Walking Holidays in Portugal - Azores - Azores - São Miguel

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São Miguel is famous for its beautiful landscapes and exceptional volcanic lakes. The largest of the Azorean islands it is known as Ilhe Verde - Green Island. A stunning coastline of small bays with black sand and precipitous sea cliffs interspersed with small harbours add further interest. The island features three major calderas (volcanic craters) now with lakes sparkling at the bottom. Sete Citdades even has a village at the bottom of the crater and two lakes one blue and one contrasting green.

At Lagoa das Furnas boiling sulphurous water comes to the surface through hot springs near the lake and is a reminder of the volcanic origin of all of the islands. The mountains rise to over 1000m. As an example of São Miguel’s climate one finds the only tea and pineapple plantations in Europe both well worth a visit on non-walking days. Rarely could a visitor fail to be impressed by the incredible myriad of all the different shades of greens exhibited by its extensive prairies forests tobacco fields and tea plantations as well as the abundance of hues this island has to offer.

Three key walks take in the three largest volcanic lakes. They are all very different in colour and terrain despite their common origins and are scattered across the island. Walk coastal paths linking fishing villages interspersed by high cliffs or wind your way across emerald fields passing through small villages with stunning sea views. There are plenty of opportunities for a refreshing sea swim or a hot-pool bath. A number of walks can be accessed by public transport, others will require a taxi - our local representative will arrange these for you upon request.

Self-Guided Itinerary: 

Day 1:
Arrive in São Miguel. Overnight São Miguel (B&B).

Day 2: Take the bus (timetable provided) to Furnas and walk to the Lagoa das Furnas. The walk starts and finishes in the attractive village of Furnas, with an optional extra walk round the village at the end of the main walk. Confirmation of the volcanic origins of São Miguel is nowhere more evident than here. The picturesque Parque Terra Nostra is in the village centre, together with thermal baths. Overnight São Miguel (HB - Half Board).

Ascent: 160m. Descent: 160m. Distance: 7 miles. Time: 2.45 hours (not including possible extensions).

Day 3: Take the bus (timetable provided) to Sete Cidades, set within the volcanic crater containing Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde, a must on any visit to São Miguel. One route takes you up to the crater rim on the west side of the lakes, finally descending to the small village of Joao Bom. Overnight São Miguel (HB).

Ascent: 480m. Descent: 510m. Distance: 9 miles. Time: 4 hours.

Day 4: Take a day to relax and explore this interesting island. Overnight São Miguel (HB).

Day 5: Take the bus (timetable provided) to Povocao. This walk takes you from almost sea level, steeply uphill across meadows, through dense woodland, alongside a levada (water channel), and finally over heather covered mountainside to arrive at the remote shore of Lagoa do Fogo, the highest lake of São Miguel. Overnight São Miguel (HB).

Ascent: 610m. Descent: 610m. Distance: 8 miles. Time: 4 hours.

Day 6: Take the bus (timetable provided) to Lomba da Cruz. This is a real roller coaster of a route, basically parallel with the main west coast road westwards, but lower and nearer the sea. The views are best from Ginetes, and at Ponta do Esclavado. Overnight São Miguel (HB).

Ascent: 350m. Descent: 450m. Distance: 9 miles. Time: 4 hours.

Day 7: Take a short taxi ride to Nine Windows Wall where the route takes you around the east and north sides of the crater rim of the twin lakes of Sete Cidade. After only a short climb the track undulates along the ridge, affording splendid views on both sides. An option exists to extend the walk to cover the west rim as well as far as Vista do Rei, and then descend past Lagoa Verde to the village. Overnight São Miguel (HB).

Ascent: 130m. Descent: 590m. Distance: 7.25 miles. Time: 3.5 hours (excluding possible extensions).

Day 8: Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Guided Walking

Guided walks are available six days every week and we include four walks during a seven night guided walking stay. Walks are from 4 - 9 miles in length and considered easy or moderate. We offer walks to the three major volcanic lakes as well as coastal and rural walks. All have been chosen to ensure the walker sees the best that São Miguel has to offer.

Walk Grading:

São Miguel - Easy to Moderate (self-guided and guided).

This map is for illustration purposes only and we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy.

Hotel Vila Nova, São Miguel - 3 Star

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This charming hotel is well located near the harbour of Ponta Delgada. Local buses and the guided pick up point are very close (if you have opted for guided walking). There is a lovely outdoor swimming pool (seasonal) for guests to use. You can enjoy a buffet breakfast and dinner in the modern Atlantis Restaurant which serves a selection of local and international dishes.

All 102 rooms feature free Wi-Fi, television, telephone, air conditioning, safe and private bathroom with WC, shower/bath and hairdryer.


Hotel Do Colégio, São Miguel - 4 Star

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This beautiful hotel is located on a quiet side street within the historical centre of Ponta Delgada yet is still within easy walking distance of all the places of interest. The building dates back to the 19th century and was later adapted to house a private school; it was also the first address of the Regional Conservatory of Music with some of its original features maintained. There is also an outdoor swimming pool for guests to use. You can enjoy breakfast and dinner in Cantina do Colégio Restaurant which serves a signature cuisine made from locally grown ingredients. 

All rooms feature free Wi-Fi, television, telephone, air conditioning, safe and private bathroom with WC, shower/bath and hairdryer. 


Hotel Talisman, São Miguel - 4 Star

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This charming Art Deco Boutique hotel is located in the historical centre of Ponta Delgada and dates back to the 18thcentury. The partially covered outdoor swimming pool offers stunning views over the city, ocean and mountains. The Palm Terrace Restaurant has two modern dining rooms with an outdoor terrace serving seafood and Portuguese cuisine. There is also a Skylight Bar and Lounge where you can enjoy an after-dinner cocktail.

All rooms feature free Wi-Fi, television, telephone, air conditioning, safe, tea/coffee making facilities and private bathroom with WC, shower/bath and hairdryer.


Availability Information

Walking is possible all year around in the Azores. Spring is early so April and May are good times and Autumn extends into November. Being islands in the middle of the Atlantic it does tend to rain with the wettest months from October to March. The driest are July and August. There is only a 9°C variation (15 - 24°C) in average day time temperature between the coldest and warmest months so it is never very cold nor are there any prolonged hot days.

Please note our best to go information is generally referring to the walking which may fall in the early or late season in some places. This may mean that not all tourist facilities will be open at the time you visit. 

When to book your walking holiday in Portugal - Azores - Azores - São Miguel

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