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Travel tips Azores Islands: The European Hawaii

Main island São Miguel

Overview of the report

  1. Azores Islands perfect for nature lovers

  2. Transport: Bus, taxi and rental car

  3. Capital Ponta Delgada

  4. Pineapple plantation

  5. The oldest tea plantation in Europe

  6. North São Miguel: Maia

  7. Waterfall Salto do Prego

  8. Hot springs of Furnas

  9. Northwest São Miguel: Caldeira Sete Cidades and Mosteiros

  10. Flora & Fauna: Terra Nostra Park

  11. Ceramics factory Cerâmica Vieira

  12. East of São Miguel

  13. Overview of São Miguel Island

Azores Islands perfect for nature lovers

The voices were getting louder and louder that I could write more about my travels. That's why I thought I'd share my travel experiences with you from now on. Today I would like to give you a little insight into the untouched nature in the Azores (Portugal). This fascinating trip took me back to the Hawaiian Islands at times. A paradise where there are no high-rise buildings and tourist stands. The inhabitants are accommodating people and it is very easy to switch off here, as everything is a bit quieter. In general, tourism is still in its infancy and therefore all the more beautiful. The coastal roads are simply gorgeous and often you feel like you're in a fabulous world. The main island of the Azores, São Miguel, is perfect for nature lovers and those interested in culture. Besides the unique nature, there are also pineapple plantations, tea plantations and ceramic factories, for example. I was in the Azores in March (outside temperature around 18 degrees Celcius) and therefore it was rather less suitable to go into the cold Atlantic. Even though there are some nice beaches, the Azores are not a typical seaside holiday destination.

On the return flight, it became clear again that, weather-wise, one does not speak of the Azores hole for nothing. However, the Azores pilots are very experienced pilots, as the wind changes very quickly and they have to react to different weather conditions. Because you can experience 4 seasons in 1 day.

Transport: Bus, Taxi and rental car

Taxi I took a taxi from the airport and back to my accommodation. Thanks to the fixed fares, everything went smoothly. Rental car There are several ways to rent a car. I spontaneously decided to go to one of the local car rental shops. I was satisfied with Rent a Car Flor do Norte and everything went smoothly. The roads in the Azores are quite narrow, so I was glad I rented a small car. To be flexible, a rental car is very useful on this island. Bus There are three bus companies that operate different routes on the island. You can find an overview of the companies on the official website. Printed bus information is also available at the tourist information office in Ponta Delgada. It is important to always have enough cash with you to buy a ticket from the bus driver. Unfortunately, the buses don't run very often. You often don't see a bus stop and only Google Maps gave me an idea of where the bus stop is. The times of the buses are stored on Google Maps, so it's easy to use that. With public transport, you always experience something. For example, when I took the last bus to Ponta Delgada one afternoon, an English-speaking woman asked the bus driver if this bus was going to her named destination. The bus driver and his colleague made it clear to her that she could get on. However, she was not sure and asked us other passengers. It turned out that it would have been the other direction. Her only option was to take a taxi in the nearest town.

Main city Ponta Delgada

I stayed in the capital Ponta Delgada in the centrally located accommodation Out of the Blue Azores. The breakfast was very very tasty and we had breakfast in the garden like a big family. There is something for every price category here and I felt very comfortable.

At the Mercado da Graça farmers' market, I bought fresh pineapples, bananas and delicious vegetables, and with my broken Portuguese mixed with English, I managed well here. The central square is Portas da Cidade with some cafés and restaurants around it.

In the town of Ponta Delgada, there is also the botanical garden JJardim Botânico António Borges, which is open to the public free of charge, beautifully landscaped and a peaceful oasis. If the weather again makes its own rules, I can recommend the Terra Verde Tea House in Ponta Delgada. It has a wide variety of teas, great sweet delicacies and reminds me a little of English tea time.

Pineapple plantation

They are inconspicuous greenhouses near the residential area in Ponta Delgada, but still worth a walk. I visited the Plantação de Ananás dos Açores plantation. Entrance was free of charge. I didn't last long in the warm greenhouses, however, and escaped to the café there. There I could try free pineapple liqueur and jam. It is a relaxed atmosphere and there is also the possibility to buy great pineapple souvenirs.

