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Azores Islands

Azores is the perfect place for you if you enjoy having long walks, if you are a nature lover and if you are an adventurous person.

The planning Process:

Accomodation

We planned to spend five days on the island (4 nights). The best option for us was to reserve a room on Airbnb (for this we spent 120 euros). After a long time spent researching we decided to stay at “Hostel 33” which is right in the center of Sao Miguel City. The accommodation was perfect and the owners were very nice. They waited for us at 12.00 PM and gave us all the information that we required of them .

Tip: we used Airbnb a lot for our trips and we always have had good experiences. The hosts have always given us a lot of tips for visiting, eating, etc.

The Flight

We wanted to visit the Azores Islands after seeing some stunning pictures on a blog but everything seemed quite expensive at that time in particular… until one day in September, when we began searching for a holiday destination for our vacation in November.

I saw on Urlaubspiraten that Ryanair have many cheap flights within Europe, so we started to check different options until I discovered that I can travel from Berlin to Lisbon, Lisbon to Ponta Delgada, Ponta Delgada to Porto and finally Porto to Berlin for less than 140 Euro per Person.

Tip: In November you will find a lot of cheap flights in Europe, especially in the southern part of Europe (approximately 10 Euro/Flight) at a time when the weather is ideal for visiting.

We traveled from Berlin to Lisbon first (~3 hours) and after that from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada, on Sao Miguel Island (~2.30 hours). We only had 7 days of holiday at our disposal, so from Lisbon we flew to Ponta Delgada on the same day however, we bought separate tickets so we had 6 hours in Lisbon to go to the center and get a real taste of the life and soul of this splendid city.

Tip: If you want to visit Lisbon: Lisbon Airport provides luggage holding facilities located near to the exit, so you can leave your bags there for a few hours and explore the city without baggage.

From Lisbon to Ponta Delgada we flew with Ryanair. After a spectacular landing over the ocean (due to the airport being situated directly on the coast), we arrived at 11.30 pm in Ponta Delgada.

Airport Transfer

The distance from the airport to the city center is just 2 km, but because it was in the middle of the night we took a taxi. For 8 to 10 euro (negotiable) you get right to your destination.

As an alternative, you can take the bus however the price is almost the same.

Rent a Car

An important thing that you have to do when you reserve your airplane tickets is to make a reservation to rent a car there. In Ponta Delgada you have many options whether local or international.

At our hosts recommendation we chose to rent a car from a local company, called AutoRamalhense (www.autoramalhense.com). As we talked to them prior to them arriving at our accommodation they could provide us with a personal service and a more modern car than the website quoted. With insurance we spent a total of 100 euros for 3 days.

Tip: Ensure that you obtain insurance for the car. It will cost you 20 to 30 euros more, but on the island and especially in Ponta Delgada you will find extremely narrow roads that will make you feel glad you took the extra precaution. 😉

Day 1 on the Island

Ginetes – Termas da Ferraria – Ponta do Escalvado – Mosteiros – Sete Cidades – MIRADURO DO INFERNO

We started our first trip at 10 am and decided to go to the north-west part of the island. The map that we took from the airport as well as the phone’s GPS were more than enough to guide us in our adventure. Really an adventure! The roads are extremely narrow and Azores drivers are speed lovers! Also the island’s climate is not helpful for drivers but the roads are well maintained.

Tipp: Buy some food from the local shops and eat at home before you go, or make some sandwiches to take with you (this helps you to save some time and visit more locations, also it might not always be possible to find a restaurant). They have a lot of delicious local products and fruit.

From Ponta Delgada to the first stop is only a 40 minutes drive. Near Ginetes   you can find a beautiful viewpoint and following that you can go to Termas da Ferraria.  There you can find a road culminating in a spectacular view. From 300 m altitude you must drive only 2 minutes to 0 m high. As you can see in the picture there is a Thermal Spa, with natural ocean pools and thermal water. They also have a bar where you can drink a coffee and enjoy the beautiful view.

The second stop was at Viewpoint of Ponta do Escalvado.  If the weather is fine you can see the Azores coast. Almost every viewpoint (Miradouro in Portuguese) is arranged for tourists as they can sit down to enjoy the view or eat their lunch.

The next stop is a must: Mosterios! The view here is breathtaking!!! the second favorite place in my personal top . One of the most well-known attraction, Mosteiros offers an incredible view, beach and a place where you can swim.

From Mosterios we drive straight to Sete Cidades.  All the way we were surrounded by amazing views. If you are a walking person, on the way to Sete Cidades you can leave the car and go by foot to Vista do Rei. ( a 3 hours trip). If you are in a hurry you can also go to Vista do Rei with the car.

