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12 best São Miguel hikes you shouldn’t miss

Are you looking for the best São Miguel hikes? You came to the right place.

São Miguel Island is the largest island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores, a series of nine islands.

Nicknamed “The Green Island”, São Miguel has a lush environment with beautiful lakes, sparkling beaches, mountains, and more.

There are many things to do in São Miguel, especially if you love spending time outdoors.

Read on to discover 12 of the best hikes in São Miguel.

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In a hurry, these are the best hikes on São Miguel

How we made our selection of the best hiking on São Miguel

Our selection of the best São Miguel hiking trails is based on the hikes we did ourselves, the distance of the trail, elevation gain, popularity, and hikers’ reviews.

Sometimes a trail can be officially marked as moderate even though hiking it may feel like a walk in the park.

Therefore, we not only mention the official ratings of the hike but we also include what we and previous hikers thought of the trail.

This way this post is experience-based and more reliable.

Click here if you are looking for hiking tips and hikes on the other Azores islands.

Overview of the best São Miguel hikes

Overview of the hiking trails in São Miguel

Distance Difficulty Route Type Highlights
Taking a break at Lagoa do Congro Lagoa do Congro hike

1.15 km one-way

Easy

Out & back

The solitude this hike offers when experienced in the morning
Sete cidades Sao miguel Azores Portugal Miradouro da Boca do Inferno

1.2 km one-way

Easy

Out & back

The amazing views from the Boca do Inferno viewpoint
An old watermill along the trail Moinhos da Ribeira

3.3 km

Easy

Loop

The varying landscapes and views you see throughout the hike
Chá Gorreana

3.4 km

Easy

Loop

The views as you walk through the tea plantation
Salto do Prego Sao Miguel Azores, Portugal Salto do Prego

4.5 km

Moderate

Loop

The waterfall
View from the Serra Devasse trail on the hilly volcanic landscape Serra Devassa

4.9 km

Moderate

Loop

The opportunity to see the ruins of an ancient aqueduct
An old overgrown aquaduct passed during the Janela do Inferno hike Janela do Inferno

7.6 km

Easy

Loop

The surprises along the way: aqueducts, tunnels, rainforest areas, and a waterfall
Sete Cidades seen from Vista Do Rei viewpoint Vista do Rei – Sete Cidades trail

7.7 km one-way

Easy

One-way

The lake views
Salto do Cabrito Sao Miguel Azores, Portugal Salto do Cabrito

8.5 km

Easy

Loop

The opportunity to walk on a metal catwalk over the top of the waterfall
The Caldeiras near Lagoa Das Furnas Lagoa das Furnas

9.5 km

Easy

Loop

The Hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias
Trail Lagoa Do Fogo São Miguel Azores Portugal Praia – Lagoa do Fogo

11 km

Moderate

Out & back

The views of Lagoa do Fogo itself
Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades hike

11.8 km

Moderate

One-way

The views of the lake and the coast that surround you as you walk
Taking a break at Lagoa do Congro
Taking a break at Lagoa do Congro

Lagoa do Congro hike

  • Trail Code: N/A
  • Distance: 1.15 km one way
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1h30
  • Elevation gain: 101 m
  • Route type: Out & back
  • Highlights: The solitude this hike offers when experienced in the morning

Short description of the trail

Lagoa do Congro is a beautiful and easy hike. It starts with the downhill half which means you’ll get down to the lake quickly. Once you arrive at the lake you can sit and rest and observe before heading back up.

If you arrive in the early morning, you’ll have the opportunity to hike this trail without too many others around. The chance to experience the route in solitude is a great experience. Apart from the obvious benefit, you’ll be able to see and hear wildlife such as frogs or birds.

It is highly recommended that you wear hiking boots when attempting this hike. Although this hike is rated as easy, it can get quite slippery at times.

Directions

Take EN1-1A East to EN4-2A North towards Furnas. Follow the signs towards Lagoa do Congro, and you will come to a dirt road.

Take this dirt road and you will come across signs for the Lagoa and a small staircase. Park along the road.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located at the top of a staircase – there is a sign for Lagoa do Congro.

What people are saying about this hike

A really easy walk down the hill – a bit more challenging coming up! But overall an easy hike that we enjoyed a lot.

Come either really early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. We came in the afternoon as things were winding down and we were really glad that we did that. Half of what we enjoyed about this trail was the solitude!

Conclusion

Lagoa do Congro is a beautiful hike that is best enjoyed in the early morning or late afternoon as these are the less busy times.

