Furnas Lake (“Lagoa das Furnas” in Portuguese) is a Portuguese Lake, located in the parish of Furnas, in the municipality of Vila da Povoação in São Miguel – the largest island in the Azores Archipelago.
This Azorean region of volcanic origins, smothered by nature with abundant Macaronesian vegetation and an endless variety of flowery landscapes, is an authentic paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which conquers more and more national and international tourists.
So, to get to know a little more about this destination, in this article, we will explain to you what are the main points of interest of the region, what is the best time to visit and everything you need to know to plan the ideal trip for you.
What is Furnas Lake?
Lagoa das Furnas, is an ex-libris of the island of São Miguel, known for its scenery of tranquility and permanent contact with nature. Therefore, it attracts thousands of visitors who seek to explore this region every year.
Located in an ancient volcanic crater, Furnas lake occupies a considerable part of the Furnas volcano caldera.
Did you know | Although the Furnas Lake is surrounded by constant volcanic manifestations, the Furnas Volcano has been "dormant" since 1630, when its last eruption occurred.
In this landscape we can also observe several volcanic cones intra-caldera, domes, springs of thermal waters with medicinal properties, mud boilers or clear water with high temperatures, geysers and volcanic fumolas with the so-called “natural kitchens”, where the famous furnas stew is made.
With the large influx of tourists, currently the entrance to the Lake reserved area has a cost of 3€ per person.
What to Do in Furnas Lake?
From radical activities in nature to more relaxing and romantic experiences, Lagoa das Furnas will always be a good option for those looking for adventure and tranquility.
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So, let’s now list some of the activities that you won’t be able to miss on your visit to the lake.
Observe the Calderas / Volcanic Fumolas
By default, the calderas are small water ponds formed in the craters of the Volcanoes. These originate when, after an eruption, the top of the volcano cone collapses.
Over time, rainwater accumulates in the craters and, in this specific case of Furnas, as there is a lot of geothermal energy underground, the water boils, reaching very high temperatures.
These smoking boilers are also given the name fumolas. Thus, an interesting fact is that in this place you will be able to smell the strong sulfur that is characteristic of them, coming from the vapors and gases emitted by the volcano.
Explore the Mata-Jardim José do Canto
The Mata-Jardim José do Canto, situated on the south bank of the Furnas Lake, was designed and planted in the mid-19th century (around 1858), according to the plan of the French landscape architects Barillet-Deschamps and George Aumont. The venue has been open to the public since August 2014.
Now, currently the property with about 10 hectares of landscaped area remains unalterable to the project initially presented by the French architects. At the west end of Mata-Jardim is the “Valley of the Ferns”, rebuilt in the mid-twentieth century by the parents of the current owner.
Did you know | In addition to the gardens with an exceptional botanical variety and an impressive waterfall, you can also contemplate a neo-Gothic chapel and the two buildings, currently converted into rural tourism spaces, situated by the shore of the Furnas Lake.
The flora present in the Garden Forest is exceptional. Here you can see a vast collection of camellias, planted along the extensive boulevards of the property and in the new “camalieto” (they are flowered between December and May), in conviviality with immense remarkable trees and endemic plants, some indigenous and many originating from temperate and subtropical regions.
Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Victories
If you are passing through the Furnas Lake, on the south bank, you are likely to notice the Chapel of Our Lady of Victories. The Neo-Gothic chapel, built between 1877 and 1888, inspired by the contemporary architecture of the great European capitals, also take the opportunity to visit its interior and observe its unmistakable construction.
The chapel is surrounded by the Mata-Jardim José do Canto, where you can stroll through the botanical gardens where you will find a set of statues delicately carved into tree trunks and some information boards about the flora of the area.
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Get to know Casa dos Barcos and Casa da Lagoa
Casa dos Barcos, currently converted into Rural Tourism, was initially built as a cottage inspired by the models of Nordic (Anglo-Flemish) architecture formerly called the “Navigation Pavilion”.
On the other hand, Casa da Lagoa also converted into a rural tourism space, is the old “Fishing Pavilion” initially built as a Franco-Swiss chalet inspired by picturesque architecture.
These rural accommodations offer you a set of natural and historical elements that make your stay or visit to the place memorable.
Now, both houses are situated on the south bank of Lagoa das Furnas and inserted in the Mata-Jardim José do Canto, where in addition to the garden of exceptional botanical diversity we also find the Chapel of Our Lady of Victories.
