Ponta Delgada, the largest city in the Azores archipelago, is a hidden gem in the heart of the European oasis, Sao Miguel Island. This picturesque destination boasts a rich history that dates back to the 15th century when it was first settled by Portuguese explorers. The city’s charming cobblestone streets and striking architecture, such as the iconic Portas da Cidade and the 16th-century Forte de São Brás, are testaments to its rich past.
Visitors to Ponta Delgada are always captivated by its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions. The city is surrounded by lush landscapes, including the breathtaking Sete Cidades volcanic crater lakes and the enchanting Terra Nostra Botanical Garden. For those seeking adventure, whale watching and swimming with dolphins are popular activities that connect visitors to the Azores’ marine life.
In addition to its stunning surroundings, Ponta Delgada offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with friendly locals and a thriving culinary scene. From traditional Azorean dishes to contemporary fusion cuisine, foodies will find plenty to savor in this captivating coastal city. This article outlines the best things to do in Ponta Delgada to help those planning a trip know what it’s like to explore the capital of the Azores.
UPDATE: 2023/09/27 15:25 EST BY NOAH STAATS
There Are More Things To Do While In Ponta Delgada!
This article has been refreshed with new things to do in Ponta Delgada, including pineapple farms, museums, scenic gardens, and tips for coming to Portugal. There is plenty to see, do, and experience in this stunning city, regardless of the season.
Things To Do
São Miguel Island offers a plethora of attractions and activities to tourists, all of which are within a short drive from Ponta Delgada. Here’s a look at some of the top things to do in and near Ponta Delgada.
Jardim Botânico António Borges
Fort of São Bras in Ponta Delgada, Portugal.
One thing to check out while in Ponta Delgada is the Jardim Botânico António Borges. Here, tourists can appreciate the urban botanical garden with trails, where grottoes showcase rare and exotic plants. Only minutes from downtown Ponta Delgada, this is an easy spot to get to for anyone without a car in the city. A quick cab ride is all one would need.
- Address: R. de São Joaquim 22, 9500-180 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 8 PM (closes at 9 on weekends)
Pineapple Plantation A Arruda
Inside view of a pineapple plantation in the city of Ponta Delgada, Portugal.
While in in Ponta Delgada visit the famous Pineapple Plantation, A Arruda. Here lies the family-friendly venue hosting plenty of pineapples as well as places to walk around.
A fun fact: It takes roughly two years for these pineapples to grow, meaning each one you see blooming has had quite the journey. There is also a gift shop where guests can purchase fresh pineapples.
- Address: R. Dr. Augusto Arruda, 9500-454 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Open daily from 9 AM to 8 PM
Mercado da Graça
The historic Mercado da Graça, Ponta Delgada
Another idea for something to do in Ponta Delgada is shopping at the Mercado da Graça. This is a nice location to purchase fresh food, like fruits and even honey. The market has been around for decades, becoming a hot spot for locals and tourists alike on the weekends on holidays.
One thing to remember, however, is fruit/food won’t likely be allowed on the plane home, so make sure and eat everything in Portugal.
- Address: R. do Mercado 15, 9500-349 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Open every day but Saturday from 7 AM
Hike To Fuerte de San Blas
The iconic and historic Fuerte de San Blas in Ponta Delgada
The next idea for people visiting Ponta Delgada is to check out the Fuerte de San Blas (Forte de São Brás). Here is where the Coastal Renaissance fortress dating to 1552 is now home to a military history museum.
People can see what the structure looks like from inside and beyond and usually spend about an hour here. The water views are also very beautiful.
- Address: R. Eng. Abel Ferin Coutinho 10, 9500-768 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Open Monday – Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM
Explore Sete Cidades
Crater lake in Sete Cidades
Discover the breathtaking beauty of Sete Cidades, a picturesque village located amidst the verdant landscapes of São Miguel Island. This enchanting destination is famous for its twin lakes, Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul, which boast contrasting shades of green and blue.
Visitors can take a leisurely stroll or a guided tour around the lakes or take part in activities like kayaking, cycling, and birdwatching.
For some of the best views, tourists can head to Vista do Rei viewpoint, a must-visit spot in this charming village that makes this attraction one of the most epic things to do on the Azores Islands.