The road between Lago Verde and Lago Azul offers a stunning view (if you are lucky and there are no clouds). We stopped a few times on the road on our way to the most “Must-see” attraction from Ponta Delgada:
MIRADOURO DO INFERNO we saw this view all over the internet prior to the trip itself, however it was not written on the map where it was located and annoyingly we couldn’t find the exact location on the internet, so needless to say it was tricky to find. After a long time spent researching we discovered that is near Lagoa de Canario.  In front of the entrance there is parking. Tip: If the weather is bad you can easily drive there directly.

Another tricky fact about Miradouro do Inferno was that the weather there is mostly cloudy with high humidity. You have to be very fortunate to find no rain, no fog, no wind or clouds in order to see the spectacular views (First attraction in my personal top). We were determined not to leave the island before we go to Miradouro do Inferno, so all in all we have been there three times in the hope that we’ll find a clear and sunny day, but as you can see in the picture … we weren’t that lucky. But still, regardless of the weather, an amazing view and amazing feeling to walk along that road.

On the way back to our accommodation we stopped a few times to take some pictures and to admire the natural landscapes on the marked points. In the evening we went to a restaurant local called A Tasca. The food there is amazing.

Tip: make a reservation in advance. We were there in November and the restaurant was completely full.

Day 2 on the Island

FurnasTerra NostraPoça da Dona BeijaGorreana Tea Plantation

On our second day on the island we went to Furnas In the Area Lagoa das Furnas you can find intense volcanic activity. The lake and natural Springs are a must see. At the entrance of the nature park you have to pay but it is quite cheap (~4 euro which includes parking+entrance fee for two people). We parked there and then we walked clockwise around the Lagoa; plenty of geothermal activity there, with interesting things to see and a strong smell of sulfur throughout.

In the city, there is an old and beautiful park, Terra Nostra. If you have time it is a must see.
We planned to spent our afternoon at Poça da Dona Beija,   a beautiful complex of five different thermal areas with therapeutic benefits. Also here the entrance is quite cheap, 4 euros per person. As you can see in the pictures the place looks amazing and clean. The best part is that we can take a bath no matter the weather because in the pools there is thermal water –always a tantalizing (39C).

On the way from Furnas to Ponta Delgada (choosing to drive on the northern part of the island) we stopped at Gorreana Tea Plantation for a short visit.

Tip: visit this plantation that is located near Sao Bras. It is truly a must see location because it is the only green tea plantation in Europe. The is no entry fee and additionally you can also visit the old factory and buy some local tea from their store. This won’t take long and you can buy local tea as a souvenir.

After that we returned to Ponta Delgada and went out for dinner and a walk. We closed the day with a Portuguese soup garnished with chorizo accompanied by a glass of green wine. ( WHAT THE HELL IS GREEN WINE ?)

Day 3 on the Island

Ribeira Grande – Lagoa – Vila Franca do Campo – Povoação – Nordeste – Caldeira Velha – Lagoa do Fogo

For the third and last day with the car we planned to go to the west coast and after that to return on the northern part of the island to visit Ribeira Grande. From Ponta Delgada we went to – Lagoa for a short visit and after that to Vila Franca do Campo. Throughout the journey until arriving in Povoação we stopped to admire the view and take some pictures. At Povoação we stopped to eat at Cantinho do Churrasco Piano Bar and Grill. Here we tried the local cheese and tuna salad.

We continued our trip to Nordeste and after that to Ribeira Grande . We saw a lot of people surfing and the view was beautiful. For lunch you can find many options near the ocean and the prices are reasonable. After spending one hour there we started to drive to Caldeira Velha and Lagoa do Fogo. Everything on this road is spectacular and the view amazing.

Caldeira Velha is a protected area classified as Natural Monument of Sao Miguel Natural Park and is an important Geosite of the Azores UNESCO Global Geopark. With such a description is a must to go and visit. The entrance is only 2 euro/person and at the entrance you will receive a flyer with a lot of useful information. You can find more information here:  caldeiravelha. This Is my third favorite place in Azores because here you find a waterfall, hot springs, a relaxation and leisure area, fumarole and situated in a small endemic garden.

Tip: take your swimsuit and a towel with you . Here you’ll find two thermal springs that feed two natural pools with temperatures of 27oC and 38oC where you can enjoy a relaxing bath surrounded by a natural landscape.

On the way to Ponta Delgada we stopped one more time, at Lagoa do Fogo , to admire the spectacular view. It was a bit cloudy but still beautiful.

Day 4 on the Island

The next day and the last one on the island, before we returned to the airport, we visited the city one more time and bought some souvenir and postcards for our friends and family.

Everything about Sao Miguel island was beautiful and spectacular so we decided that one day we will return to visit the Island one more time and also to visit the surrounding islands.

There are a lot more things that you can do on this island if you have more time and money. For example you can go to watch the wales or to swim with the dolphins, to rent a bike and explore the island in this way. If you are interested you can find more info here: http://www.visitazores.com/en

From Azores we continued on to Porto but that’s another story… coming soon!

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