Viewpoints on São Miguel are much more than just an opportunity to briefly stop and glance at the sea. Especially during the weekend, many families use the viewpoints and the connected and very well laid-out BBQ areas to relax and recuperate. Many viewpoints, especially in the east, are very nice during the sunrise. The mood set by the lighting, the structures of the landscape that are enhanced by the low sun, as well as the calm and quiet of the morning make create incredibly relaxing moments. Why don’t you take some food and drink and enjoy your breakfast at one of the viewpoints.
Miradouro da Vigia das Baleias
In the northeast, directly by the village of Algarvia, you can find the viewpoint “Miradouro da Vigia das Baleias”. From here you have, as the name suggests, a great view over the northeastern coast of São Miguel. Just like the scouts of whalers long ago, you can use binoculars to look out for the whales that often travel along the coast.
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On the opposite site, you look directly at the mountain range that reaches from the east all the way to the centre of the island. With the summit of the Pico da Vara lying at above 1100m, this is very impressive to look at.
Just above the Miradouro da Vigia das Baleias you will find the Oratório de Nossa Senhora de Fátima. This is reminiscent of the “miracle of Fátima” of 1917. Fátima has since become a major site for pilgrimages for the Catholic Church in Portugal. Independent of the religious significance, the path to the Oratory of Nossa Senhora de Fátima leads to the highest point of the viewpoint via the stairs inscribed with “Ave Maria” and “Pai Nosso”.
Miradouro do Pico da Vara
If you want to climb especially high, and manage also to catch a day where the mountains’ summits are clear, then the viewpoint Miradouro do Pico da Vara is exactly the right place for you.
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The car park indicated on the map can easily be reached by car. The path is signposted from the exit of the highway at Achada. From the crest road you can see the whole north-south expansion of the island. In addition to the view of the Pico da Vara, the vegetation in particular is interesting here. Due to the high humidity that prevails all year round, the plants form dense carpets saturated with water. Maybe these pictures can give you an idea.
Miradouro do Pico Bartolomeu
If, after visiting the viewpoint by the Pico da Vara, you still haven’t had enough of mountains, you could also visit the nearly 900m high Miradouro do Pico Bartolomeu. This is also very easy to reach via car.
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On your way there you can catch a good view of the Pico da Vara to the west in many places.
Similarly, you can see the Pico Bartolomeu well from the way. Once you reach the top, you will also have a good view of the east coast and the surrounding mountains.
Miraduro da Lagoa do Fogo
The Lagoa do Fogo – or, in English, lagoon of fire – can be found in the centre of São Miguel and is probably one of the most visited places on the island. For that reason, we recommend visiting the lake in the early morning, especially during the main holiday season. No matter whether you just want to enjoy the atmosphere by the lookout or go down to the lake, it’s always nicest here during the morning. If you do want to go down to the lake, you can find some further information here.
Not only the constantly changing colours, which make the lakes and the surrounding slopes appear in very different moods, but also the birds taking to the sky in the morning are well worth the visit. The area, which is protected as a nature reserve, is used by a variety of birds for breeding.
Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos
A very inconspicuous viewpoint that is still definitely worth a visit is the Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos. Even if you can’t really miss the driveway, the viewpoint still seems very inconspicuous from the road.
According to the name, you can see ships here, which, of course, is not that unusual on São Miguel. However, this first impression can be deceiving. See for yourself:
The view of the Farol Ponto do Arnel and the port with the ships that have given the viewpoint its name invites you to take a break and relax. The little area beneath the viewpoint is very nicely laid out as well.
Miradouro do Parque Endémico do Pelado
If you are looking for somewhere to likely be able to enjoy the quiet all by yourself, then the Miradouro do Parque Endémico do Pelado is definitely a good choice. It is located near Lomba da Fazenda, and since it is signposted very creatively, you should probably look up the way there here beforehand.
Nonetheless, the Miradouro do Parque Endémico do Pelado is easy to reach by car but the way there is also a pleasant walk. From here, you can walk along the path and down the steps to all the way to the rough coast.
The area is really nicely situated and has its own character, perhaps because it is formed a little by wind and weather. Along the paths, some native plants are denoted by signs, so you might even learn a thing or two. During summer, this place also offers a great view of both sunrises and sunsets.
If you like calm and quiet places, the Miradouro do Parque Endémico do Pelado sure is a hidden gem.
Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego
Even if the Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego isn’t really a secret location, it definitely is worth us talking about it a little bit on here. We usually avoid the places that are flooded with tourists in the main holiday season. We would definitely recommend visiting the Miraduoro da Ponta do Sossego in the morning or the late afternoon, which will, for example, enable you to enjoy the sunrise in a calm environment and most often even completely by yourself.
The park is bordered on one side by the steep cliff and the ocean. But if you look the other way, you can see the Pico Bartolomeu. What’s interesting are the different plants that give this small park a special touch. If you’d like to, you could have your packed lunch at one of the sheltered tables.
Miradouro da Pedra dos Estorninhos
The Miradouro da Pedra dos Estorninhos is situated between Salga and Achadinha in the north east of São Miguel. There are actually several Miradouros (viewpoints) and resting places. Not too far away from the Miradouro da Pedra dos Estorninhos lies the Miradouro do Salto da Farinha, Miradouro da Foz da Ribeira das Coelhas and the Parque de Merendas do Fojo. As I mostly travel to watch sunsets, my personal favourite is the Miradouro da Pedra dos Estorninhos. The view over the coast and the valley of the river Ribeira das Coelhas are simultaneously both impressive and relaxing. Salto da Farinha, located in the same valley, absolutely also warrants a visit.
At the viewpoint, there are two sheltered stone tables and chairs so you could even bring some food with you. Whether you see the starlings (Estorninhos) or not, you are bound to still enjoy the atmosphere.