5 Easy Hikes and Nature Walks in São Miguel, Azores

The Azores offer the perfect setting to reconnect with nature. If you want to explore the natural wonders of São Miguel without going on strenuous hikes, don't worry. The island offers an abundance of easy hikes and botanical gardens to take a stroll through!

7 minute read
People walking over a bridge in the jungle of the Azores.
Walking over one of the bridges at Parque Grená.

CONTENTS

Jardim Botânico António Borges, Mata Jardim José do Canto, Grená, Parque Terra Nostra, Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões

Introduction

No matter where you are on São Miguel, chances are that you are not so far away from a park, garden, or natural reserve. These locations offer a glimpse into the region's rich botanical gardens, unique ecosystems, geothermal activity, and natural beauty.

In some of these parks you’ll find picnic tables strategically placed near barbecues - with the added bonus of free firewood for you to use! In the summer, these picnic spots become a beloved pastime for those living in the Azores.

Recommendations

  • Check Spot Azores for real-time webcam footage of the area you want to go to. (even if it's sunny in one part of the island, it can be totally different somewhere else!)
  • Use Windy for the most accurate weather predictions (Although the best way to lie in the Azores is to say you know what the weather will be).

Jardim Botânico António Borges - Ponta Delgada

cost - free

level - easy walk

Think: massive trees, winding stone pathways, peaceful ponds with ducks slowly wading by. If you are staying in or visiting Ponta Delgada and want a city break, you will want to stop by Jardim Botânico António Borges. 

In the 1800s, this botanical garden was initially designed and built as a private oasis. Today, it is open to the public, free of charge. Thanks to the efforts of António Borges (1812-1879), the garden showcases a diverse collection of plant species from around the world. It has been open to the public as a City Park since 1957.

Tip: There is a great little café in the park if you want a bite to eat. The chai latte is delicious!

Mata Jardim José do Canto - Furnas

cost - 4 Euro/person

level - easy walks with choice to hike moderate trail to a waterfall

On the south bank of Lagoa das Furnas, you will find Mata Jardim José do Canto. It is one of a few absolutely beautiful gardens commissioned by José do Canto in 1881. Designed by the renowned French Landscape Architect Barillet-Deschamps, this garden is a masterpiece in itself. 

On its grounds you will find a neo-gothic chapel, beautiful trails, plants and trees from around the world, and even an Azorean apple orchard. It offers easy strolls through pathways with little elevation change, as well as longer hikes to a nearby waterfall.

Parque Grená - Furnas

cost - 10 Euro/person

level - easy to moderate, there are many stairs in this park

I understand the hesitation – "10 Euros for a park?" Why opt for this when there are free alternatives? Well, the answer is straightforward: its beauty is simply unparalleled. With well maintained pathways, stairs carved out of whole tree logs, and even a jacuzzi, you will soon see why there is an entrance fee. 

You can do the whole circular 2.4 km route, which is moderate in difficulty, or choose to go as far as you like. There are stunning views of the waterfalls all along the way, as well as benches.

Tip #1: Go early in the morning to beat the crowd
Tip #2: Bring a bathing suit if you want to use the jacuzzi
Tip #3: Keep your ticket in a safe place after purchasing, as you will have to show it on the way out

Parque Terra Nostra - Furnas

cost - 10 Euro/person

level - easy stroll through botanical garden

This is one of the most popular destinations in São Miguel, and I have to say - it's incredibly beautiful. This garden in Furnas is famous for its iron-rich thermal water bath originally built in 1780. 

Beyond the relaxing mineral rich waters, there is a large botanical garden filled with canals, statues, and impressive gardens. It's easy to spend hours wandering around the tree shaded pathways, taking in all of the blooming plants and captivating views that unfold at every turn.

Tip #1: Bring a dark-toned bathing suit to swim in as the iron-rich waters tend to stain brighter clothes.
Tip #2: If you want to experience the park when less people are there, consider staying a night at the Terra Nostra Hotel. They offer their guests access to the garden and hot spring 24/7.

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões - Nordeste

cost - free

level - easy stroll through the park with the choice to go on a short moderate hike to a waterfall

One of my personal favorites on the island, Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeirões is a true paradise for waterfall lovers. As you enter the park, you’ll pass a charming café built from stone. Exploring further into the park, you'll encounter five water mills dating back to the 1600s. Each mill offers a fascinating glimpse into the land's historical uses. Along your journey, you'll pass by picnic tables, serene ponds, and, of course, waterfalls. 

There is also an easy 1km in-and-out hike to a less crowded waterfall from the park.

Tip: Do you want a more exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping way to experience this park? Try a canyoning tour! I did this recently for my birthday and had the best time.

Don’t Forget

This island isn't just a vacation destination; it's home to approximately 140,000 people. So, while you're here, it's essential to clean up after yourself and be open to embracing the local way of doing things. When you respect the local culture and the beautiful surrounding environment, you will get an authentic Azorean experience. 

What To Do After 

So you just explored a lush park or easy hike decorated with plants from around the world. What now? You can have a swim at a nearby beach or natural pool, have a bite to eat, go to a miradouro close by, have a tasting at a local vineyard, go on a hike, tour the pineapple plantation, try surfing those beautiful Azorean waves, take a dip in a hot spring, or simply take a nap and be happy after a beautiful day.

Hi we're Sarah & Gregor
We love unconventional adventures and exploring ruins. You can typically find us petting a cat, fermenting veggies, surfing (trying to anyway), or writing another article for you to enjoy.