Sete cidades Sao miguel Azores Portugal
The iconic view of Sete Cidades on São Miguel island

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno

  • Trail Code: N/A
  • Distance: 1.2 km one way
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 30 minutes
  • Elevation gain: 107 m
  • Route type: Out and back
  • Highlights: The views from the Boca do Inferno viewpoint

Short description of the trail

Miradouro da Boca do Inferno is a short and easy trail, but that’s not why you should experience it.

The views from the Boca do Inferno viewpoint are incredible, and people come from all over to experience it.

On occasion, this area may be foggy.

The hike is still doable during these times, but as the main highlight is the viewpoint, you’ll want to try to plan your trip for a clear day. 

To do this, check the Sete Cidades camera to get the most accurate and up to date information about what the weather is like before setting out.

If it looks like it’s going to be a clear day, arrive early.

If you come before 9 am you’ll be able to beat the crowds.

Directions

Drive along EN1-1A west until you see a right turn for EN9-1A. Stay on this road until you see Sete Cidades on your left. Keep driving straight until you reach Lagoa do Canário.

If it’s busy you can stop in the car park along the main road. If that parking area is still empty you can turn in the dirt road opposite the parking. If you follow that dirt road until the end, it will take you to a second parking lot closer to the start of the trail.

If you park in the car park along the main road you need to add 10-15 minutes to the time needed to reach the viewpoint.

Where to start the hike

The trail starts alongside the second parking lot.

What people are saying about this hike

A really beautiful and easy hike! It took about 20 minutes and the view on the lakes is amazing.

Conclusion

This is a short and easy hike with an incredible pay off!

It’s definitely something you shouldn’t miss while in the Azores.

Read Also:

An old watermill along the trail
An old watermill along the trail (Photo by Concierge.2C)

Moinhos da Ribeira

  • Trail Code: PRC35SMI
  • Distance: 3.3 km
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 45 minutes
  • Elevation gain: 188 m
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The varying landscapes and views you see throughout the hike

Short description of the trail

The Moinhos da Ribeira hike takes you through several different areas.

First, you walk through forested areas where you can take your time and attempt to birdwatch.

From there, you pass by ruins of ancient waterways before hiking along the coast.

This portion of the hike gets more challenging as this is where the ascent occurs.

Directions

From EN1-1A, drive along Exit 4, Er 3-1, and EN1-1A. Exit from EN1-1A and drive to the Chapel of Nosa Senhora da Aflicao where you will be able to park.

Where to start the hike

The trail head is located near the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Aflição.

What people are saying about this hike

This is a really cool hike that not too many know about. It was really nice to go on a hike that not many people know about and enjoy the peace and quiet! We got to see some cool birds as well.

Conclusion

This is an easy hike, but it’s a great option for hikers who want to experience the area but don’t have much time to do so.

You get to see forests, coasts, and ancient waterways so you get a lot out of a short route.

This is one of the best São Miguel hikes.
Cha Gorreana, a quaint tea factory

Chá Gorreana

  • Classification: PRC28SMI
  • Distance: 3.4 km
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1h30
  • Elevation gain: 161 m
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The views as you walk through the tea plantation

Short description of the trail

The Cha Gorreana trail starts across the road from the tea factory and takes you through the beautiful tea fields of the plantation.

As you meander through the fields you can see how the staff maintains the grounds and harvests the tea.

The highest point of the trail is also a great viewpoint for views of the São Miguel coast.

This hike is great for everyone because it can easily be modified to fit different time constraints and skill levels. Rather than embarking on the full hike, you can pick a shorter route through the fields of tea.

After you finish your hike you can visit the factory and sample some of the delicious tea at the factory.

Directions

From Ponta Delgada, head southeast on Praça de Gonçalo Velho toward Av. Infante Dom Henrique/EN1-1A.

Drive along Exit 4, Er 3-1, and EN1-1A. Turn left, and you will see the Gorreana Tea Factory.

This is where you will park before crossing the highway to the plantation.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located on the opposite side of the EN1-1A road.

After you’ve parked your car at the parking lot near the factory you need to walk back along the driveway towards the road and cross it.

You will find a marker that indicates the start of the trail near the gates at the entrance of the tea fields.

The GPS coordinates are 37° 49′ 4,32″ N 25° 24′ 8,95″ W.

What people are saying about this hike

This was an easy hike with great views of the countryside! You also get to see the beautiful tea plantation and see how the workers maintain it.

Conclusion

The Cha Gorreana trail is an easy but beautiful hike, and the opportunity to see the tea fields is unique! This is one of the few tea plantations in Europe.