- Address: Sete Cidades, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
Hike To Lagoa do Fogo
A section of Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo is a pristine crater lake in the central part of the island, about 12 miles from Ponta Delgada, and it is surrounded by dense forests and vibrant flora. Also known as the Lake of Fire, this lake sits at an altitude of about 1900 feet, making it the highest lake on the island.
There are several trails to Lagoa do Fogo with varying levels of difficulty, the most popular of which are Serra Devassa and Serra da Barrosa.
- Address: Lagoa do Fogo, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
Relax In Terra Nostra Park
A pathway in Terra Nostra Park
Found about 19 miles from Ponta Delgada, Terra Nostra Park is a renowned botanical garden and thermal park that’s worth visiting when in the Azores. This park boasts about 30 acres of stunning landscaped gardens with winding paths that weave through the site.
- The most popular features at Terra Nostra are the thermal pools, which have iron-rich water at temperatures of 38 to 40 degrees Celsius (100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit).
Visitors can take a relaxing warm bath in these mineral-rich waters, which are believed to offer benefits to the skin. Terra Nostra also boasts a museum that showcases the history of the area’s geothermal activity.
- Address: Largo Marquês da Praia e Monfort, 9675-061 Furnas, Portugal
- Hours: 10:30 am – 4:30 pm (daily)
- Admission: Adults: $12; Children (3 to 10 yrs): $6; Children under 2: Free
Wander Around Ponta Delgada’s Historic Center
Portas da Cidade at Christmas
The Historic Center is the heart of the city, with a rich history that is traced back to the 17th century. This past is evident in the architecture, with buildings that were put up in the 17th and 18th centuries, most of which have Baroque, Manueline, and Moorish influences.
Visitors can explore Praca Goncalo, the city’s main square and the nerve center of the Historic Center. From here, landmarks like the iconic City Gates- Portas da Cidade- as well as the Church of Sao Sebastiao, are just a stone’s throw away.
The Historic Center also boasts the 19th-century-built City Hall, the bustling market of Mercado da Graca, and a variety of museums.
- Many attractions are here, including City Hall, Mercado da Graca, and museums.
Pay A Visit To The Church Of Santo Cristo
Church of Santo Cristo exterior, Ponta Delgada
The historic Church of Santo Cristo was built in the 16th century and has undergone multiple renovations over the centuries to counter the ravages of time. Presently, this church is one of the most important religious sites in the archipelago, housing the revered image of Lord Jesus Christ of Miracles.
The building boasts a mix of Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles, with its facade defined by statues and ornate detailing. The interior is no different as it’s characterized by artwork, more statues, and altarpieces.
- Address: Av. Roberto Ivens, 9500-238 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: 7:30 am – 5:30 pm (daily)
Check Out The Exhibits At The Carlos Machado Museum
Exterior view of the Carlos Machado Museum
The Carlos Machado Museum was established in 1876, making it one of the oldest museums in not just the archipelago but the whole of Portugal. Found in the Historic Center, the museum’s building is also laden with history as it is a former convent that dates back to the 16th century.
Various collections are housed at the Carlos Machado Museum, showcasing the area’s natural history, art, and ethnography.
Visitors get to learn about the cultural heritage and traditions of the Azorean people as well as the island’s unique biodiversity from its endemic plant species to the marine life.
- Address: Rua do Dr.Guilherme Poças 65, 9500-100 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Tue – Sun: 10 am – 5:30 pm (closed on Mon)
- Admission: Adults: $3; Children 14 and under: Free
Swim In The Natural Pools Of Mosteiros
A view of Mosteiros
Travel about 17 miles west of Ponta Delgada to the fascinating Piscinas Naturais dos Mosteiros or the Natural Pools of Mosterios. Found in the village of Mosteiros, these pools are formed by volcanic rocks that line the area’s coastline, creating natural barriers that trap seawater.
Visitors can swim in these natural seawater pools as they’re sheltered from the open ocean. Those who don’t wish to get wet may admire the stunning backdrop of dramatic cliffs, volcanic rock formations, and the Atlantic Ocean.
- Located in the village of Mosteiros.
Go Whale Watching
Ocean waves as seen from Ponta Delgada
Ponta Delgada is renowned for its whale-watching experiences, allowing visitors to observe these majestic marine mammals in their natural habitat. The city’s strategic location makes it an ideal starting point for expeditions, which are organized by various local tour companies like Futurismo Azores Adventures and Moby Dick Tours.
