Favorite thing: If you have no time enough to explore the island, you must visit at least:
1. Sete Cidades - lakes and village inside this beautiful crater. This landscape is among the 7 natural wounders of Portugal.
2. Furnas - lake, hotsprings, private garden Terra Nostra (hot swimming pool).
3. Fogo - lake and Caldeira Velha (waterfall and hot swimming pool).
Fondest memory: In my opinion, Fogo lake is the most beautiful landscape of the Azores.
Favorite thing: The hydrangea is the most common flower on the Azores.
It´s orginally from East Asia but has fitted in very well to the climate on the Azores and you see it all over Sao Miguel, both in parks and on the side of the road.
It blooms mainly in the summer, but you can see it bloom aswell in late spring and early fall roughly until 1st of october.
Favorite thing: The "Sao Miguel cattle dog", or the "cao fila de Sao Miguel" is a type of dog that originates from the Sao Miguel island.
It´s a working dog that has been bred to work as a cattle dog working for the farmers and it´s not really a family dog as it can be quite agressive.
It´s one of the rare dogs of the world and there is quite a bit of work being done to make sure that the race continues to exist and they have even made a small statue of the dog on the outskirts of Vila Franca honoring the dog race aswell as the people who try to preserve it.
- Historical Travel
Favorite thing: On the Azores they have a local beer brand and it is a very fine pilsner beer so there is no reason to drink bad international franchise brands while you are on Sao Miguel.
The name of the brand is "especial" and it is mostly served as draught beer at the local cafes and it´s a slightly sweet pilsner beer that goes down very well with the warmish climate of the Azores.
The brewery is called Melo Abreu and is located in Ponta Delgada.
- Beer Tasting
Favorite thing: On Sao Miguel you will often see a little reil with a saint on sitting next to the entrance of the houses.
The islands are a little more religios than the portugese mainland and many families, especially the families who makes a living from fishing in the atlantic ocean has a saint hanging by the door to protect the men at sea.
Just take a walk down any street near the harbour on Sao Miguel island and look at the house facades and you will see what i am talking about.
- Religious Travel
Favorite thing: From the village Sete Cidades there is a tunnel drilled through the mountain that goes out to the sea so that the rain water does not flood the vulcanic crater when there from time to time is heavy rainfall on the island.
The tunnel is around 80 years old and almost 2 kilometers long and it´s actually large enough to walk through and that is also safe enough as long as you don´t go during heavy rainfall.
You will need a flashlight for that walk though as there is no light in the tunnel.
- Hiking and Walking
Favorite thing: Because of the huge amount of water and the vulcanic undreground, Sao Miguel has several thermal baths that are open to the public, so many people with variosu skin problems visit the islands to get treatment or simply cause they like to bath in the mineral rich waters.
- Spa and Resort
Favorite thing: Sao Miguel has lot´s of natural spring water, both water that is very drinkable on a regular basis and water that is very high on certain minerals and therefor have healing effects on some people.
You see lot´s of springs around the island with various types of water and there will mostly be a sign saying whether the water is drinkable or not.
Favorite thing: Sao Miguel has a fairly large commercial production of pineapples.
This is quite strange as the climate is not ideal for pineapple production at all, but it was started long ago when it was expensive to import pineapples from the new world and therefor they started a production on the Azores.
These days the production is still going strong, but it´s doubtful if it will continue as it is very expensive to grow pineapples on the Azores because of the relatively cold climate.
But while the production is still going on you have the chance to visit the plantations and taste their product and i think you should do that as it´s quite interesting and a chance to see something that might not be here in 20 years time.
- Farm Stay
Favorite thing: Fishing still plays a big role when it comes to the local economy and employment on Sao Miguel.
It´s very much tuna fishing that makes the big money at the moment in the Sao Miguel fishing industry at the moment, but there are many other fish to be caught too.
The people who work in the fishing industry in Sao Miguel are not the richest, but they are a big part of the local scene and culture and the fishing harbours are a big part of the local vibe on Sao Miguel.
Favorite thing: When you travel around Sao Miguel you will notice that there are a lot of cows on the island.
There is a large milk and cheese production on the island and since the cows on Sao Miguel roam on the open fields and not in closed sheds so they are a very visible part of life on Sao Miguel.
The cows are often milked right on the field and i think the cows is one of the things that makes Sao Miguel such a nice place to travel, cause it shows farming when in it´s most sympaphetic way.
- Farm Stay
Favorite thing: The flora of the Azores is one of the most interesting in Europe due to natural characteristic that are common to Macaronesia, the geographical region to which the archipelago belongs (together with Madeira, Canary Islands and Cape Verde). The vegetation of the Azores is determined by Atlantic climate - mild winters and relatively cool summers with heavy rains scattered throughout the year - and the fertility of the soil is what makes the islands so abundant in natural parks, huge gardens and green pastures bordered by colourful flowers.
The Azorean flora is not only characterised by the usual Atlantic plant species, but also by Mediterranean, tropical and a wide range of cosmopolitan species. The luxuriant natural vegetation consists of more than 1200 trees, shrubs and flowers, about 60 out of them are endemic to the Azores. Many plant species present on the islands are exotic, such as beautiful ginger plant (that originates from Himalaya), Blue Trumpet flower and Yucca cactus, and were brought to the archipelago by the early colonisers.
Special mention should be made to Cryptomeria (Japanese cedar), very tall examples Araucaria tree, Metrosídero, a tree with beautiful red flowers, Hydrangeas and Azaleas. Green pastures and Japanese cedar woods create a typical Azorean landscape. Hydrangeas are plentiful and quite spectacular as they line the roads and hills of the islands.
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: I highly recommend purchasing the Bradt Travel Guide before setting out to the Azores. It is packed with information on walks and driving tours, what to see, what to avoid.
Most of the information is very good but the directions aren't always correct.
Fondest memory: Being a gardener, our favorite spot on Sao Miguel was definitely the gardens at Terre Nostra, but we realize this isn't everyone's cup of tea.
Be sure to take your bathing suit if you are planning a visit here -- regardless of the temperatures or the weather, since the hot springs are perfect. They have showers and changing areas available for your use.
A lovely way to spend a day.
- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: If you're searching for nightlife then don't go to Azores. São Miguel is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful and better preserved places there I have ever seen. The best thing to do is to travel around the island... and that will get you enough tired to have a great night sleep
Fondest memory: I miss the pleasure to watch so much beauty in one single place