Salto do Prego Sao Miguel Azores, Portugal. A beautiful hike in São Miguel.
Salto do Prego

Salto do Prego

  • Trail code: PRC09SMI
  • Distance: 4.5 km
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 220 m
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The waterfall

Short description of the trail

This unique route starts in the civil parish of Faial da Terra and ends at the beautiful Salto do Prego waterfall. 

The trail includes a combination of paved and dirt roads and has a small bridge over a stream as you approach the waterfall.

During the hike, you will come across the lost village of Sanguinho. This village was inhabited for more than a century until it was abandoned in the ’70s.

The unique opportunity to see this village and experience the history of the location is one you’ll be sure to remember.

Read more about this hike here.

Directions

Drive east along EN1-1A to R. do Burguete in Faial da Terra.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located near the bus stop.

The GPS coordinates 37° 44′ 49,47″ N 25° 12′ 4,30″ W.

What people are saying about this hike

This is my favorite hike I’ve ever done! It has variety: old villages, forests, and wild chickens. I think that this hike will have a first for everybody!

Conclusion

This hike has it all: stunning views, a beautiful waterfall, an abandoned historic village, wild cats, and chickens!

View from the Serra Devassa trail over the hilly volcanic landscape
The Serra Devassa trail leads through the hilly volcanic landscape

Serra Devassa trail

  • Classification: PRC05SMI
  • Distance: 4.9 km
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 834 m
  • Route type:  Loop
  • Highlights: The opportunity to see the ruins of an ancient aqueduct

Short description of the trail

The Serra Devassa trail begins at the parking lot opposite Mata do Canario. It’s best to do it on a clear day as it takes you high up in the mountains.

The trail initially takes you up a hill and through a swampy area.

While you are hiking up, you may have the opportunity to see Pau Pique lake and the ruins of Muro das Nove Janelas, an ancient aqueduct that used to supply water to Ponta Delgada, the capital city of San Miguel.

Next, you will arrive at the highest point of the hike before continuing down to the lakeshore.

This highest point features great views of the rest of the island of San Miguel.

Once at the bottom the trail will lead you around Lagoa Rasa and back to the starting point. Before getting there you have the option to make a small detour to yet another small but pristine lake.

Directions

Head southeast from Ponta Delgada toward Av. Infante Dom Henrique/EN1-1A, and continue on until you reach M508. Follow M508 to your destination.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located off the parking lot for Mata do Canário.

The GPS coordinates are 37° 50′ 4,96″ N 25° 45′ 30,79″ W.

What people are saying about this hike

This hike is so beautiful! But note that there isn’t much shade throughout the route. It made it a bit harder than it would have been on a cooler day. So yes, it’s an easy route but make sure you check the weather to prepare!

Conclusion

The Serra Devassa trail is a gentle and easy hike that boasts impressive views and a glimpse at the history of the region.

An old overgrown aqueduct that you will pass during the Janela do Inferno hike
An old overgrown aqueduct that you will pass during the Janela do Inferno hike

Janela do Inferno

  • Trail code: PRC37SMI
  • Distance: 7.6 km
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 2h30
  • Elevation gain: 408 m
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The surprises along the way: aqueducts, tunnels, rainforest areas, and a waterfall

Short description of the trail

Janela do Inferno is a great hike for those who are looking for adventure.

This unique route takes you through pastures, ancient aqueducts, tunnels, a rainforest, and a beautiful waterfall.

You may also get the opportunity to see some animals such as goats, or cows in the pastures.

Bring a camera because you’ll have some unique photo opportunities throughout the hike.

The trail starts with a slow and steady climb through pastures that provide a challenge, but also reward hikers with a great view of Ponta Delgada.

You will go from these clear farmlands to a lush forest before coming across some small brick tunnels that you can pass through to continue the hike.

You will eventually come to Janela do Inferno, the site where a natural spring spills from a tall vertical rock wall.

Beyond this, you will hike by the ruins of an aqueduct before finishing the route.

Directions

From Ponta Delgada, head southeast and drive on EN1-1A to EN5-2A. Take the exit toward S.ta Cruz/Remédios from EN1-1A before driving to EN5-2A.

Park at the picnic area.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is near the picnic area at Janela do Inferno.

The GPS coordinates are 37° 44′ 48,82″ N 25° 32′ 13,46″ W.

What people are saying about this hike

We got a bit lost at the beginning, so make sure you’re paying close attention to the trail markers!

This was a great adventurous trail that my whole family loved. It was full of surprises like tunnels and the waterfall!

Conclusion

Janela do Inferno is a beautiful and easy loop that is full of interesting things to see.

