The Caldeiras das Furnas – also known as Fumarolas das Furnas, are one of the main points of tourist interest of the island of São Miguel. This enigmatic place is worth visiting and you cannot miss a visit to the site on your way through the Azores Archipelago.
Visiting the Azores Archipelago is something we should all do, at least once in our lives. Its volcanic landscapes, gardens and gastronomy are unique. So we need to know in advance what to visit so that nothing passes us by.
In this article, learn your history, what to try in these fumaroles, what to taste in gastronomic terms and what to do around this place as peculiar as magical.
What are the Caldeiras das Furnas?
Caldeiras das Furnas, located in Vila das Furnas, is a tourist attraction for both the Portuguese and the thousands of foreigners who visit this area annually.
As in any place where magma is closer to the surface, the Smoky Field of Vila das Furnas and the Smoky Field of Furnas Lagoon are areas where the imposing volcanic manifestations occur.
These calderas are small rainwater ponds formed in the craters of the dormant volcano since 1630. These emerged when the top of the volcano cone collapsed in its last eruption.
Combined with the magma that is close to the surface, the rainwater that has accumulated in these holes, reaches very high temperatures thus causing the fumaroles, springs and hot springs. However, the fumaroles, in addition to sharing the same boiling state as water, emit vapors and gases with a strong sulfur odor.
What to do in the Furnas Fumaroles?
Caldeira das Furnas has many activities and experiences mainly related to nature and the gastronomy of the region. Therefore, below we indicate the various options you have to choose from that you may not miss.
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Main Smoky Field of Vila das Furnas
Considered the region with the largest hydropolis in the world, the vulcanological manifestation is quite evident. Now, the main Smoky Field is located in the center of Vila das Furnas – here you can observe the fumaroles and the boilers with temperatures ranging between 70 º and 100 º º.
Did you know | The Main Smoky Field located in the Furnas Valley is affectionately nicknamed by the Furnenses as "Enchanted Valley".
In addition to the grandellancy of this place and the unique experience at your disposal, know that you can visit it as many times as you like at the time that is most favorable to you, since your entry is completely free. Here you will find the most popular Caldeiras in the region, as is the case of Caldeira do Asmodeu, Caldeira Grande, Caldeira Pêro Botelho.
Gastronomy Micaelense – Corncob
São Miguel’s gastronomy is very rich, so it is certainly possible to find the local delicacy that goes against your tastes. This may be the case with traditional Corncobs (“Maçaroca de Milho”, in Portuguese).
At some point, in the Caldeira do Esguicho area, you will find villagers making the “Maçarocas das Furnas”, arousing the curiosity and appetite of visitors. The process is relatively simple, after tie a rope around the corn cobs they are dipped in the holes of the fumaroles with very high temperatures, shortly after the corn is removed from the hole already completely cooked.
Once cooked, corn cobs are washed so that they can be consumed without traces of the sulfur present underground.
Tip: Before eating, carefully remove the leaves that cover the ear and then slowly remove the juicy and hot corn grains without burning.
Gastronomia Micaelense – Yeast Cakes
The Yeast Cakes (“Bolos Lêvedos” in Portuguese) are considered one of the most well-known and coveted sweets in the region. This traditional sweet is a kind of thick pancake that can be served simply or with a sweet filling, or salty (cheese or ham).
Did you know | This sweet is made with wheat flour, sugar, butter, yeast and milk and is said to have been the basis of the diet of the first inhabitants of the island.
From the stew in the boiler to the rice pudding, through the yams and the cakes, the difficult will be even to be able to taste everything during the passage through furnas, on the island of São Miguel.
Taste the Water of Springs and Thermal Springs of the Furnas Lagoon Garden
In the parish of Furnas you will find more than 20 thermal springs, each with its own aromas, shades, flavors and distinct therapeutic properties.
Have you ever heard of water that can cure hangovers? Azeda do Rebentão is one of the most popular hot springs in the parish. The “Sour Water”, coming from the Sour Spring of Rebentão, in addition to its purple hue when heated was especially known for having the ability to cure hangovers.
A hot spring that was also popular in the region was the source of the “Holy Water”. With very characteristic mineral properties, the small source of hot water situated on the descent of a staircase allows you to make your own hot drink.
