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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Furnas Valley, Sao Miguel, Azores

You will be amazed at how many activities and attractions there are on this one island. All of these sights have been on the island of Sao Miguel. 
(There are still 8 other islands to explore). 

While on Sao Miguel, and after you have visited Sete Cidades, the lake, the mansion, went scuba diving, and visited the island/nature reserve, you still have a few more amazing things to do.   You need to head to the Calderas for a slow cooked meal, walk around the town, and then head to the garden and relax in the warm springs. 

Where can you do all of this and in one day? 
In the volcanic region of Furnas.

"The Valley of Furnas is, in fact, a volcanic crater which has been dormant since 1630, date of the last eruption. Since then, it has sheltered the Vila de Furnas and Terra Nostra Park". Source 
Furnas Valley, Sao Miguel, Azores 

This volcanic region, known as Lagoa das Furnas, brings you authentic Azorean food cooked in a very unique way.  The food is cooked in the "furnas" or volcanic holes with boiling mud and steam. 

At 12:30, you can see workers pulling these cooking pots from the furnas.  The pot is known as a “cozido”.  It is usually left to cook for 5 to 7 hours at a temperature of 70 degrees C. According to the locals, this is "real slow food".  Make sure to stay on your side of the fence as these bubbling vats of mud and steam can be quite dangerous.   Did I mention there is a very pungent sulfuric (aka rotten egg) smell here?  Just warning you....

Steaming Furnas 

Where your meal is cooked!

Finally, it is lunch time and you are greeted with family style platters of: Pork, Beef, Cabbage, Kale, Potatoes, Tarot, Carrots, Chicken, Chouri├žo and Blood Sausage.
 Chouri├žo is a portuguese style spicy sausage similar to chorizo, and blood sausage is... well.. you guessed it.  Blood stuffed in sausage (I wasn't brave enough I am afraid to say). 
If you are brave enough, I hear it is quite delicious.  (This may not be the best meal for vegetarians...)
Cozido das Furnas Source
After lunch, you can walk around town and enjoy the gorgeous area.  The mozaic tiles, street signs, rivers, greenery, and architecture are beautiful and unique. 

Mosaic Wall, Sao Miguel, Azores 
Upside Down House 
I said unique right?  Keep your eye out for the upside down house (actually an electrical substation!). More pictures here.

Sao Miguel, Azores 
Fountain- Sao Miguel Azores 

I am not the only one lugging around a camera everywhere I go.  While you can see my toting around my Nikon (and a go pro, and phone, and zoom lens) my father never heads out without the video camera.  So this is where I got it from.....

My nimble father 
After lunch and a walk around town, you need to head to Terra Nostra Garden for a serene walk around the garden and a dip into the thermal bath.  There is an entry fee but it is worth every penny for the views and unique bath.
WARNING:  Wear an old suit as the iron in the water will stain your suit (I learned the hard way).   

Terra Nostra Garden
"Built in 1780, by Thomas Hickling, the American consul who had the original idea for Terra Nostra Park, the Thermal Water Pool began to form part of the assembly dominated by Yankee Hall, a holiday house owned by Hickling. The pool was significantly smaller at that time, but already consisted of an “island” in the middle, with a bridge linking it to the land". Source 

Thermal Bath- take a dip!
"The Furnas Valley became popular towards the end of the 18th century, due to the growing interest in the use of mineral water to treat health problems, such as rheumatism and obesity. Furnas has hundreds of small springs and streams, all with different properties. The Terra Nostra Garden is located in the midst of this magnificent water system". Source 

"The huge thermal pool with hot spring water (with standard temperature between 37C and 40C) has beneficial properties and is good for relaxation and for the skin. The colour is not very appealing because of the iron but the experience is absolutely worth it". Source

Terra Nostra Garden Map

Click Here for different itineraries for visiting the park in different seasons. 

A day in the Furnas looks a little like this:  walk around the Calderas and watch the "cozido's" being removed from the calderas.  Slowly head on over to the restaurant to enjoy your "real slow" food of assorted meats and vegetables.  Walk around town before heading to Terra Nostra Gardens for a walk around the property and a dip into the warm thermal pool.  Slowly make your way back to Ponta Delgada. 

Road signs in Furnas

So many amazing things to do on this island, and we aren't done yet. 

Make sure you check out all my other Azores posts


  1. Wow, what a fun trip! Can't wait to see more of the upcoming adventures!

    Looking forward to see more of your posts. Do you have an instagram account? Maybe we could follow each other. Let me know by leaving a comment on my blog or sending me a request. I'll follow back :) Thanks!

    IG: @shairangelique

    Have a nice day!


    1. Hi Shaira! Thanks for stopping by! I just found you on IG and sent you a request :) Just added your blog to my list!

      Katie @ Katie Wanders

  2. Replies
    1. Such a gorgeous and unique place! I am lucky! Thanks for reading!

  3. Beautiful! And I love your photos! During my visit in Sao Miguel, I felt in love with Furnas, volcanic city with thermal waters. I dedicated a small post, I hope you like it :)


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