- Tours typically last from 2 to 3 hours, and the best months for whale watching are from April to October. During this time, species like the sperm whale, the humpback whale, and even the blue whale are sighted.
- Address: Marina Portas do Mar, Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 26 São Miguel Island, 9500-771 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: 8 am – 7 pm (daily)
- Price: From $72
- Address: Marina Portas do Mar, Av. Infante Dom Henrique, 9500-150 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: 9 am – 9 pm (daily)
- Price: From $55
Explore The Underground Gruta do Carvao
Tourists exploring Gruta do Carvao
Gruta do Carvao, also known as Coal Cave, is an underground cave found just 1.5 miles from the heart of Ponta Delgada. Much like other natural features on the island, this cave was formed by volcanic activity that created a network of underground passages. Gruta do Carvao is just one of the accessible sections.
Visitors can only access the cave on a guided tour that only lasts about 30 minutes and covers about 0.4 miles of this 1-mile-long cave. However, longer tours of 2 to 3 hours are available on certain days.
- Address: R. do Paim, 9500-230 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: 10 am – 12:30 pm & 2 pm – 6 pm (daily)
- Price: Adults: $9; Seniors (65+): $6; Children (6 yrs and below): Free
Best Time To Visit Ponta Delgada
A street in Ponta Delgada, Portugal
Ponta Delgada experiences a mild oceanic climate with year-round pleasant temperatures.
- The ideal months to visit Ponta Delgada are May to September, as the weather is warm and sunny with minimal rainfall.
Here’s an overview of what to expect in Ponta Delgada during the different seasons.
May to September
These months are the peak tourist season in Ponta Delgada, with the weather being warm and sunny. Temperatures average highs of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) and lows of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius).
During this time, there are long days and minimal rainfall, making it an excellent time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions and enjoy the beautiful beaches. However, tourist crowds are larger during this period, and prices for accommodations and flights may be higher.
October to December
As autumn progresses in Ponta Delgada, temperatures begin to drop slightly, with highs of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) and lows of 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius).
The weather remains relatively mild, but rainfall starts to increase.
Despite the occasional rain showers, this season still offers a pleasant experience for tourists as the crowds begin to thin out and prices become more reasonable. Visitors should, however, pack appropriate clothing for potential rain.
January to April
January to April are the winter months in Ponta Delgada, which are characterized by lower temperatures and increased rainfall. Highs range between 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), while lows hover around 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius).
Although outdoor activities may be limited due to the weather, it is still possible to explore the city’s indoor attractions and enjoy its vibrant culture. During this period, crowds are significantly smaller, and prices for accommodations and flights are at their lowest, making it ideal for those on a tight budget.
Best Ways Around Ponta Delgada
Aerial view of cruise ship at Ponta Delgada
Travelers arriving in Ponta Delgada will likely land at the João Paulo II Airport, which is conveniently located just 2 miles from the city center. This airport welcomes flights from various European cities such as Lisbon, Porto, London, and Frankfurt, as well as seasonal flights from North America.
International visitors may also choose to fly into the Lisbon Airport and then take a connecting flight to Ponta Delgada. The flight from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada is roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Once in Ponta Delgada, tourists can explore the city using the following transportation options:
The local bus service in Ponta Delgada runs on several routes that cover the main attractions within the city. Buses run from around 6:30 am to 11 pm every day, but this schedule varies according to the route.
Taxis are readily available throughout Ponta Delgada and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance. They offer a convenient way to travel within the city or to nearby attractions.
For those who prefer more flexibility and independence, renting a car is an excellent option. Several car rental agencies are available at João Paulo II Airport and in the city center. Prices vary depending on the vehicle type and rental duration.
- Travelers can expect to pay around $30 per day for a compact car.
Ponta Delgada is a bike-friendly city with dedicated cycling lanes and bike rental services available throughout the city. Renting a bicycle is an eco-friendly and enjoyable way to explore the city at a leisurely pace.
- Prices for bike rentals in Punta Delgada start at $15 per day.
The city center of Ponta Delgada is compact and easily navigable on foot. Many of the main attractions, such as the Portas da Cidade, Forte de São Brás, and the Mercado da Graça, are within walking distance of each other. This allows visitors to take in the charming architecture and vibrant atmosphere at their own pace.