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Visit the Christmas Nativity Scene of Caldeiras das Furnas
As a rule, people prefer to visit the Azores in the summer time where the number of rainy days is lower and temperatures are relatively warmer. However, if you are passing through the Azores at the end of the year, do not miss the opportunity to pay a visit to the Christmas Nativity scene of Caldeiras das Furnas.
The Christmas nativity scene, which stretches throughout the space around the calderas, was created in 1976 by a group of young Furnenses, being currently considered the largest open-air nativity scene in the entire Azores Archipelago.
Secondary Fumarlic Field – Fumarolas da Lagoa das Furnas
In addition to the Main Smoky Field located in Vila das Furnas, there is a second called “Fumarolas da Lagoa das Furnas” – as its name implies, this field is situated next to the Furnas Lagoon.
In this area you can find a large parking lot, picnic tables, a small café and access to some trails. This secondary field is known for its natural chimneys with hot water vapor, effervescent mud and various springs or water sources with different mineral components.
Did you know | The ticket to visit the Furnas Lagoon costs 3 euros per person.
This place has a very characteristic odor – the strong smell of sulfur that is felt can be unpleasant for some visitors. After all, this is where magic happens, using only the energy of the depths of the earth, are made the emblematic Cozidos das Furnas, one of the most popular dishes of São Miguel.
Witness the Removal of Pots With Portuguese Stew
Savoring cozido das Furnas is something you can’t miss when you pass through Furnas Lagoon. However, in order to have a greater sensory experience of this moment you must watch the removal of the pots from inside the fumamolas.
As lunchtime approaches, around noon, local restaurant managers dig up the pots that remained inside the holes built in the fammo for the past six to seven hours.
Thus, if you want to visit the Fumarolas da Lagoa das Furnas this is the most interesting time of the day to do so.
Bury and Remove Your Own Portuguese Stew Pan
The emblematic Cozido das Furnas, also known as Cozido das Caldeiras, is a unique and special version of the Portuguese stew. So, you should try making your own meal – following the process from start to finish.
The process begins the day before with the joining of all the necessary ingredients. Still at dawn, between five and six in the morning, the pots are carefully closed and inserted inside the holes dug in the ground.
Using steam from inside the fammolas the ingredients are cooked slowly for hours. This unique and so characteristic method, provides food with an indescribable flavor.
Within six to seven hours until noon, you will have to wait for the cooking to be on point so that the pan is removed back to the outside.
This process is usually carried out with the monitoring or supervision of a specialist in the task.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Caldeiras das Furnas?
Due to its location, the Azores Archipelago deprives of mild temperatures throughout the year. However, in the winter months, periods of rain are more frequent, which is a possible problem in your stay.
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Therefore, the best time to visit the Azores is usually between May and September, where rains are less frequent. However, if you visit the island of São Miguel during the month of December, in addition to getting flights and accommodation for your stay at considerably cheaper prices, you can also observe the Christmas Nativity scene of Caldeiras das Furnas.
However, it is important to note that the cloudy sky is a common feature of the archipelago, so sometimes it may have difficulty contemplating the true splendor of some of the viewpoints.
Plan Your Visit to The Caldeiras das Furnas
As you may have noticed, the Caldeiras das Furnas are integrated in a place full of tourist attractions. So, to organize plan a itinerary with all the places you want to visit so that nothing is left to see or experience.
Do not forget that this whole experience is hand in hand with nature, so come warned with comfortable and suitable clothing and footwear and with shorts or swimsuits.
How to Get to the Caldeiras das Furnas?
To visit caldeiras das Furnas, there are two very different options. Choose to travel by car, or take advantage of the various existing excursions – with the accompaniment of a guide who will help you understand the whole place, history and traditions.
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Residents’ Tips – Lava Feet
One of the most flashy places in the Parish of Furnas is called Poça da Tia Silvina and is a foot washes with railway water, located on the Way of The Fires.
This site is appreciated for its therapeutic properties – here you can alternate between the hot water of the puddle and the cold of the stream that allow you to relax your feet.
So if you’re thinking of taking long walks and visiting various trails, finishing your adventures in this location will be gold on blue.
