About Sao Miguel
São Miguel is the main island of the Azores, an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores are known for its volcanic landscape and peaks, azure lakes and dramatic coastline. The island is called also »Ilha Verde« (the Green Island) due to its verdant terrain. There are nine islands that make the Azores archipelago and you should take the most days for São Miguel. Car hire on São Miguel from Ponta Delgada Airport is the best entry point for your island experience. Ponta Delgada is the largest municipality and the capital of Azores of Portugal.
Basic info and car hire in Sao Miguel
- Location: São Miguel, Azores
- Official language: Portuguese
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Weather: The climate of Azores is subtropical oceanic. Due to the influence of the ocean, the archipelago is not a tropical paradise. It is pleasantly warm in the summer with the temperatures never reaching 30 °C even in the summer. The winters are mild and the temperatures don’t drop below 7 °C. The rains are quite frequent in autumn and winter and therefore the landscape is green and in bloom. But the Azores also do not get a lot of sun, especially from October to April.
- Public holidays in São Miguel: Public holidays are the same as in Portugal mainland.
- Internet coverage: The Azores are well covered by all modern mobile phone networks. Internet cafes are available in most towns and resorts. The internet coverage is good, strong wifi or 4G. If you need to 'have a plan B' for travelling throughout the island, there are two options: MEO and Vodafone.
- Road conditions: Driving on the islands of Azores is quite different than on the mainland. Driving and car hire in São Miguel is more relaxed. Since the islands are small you are almost unable to get lost, but the roads are old, bumpy and narrow, so maybe think of renting a smaller car. Some roads are hardly maintained, and some are just two tracks through the fields. In the winter the road conditions may change quickly due to rain and fog.
Driving in Sao Miguel
- Age limits: For car hire in São Miguel you need to be at least 23 years old, some rental agencies even set the minimum age at 25 years (for younger drivers a special fee might occur). To drive a car in the Azores the minimum age is 18, the same rules as in Portugal apply.
- International Driving Permit: International driving permit for car hire in São Miguel is required.
- Additional papers: You should always have your valid identification document, valid driving title and all documentation that has been delivered with the vehicle.
- Additional requirements:
- Children in the car: No child under the age of 12 may sit in the front, and when in the rear of the car, must have a suitable restraint system that complies with EU regulations. When renting your car you can ask for chairs and safety seats for children.
- Driving side of the road: Right-hand side.
- Lights: Headlights must always be used in the tunnels.
- General speed limits: The speed limits are a little lower than in Portugal mainland due to narrow and worse roads. Within the localities the maximum speed limit is 50 Km/h, outside of localities, up to 80 Km/h and on the expressways, the maximum is 100 Km/h.
Parking suggestions: In localities, you will find paid parking areas and also garages for overnight parking. Parking is free outside Ponta Delgada.
What to see in Sao Miguel
Our favourite spots
Lagoa do Fogo
Fire lagoon (Lagoa do Fogo) is a perfect hiking destination and the most beautiful sight on São Miguel island. Since public transport is not available, hire a car in São Miguel and drive to this breathtaking blue crater lake surrounded with lush green vegetation.
Parking is available at the Miradouro da Barrosa, but it is limited. There is more parking at Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo.
You can find many tropical hot springs on São Miguel island. The most popular ones are Caldeira Velha with a gorgeous waterfall running into the pool, Ferraria with heated ocean water, Terra Nostra as the largest one. They are great for foggy and rainy days in the wintertime.
You can find a parking spot at the Park Information Center.
São Brás Fort and Military museum
Forte de São Brás is a working military base as well as a museum, housed within a heritage building on the waterfront with the lovely view on the harbor. The museum features an impressive collection of weaponry, transport vehicles, and paraphernalia of war, all connected to Portugal's long and impressive military history, from the earliest days of exploration to the modern colonial period.
You can find paid parking spots around the Museum.
Whale and dolphin watching
One of the main reasons to come to the Azores is to have the change to spot a whale. As the Azores are on their migration route maybe you’ll have luck. Whale and dolphin watching tours leave Ponta Delgada or Vila Franca do Campo’s marinas.
There are many paid parking options at Ponta Delgada marina.
Hotels in Sao Miguel
Drive your rental car around Sao Miguel
The main difference of driving in Portugal mainland or on the Azores are the speed limits since the maximum limit on the islands is 100 km/h. Car hire in São Miguel offers you to choose a smaller car to drive best on narrow and steep streets and we suggest you follow the weather forecast due to quick weather changes which influence the road conditions. If you are visiting the island of Pico and Faial ferry service is available, but if you plan to go to the other islands, an individual rental will be necessary due to travel by air between them.
Where to eat, drink and party in Sao Miguel
Rotas da Ilha Verde
Vegetarian restaurant that offers delicious dishes. Especially if you are on the sweet side, you should try nectarine ice cream. Since it is small, you need to make a reservation.
Quinta dos Sabores Restaurant
Plan your trip well, since this restaurant, placed on the owner’s farm, is open only a few hours a day. They serve delicious meals from fresh and seasonal ingredients.
Some say it is the best fish restaurant in the Azores with a great view. The service is excellent, and that is why they are full most of the time. Try the daily fresh grilled fish accompanied by some local wine.
Perfect little club with a 1920’ New York ambient. Spend your evening trying “Taste & Chill” and listening to some laid-back jazz sessions. They are open only in the evenings from Tuesday to Saturday and have a small entrance fee.
Major events and festivals in Sao Miguel
The music festival takes place each year on Monte Verde beach on São Miguel. If you are a fan of reggae or indie-pop that is the place to be.
The event takes place at the beginning of August.
Saint Peter’s Horse RidersJune
You can enjoy the parade of horse riders dressed in colorful outfits – symbolizing a king, knights, lancers, stewards and horn players in the Saint Peter’s Horse Riders day in the Ribeira Grande municipality.
It takes place on the last Saturday in June.
Festivals of Senhor Santo Cristo dos MilagresOn the fifth Sunday after Easter.
The most important religious festivities in Sao Miguel and the biggest festival in the Azores dates to the end of the 17th century with the fame of the miracles obtained through the intercessors of the Senhor Santo Cristo (Lord Holy Christ).
This festival happens always on the fifth Sunday after Easter.
Holy Ghost FestivalSeven weeks after Easter.
This festival celebrates the third person of the Godhead and is a day for some lucky poor person to be named Empress or Emperor for a day. The festival consists of a Mass, special meal and dancing.
These festivities are held seven weeks after Easter.