Enjoy the weather
If the weather is fine and you are not up for coffee or beer, relax by a fountain and enjoy an ice cream, or stroll the waterfront and enjoy the colors of the boats on the water and the color of the sea and sky.
- Family Travel
- Study Abroad
Forte de São Brás
The Forte de São Brás stands to protect the valuable cargo of her merchantmen from pirates and buccaneers. Times have changed and the forte now houses a military museum as well as a monument to the dead of the war of 1418. Forte de São Brás is still the headquarters of the Azores Military Zone.
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Jardim Antero de Quental
Antero de Quental was a poet from the island so it is fitting that his garden is in close proximity to the library. Antero de Quental is known for his sonnets.
The Torment of the Ideal
I found the beauty which can never die,
and I was sad. As from a mountain wall
one spans the immeasurable interval
down to the land and sea, and 'neath his eye
The highest vessels and the towers most high
dwindle and fuse; even so the world and all
that it contains I saw assume a pall
as fade the clouds which rim the sunset sky.
Who can give form to the idea? In vain
I strive with stubborn matter, in the dark;
I find that naught exists without a flaw.
I am baptized a poet, and remain
seated amid imperfect forms, a mark,
cheerless and pale, of the eternal law.
- Family Travel
- Study Abroad
After crossing the Atlantic (without internet), my sister wanted to find a place where she could download Celia's school assignments (part of this trip was during Easter break, but not all). The public library provided internet access. Libraries are always cool and this one featured a wall of thinkers (picture only show a portion). Really neat. The courtyard of the library has a water feature with a wooden girl (naked) reading a book. The library also features a small coffee shop where you can sit under a beautiful staircase. A wonderful place to visit.
- Study Abroad
- Family Travel
Jardim Antonio Borges
After many days at sea, it is good to sit under a tree and relax, and boy does this garden have a tree. Antonio Borges was an amateur botanist whose jardim was donated as a park and is free and open to the public. This is a delightful garden with winding paths, lagoons, plants, and features made of rocks. Everywhere you turn, there is something interesting. Of course, the big attraction is the Banyan tree with its impressive root system. Keep your eyes open as there is always something to see.
- Family Travel
- Study Abroad
Portas da Cidade (City Gates)
Ponta Delgada's City Gates (Portas da Cidade) are arguably the most iconic and recognisable sight in the city.
These three arches stand at the edge of the square of Praça Gonçalo Velho, across from the seafront, in Ponta Delgada's historic centre. They make for plenty of good photographs, especially when taken from the edge of the ornately tiled square with the bell tower of Sao Sebastiao Church as a backdrop.
The gates date back to 1783, when they formed part of a defensive wall, and were moved to their current location in 1952.
The top of the middle arch bears the city's coat of arms.
At night, spotlights at the base of the arches give Portas da Cidade a blue glow.
During our visit in September 2014, I came to think of Portas da Cidade as the centre of the city and used it as a reference point for locating other sights and restaurants.
Dolphin & Whale Watching Tours
One of the most popular activites in Ponta Delgada is to go out to sea on one of the organised Dolphin &Whale Watching Tours.
Unfortunately, we didn't get chance to go on one of these tours during our stay on Sao Miguel island in September 2014. We were away from Ponta Delgada during the day time on all but one of our days. On the day that we were around, all of the tours were fully booked (presumably by passengers from the huge cruise ship that was in port!).
Instead, we booked ourselves onto a sunset cruise...which turned out to be a real disappointment (see separate tip).
Although we didn't go on a Dolphin & Whale Watching tour, we did do a fair bit of research into them which may prove useful to others.
There are several companies offering these tours; each one has a booking office (or more than one) along the seafront or around the marina. Tours last between 3 and 4 hours and cost from €35 to €60 per person.
One of the most prominent companies is "Futurismo" (www.futurismo.pt). They have a colourful booking office, with model whales and dolphins on the roof, on the seafront opposite Portas da Cidade (the City Gates). They provide plenty of information in their windows, including a chart showing the types of dolphins and whales that are found in Azorean waters and the months that they are most likely to be seen. They also include a handwritten sheet, updated daily, detailing the sightings made on each of their tours for the last three months or so. We could therefore see that on their most recent tour, on 10th September 2014, passengers had seen sperm whales, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins. On many of the recent days prior to that, only dolphins (common, bottlenose and spotted) had been seen, with only occasional whale sightings, including Sowerby's Beaked Whales on 5th September.
While walking around the marina, we stopped and chatted to the guy who was working in the ticket office for "Moby Dick Tours" (www.mobydick-tours.com). Their prices were more reasonable than most; €35 per person for a 4 hour tour lasting from 2:00pm until 6:00pm. He explained that Moby Dick operated the biggest boat and the only boat that was certified to operate more than 6 miles from the shore. He also explained that their tours, being 4 hours rather than the 3 hours offered by other companies, were carried out at a more leisurely pace so an not to disturb the whales and dolphins. He was honest enough to admit that no whales had been spotted on their tours for at least the last 2 weeks, but they had seen lots of turtles.
We stopped and chatted with another lady who was working on a makeshift ticket desk at the side of the marina. She explained that the company that she was working for was conscious of the effects of tourism on the dolphins. Therefore, unlike other companies, they would never advertise "swimming with dolphins" tours. Instead, they would make a judgement each day as to how the dolphins were reacting and whether they allowed their passengers to swim with them.
