One of the places Matthew and I really wanted to visit in Portugal was actually not even on the mainland! We were dying to visit the Azores, volcanic islands in the mid-Atlantic between the US and Portugal. My grandma’s family is from the islands so it was special to make a weekend trip over there. We went to São Miguel, which is also known as the green island. It’s the largest and most popular island of the Azores and there’s so much to explore from the beaches to the gorgeous Jurassic Park-style rainforests. There are a couple of small cities, but much of the island is surrounded by beautiful farmland and countryside. Here’s my Portugal Travel Diary for São Miguel in the Azores.
Portugal Travel Diary for São Miguel
Some of our favorite spots:
Cais 20– This was one of the best meals we had on our trip! We went here for lunch but wanted to go back so badly for dinner another night. Everything was so fresh and flavorful. We had a dish with potatoes, bell peppers and grilled octopus that was beyond delicious! The restaurant is pronounced “caishe vinte.”
Delicias do Mar– This was a restaurant recommended to us by a local. All the fish is very fresh and you actually pick the one you want them to cook for you!
Restaurante Tony’s– This is a must-try place when you’re in Furnas! They make a dish called Cozido that they cook in the ground from the heat of the volcanic steam. So crazy! Matthew says this was his favorite dish of the whole trip! I got a grilled squid dish that was so yummy! They also had the prettiest cappuccinos here!
Alabote– This restaurant is in a cool surf town and overlooks the water for incredible views!
THINGS TO DO
You definitely have to rent a car when you’re on São Miguel. There is so much to see and explore!
Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Paz– Matthew and I searched so hard for this church and it was amazing to find it! The views are incredible and unfortunately photos don’t even do it justice!
Sete Cidades– Such a cute little town that we loved stopping through! They have a sweet little church and gorgeous views of the crater lakes. The two lakes within the crater are referred to by the color of the waters: blue, reflecting the sky (Lagoa Azul) and green, reflecting the ground (Lagoa Verde). According to legend, the different colored lakes were created when a princess and her lover, a young shepherd, had to part from each other. The tears they shed at their farewell became the two lakes, with the water colored like their eyes. It’s so beautiful to see in person!
Ribeira Grande– Cool beach surf town on the northern part of the island! We went to Alabote for dinner one night. When the weather is nicer you can probably do some water sports! Make sure to catch the sunset.
Cha Gorreana– This is Europe’s oldest tea company since 1883! It’s fun to taste all the teas and they have good ice cream too!
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodations are a little limiting on the island but we stayed at VIP Executive Azores Hotel. It’s cute because they pronounced it “Veep.” The hotel was in a good location and they gave great service. We didn’t spend so much time there because we were out running around pretty much the whole weekend but it was a nice, clean place to come back to!
WHAT TO WEAR
When we were there in late September/early October the weather was definitely cool- not too hot but not too cold.The island has so many different micro climates from the beaches, highlands, and Jurassic Park-style rainforests. Apparently the summers are really hot and beautiful, but if you’re going in September make sure to pack some pants, sweaters and a jacket!
We absolutely loved São Miguel and definitely want to make a trip back. We flew Sata Airlines from Lisbon, but apparently Boston flies direct which is super convenient! I think it would be great to experience the island during the summer months.
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal read my Lisbon Travel Diary too! Matthew and I talk so often about what an incredible trip we had. We got so many great recommendations from readers. So many, in fact, that we definitely will have to make another trip in the future! You just can’t see it all in two weeks. But I think that’s a good thing!