent 48 hours in Azores, I was completely overwhelmed by it’s beauty and peacefulness. Which is why I will most definitely return to these islands in the future. I mean, breathtaking landscapes are really my thing and Azores is just that and more.
Azores, São Miguel | tips and recommendations
- Since I didn’t do much, I don’t have that many recommendations. However, here are my tips for visiting São Miguel island. First things first, once you arrive in Ponta Delgada and are settled in your accommodation, go down to the pier and visit the tourism office. Our first morning in Azores, I barely had 5 hours of sleep, but spent my first 2 hours awake lying in bed with tourist guides and unreliable wifi reception trying to find information on how to get to the thermal baths or Sete Cidades. Everything we wanted to do was on the island of São Miguel, however, was not in the city of Ponta Delgada. So we had to figure out the easiest means of transportation to get there. But I could barely find any on my own. But with one quick visit to the tourism office, we spoke with a very welcoming guide who offered us pamphlets with bus timetables and clear instructions on where to go, which bus to take, and at what time we should take it. The tourism office doesn’t have a website but I’ve linked their location. The main form of public transportation in São Miguel is a system of buses that travels in between all of the villages on the island. You buy the ticket on the bus and it’s price depends on your destination. And there are quite a few buses, so it’s important to make sure you’re taking the right one. Which is why I suggest visiting the tourism office to get accurate information on the times and locations of the bus stops, because it’s complicated to figure out on your own even by researching online.
- Once we had the right bus information, we headed for Furnas, a small village about an hour and a half away by bus from Ponta Delgada. Our only reason for visiting Furnas was for it’s iron thermal baths. Since we were nearing the end of our 2 week trip, we decided to go and relax in some hot springs to compensate for all the hectic travelling we had been doing. We chose to visit the Poca Da Dona Beija thermal baths. At only 3 euros for an all day entry, how could I not take this opportunity to pamper myself in hot springs. But what makes them so special though, is that they are coloured orange because of the iron sediments in the water. When you bathe in the hot springs you can practically see the tiny bits of iron floating around. And yup, all of that orange along the walls of the baths is iron too. Apparently it’s good for the skin. Is it true? No idea. But whether it is or not, I’m still gonna spend an hour soaking in that water. Last tip though, don’t wear white.
- My last and most important recommendation is the Lagoa das Sete Cidades. This, for me, was the whole reason for this trip and what I was looking forward to the most. But unfortunately, mother nature wasn’t being very cooperative and kept us covered in thick clouds that hid the top of the mountains, and constant drizzles that forced us to wear our not so stylish rain ponchos. Despite the weather, it was amazing. What luck we did not have when it came to the weather, we had in terms of peacefulness. At times, we would be walking along the water and, other than the sound of birds, it felt like we were the only people there. Our bus to Sete Cidades barely had 10 people on it and, once we arrived, everyone seemed to head off in different directions. Granted, the bus kinda drops you off in the middle of nowhere. Don’t panic though, just follow other people or walk towards the water and you’ll find your way. We had no idea where we were headed, we just knew we wanted to hike up to get a good view of the lagoon’s green and blue waters. So we walked around for quite some time, had a staring contest with some cows (which there are many in Azores), was given a map and vague portuguese directions by some very kind cafe workers, befriended a dog (whom I will introduce in my next post) and finally found our route to the top of the mountains. Or actually, we found a road for cars, but as long as it goes up it was all the same for us. After hiking for about 2 hours along the road we found the view we were waiting for and it was worth everything. The sky even cleared up and gave us a few moments of sunshine to fully appreciate the landscape. In that quiet moment, surrounded by such vibrant green scenery, the sun peaking through the clouds, I couldn’t help but feel like this, to me, is the closest I have ever been to paradise.