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30 Amazing Things To Do In The Azores With Kids: Ultimate Family Guide To São Miguel Island

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Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Leslie Stroud

Given the flood of questions about our relocation to Portugal, I’ve taken the plunge and launched a second blog titled ‘The American Family in Portugal’. Join us as we share our journey and insights into expat life in this beautiful country!

Drinking in the beauty of the Azores Islands, or “Portugal’s Hawaii,” can be done around the island by boat, car, or foot. It’s difficult not to be stunned by every view and landscape on the island. The endless, rolling farm fields, tea plantations, old calderas, lakes, and incredible coastlines will sink deep in your memory.

We’ve visited this amazing place with our five kids and wanted to see it again. There was far more on the island than we could accomplish in our 4-day visit.

Whether you are looking for hiking, interactions with animals, swimming in hot springs, or visiting the beach, we’ve got your ultimate guide to the island for your family!

Beautiful Portugal

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Where To Stay In São Miguel With Kids

Different parts of the Azores offer many places to stay, but the entire island is beautiful. No matter where you stay, you can get around by car in about an hour.

Check out these top family hotels in Sao Miguel:

For car needs, visit our favorite Rental Cars.

Exploring São Miguel With Kids By Sea

1. Whale Watching

Depending on the season, you’ll want to go whale watching. The best season is April to October, but you can spot some whales year-round. Spotting these magnificent creatures in real life is an experience like any other.

We’d recommend sailing with Tiago with Picos de Adventura for their focus on eco-sustainability and experience.

Kids playing in the lake

2. Ilhéu de Vila Franca

This “bathing site of the famous” is accessible by boat only. The weather did not permit this during our trip, but I’ve read that only one company can dock on the island. Be sure to ask if your boat operator can land here if you want to swim and snorkel (best done in the warmer summer months).

3. Boat Tour Around São Miguel 

The island’s coastlines will amaze you from the land above or on a boat tour around the island. See and experience its beauty through Whale Watching Expedition and Islet Boat Tour or a Full day tour to São Miguel with Lunch. If you’re a fan of fishing, you can have a 4-hour sport fishing adventure around Ponta Delgada.

Whale watching in the Azores

Family Hiking Around São Miguel 

4. Explore By Foot

Many family-friendly hikes around the island range around 30 minutes on an easy trail, and you can increase the difficulty from here. We recommend downloading the AllTrails App, which you can use worldwide. I like reading the reviews and downloading the map features without service later.

Some of the hikes to try:

  1. Miradouro da Boco do Inferno
  2. Salto do Prego Hike
  3. Logao do Congro Hike
  4. Vistro do Rei- Sete Cidades Trail
Entrance to the dark tunnel, Janela Do Inferno Hike

5. Janela Do Inferno Hike

This hike, in particular, is really fun with kids.

Perfect for kids who love to explore, this trail to “Hell’s Window” goes through several tunnels (bring your flashlight or flashlight in your charged phone!), old aqueducts, and ends in a waterfall out the side of the mountain.

6. Lagoa das Empadadas

More extended hike options with huge cedar forests and serenity. Plan on at least a couple of hours.

7. Take In Some Waterfalls in São Miguel With Kids

There are many fantastic waterfalls around the island, even with hot springs water.

Salto do Cabrito Waterfall is a somewhat strenuous hike with a beautiful view at the end.  For younger kids, throw them in a carrier (or bring them in case little legs get tired).

Kids can also try the easy canyoning loops

8. Canyoning In São Miguel

If your children are older, consider doing some canyoning. It’s so fun! You can find several tours offering various options to do this, like this one.

Exploring São Miguel With Kids By Car

9. Driving to Lookouts

It’s pretty easy to simply take a drive and explore the island in all its beauty. Signs are plentiful with lookouts, or “miradouros.” We pulled up Google Maps from our Airbnb and tagged three near us that were all stunning:

These were only 5-10 minutes apart, so we could see all three in an hour.  They were stunning!  

10. Take A Picnic Along The Coast

Many of these “miradouros”, or lookouts, have BBQ areas with picnic tables. Some go down to the coast, and you can do a short hike with your lunch. The Ponta da Sossego has many picnic tables, perhaps 7-10, with resident cats to entertain the kids. Bathrooms are on site as well.

11. Explore Gardens

The Jose Do Canto Gardens, a once private residence with a church and waterfalls, are now open to the public daily and can be accessed for 3€ per adult.  They are set in a caldera, or the top of an old volcano, with a picturesque lake as the backdrop.  

My boys loved running around, throwing rocks into the lake, and playing amid the trees and old structures.

Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Enjoy The Volcanic Activity in São Miguel

12. See Volcanic Activity In Action

Across the lake from the Jose De Canto Gardens is Grená.  Here you can see bubbling mud from the earth. You can also enjoy the hot springs with the lake as your backdrop, rent canoes, and more!

13. Look At The Top Of An Old Volcano

Several caldeiras exist on the island of São Miguel.  Some of the famous ones are:

You can often also see geysers, such as in Caldeiras das Furnas, which will amaze the kids.