Sete Cidades seen from Vista Do Rei viewpoint
Sete Cidades seen from Vista Do Rei viewpoint

Vista do Rei – Sete Cidades trail

  • Trail code: PR03SMI
  • Distance: 7.7 km one way
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 544 m
  • Route type: One way
  • Highlights: The lake views

Short description of the trail

Vista do Rei starts at the Vista do Rei viewpoint and takes hikers through the Sete Cidades ridges to end in the village.

It features lush greenery and beautiful lake views.

Although this trail is considered easy according to many official ratings, it may seem more on the moderate side.

The portion of the route before you reach the lake is fairly steep downhill and the trail is often affected by heavy rain so it may not be as well maintained.

If this is the case, be sure to descend slowly and it is always a good idea to bring hiking poles and durable and water-resistant hiking shoes.

Note that this trail is a linear one-way route.  You will have to make sure you get back at the starting point. If you have 2 cars you could leave one at the endpoint of the hike. You can also opt to hire a taxi to help with this, or you can treat the trail as an out and back route and simply hike back to the trailhead when you reach the endpoint.

Directions

From Ponta Delgada, follow EN1-1A to 9-1. Turn right onto 9-1 and follow the road for 8.2 kilometers until you arrive at the Vista do Rei viewpoint.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead for this hike is located at the Vista do Rei viewpoint.

The GPS coordinates are 37° 50′ 21,31″ N 25° 47′ 42,39″ W.

What people are saying about this hike

This trail is ranked as easy, but it’s definitely more challenging than I would expect for an easy trail. There were some steep portions that were slippery in the rain.

We were able to do it and the views were worth it, but bring good shoes and be prepared for an incline.

Conclusion

This trail is one of the best Sete Cidades hiking trails you can experience.

It’s a long hike with some challenging moments but the beautiful views make it all worth it.

Salto do Cabrito Sao Miguel Azores, Portugal
Salto do Cabrito

Salto do Cabrito

  • Trail code: PRC29SMI
  • Distance: 8.5 km
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 2h30
  • Elevation gain: 330 m
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The opportunity to walk on a metal catwalk over the top of the waterfall

Short description of the trail

This hike is filled with unique features and is one you won’t want to miss.

Once you start the hike, you won’t have to wait long until you come across the Salto do Cabrito waterfall.

This beautiful but small waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and tall rock walls.

There is a wooden sign that directs you towards the narrow stairs that are next.

Continue up these to arrive at one of this hike’s most unique features: the catwalk.

This catwalk is a narrow metal pathway that may make you nervous if you’re afraid of heights, but rest assured that the catwalk is sturdy.

It takes hikers along the top of the waterfall and you can look down to see the rushing water.

Beyond this, you have the opportunity to continue on through additional metal bridges and staircases to pass by a brick structure before you complete the loop

Directions

Drive southeast from Ponta Delgada on EN1-1A. Take Exit 4 and Er 3-1 to EN5-2A towards the Ribeira Grande hot springs.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located near the Ribeira Grande hot springs.

The GPS coordinates are 37° 47′ 52,23″ N 25° 29′ 13,76″ W

What people are saying about this hike

This trail was pretty easy – another great hike that includes a beautiful waterfall!

We brought our dog – he loved it! A great dog-friendly trail.

Conclusion

The Salto do Cabrito hike has a unique series of metal staircases, catwalks, and bridges which makes this a great hike for those who love adventure and the feel of exploring abandoned locations.

The Caldeiras near Lagoa Das Furnas
These geysers are used by the local restaurant owners to prepare their traditional meals

Lagoa das Furnas 

  • Trail code: PRC06SMI
  • Distance: 9.5 km
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 343 m
  • Route type: Loop
  • Highlights: The Hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias and Caldeiras da Lagao

Short description of the trail

The Lagoa das Furnas trail is a loop that starts in the town of Furnas and leads around the eponymous lake. You start by following a paved road that leads to the lake.

There are signs marking the way, and soon you will arrive at the lakeshore where you make a left and start following the edge of the lake.

You will come across the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias, a beautiful Neo-Gothic chapel that was built in the 1800s.

It was built by José Do Conto, a local landowner, in honor of his wife who had recently fallen gravely ill.

While he was not able to complete the chapel in his lifetime, it was completed after his death and he and his wife, Maria Guilhermina Taveira de Brum da Silveira, are now buried next to each other in the chapel.

You can visit this testament to their love during this hike and although there are no services to attend, you can experience the ethereal fairytale nature of the lakeside structure.

Beyond this, you can continue walking along the lake. Eventually, you will arrive at Caldeiras da Lagoa, where you may be able to see some of the locals taking advantage of the high ground temperatures to cook.

From here you continue following the lake for a short distance until you turn left to return to the city.