Practice Aquatic Activities in The Volcano Lake
You probably never imagined playing a sport in the caldera of a volcano. However, in Lagoa das Furnas you can do several water activities that will remain in your memory for several years.
Here you can go canoeing or ride a seagull with family, or with friends and feel the grandellancy of the volcanoes that shaped the island hundreds of years ago.
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Explore the Furnas Monitoring and Research Center (CMIF)
The Furnas Monitoring and Research Centre (CMIF), as the name implies, is a research centre where you can learn more about the history and evolution of Furnas Volcano over the centuries and the changes it has undergone after the eruptions.
If you want to visit the research center, know that the tour lasts approximately 30 minutes and is accompanied by a guide who will explain everything you can observe in the exhibition and video room.
In the CMIF, you will also have the opportunity to observe the intervention work of the Landscape Laboratory practiced by several technicians who work daily to protect and recover the ecosystems of the region.
What is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Furnas Lake?
The climate of the Azores Archipelago is influenced by two factors: the latitude of the islands and the gulf stream, for this reason, regardless of the season temperatures are mild throughout the year.
The best time of year to visit the Furnas Lake is between May and September, when the climate is mild and the rains less frequent. In this sense, this is the ideal time for those looking to enjoy the island with slightly warmer temperatures and sunnier days.
However, in view of the higher temperatures that are felt in July and August, there is a greater demand from tourists, where the peak occupancy in the tourist and hotel sector is recorded – which may influence the costs of your trip.
On the other hand, the months of October to March are those in which there is a lower demand from national and international tourists. Since rain is frequent, temperatures are relatively lower and the days although shorter are also cloudier.
☁️ Might Interest You The Weather in the Azores in January The Weather in the Azores in February The Weather in the Azores in March The Weather in the Azores in April The Weather in the Azores in May
What is the Best Time of day to visit furnas Lake?
If you are planning to visit the Furnas Lake, choose to make your visit at lunchtime, i.e. around noon.
This is the most interesting times of the day to visit the Lake, since it is at this time that those responsible for the local restaurants and even some inhabitants go to the fumaherns dig up the pots where they make daily the traditional Cozido das Furnas.
Did you know | Cozido das Furnas, a typical dish of the region, is slowly cooked using the steam formed inside the holes built in the fammoles, where the pots are buried in the ground and hermetically sealed.
In any case, for those who want to witness the whole process of making the stew, know that the pots are buried in the holes built on the fumaroles. The cooking process begins between 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning. In this sense, the pans are opened 6 to 7 hours after being buried.
How to Plan A Visit to Furnas Lake?
Getting to know the Furnas Lake is one of the main points of interest in the passage through the island of São Miguel in the Azores. So being this quite vast location, you should start planning your trip sometime in advance.
After choosing the days and duration of the trip choose the ideal accommodation according to your financial possibilities and personal tastes – the sooner you book the cheaper the trip will be.
In addition, you should plan a itinerary with all the places you want to visit and with all the activities and experiences (day and night) you want to do during your stay.
This point is important, because with so many activities, viewpoints, landscapes and observatories, most likely you will forget to visit some of the most beautiful and magnificent spots on the island.
How to Get to Furnas Lake?
To get to Lagoa das Furnas from Ponta Delgada you must take the EN1-1A until you reach the destination. Count on a 45-minute journey where you can contemplate the surroundings for approximately 40 km.
Since the car is the simplest and fastest way to get to Lagoa das Furnas, we suggest that you rent a vehicle as soon as you land at João Paulo II Airport, in Ponta Delgada.
After arriving at your destination remember that the Lake can be covered in its entirety on foot, and on the north bank of the route are located the volcanic manifestations – such as the boilers and fammolas of hot and bubbling waters.
Tip: Although there is no geocentric/volcanic activity that puts you in danger near the boilers and fumaming, during your visit to the site, always follow the recommendations and safety signs in the area.
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On the other side of the lagoon margin, you will find large spaces characterized by the typical fauna and flora of the region. Here you can see some viewpoints, natural parks, botanical gardens, and historic buildings.
What are the Hours of Operation of Furnas Lake?
After planning your trip and defining an itinerary know that Lagoa das Furnas offers two different opening hours.
- From April to October, you can visit the Lake on any day of the week, it works every day between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm;
- From November to March the opening hours differ. That is, if you want to visit the lagoon you can do so from Tuesday to Sunday between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.
However, if you only want to visit the boilers in the centre of Furnas, you can do it every day at the most convenient time – you can visit it whenever you want completely free of charge.
Where to eat near the Furnas Lake?