Explore Churches and Museums in Ponta Delgada

14. Visit A Church In São Miguel 

Maybe this is not the kid’s favorite thing to do, but a wonderful cultural experience and a bonus for the parents. Also a good option on a rainy day! Ponta Delgada, the central city on the island, boasts many great churches, including these three:

15. Hit Up Some of Sao Miguel’s Museums

Visiting museums is another exciting activity for a rainy day and can be indeed great with kids:

Explore Plantations With The Kids

16. Pineapple Plantation

Azores Pineapple Plantation

Are pineapples grown on trees or in the ground? Find out yourself with a tour of the Pineapple Plantation near Ponta Delgada. Do it yourself or join a trip with a guide.

17. Tea Plantation

Visit the only tea plantation in all of Europe at Gorreana Tea Plantation! The scenery is beautiful, and you can try some tea at the end of the tour.

Get Outside With The Kids In São Miguel

18. Explore Caves

Near Punta Delgada is Gruta do Carvão, a cave, and museum beckoning the kids to come and explore.  

19. Explore a Forest

One of the reasons we came to Sao Miguel was to get some space for my kids.  They love to find sticks and run around a forest.  The Reserva Florestal de Recreio do Pinhal da Paz can entertain for hours and wear out the most energetic kids!

Near Ponta Delgada, this nature reserve has bathrooms, BBQ pits, and a massive playground for the kids.

Hit a park in the Azores with kids

20. Walk Around A Lake Or View It From Above

The best time to visit Lagoa do Fogo (Fire Lake) is on a clear and sunny day.  When we stopped by, we saw nothing but clouds and rain!  However, you can still hike around the lake or go up to one of the miradouros (viewpoints) to take it in.

The Sete Cidades region (Seven Cities) boasts several lakes to take your breath away.  

21. Mosteiros Beach

See and experience a black sand beach surrounded by cliffs. Let the kids play, eat a picnic lunch and relax.

Poça da Dona Beija with kids

Take a Swim In São Miguel With Kids

22. Visit A Hot Spring

There are several hot springs available to you on São Miguel Island.  We visited Poça da Dona Beija and loved the tropical backdrop to the pools fed by a hot waterfall.

However, other options include the Cascata da Ribeira Quente, a hot springs waterfall, or Terra Nostra Park.  

See this post for a complete list of the hot spring options in São Miguel.

Bonus: Visiting a hot spring can be an excellent activity for a rainy day. While it’s a bit chilly getting in and out, the rain didn’t bother us on our day in Poça da Dona Beija

If organized tours are your vibe, there are many great options with hot springs, such as Furnas Hot Springs at Night with Dinner or try a Full-Day Furnas & Fire Lake Tour.

23. Take A Swim At The Pool

If you are looking for a swim in the warmer months, the Complexo Municipal de Piscinas is an excellent option. This “pool” uses ocean water and has three pools for more minor children.

24. Ponta Da Ferraria

This natural hot spring in the ocean offers a rustic, natural hot spring outside. Lifeguards are often on duty, and there is an accompanying restaurant and spa.

Cozido das Furnas, Portugal’s most unique dish

Try Local Favorites Around The Island

25. Eat Lunch Cooked By A Volcano

Cozido, a local traditional dish of meats and vegetables, is sunk deep into the earth in the morning and cooked by the area’s volcanic activity. Tony’s Restaurant in Furnas is a famous spot to try this local favorite and has many other delicious entrees.

Tip: Cozido typically sells out in the morning, and a reservation is needed.  We’re SUPER lucky to have it for dinner as they often cook a few extra plates, but your best bet is to reserve it before the day or at least the morning you plan to go.

26. Parque Natural da Ribeira

You can have a free tour of a waterfall area with old watermills and aqueducts. Be aware parking can be difficult.

Take In The City Life

27. Portas da Ciudade

View these gorgeous city arches that used to welcome tourists that came by boat to the island. Located in the heart of Ponta Delgada, they are also worth seeing at night.

28. Explore A Fort

My boys are constantly playing some kind of army/fighting imaginary game. Racket this up by visiting an actual fort. The Forte da Sao Bras is only 3€ for adults and 1€ for children. 

29. Shop For Some Local Favorites

The Mercado da Graça offers loads of local fruits like pineapple, watermelon, and bananas.

Explore Other Islands

30. Take a Day Trip to Another Island

Flights between the nine main islands of the Azores are relatively cheap. Explore a new one for the day!

Things you should not forget

Book your flight to the Azores on Booking.com, Skyscanner, Kiwi.com, or Expedia

Find a nice hotel in the Azores from Booking.com, Expedia, or Vrbo, (we also love Tripadvisor and Hotels.com)

Discover other fun activities in Portugal through GetYourGuide, Airbnb Experiences, or Viator

Rent a Car on Expedia Rental Cars

Get insured while traveling with World Nomads

Capture your best memories in the Azores as we do with a GoPro, Sony camera, or our favorite drones: DJI FPV, Air, and Mini

Check out your travel necessities from a comprehensive list of all the 7Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves. Click Here!

Additional Reading

Visiting Poça da Dona Beija Hot Springs With Kids: All You Need To Know

Discovering Madeira as a Family

How To Obtain A Portuguese D7 Visa For Your Family: Everything You Need To Know

2 Comments

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  2. Pingback: The Decision is Final! We are Going to Travel the World with kids - 7 Wayfinders

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