After Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Forgo is probably the most popular “bucket list” site on São Miguel Island. Like Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Fogo, or in English, Fire Lake, is a crater lake in the middle of another of São Miguel’s dormant volcanos. Lagoa do Fogo is located in the middle of the island high on a mountain – its the highest of São Miguel’s three crater lakes. Go to Lagoa do Fogo for stunning views and hiking if you are into that! Also, tourists should now that Lagoa do Fogo is protected by the Azorean government and swimming is NOT allowed.
Since Dan and I spent a week on São Miguel, we visited Lagoa do Fogo twice. Once on a tour (the same tour that we took to Sete Cidades) and once on our own as a detour on en route to way to Furnas! As you know from my Sete Cidades post, São Miguel had horrible weather the day of our tour so we really did not get to see Lagoa do Fogo at all…
When we drove back two days later, we were not even sure what we were supposed to be looking at… In any case, we just typed Lagoa do Fogo into our GPS and followed the directions! We departed from Ponta Delgada, and the drive to Lagoa do Fogo took about 45 minutes. The drive is up winding roads that offer stunning views of São Miguel and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as lots of hydrangeas and cows! We pulled over to take pictures wherever other cars had pulled over and eventually made our way to the main view point!
Like Sete Cidades, the parking situation is a mess. Basically, you just park in a line in the road. Read: in the road – not on the side of the road! No one seems to care and everyone appears to be doing it…so we just left our car at the end of the line and got out to take pictures!
And wow, compared to our views yesterday, Lagoa was absolutely stunning! It reminded me a lot of Hawaii and we took lots of pictures over the course of about 15 minutes. The crowds were not as crazy as those at Sete Cidades, so 15 minutes was plenty of time.
And a video!
Tourists should aim to see both Lagoa do Fogo and Sete Cidades, but I think Sete Cidades has much more of a “wow” factor if you are tight on time. Also, since Lagoa do Fogo is really just a view point (again, swimming and boating are NOT permitted), I recommend pairing a visit to Lagoa do Fogo with some other interesting sites close by.
For example, when we drove to Lagoa do Fogo, we continued on to Furnas and spent the night in Furnas. Furnas is about 40 minutes away from Lagoa do Fogo and can be combined into a day trip, albeit a tight one.
If you are not that ambitious, there are a few other activities close by, the closest of which being the Caldeira Velha. Caldeira Velha is a collection of thermal pools and natural waterfall of warm Iron water (heated from the Earth) and its located on the north slope of the volcano, making for a very easy visit in connection with Lagoa do Fogo! Caldeira Velha charges a small entrance fee, which includes entrance to its many thermal pools, which vary from luke warm to boiling (the boiling ones have signs and are well, boiling). Even though it was raining when we visited, Caldeira Velha was still crowded. If you plan to enjoy the pools, bring a bathing suit, a towel, and water shoes if you have them! If you do not want to get into the pools, Caldeira Velha is still a pretty interesting park to walk though, as it seriously looks just like a scene out of Jurassic Park! Seriously, everyone was saying this!
If thermal springs aren’t your thing, another fun stop is São Miguel very own liquor producer, Mulher de Capote Licores! Mulher de Capote makes and sells its own liquors, many of which are done with local fruits, including pineapple and passion fruit, and their most famous liquor is licorice flavored!
The Mulher de Capote factory permits visitors to walk through a small portion of its production plant and gives out small, but unlimited, samples of a few of their liquors. Guests can also purchase their liquor to take home, including in small, plane-sized bottles. We ended up with a coffee liquor and a pineapple liquor in an awesome bottle! If you cannot make it to Mulher de Capote, you can find their liquor at most restaurants on São Miguel and their licorice version is available at the SATA Lounge in Ponta Delgada’s airport!
Lastly, the lovely village of Vila Franca do Campo is also relatively close to Lagoa do Fogo! Vila Franca do Campo is a small town located on the Atlantic Ocean to the East of Ponta Delgada that dates back to the 15th century! Vila Franca do Campo is quite picturesque (it reminded me a little of Italy!), and its most famous site is its Islet of Vila Franca do Campo. The Islet is a a result of, what else, a volcano, and visitors can take tours from Vila Franca do Campo from town daily.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Azores Tours: The tour company I used. Azores Tours was quick to respond to my emails and the tour was great! The cost was €60/person for a full day tour of Sete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo, including lunch. This is a good option if you have limited time and want to see a lot (as they go all over the island), are not renting a car, or want to learn a lot about the history of the island. I really enjoyed the tour and would definitely do it again!
Azores Natural Parks: The not very useful website about the Azores’ natural parks.
Mulher de Capote Licores: Rua do Berquó, 12, Conceição, 9600-542 Ribeira Grande, Portugal. T: +351 296 472 831. E: email@example.com. Open Monday – Friday 9 – 18h (6:00 p.m.). Closed Saturday and Sunday. However, you can find these liquors throughout the island. Free parking onsite.
Caldeira Velha: EN5-2A, Ribeira Grande, Portugal. Open April – September 9 – 20h30 (8:30 p.m.), March and October 10 – 18h (6:00 p.m.), and November – February 9 – 17h (5:00 p.m.). Cost: €2/adult, €1/seniors and children (12 and under).
O’Silva: Rua Direita de Cima, 41, Ribeira Seca, 9600-221 Ribeira Grande, Portugal. Open Tuesday – Sunday 12:00 – 23:00. Dan and I had a delicious lunch here on our tour with Azores Tours. The food was really great and it was also very authentic, lots of locals! They also had a really cool selection of seafood to choose from!
Vila Franca do Campo: Azores’ website on Vila Franca do Campo.
Finn’s Irish Pub and Grill: R. do Baixio 5, Vila Franca Do Campo, Portugal. Reservations not required.
ON A BUDGET
Visiting Lagoa do Fogo is pretty budget friendly, as its totally free. The most costly thing will be getting there, which will entail renting a car, hiring a driver, or taking a tour. For the super budget minded, Vila Franca do Campo is very budget friendly, as its views are free and a bus runs to and from Ponta Delgada to Vila Franca do Campo!