Sete Cidades (São Miguel)#2 in Best Things To Do in The Azores
Price & Hours
- 1.0Food Scene
Sete Cidades provides the best introduction to the Azores' breathtaking landscapes. Conveniently located on São Miguel, Sete Cidades is an area found northwest of Ponta Delgada that is composed of a blue lake and a green lake that are picturesquely placed in the middle of a 3-mile-wide caldera. The area is filled with gorgeous vantage points and hiking trails as well as a little town, which is located at the bottom of the caldera at the base of the lakes. You can hit all of these viewpoints and more if you follow the EN9-1A road that takes you directly to Sete Cidades.
For stunning vistas overlooking the entirety of Sete Cidades, visit Miradouro da Vista do Rei, the caldera's highest point, or Miradouro do Cerrado das Freiras. From Miradouro da Vista do Rei, you can take a trail that snakes along the western side of the caldera and down to the small village that lies within it. There's also the longer Mata do Canário trail, which starts at the stunning Miradouro da Boca do Inferno viewpoint. Like the west side trail, the Mata do Canário trail snakes along the east side of the caldera and takes hikers down to the village.
Both trails feature stunning views of the lakes, the lush, forested landscapes that flank them and at some points, wildflowers and views of the coast. It's important to know that these hikes are very long (at least two hours one way), so if you decide to venture down the trails, bring adequate water, good hiking boots (especially during rainier seasons) and plan for transportation back to your car. If you aren't willing to sacrifice so much time hiking, consider kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Equipment can be rented from the village at the bottom of the caldera.
Travelers loved visiting the beautiful Sete Cidades but highly recommended keeping an eye on the weather. Some were disappointed to find clouds and fog covering the area when they arrived, resulting in little to no visibility of the lakes or the caldera. Visitors also suggested bringing a jacket even when it's warm, as the top of the caldera is known to get windy. Plus, if you're visiting during the summer, come early so you can snag a parking space at the viewpoints.
Sete Cidades is free to visit and has no set hours of operation. For more information, visit the Azores tourism board's website.
More Best Things To Do in The Azores
#1 Whale Watching
The Azores is probably one of the best places in the world to go whale watching. That's because it is one of the world's largest whale sanctuaries, with more than 20 different species of cetaceans that either call the archipelago home or pass through during their yearly migrations. At any given time, you'll be able to spot common and bottlenose dolphins and sperm whales on your tour. Different seasons also bring different species through the islands. Summer is a good time to see spotted dolphins, pilot whales, striped dolphins and bearded whales while the beginning of spring is great for blue whales, sei whales and fin whales. Because so many cetaceans live and pass through these waters, the probability of venturing out on a boat and seeing nothing is extremely unlikely.
Whale and dolphin watching tours in the Azores tend to last for a few hours and can be arranged on multiple islands. Highly rated tour operators include Futurisimo, which departs from the Pico and São Miguel islands, Terra Azul, based in São Miguel and OceanEmotion, located on Terceira. Recent tourgoers agree that this is undoubtedly a can't-miss experience while in the Azores. Visitors across a number of tours were complimentary of their knowledgeable guides, some of whom are marine biologists, as well as the crew. Additionally, many were happy to report that they saw a number of dolphins and whales during their trip.
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