While there are many reasons to visit São Miguel Island in The Azores of Portugal, a main one is the beautiful views. As you drive along the various coasts, you’ll see constant signs beckoning you to take in another spectacular vista. And while some are better than others, I didn’t encounter one single ponto de vista that led me astray.
1. Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire)
Lagoa do Fogo is one of the top natural attractions on São Miguel Island. This spectacular crater lake is part of the 2,182-hectare/5,392-acre Natural Reserve of Lagoa do Fogo, and sits within the Agua de Pau stratovolcano. It’s one of the few lakes on the island you can swim in, although you’ll need to hike a bit to get there (obviously, you can see it’s worth the walk!).
View of Logoa do Fogo from Pico da Barrosa lookout. The scene looks like a painting, but it’s real. It wasn’t even shot in HDR!
2. Pico da Barrosa
Here you see Lagoa do Fogo view from Pico da Barrosa, which reaches 947 meters (3,107 feet) above sea level. From here, it’s possible to see both the North and South Coasts from the same area. If you enjoy hiking, something short and scenic is Ribeira Cha to Pico da Barrosa, with some highlight views being Caloura and Vila Franca.
St. James Lake
3. Lagoa do Santiago (St. James Lake)
A result of a volcanic eruption, it’s one of 18 lakes part of the Volcanic Complex in Setecididas. Head West on the main road to Sete Cidades about five more minutes and you’ll also come to the Twin Lakes, two lakes, one bright blue, one bright green, said to represent the eye colors of two mythical lovers torn apart by the princess’ father, who didn’t want her to be with a lowly shepherd. Their tears are said to have formed these lakes, although science says the green lake actually gets its color from an abundance of algae. Unfortunately on the day I drove the São Miguel’s West Coast it was very cloudy, so my photos don’t do it justice in a way I feel comfortable showing. Basically, go see it for yourself!
Pico Do Ferro viewpoint
4. Pico do Ferro
This North Coast view hillside slopes down to a mirror lake, bordered neatly by woodland and rolling green plains beyond. The scene is beautiful, even with the late afternoon fog that seems to have set over São Miguel. From here, it’s possible to hike to Caldeiras da Lagoa das Furnas and gain a visual understanding of the island’s volcanic elements.
São Miguel Island from Santa Iria
5. Santa Iria At Sunset
Doesn’t “The Green Island” — the destination’s nickname — look like a turtle? A playful look at nature from this North Coast viewpoint, my favorite of the group. It’s a beautiful reminder of the contrasting personalities of São Miguel Island.