I started my Portuguese adventure in Lisbon but ended it on an island out in the middle of the Atlantic. São Miguel is the largest in archipelago of the Azores and is known as the “green island” (for good reason!) .
We were able to hit most of the major sights on the island.
Possibly the most famous sight in the Azores, these two lakes, one green and one blue, formed from the tears of two separated lovers are in the crater of a volcano. I drove from the west (I stayed in Mosteiros) and recommend that direction, visiting the town of Sete Cidades first in the center and then getting the views before getting to the King’s lookout (and avoiding the crowd).
I stayed in Mosteiros on the western edge of the island - famous for its beautiful sunsets! Here are the three I saw.
The beach and the water have obvious appeal, especially the jagged lava flows and black sand beaches. In several places hot springs mix with ocean water naturally warming it to a more tolerable temperature.
This is the main town on the island - home to the airport, harbor, a pineapple farm, and several great restaurants.
The town of Furnas is built on top of an active volcano! Steam pours out of the ground from geysers, hot-springs and fumaroles all over town. People in fact use the heat from the ground to make the delicious Cazido das Furnas, a stew cooked from geothermal activity.
Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire)
I am told this is a hard one to see, it is so high up in the mountains that it is usually cloudy but we lucked out with some super clear skies. The drive down the mountain was a highlight for sure!
São Miguel is home to the only tea plantations in Europe. I visited Plantacoes de Cha Gorreana to view the tea, the processing of the leaves, and of course taste testing (its delicious!).
Terra Nostra Gardens
Home to thermal baths, a 5 star hotel, a delicious restaurant and a beautiful sprawling garden complex.