Any visit to the island of São Miguel, in the Azores, Portugal, is a bath of nature. In addition to the beautiful vegetation that appears wherever you look and justifies the nickname “green island,” São Miguel is also known for its incredible lagoons.
Each one is more beautiful than the other, and all visits are mandatory.
Here are the five lakes that I believe shouldn’t be missed in a visit to this island of the Azores archipelago.
Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lagoon)
I had wanted to see Lagoa do Fogo for a long time, but until this year, I never did. The fact is that, given its altitude, seeing Lagoa do Fogo can be a real challenge.
Every time I tried to climb up to see it, the weather didn’t collaborate, and, in most attempts, I had fog ruining my plans.
But on my fourth visit to São Miguel, I finally did it!
I began driving the winding road that leads to the lagoon like a child who walks up to the Christmas tree to see the gifts. And what a gift! As I reached the top of the Água de Pau Mountain, I was welcomed with a breathtaking view.
Flooding the crater of the Fogo Volcano, which was formed 15,000 years ago, the second largest lagoon in São Miguel — about 2 km long — gained the status of a Nature Reserve in 1974… and, since this year, a special place in my heart!
Lagoa das Furnas (Furnas Lagoon)
There is no visit to São Miguel without a visit to Furnas. After all, it is here that the most famous stew on the island and, who knows, in Portugal, is prepared.
The arrival at the boiler area is on a cobbled road that follows the banks of this beautiful lake. Right there, I never resist to stop the car and take some pictures. Even more, if there is no wind and the slopes of this incredible lagoon are reflecting in the still waters.
Lagoa das Furnas is flanked by two points of interest. On one side, the Chapel of Our Lady of Victories, a peculiar neo-Gothic building lurking in the lush vegetation; and, on the other site, the fumaroles where every day the stew is cooked.
Here, since the end of 2019, there is another big attraction to the island: Grená Park. A recently recovered nature reserve, fantastic for hiking immersed in vegetation and waterfalls.
Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Seven Cities Lagoon)
Another of São Miguel’s favorite postcards is Lagoa das Sete Cidades. This is the largest on the island (estimated at 4 km) and is formed by two freshwater reservoirs. Depending on the position and intensity of the sun, they are distinct by their green and blue waters.
The best point of observation of Lagoa das Sete Cidades is the Miradouro do Rei (King’s Lookout). Here you can have a global view of the place and set the tone for a descent to the village.
Down there, the banks of this dormant volcano must be explored calmly and carefully, absorbing all that beautiful scenery. In the interior of Sete Cidades, the Church of São Nicolau is worth a stop.
This neo-Gothic chapel was built in 1849 and, although simple in the interior, it is gorgeous and a landmark in this parish.
Lagoa do Congro (Congro Lagoon)
This was the second big revelation on my last trip to São Miguel! Lagoa do Congro is a treasure at the bottom of one of the most beautiful paths that cross the island.
Accessed by a dirt road, it’s worth parking the car and go on foot. Then, start descending to the lake, among vegetation so thick that only a few rays of sunlight can go across.
Lagoa do Congro is shrouded in tranquility, only broken by the “uuuhhh” and the “aaahhh” of the visitors, as they see for the first time this magnificent painting made by Mother Nature.
The piece of sand next to the Congro waters is small for the flow of hikers that arrives here. It allows you to be there for a moment or two to absorb the landscape and take a photo. But other trails can be explored from there.
Lagoa do Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo (Lagoon of Vila Franca do Campo Islet)
The Ilhéu de Vila Franca do Campo is a small volcanic island, on the edge of this Azorean locality, on the south coast of São Miguel.
Known for incredible aerial photos (like the one I put here) and for the Red Bull Cliff Diving, this islet is one of the most beautiful places on the island.
Unfortunately, I always went to São Miguel in the low season, and the boat trips here only happen in the summertime. But if you have the opportunity to do so, you will find a magnificent saltwater lagoon inside.
Daily trips to the islet are limited for the sake of protecting this nature reserve, and I couldn’t agree more.
Follow the map to the São Miguel Lagoons
These are my five favorite lagoons in São Miguel, Azores, but there are others to explore. If you have been there and have other suggestions, tell me about them in the comments box below. Let’s trade tips and help other travelers (myself included) to discover the natural treasures of this fantastic Azorean island.
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