What to Do After Visiting the Furnas Fumaroles?
Around the Caldeiras das Furnas there are many gardens, viewpoints and observatories that you should include in your visit. Therefore, in the following points we will indicate the main attractions not to be missed.
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Try “Cozido das Furnas” at a Local Restaurant
After experiencing the burial and removal of the pots with Cozido das Furnas, it is time to taste this delicacy. The people responsible for the restaurants remove all the pots from inside the fammolas and distribute the stew by the various local restaurants in the area.
To secure your place in a local restaurant, due to the large daily influx, you must make your reservation the day before, indicating the number of people who will enjoy the meal.
Explore the Terra Nostra Park Botanical Garden
With wide boulevards, dense woods, secluded caves, swan lakes and various fountains, this romantic-like garden reveals a great botanical interest, or it had not one of the world’s largest collections of cycas (very old and endangered plants) and one of the most remarkable camellia collections in Europe, with about 800 specimens.
Relax in the Terra Nostra Park and Poça da Dona Beija Iron-rich Thermal Pools
In the immensity of the Botanical Garden of Terra Nostra Park, among the numerous endemic species of exotic plants and trees, you can find a magnificent tank of hot water with a temperature between 38ºC and 40ºC.
Due to the high concentration of iron, the water in the tank has a brownish tone that at first glance causes some strangeness. However, it is worth looking beyond color, since the thermal waters of Terra Nostra Park offer numerous medicinal and therapeutic properties to those who bathe in them.
The distance that separates the Terra Nostra Park from Poça da Dona Beija is relatively scarce, however these spaces are quite different and adopt different concepts so your visits are mandatory.
The Poça da Dona Beija is composed of a set of five continuous tanks arranged in the ascending direction that differ by their depth and temperature. The space offers a longer schedule that can last until 23h, for only 3 euros per visitor.
Explore the Mata-Jardim José do Canto
Located on the south bank of Lagoa das Furnas, Mata-Jardim surrounds the Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias. In addition to the neo-Gothic chapel, next to the lagoon shore you can find the House of Boats and the Lagoa House, both buildings having been converted into rural tourism spaces.
It is in the extensive area of the property, with about 10 hectares, that you can glimpse its magnificent garden, consisting of several species of centuries-old camellias.
Visit the Microbial Observatory of the Azores
This scientific centre highlights the importance of balancing and evolving Azorean ecosystems, emphasizing the existing biodiversity in azorean hot springs.
This science center has permanent and temporary exhibition spaces and a laboratory space in which visitors will be able to observe samples of living microorganisms and perform activities described in experimental protocols.
Visit the Pico do Ferro Viewpoint
The Pico do Ferro Viewpoint is one of the most famous viewpoints in the region, has an altitude of 570 meters and is located in the parish of Furnas, in São Miguel.
From here you can admire an impressive view of the volcanic crater of The Furnas Volcano, and it is still possible, on days with favorable weather conditions, to see other mountains of the island, such as Pico de Rei and Pico do Mar.
Visit the Salto do Cavalo Viewpoint
The Salto do Cavalo Viewpoint closes the Northeast Viewpoint Route, and is located in the parish of Salga right at the extreme end of the northeast municipality.
With approximately 760 meters of altitude, the Salto do Cavalo Viewpoint also offers you a privileged view over the Village Valley and its “seven spines”.
Conclusion – Caldeiras das Furnas
The Caldeiras das Furnas, or Fumarolas das Furnas, are a unique sensory experience. Here you can taste various gastronomic products, such as Cozido das Furnas, Corn Maçarocas or Bolo de Levêdos, smell strong sulfur, relax the body in various hot months and make your own drinks.
All this accompanied by unique landscapes.
We advise visitors to plan their trip well so they can visit all the points listed here – do not forget to bring a bathing suit and comfortable clothes!
Mendonça, L. (2017). Questions and Answers on the History of the Azores. 2nd Edition, Washed Letters. Delgada Point
Forjaz, V., Ribeiro, L., Almeida, L., Pereira, N. and Rodrigues, J. (2019). From the Volcanoes of the Azores. (4th Edition). Washed letters. Delgada Point