Military Museum of the Azores
We paid a brief visit to the Military Museum of the Azores during our stay in Ponta Delgada in September 2014.
The museum is housed in the seafront Forte de Sao Bras fortress and entrance costs €3 for adults and €1 for children and seniors.
We arrived just after 5:30pm and the museum closed at 6:00pm, so we rushed around the various exhibitions quicker than we would have liked to.
A guard, in full military uniform, was standing in front of his sentry box at the entrance to the museum. We passed through an ornate gate in the fortress's wall and purchased our tickets from the small ticket office.
With limited time, we asked the guys in the ticket office which the best parts of the museum to explore were. They pointed us towards a tunnel which led to several exhibition rooms. En route, we paused to look at a handful of military vehicles that were on display in the courtyard.
We entered the tunnel and proceeded to rush through various rooms where weapons, vehicles, military uniforms, gas masks and wartime tools and communication equipment were on display. There were rooms devoted to topics such as Military Engineering, Military Medicine and, in one room, cases displaying a variety of musical instruments. We didn't have time to stop and read the descriptions, although they were sparse and mainly in Portuguese.
After a quick dash around the internal displays, we emerged back into the courtyard and climbed the steps leading to the top of the fortress's walls. Here we found guns pointing out into the Atlantic Ocean and some great views of Ponta Delgada's seafront.
Tues - Fri:
10:00 – 17:30 November-March
10:00 – 18:00 April-October
As above, but closed between 12:30 and 14:00 for lunch.
Closed on Mondays.
City Hall Bell Tower (Torre Sineira)
We climbed Ponta Delgada's City Hall Bell Tower ("Torre Sineira") during our stay in the city in September 2014.
It is free to enter and you climb 106 steps to the open air rooftop viewing platform.
It is not for the faint-hearted or those with mobility problems. There is no lift in the tower, so you must negotiate the stairs. And the stairs are a little frightening. There are gaps between the stairs and the concrete is deteriorating in places!
Then you reach the final spiral staircase (of around 20 steps) that brings you out into the open air; it is extremely narrow and claustrophobic, barely wide enough for an average sized adult to pass through.
The views from the top make the climb worthwhile. Directly below is a picturesque square (with a water fountain and statue) and at the end of the square you can just about glimpse a sideways view of Portas da Cidade, the City Gates. Directly ahead is the bell tower of Sao Sebastiao Church (which can't be climbed as far as we could ascertain) and further afield, over the rooftops of central Ponta Delgada is the city's impressive marina.
Paços do Concelho
The building, which is on Praça do Município, is an interesting example of the baroque style (17th and 18th centuries). The tower, built in 1724, with a bell form the 16th century, was a gift of the king D. João III. Climbing this tower allows you to have a great view over the city.
The statue of São Miguel Arcanjo, the main saint of the Island.
Palácio de Santana
This palace was designed by an English architect in 1846. It is located on the North side in Ponta Delgada, inside a beautiful garden and serve nowadays as the residence of the President of the Regional Government of the Azores.
In the extensive garden you can find native Azorean plants, interesting shrubs and a long allée of box trees.
The entrance is subjected to permission!
Museu Carlos Machado
This monument was at the past a convent (Saint André Convent). Nowadays it houses the Carlos Machado Museum.
This museum portrays the development of the region's fishing and farming industries over the centuries.
Convento e Capela de Nossa Senhora da Esperança
The Convent and Chapel of Our Lady of Hope, known as "Convento da Esperança" or simply Saint Christ's Church "Igreja do Senhor Santo Cristo", is home to the magnificent statue of "Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres" Christ of Miracles, the patron of the largest religious festival in the Azores.
The construction of this monument goes back to the XVI century.
The statue of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres is only a part of the valious tresour kept inside this monument.
Visits to the statue:
From September to June
17:30 - 18:30
Whale watching is big on the Azores and Ponta Delgada has several companies offering it.
The Azores has a lot of whales, both several spieces of migrating whales aswell as quite a lot of sperm whales who reside there all year long.
There was commercial whaling on the Azores until 1986 but these days they make money out of showing the whales to the tourists and of the many companies offering it in Ponta Delgada there are a couple of real good ones with professional marine biologists working for them and a very responsible attitude.
I would highly recommend whale watching as it is spectacular and by creating a whale watching economy then there will be very few people wanting to back to hunting whales like you see people do in other parts of the world.
Of the companíes working with this in Ponta Delgada i would recommend "futurismo" or "picos de Aventura" as they are very good.
- Whale Watching
Visit the tobacco factory.
In Ponta Delgada you have a tobacco factory that produces cigarettes from the tobacco grown on the island and they also have a cigar production where they use tobacco leaves from other countries such as Indonesia, Hondouras and The Dominican Republic.
On thursdays they have free tours of the factory and they are quite interesting even if they are just lasting around 40 minutes.
Most of it shows you how they roll cigars in the factory and you hear some things about the tobacco production on the island.
Should you wish to buy a good cigar then this is also æpossible after the tour.
The tours are on thursday and only on thursday at:
They are free and all you have to do is go to the main gate and ask the guy at the gate.
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