Ultimate Travel Guide to São Miguel Island, Azores
No one can deny that the Azores archipelago is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal. Its peaceful atmosphere and breathtaking landscapes have given the world something to talk about in more recent times. The number of low-cost flights to Ponta Delgada, São Miguel’s main city, but also to Terceira or Faial, has led more and more people to discover this paradise located just 2 hours away from mainland Portugal.
So, if you haven’t visited the Azores yet, here is a complete Travel Guide on São Miguel Island (its main island) filled with useful tips that will help you plan the perfect trip.
All about São Miguel Island
São Miguel is the largest island in the Azores archipelago, forming the Eastern Group of islands, alongside Santa Maria Island. It is 62 km long and 15 km wide. Ponta Delgada is the island’s capital.
Climate in São Miguel
The Azores have a temperate oceanic climate, which means that humidity and rain levels are high throughout the year, however more intense in the winter. Temperatures remain relatively mild throughout the year, varying between 16º in the winter and 26º in the summer. The Azores are also known for their sort of bipolar weather: on the same day, you can experience periods of rain, sun and strong wind, in short time intervals.
How to get to São Miguel Island
There are currently several low-cost airlines flying to the island of São Miguel from Portugal, such as EasyJet and Ryanair. In addition to low-cost flights, there are also the usual SATA and TAP flights. The direct flight from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada takes around 2h20.
Transports on São Miguel Island
The best way to move around São Miguel Island is by car. There are several car rental companies on the island of São Miguel, however, I recommend you take care of the rental some time in advance to guarantee you’ll have a car when you get there. I always use RentalCars.com, which offers you a list of all the available vehicles from several local car rental companies.
There are, of course, public transport such as buses or taxis, but bus routes end up being more limited and you waste time that you could be using to explore the island, and by taxi, you end up spending more money than renting a car.
Where to stay on São Miguel Island
The most central area to stay in São Miguel is the city of Ponta Delgada. You’ll be near plenty of restaurants, cultural activities, as well as a wide variety of hotels. On my last visit to São Miguel I chose to stay in an apartment I rented through Airbnb.
However, if you prioritize being close to nature, you might prefer other areas, such as Furnas, Sete Cidades, Ribeira Grande or Vila Franca do Campo. You can look for the available accommodation options through Booking.com, which I often use to book my stays on the island.
What to eat on São Miguel Island
There are plenty of traditional dishes and delicacies on São Miguel Island. Here are a few examples that are sure to make your mouth water.
Grilled limpets (“Lapas”): These molluscs are one of the main snacks in São Miguel. They are usually drizzled with a sauce of butter and garlic or lemon.
Cracas: “Cracas” belong to the same family of Barnacles, sharing the same unique sea flavour. Just like the grilled limpets, they are also eaten as a snack after being cooked in hot water with onion, garlic, pepper, parsley and chillies for 40 minutes.
Cozido das Furnas: Cozido das Furnas (Furnas’ stew) takes its name from being cooked inside the fumaroles of Furnas. It’s a typical Portuguese stew and can be ordered (always in advance) in some of the local restaurants (such as Tony’s).
Fofas de Povoação: “Fofas” are the typical cakes of Vila da Povoação. It resembles an éclair, filled with vanilla cream and decorated with a chocolate braid on top.
Bolos Lêvedos: Somewhat similar to the “Bolo do Caco” from Madeira Island, this type of bread, is small, flat, and sweet. They are traditionally accompanied by a type of local wine called “abafado”.
Where to eat on São Miguel Island
I have now been to São Miguel Island a few times already, so I’ve had the opportunity to try several different restaurants throughout the years. Below you will find some suggestions for restaurants (and bars) that will definitely leave you wanting for more.
Tasca Restaurant (Ponta Delgada)
The last time I was in Ponta Delgada I saw myself repeating the visit to this restaurant. For two nights in a row, I indulged in amazing snacks and local dishes. The staff is super friendly, the service efficient and the food absolutely delicious. It also has the advantage of being open late (closes at 1am). Advance booking advised.
Address: R. do Aljube, 16, Ponta Delgada | Phone: 296 288 880 | Website
Taberna Açor Restaurant (Ponta Delgada)
I also ended up returning to Taberna do Açor two days in a row. Why? Well, I just couldn’t resist its delicious Azorean cheese board, accompanied by a bottle of wine from the island of Pico. I recommend you also give a chance to its tuna steak cooked on a hot stone which, although I didn’t get to taste, looked absolutely delicious on the table next to mine. Taberna Açor has a welcoming atmosphere and, again, the staff is extremely friendly and attentive.
Address: Rua dos Mercadores, 41, Ponta Delgada | Phone: 296 629 084 | Website
Lagoa Azul Restaurant (Sete Cidades)
I discovered the Lagoa Azul restaurant on a visit to the Sete Cidades parish. Its online reviews suggested that it might be a good place to have lunch. With unpretentious decor and friendly prices, the restaurant offers an all you can eat buffet consisting of several different dishes and side dishes that have proved to be delicious (some more than others, but still, quite good).
Address: R. da Caridade, 28, Sete Cidades | Phone: 296 915 678 | Website
Botequim Açoriano Restaurant (Rabo de Peixe)
This restaurant caught my eye, on a visit to Rabo de Peixe parish, due to the exterior decoration and the seaside location, so I decided to go in. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with the clams (not that much flavour in them) or the octopus salad (too oily) but I absolutely loved their Fish Soup served in bread. If you can, take a detour just to taste this delicacy.
Address: EN1-1A, Rabo de Peixe | Phone: 296 708 401 | Website
Bar da Caloura (Água de Pau)
The first time I visited this restaurant, located in the parish of Água de Pau, next to the Caloura pool, my expectations were definitely surpassed with their Grilled Limpets. Their Tuna Steak is definitely something to consider as well. And the best part is that you’ll be enjoying your amazing meal with an even more amazing sea view.
Address: Rua da Caloura, 20, Água de Pau | Phone: 296 913 283 | Website
What to visit and do on São Miguel Island
São Miguel is the most diverse island in the Azores archipelago. Some say you have a little bit of everything from the other Azorean islands in São Miguel. Whether you’re an outdoor fan or more into city strolling, there’s so much to see and do here that you’ll definitely want to come back for more.
For more info on what to do in São Miguel Island, check out:
What to do in São Miguel Island, Azores
I hope you find this travel guide useful and that it helps you plan the perfect trip to São Miguel Island, in beautiful Azores!