The oldest tea plantation in Europe

There are two tea plantations on São Miguel, very close to each other. However, the walk from one plantation to the other is not so nice because there is no footpath and I had to walk next to the roadway. Both plantations are right by the sea and definitely worth a visit. The smaller plantation is the Fábrica de Chá do Porto Formoso. Through a film I was able to learn more about the history of this plantation. Visitors are allowed to move around freely here and I was allowed to taste free black tea. I also took a few souvenirs with me. However, it was not possible to pay with a credit card and with my cash the yield was less than I wanted. My suitcase thanked me. The much larger tea plantation is Chá Gorreanam, which offers black tea as well as other teas (green tea, etc.). There I was able to look at historical equipment and see the production. Female employees selected the tea by hand. There are also different hiking trails that lead through the oldest tea plantation in Europe. This tea plantation is a bit more commercial and you could pay by credit card in the shop.

North São Miguel: Maia

In any case, it is difficult to find a taxi outside the capital and buses do not run very often. That's why I decided to walk to the town of Maia after the tea plantation, because there is also a bus back to Ponta Delgada. However, there are not so many footpaths along the road, because no one seems to walk here. But I never felt uncomfortable at any time. Fun fact: During this walk I saw the most beautiful cows in my life. While it's generally not that nice to walk along the road, when I got to the coast I had a breathtaking view. A cute quiet village with a beautiful coastline and golden houses. Luckily, the locals helped me a lot to find the right bus to my accommodation.

Waterfall Salto do Prego

The way to this waterfall was a little adventure. For this destination, we had joined together as an "accommodation group" and got a rental car together, because it would have been difficult with the bus. In this case, Google Maps was not a good guide, because we were led onto a path that was very stony or bumpy and we were afraid for the car tyres. At some point we saw several parked cars and decided to walk the rest of the way down. Already on the way down, I just thought that we would have to walk all that back up again and the uncomfortable march downhill took longer than expected. On arriving at the hike start point, we realised that we would have saved ourselves this walk if we had gone the other way, but we were on the right track. The actual walk to the Salto do Prego waterfall was strenuous and without my good physical condition I would have had to take several breaks. My shoes and sports trousers were victims of my clumsiness, as the stony paths were very slippery and it was easy to slip. But the perseverance was worth it. It was an absolute paradise and deserted. Of course, the waterfall is not as big as others, but it is a magical place with a fabulous atmosphere.

Hot springs of Furnas

For people who are sensitive to smells, the sulphur smell of the Caldeiras hot springs in Furnas takes some getting used to. However, this natural spectacle is absolutely recommendable. Next to it is the Jardim Publico da Courela park. In Caldeiras, locals still cook in the hot springs and thus use the natural energy heat. Again, everything in this park is very open and as a non-local you can get very close to the springs, but of course clear boundaries are shown by given paths.

Flora & Fauna: Terra-Nostra-Park

The Terra Nostra Park is very fabulously laid out. Here you can see really dreamlike plants. Even though this is a landscaped park, it still has its own charm. Due to the high humidity, almost every street with plants is transformed into a fabulous world, as the moss grows everywhere, making everything look even more natural. There are also thermal pools in this park, but the water can turn bathing suits a rusty colour. This unfortunately happened to me, but instead I now have a unique colour gradient on my swimwear - all unique!

Northwest São Miguels: Sete Cidades and Mosteiros

Sete Cidades is a caldeira (cauldron-shaped structure of volcanic origin) in the west of the island of São Miguel. It is one of the most popular excursion destinations in the Azores. We also went there by car and were very lucky with the weather. That's why we decided to take the 6-hour hiking route to enjoy this great crater landscape. The hiking trail along the crater rim was very pleasant to walk and less strenuous than to the waterfall. The view of the crater lake with its Lagoa Azul (blue lake) and Lagoa Verde (green lake) from Sete Cidades was simply beautiful. According to legend, these are the tears of a forbidden love between a princess and a shepherd. Many tears are said to have flowed at the last meeting of the two. The blue lake is said to have been created by the tears of the princess and the green lake by the tears of the shepherd. Here, too, I took permanent pictures with my heart and could not believe how incredibly beautiful nature is. At the Miradouro da Boca do Inferno lookout point, we were able to view this beautiful natural spectacle again in all its glory. The only drawback was the strong wind, which made you take off a bit, literally.

