What if I told you that there is a place in Europe where the vegetation is as lush as in a tropical rain forest? A place where the landscape is interspersed with azure volcanic lakes, where you can bathe in sulfuric hot springs and drive from viewpoint to viewpoint, each one even more dramatic than the last.
I spent one week in Sao Miguel, the archipelago’s biggest island. “Big” might be pushing it a bit though: with a surface of 760 km² and a population of about 140.000 inhabitants, it is hardly a dot in the big ocean! But what a dot! I spent a week walking the island’s well maintained trails and discovered a place where respect for nature and traditions go hand in hand! A place where tourism hasn’t taken over yet and hopefully never will!
But with over 20 trails, where do you even start?
Glad you asked! These are my 5 favourite hiking trails in Sao Miguel:
1/ From Mirador Lagoa do Fogo down to the lake
Standing at the viewpoint overlooking Lagoa do Fogo, you’ll notice a small track leading to the lake shore down below. It takes about 30 minutes through endemic plants and abundant vegetation and you’ll have the stretch of beach almost all to yourself!
Time: 30 minutes one way
2/ Faial da Terra to Salto do Prego
The charming village of Faial da Terra, in the south eastern corner of Sao Miguel is the starting point for a walk up to one of the best hidden waterfalls on the island, the Salto do Prego. On the way back, you pass the beautifully restored, previously abandoned, village of Sanguinho
Time: 1 ½- 2 hours
3/ Trilho do Feno
On the north coast of Sao Miguel, the trail leaves from the church at the end of Fenais da Ajuda. This is the ideal walk if you want to experience rural Sao Miguel, passing farmers attending to their fields.
Time: 2 hours
4/ Serra Devassa
The area around “Lagoa do Canário” is nick-named “The Lake District” and this walk will show you exactly why. The path rises pretty steeply until you arrive at 2 beautifully situated lakes, hidden far up in the hills. The path then descends to the shores of Lagoa Rosa and back up to the departure point.
Time: 2 hours
5/ Chá Gorreana
The only place in Europe where tea is grown is situated in the Azores. On the north coast of Sao Miguel you can follow the “Ruta do Chá” or tea trail. A visit to the year old tea factory “Chá Gorreana” is a must, but even better is to wander off amidst the tea plantations across the road! The amazing views over the Atlantic are a bonus!
Time: 2 hours
There are plenty of other hiking trails in Sao Miguel, plenty of other opportunities to discover the beauty of this tiny island!
Have you been to the Azores? Or maybe you have a favourite walking country ? If so, please share! Always looking for inspiration!