Directions

From Ponta Delgada, head southeast on EN1-1A to the town of Furnas, and you will arrive at the destination. 

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located near the Bicas Fountain.

The coordinates for the trailhead are 37.773370, -25.315860.

What people are saying about this hike

This was such a nice hike – it was really flat and peaceful. The views of the lake are incredible as well.

Conclusion

The Lagoa das Furnas trail is an easy but long hike that has two highly unique features you won’t find on any other hikes in the area.

Trail Lagoa Do Fogo São Miguel Azores Portugal
Lagoa Do Fogo

Praia – Lagoa do Fogo

Short description of the trail

  • Trail code: PRC02SMI
  • Distance: 11 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Medium
  • Time needed:  4 hour round trip
  • Elevation gain: 386 m
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Highlights: The views of Lagoa do Fogo itself

The Praia -Lagoa do Fogo trail is a beautiful São Miguel hike but you may have to work for the stunning views at the end.

The trail starts off with an incline – it’s somewhat steep but the trail is well maintained. This part of the trail is not quite as exciting, but keep going.

Once you complete the uphill portion, you will follow the course of a small canal until you arrive at a valley with several small power stations.

From here it is a short incline and then you arrive at the lake shore of Lagoa do Fogo. Here you can rest for a moment while enjoying the view.

Lagoa do Fogo translates to “Lake/Lagoon of Fire”, a very fitting name as it’s a crater lake.

Crater lakes are lakes that were formed due to volcanic activity or a collapse due to a volcanic explosion. This particular crater lake is a part of the Água de Pau Massif composite volcano.

Walking along waterways is beautiful, but the pathways can get muddy depending on the day, so it’s important to wear a good pair of water resistant hiking boots.

Directions

From Ponta Delgada, head east on EN1-1A until you can turn on to Regional 1-1. Follow that road until you come to R.Caminho da Ribeira da Praia – turn left on this road. 

There is no parking lot, so you will need to park on the side of the road.

Where to start the hike

The trailhead is located at: 37° 43′ 39,58″ N 25° 28′ 17,39″ W

What people are saying about this hike

This is a beautiful hike! It’s uphill at the beginning and it’s really well maintained.

We came early (around 8:00 am) and got to enjoy the trail without seeing almost anyone else.

Conclusion

The Praia -Lagoa do Fogo is a hike that shines in the second half.

The first half is a steady uphill challenge, and once you get past that part, you get to enjoy the views and the environment.

Shot taken during the Mata do Canário trail on San Miguel Island
An atmospheric image from the Mata do Canário hike (photo credits: Ravi Sarma)

Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades hike

  • Trail code: PR4SMI
  • Distance: 11.8 km
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 851 m
  • Route type: One-way
  • Highlights: The views of the lake and the coast that surround you as you walk

Short description of the trail

Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades is a beautiful hike with consistently beautiful views.

As you start the hike you’ll come across a very steep uphill section. As you hike upwards, you will be surrounded by beautiful views – on one side you’ll be able to admire the beauty of the sparkling turquoise lakes and on the other, you’ll have stunning and peaceful views of the hills, farmland, and the coast.

Most of the route is packed dirt or gravel, and the trails are, as always, marked with red or yellow markers so you have a clear guide about where to go.

As you come to the end of the route the trail takes a sharp descent towards the village.

This portion can be slippery if it has recently rained, so be sure to take extra care if that is the case.

Note that this trail is a linear one-way route.  You will have to make sure you get back at the starting point. If you have 2 cars you could leave one at the endpoint of the hike. You can also opt to hire a taxi to help with this, or you can treat the trail as an out and back route and simply hike back to the trailhead when you reach the endpoint.

Directions

Drive west from Ponta Delgada on EN1-1A. Take a right turn following signs for Covoada. You will continue along this road for some time, and the parking lot is located just after the turn off for M508.

There is also public transportation available between Ponta Delgada and the trailhead.

Where to start the hike

The starting point of this hike is located off of a small parking lot near Lagoa do Canario.

The coordinates for the trailhead are 37.831800, -25.752692.

What people are saying about this hike

This is an easy enough trail. I thought it was pretty well maintained and there were a lot of cool things to see. The views were amazing as well!

We actually took a taxi to the trailhead and it was really easy!

Conclusion

Mata do Canário – Sete Cidades is a long but peaceful one-way hike with beautiful views.

Conclusion

São Miguel Island offers visitors a beautiful lush environment with memorable hikes unlike any other.

From the ancient ruins you may see on several of the hikes listed here to the wild chickens you may come across on the Salto do Prego trail, you will be sure to experience many unique and beautiful hikes.

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