Parking tip: Near the famous Vista do Rei viewpoint, there is the Parque de estacionamento longa duracao, where you can park for free and indefinitely. At the other car parks you can only park for a short time.

Afterwards, we drove to the coast and visited the village of Mosteiros and actually wanted to watch the sunset. However, the weather was very unsettled and it got stormier and stormier. However, we did not miss the chance to take a walk along the beach Praia dos Mosteiros with its black lava sand. A big rain shower was approaching and we quickly ran to the car. We were very hungry and therefore wanted to eat something in one of the restaurants, but unfortunately, as it was low season (March), everything was closed. While we were finding this out, a heavy downpour broke out and we didn't want to drive these narrow curves & roads in this weather anyway. According to Google, there was a small snack bar nearby called Seaside Vibez and we thought we'd stop by before we started our return journey hungry. When we arrived, the snack bar looked closed. Driven by hunger, I ran to the snack bar and bar food. Many chairs and tables had been knocked over by the storm. The friendly owner let me in immediately and turned on the cooker again. Until the food was ready, we talked about God and the world. This showed me once again why travelling is so valuable to me. Meanwhile, the others were already worried and wanted to check on me as I ran through the rain to the car with full hands and hot food. Despite the weather, the trip to Mosteiros was worth it, especially for the very tasty burgers and fries.

FUN FACT: When the weather is nice, the view from this snack bar at sunset is breathtaking and there are beautiful natural swimming pools nearby, but you know 4 seasons in 1 day!

Ceramics factory Cerâmica Vieira

I am an absolute fan of handicrafts and therefore the Cerâmica Vieira ceramics factory was an absolute MUST for me. You could walk through the different stages of the process in the factory and watch the employees shaping the moulds by hand and painting the ceramics. However, I didn't want to embarrass the staff and so I didn't take that many pictures of the interiors. Of course, I couldn't resist and ended up buying some ceramic azulejos.

East of São Miguel

The east coast is simply an absolute dream and a must-see for me. There are some beautiful viewpoints here, such as Miradouro da Ponta da Madrugada and Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego. A nice experience for me was the Lighthouse Farol do Arnel. It is always open on Wednesdays from 2 to 4 pm. I was able to climb to the top and even look at the bulbs of the lighthouse from close up. However, getting to the lighthouse was not easy. The rental car should be parked at the top and the very steep walk should be done on foot, as the way back up can be rather more dramatic. I witnessed this with other travellers. It was sheer madness. An elderly couple did not dare to do this on foot and drove to the lighthouse by car. When I was halfway to the lighthouse, there was a stalled car in the middle of the path. The engine howled loudly and you could tell that the car was about to stop. It was good weather that day and some people were out and about. A local was also on the road and waved "rápido rápido" to everyone.

Without thinking, some helped and we tried with all our might to give the car more momentum. However, it was not that easy. After countless attempts, shouts, laughter and sweat, the couple was able to drive on. I don't know if they made it to the top without another break, but I didn't see them again on the way back to the rental car. Even though the way back was very strenuous, I would refrain from driving the road by car, because the locals advise against it without a car with a lot of horsepower. With this experience, I would like to conclude with a small conclusion about the diverse island of São Miguel. It was an incredible trip that brought me closer to nature. It showed me once again that we can learn a lot from nature and that the world is so uniquely diverse.

This article has become longer than I thought, so I have created a short overview below.

Overview of São Miguel Island

Language & Currency

Portuguese, Euro

Ideal travel time

June - October,

Low season September-October


Oceanic-subtropical climate,

4 seasons in one day - the weather on the

the Azores is often unpredictable

Flora & Fauna

Ideal for nature lovers & hiking,

less for beach holidays

Country & People

Still very original and the rhythm is

adapted to nature

Recommended transport

Rental car, bus

Food Highlights

Black tea, jams (pineapple etc.)

Must-see attractions

Tea & pineapple plantations, caldeiras,

Mercado da Graça, east coast of the island

What I would have liked to know before

With public transport it is more difficult to explore the island, as the buses rarely run

Tips for souvenirs

Ceramic ware, tea, pineapple

I hope you enjoyed the travel report and I look forward to your feedback. Yours

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