Where To Eat In Ponta Delgada
A street in Ponta Delgada
Famous foods in the Azores include Furnas stew, pork, stewed octopus, and other seafood dishes. All these and more can be enjoyed at Ponta Delgada’s plethora of restaurants and eateries.
Below are some of the places to eat in Ponta Delgada.
- Address: R. Hintze Ribeiro 46-48, 9500-049 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Mon & Wed-Sat: 9 am – 3 pm (closed on Sun & Tue)
- Meals: Sandwiches, omelets, toasted banana bread, pizza
- Address: R. da Alfândega, 9500-017 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Mon: 7 am – 10 pm; Tue – Fri: 7 am – 11 pm; Sat: 9 am – 11 pm; Sun: 7 am – 3 pm
- Meals: Sandwiches, cheeseburgers, hamburgers, pork steak, beef steak
- Address: R. do Aljube 16, 9500-018 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:30 am – 12 am (closed on Sun)
- Meals: Dobrada, Alcatra, beef steak, grilled black pork, baked cauliflower, vegetable and bean stew
- Address: R. dos Mercadores 41, 9500-150 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Wed – Fri: 12 pm – 3 pm & 6:30 pm – 10 pm; Sat: 6:30 pm – 10 pm; Sun: 12 pm – 3 pm (closed on Mon)
- Meals: Roasted beef on bread, Sta. Maria Sausage, Tapas
- Address: R. Hintze Ribeiro 83, 9500-098 Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Mon: 9 am – 12 am; Tue – Fri: 9 am – 2 am; Sat: 1 pm – 2 am (closed on Sun)
- Drinks: Vodka, Rum
- Meals: Hamburger, cheeseburger, turkey sandwich, steak sandwich, ham toast
- Address: Av. Infante Dom Henrique, Ponta Delgada, Portugal
- Hours: Sun – Thu: 2 pm – 2 am; Fri & Sat: 2 pm – 4 am
- Cocktails: White Russian, Orange Blossom, Tom Collins, Bar Do Pi, Margarita, Mojito, Daiquiri
Where To Stay In Ponta Delgada
Ponta Delgada has various hotels to choose from, no matter a traveler’s budget.
- Address: Rua Marques da Praia e Manforte, 40, Ponta Delgada, Azores
- Price: From $56
- Amenities: Fitness center, garden, complimentary breakfast, babysitting service, laundry facilities, rooftop pool, spa, restaurant, bar
- Address: Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal
- Price: From $36
- Amenities: Car rental service, free parking, king bed, shared bathroom, paid washer, full kitchen
- Address: Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal
- Price: From $58
- Amenities: 1 bedroom, 1 bath, full kitchen, free parking, ocean view, washer, TV with Netflix
- Address: R. Machado Dos Santos 107, 9500-048 Ponta Delgada, Azores
- Price: From $104
- Amenities: Laundry facilities, patio, complimentary breakfast, meeting facilities, shared lounge
- Address: Rua Rocha Quebrada, 10, 9560-420 Ponta Delgada, Azores
- Price: From $220
- Amenities: Complimentary breakfast, babysitting service, laundry facilities, garden, patio, private entrance, beach access, infinity pool, spa
- Address: Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal
- Price: From $238
- Amenities: 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, private parking, free laundry facilities, elevator, full kitchen, sea view balcony
Tips For Visiting Ponta Delgada
Coastal view of Ponta Delgada in Portugal during a bright day
For those coming to Ponta Delgada, there are many things to consider before venturing off. Regarding how to see the most of this charming area while here, it’s better to book hotels in the downtown district, closer to shopping, museums, and other walkable attractions.
Ponta Delgada is known for its fruit production, including pineapples. There will be countless places to watch fruit grow and be harvested in the city, so that’s a fun day trip.
Seasonally, winter will bring the most rainfall to the island, which can put a damper on plans. Every other time of year, however, should be more than pleasant.
Spending The Perfect Day In Ponta Delgada
Parque Atlantico in Ponta Delgada
Start the perfect day by enjoying a typical Azorean breakfast at one of the city’s eateries Café Royal. Then, head to Lagoa do Fogo to hike to the crater lake. Afterward, drive to Terra Nostra Park and stroll through the gardens. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the park before a relaxing soak in one of the thermal baths.
In the afternoon, return to the city center and wander around Ponta Delgada’s Historic Center. Explore sites like the main square and the city gates. Then, enjoy a whale-watching expedition in the late afternoon before having dinner and drinks at one of the local joints.