Sete Cidades: A Complete Guide to Sightseeing and Activities
Sete Cidades are located on the western side of São Miguel Island and it is worldwide famous for its iconic twin Lake and extreme beauty. We tour you around the lovely village of Sete Cidades and highlight what is there to see and do. With our expert travel guide, it's easy to unlock the secrets of Sete Cidades, one of Portugal's most fascinating destinations.
1. Lagoa das Sete Cidades
This awe-inspiring landscape of Sete Cidades is the Azores’ most famed postcard image. Lagoa das Sete Cidades is officially listed as one of the “7 Wonders of Portugal.” The absolute best spot to fully appreciate the breathtaking views over the mystical blue and green lakes is—by far—Vista do Rei.
2. Vista do Rei Viewpoint
Perched atop the rim of a volcanic crater, Vista do Rei, which translates to "King's View," lives up to its regal name by providing visitors with a majestic vantage point. From this elevated spot, you'll gaze out over the dual lakes of Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) and Lagoa Verde (Green Lake), which are nestled within the crater's expanse. The contrast between the vibrant blue and green hues of the lakes against the lush green surroundings creates a mesmerizing and unforgettable sight.
3. Monte Palace Hotel
The Monte Palace is a captivating abandoned hotel nestled in the enchanting village of Sete Cidades on São Miguel Island in the Azores. Despite its abandonment, the Monte Palace remains a popular attraction due to its incredible panoramic views of the surrounding natural beauty.
Perched on the edge of the caldera, this once-grand hotel offers visitors a unique vantage point to admire the iconic Lagoa das Sete Cidades, with its twin lakes, Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) and Lagoa Verde (Green Lake), set against the backdrop of lush green hills and volcanic landscapes. The vista from the Monte Palace is often hailed as one of the most breathtaking views in the Azores, making it a must-visit spot for nature lovers and photographers.
While the hotel itself may be in a state of disrepair, its location and the scenic beauty it offers remain unspoiled. Visitors can explore the grounds and witness the intriguing contrast between the grandeur of the abandoned structure and the timeless natural splendor that surrounds it.
4. Walkthrough a Hydrangeas-Covered Road
As you descend from the breathtaking viewpoints above, follow the scenic road blanketed with vibrant hydrangeas, leading you to the quaint village nestled below. Each step offers a picturesque scene, seemingly crafted for the perfect Instagram shot. The blend of natural beauty and charming village life creates an atmosphere that feels almost dreamlike, inviting you to capture and share these idyllic moments.
5. Exciting Outdoor Adventures: SUP, Cycling, Horseback Riding, and More
Choose between an invigorating Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) adventure amidst idyllic landscapes or enjoying the scenic beauty from the seat of a bike. But that's not all – the area also offers a variety of other experiences like horseback riding and exhilarating motorbike rides, among many others. Each activity presents a unique way to immerse yourself in the stunning surroundings, whether you prefer a leisurely pace or an adrenaline-fueled adventure!
6. Hiking in Sete Cidades
Sete Cidades, a treasure trove of natural beauty on São Miguel Island, offers an array of hiking trails that lead you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the Azores. These trails meander around hidden lakes and through lush valleys, presenting breathtaking views at every turn.
For example, consider the hike around the rim of the Sete Cidades caldera. This trail offers panoramic views of the twin lakes – one blue and one green – that famously occupy the crater's base. As you hike along this path, you'll be treated to varying perspectives of these iconic lakes, each view more stunning than the last.
7. São Nicolau Church of Sete Cidades
This church stands out not only for its religious significance but also for its stunning design, which beautifully reflects the traditional Azorean architectural style.
Nestled in the heart of the Sete Cidades village, the church is characterized by its simple yet elegant façade, typically painted in bright, welcoming colors that contrast beautifully against the lush green backdrop of the surrounding landscape. The white walls and unique trimmings are a common sight in Azorean religious architecture, making it a picturesque addition to the village. Inside, the São Nicolau Church is equally impressive, with a peaceful and sacred ambiance.
8. Boca do Inferno Viewpoint
The Boca do Inferno Viewpoint, is one of the most spectacular and famous viewpoints in the region. Known for offering some of the most breathtaking panoramic views, it is a must-visit for anyone traveling to São Miguel.
Situated at a higher elevation, Boca do Inferno provides a stunning vantage point over the Sete Cidades caldera and its twin lakes. Visitors are greeted with an awe-inspiring landscape where the vibrant blue and green colors of the lakes contrast dramatically with the lush, surrounding hillsides. On clear days, the Atlantic Ocean can also be seen in the distance, adding to the majesty of the view. The viewpoint is accessible via a short walk from the nearby parking area. The path, though occasionally steep, is well-maintained and manageable for most visitors. The final ascent to the viewpoint leads to an open, unobstructed area where the beauty of the Azores unfolds in a 360-degree panorama.
9. Spot All of the Different Lakes and Lagoons
The most famous lakes in Sete Cidades are the twin lakes, Lagoa Azul (Blue Lake) and Lagoa Verde (Green Lake), which lie side by side. According to local legend, these lakes were formed from the tears of a shepherd and a princess who shared a forbidden love, with the blue and green colors of the lakes representing the colors of their eyes. The lakes are separated by a narrow bridge and are surrounded by lush greenery and rolling hills, creating a picture-perfect setting.
Apart from the twin lakes, there are other smaller bodies of water in the Sete Cidades crater, such as Lagoa de Santiago and Lagoa Rasa.
10. Drive through the Cumeeiras Road
Caution: we only recommend taking this road if you’re on a tour with a local guide.
Drive literally on top of a volcanic crater and get amazed by the views down! The European Rally Championship (ERC) stage in the Azores has a prove that takes the same road - and leads some experienced drivers to quit, but it is said by the drivers to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
11. Enjoy Picnic and Barbecue Spots Outdoors
Sete Cidades boasts numerous picturesque picnic spots that provide breathtaking panoramas of the lakes and the surrounding scenery. Guests can lay out their blankets and savor a leisurely meal while immersing themselves in the serene beauty of the locale. The peaceful atmosphere and crisp mountain air combine to craft an ideal backdrop for a serene alfresco dining encounter. Additionally, within Sete Cidades, there's a distinctive restaurant and bar that offers an exclusive opportunity to dine beside the lake, accompanied by delightful ducks and captivating lake vistas.
12. Drive to Mosteiros & Ferraria
Enhance your day's conclusion with a scenic drive to the adjacent village of Mosteiros. There, you can sink your toes into its unique black sand beach while anticipating a mesmerizing sunset, regarded as the island's finest. Cap off your day by relishing this breathtaking sunset at Mosteiros' natural pools. If you extend your journey a bit further, you'll arrive at Ferraria, known for its invigorating thermal natural pools, offering an extraordinary and unforgettable experience.
In conclusion, Sete Cidades stands as a testament to the natural and cultural wonders that grace the Azores archipelago. With its captivating lakes, lush landscapes, and rich history, it offers a myriad of experiences for travelers seeking both adventure and tranquility. Whether you're hiking along its scenic trails, gazing at the awe-inspiring vistas from viewpoints, or simply enjoying a leisurely picnic by the lakeside, Sete Cidades promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of São Miguel Island.
Are you already in love with the Azores? Please take a look at our stress-free packages that allow you to book your ultimate island adventure. All our packages are carefully curated by our team of local Azorean Experts so that you don’t need to worry about any details – just enjoy your trip!