The Azores are an archipelago of enchanting Portuguese islands. If you aren’t sure why you should consider a holiday in the Azores take a look at the top 10 things to do in Ponta Delgada, Azores. You’ll likely be flying into Ponta Delgada.
Once there, you have to make the trek to the remote village of Sete Cidades. – one of the Azores’ main attractions! The area around this village is home to epic hikes, volcanic hot springs, curiously fantastic beaches, and two neighboring lakes of different colors (Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul) – one green, and one blue!
Sete Cidades Azores: A Complete Guide
Officially Sete Cidades is a somewhat isolated town of about 1,000 people located within the center of the three-mile wide volcano crater. Yes, That’s right – 3 miles wide!
What does Sete Cidades Mean?
Sete Cidades means ‘seven cities’ in Portuguese, supposedly after the homes of the seven original settling families. Today, Sete Cidades can refer to the little town of the same name, the volcano craters, the area as a whole, or the two lakes in the caldera (Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul).
Lagoa Das Sete Cidades
The two lakes combined are sometimes called Lagoa Das Sete Cidades. It’s a little confusing, but once you get there, it’ll make sense.
Some Basic Terminology to Help You Understand Azores Sete Cidades
Many of the well-known tourist attractions in the Azores are in Portuguese or use special terms you may not have heard of before. For example, a ‘caldera’ is a large volcano crater, caused by the mouth of a volcano collapsing. Here, it refers to the three-mile-long caldera that the twin lakes of Sete Cidades Azores have formed on top of.
Some Portuguese words you may stumble across include lagoa, Portuguese for ‘lagoon,’ lago which means ‘lake,’ and miradouro, which is roughly translated as ‘viewpoint.’ So, with that in mind, can you decipher what ‘Lagoa das Sete Cidades’ means?
Amazing Sete Cidades Hikes and Viewpoints
Going on a Sete Cidades hike and seeing the top viewpoints are the biggest attraction; it’s not hard to see why. The views on Sete Cidades hikes are phenomenal!
The most famous is probably Miradouro do Boca Inferno or Vista do Rei, but there are several worthwhile hiking trails and viewpoints around the lakes. All of them are well-marked on Google maps.
Miradouro Boca do Inferno
Miradouro Boca do Inferno translates to ‘the viewpoint of the mouth of hell.’ Even though the name is intense, it is much closer to heaven than hell. Unlike many other Azores attractions, it doesn’t even require a super long hike.
You can drive your car almost all the way up and then have a few hundred yards worth (about five minutes) of hiking through lush greenery to get there. Alternatively, you can park on the main road and walk (about 20 minutes).
Photos from Miradouro de Boca Infero are probably the most commonly seen from the Azores. You may recognize it from Google images. But be warned; the view is dependent on the weather, and it’s often very foggy here. So, if you get a clear day, make sure this viewpoint is at the top of your list!
Miradouro Vista do Rei
Maradouro Vista do Rei, which means ‘the view of the king,’ is another gorgeous hike and viewpoint with panoramic views of the two lakes. From the top, the green lake will be closest and the blue lake in the distance.
Towering 823 feet (251 meters) high, this one is especially famous for being close to the abandoned Monte Palace Hotel Azores. Many people enjoy walking around the eerie and abandoned hotel and getting some dramatic photos from the rooftop. Supposedly they’ve recently decided to rebuild it though.
The viewpoint is easily accessible. You can hike or drive up, but as the parking is limited to 20 minutes at a time, we’d suggest parking on the paved road and walking.
Mata do Canario
For those looking for a more challenging Sete Cidades hike, the famous Mata do Canario offers a fairly easy but longer trek. At seven miles (11.8 km) long, it will take you the better part of three hours. You can break it up along the way with some fun lakeside activities.
You’ll get some amazing views of the lakes as well as the rolling hills and Atlantic coastline from the viewpoint on Pico da Cruz hill. Stop along the way to enjoy canoeing or biking (rentals are available) or carry on to the small town of Sete Cidades.
Sao Nicolau Church
Our favorite attraction in the actual town of Sete Cidades is the Church of Sao Nicolau. It is perfect for a quick visit after a picnic in the waterfront park nearby. There are plenty of tables and friendly locals!
Sete Cidades Weather
The Sete Cidades weather can be temperamental like the rest of Sao Miguel, so it helps to be prepared. Read our full post on the Azores weather before you plan your trip. Be flexible and have a basic itinerary that you can choose from on the day, according to the weather.
While you’re in the Azores, we’d suggest using an app like SpotAzores or VisitAzores. These websites allow you to check the webcams of the most-visited tourist attractions to check the cloud situation. If you find that it’s very cloudy, don’t worry. You can usually wait it out – sometimes weather changes by the hour.
Nearby Not-To-Be-Missed Attractions
There’s so much to do in and around the village of Sete Cidades. Here are a few things to add to your Azores bucket list:
Termas da Ferraria – The Spa of Ferraria
Another famous hotspot (literally) is the Spa of Ferraria, an ocean lagoon with water that’s heated by the geothermal hot spring below it. The result? A FREE natural hot spring in the middle of the Atlantic!
Aim to get to Termas da Ferraria around low tide when the water is at its hottest. It’s simply magical soaking in this natural hot pool and enjoying the therapeutic benefits of this thermal spring.
Some people say it is too hot to swim in at low tide. Even if the water flowing into the lagoon is scalding, it’s easy to move to a cooler part where the water is cooler.
When you’re in Sete Cidades, you’ll also be close to my favorite beach in all of the Azores – Mosteiros Beach. This famous black sand beach is spectacular to witness and has some beautiful natural rock pools to swim in. Don’t miss the view of the sun setting between the dramatic rock formations!
Getting to Sete Cidades
Sao Miguel is the biggest and most popular island in the Azores. It’s home to Ponta Delgada – the biggest city on Sao Miguel, and the airport you’ll fly into. Many people often refer to the island as Ponta Delgada, which is not officially correct.
Ponta Delgada is the name of the biggest city, not the name of the island as a whole, but the locals will know what you mean. Sete Cidades is about 16 miles (26 km) away from Ponta Delgada on the western side of Sao Miguel.
When you think about the distance, it’s not really that far. But while there are a few buses running between Sete Cidades and Ponta Delgada they are known for not being super reliable. So, renting a car is the way to go – and it’s pretty affordable too! It will only take you around 30 to 40 minutes to drive to Sete Cidades from Ponta Delgada. Another option is to book an Azores tour that will take you around Sete Cidades.
The village of Sete Cidades may be small, but Azores holidays really pack a punch with the captivating hikes, nearby beaches, and hot springs to explore. So go on and start planning your trip, what are you waiting for?