If you need a place to eat near Furnas Lake, click here. In this link, you will find the Top 10 restaurants on Tripadvisor.
Where to Stay near Furnas Lake?
Ferramentas e Aplicações Úteis
O tempo nos Açores é bastante imprevisível. Portanto, existe uma ferramenta muito útil que você deve usar antes de ir visitar qualquer lugar nas 9 ilhas: Spotazores. Graças a câmeras instaladas em vários pontos, você poderá ver as condições do tempo em tempo real antes de decidir para onde ir.
What to Do After Visiting Furnas Lake?
After visiting the Furnas Lake, you will come across numerous opportunities with incredible landmarks not to be missed to make your trip memorable. See the suggestions we have for you.
Visit Grená Park
Located on the island of São Miguel, on the north bank of Furnas Lake, you will find the Grená Park and all its charms. On your visit to the park you will be able to observe an exhibition with the history of the restoration of the property.
Did you know | If you want to visit the park, the entrance will have a value of 10 € per person.
With 18 hectares of forest of “untouchable nature”, this space is a point of interest for tourists. Here you will be able to observe a watercourse, waterfalls, streams and various typologies of trees and typical animals in the region.
In addition, you can also enjoy the views over the ruins of a manor house from 1858, located inside this park.
Contemplate the View of the Pico do Ferro Viewpoint
From the Pico do Ferro Viewpoint, with 567 meters of altitude, you can observe much of the Protected Landscape Area of Furnas.
Here you can admire several points of interest of the area such as Lagoa das Furnas, its famherolas and boilers, as well as the picturesque parish of Furnas.
Know that on sunnier days, with exceptional weather conditions, you can observe the Island of Santa Maria. There is a car park and an access ramp for people with reduced mobility.
Diving in the Hot Water Pools in The Puddle of Dona Beija
The Poça da Dona Beija is one of the biggest attractions of Furnas, the natural thermal shims have medicinal properties that benefit the skin of all who visit it.
Once called the Youth Puddle, the hot pools have several properties derived from the mud that forms inside the cave where the original “puddle” was located.
Did you know | This is a great night time activity, where the atmosphere changes to more romantic and mysterious tones, visit the hot pools, has a cost of 6 € per person and are open from 8am to 23h.
Here visitors can enjoy the space and swim in the pools with temperatures usually around 38 degrees. These pools are heated by geothermal energy and provide their guests with a simply unforgettable and relaxing experience.
Visit the Terra Nostra Park Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden of Terra Nossa Park is a place of obligatory passage. It is located at the back of the well-known Hotel Spa Terra Nostra and by its size the best way to explore the space is to dedicate a full morning or afternoon.
The immense thermal tank with medicinal properties fascinates all those who visit it. The unmistakable warm water of brownish orange hue is rich in iron from the earth, this tank with water at temperatures around 35° and 40 degrees. In this sense, we are facing the ideal place for those looking for a space to relax.
If you want to enjoy this tank, we recommend that you do not wear bathing suits or towels with light shades to avoid stains on them.
Did you know | Despite its location on private property, the attraction is open to the general public between 10:30 am and 4:30 pm, at a cost of €5 per person. However, if you are staying at the hotel the space is accessible 24 hours a day and you will be entitled to free entrance.
In addition to the hot tank the park also has at your disposal a wonderful botanical garden that deserves special attention. With over 2,000 species of trees coming from the 4 corners of the world, an invaluable collection of camellias (600 species) and a huge variety of flowers, this place is worth an in-depth visit.
Eat the Cozido das Furnas In a Local Restaurant
Cozido das Furnas, also known as Cozido da Caldeira, is the most emblematic dish on the island of São Miguel and is a gastronomic product highly valued by locals and tourists.
With a different version of traditional Portuguese stew, the dish consists of beef, pork, chicken, yams, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cabbage, carrots, the traditional meat chorizo and blackpudding. This specialty begins to be prepared the day before and does not take water or spices, only coarse salt is used.
Did you know | Despite being the best known dish in the region, there are other delicacies also cooked in the boilers and fammo. In this sense, we highlight feijoada de carne, feijoada de marisco and bacalhoada.
Made using a unique method, Cozido das Furnas is cooked by steam from inside the holes dug into the ground in the boiler area. This specialty cooked slowly for approximately 5 to 6 hours gives rise to a rich and abundant broth where the meats are tender and with a divine flavor.
The process of confection of this delicacy is usually carried out by the Furnenses, however there is the possibility of interested people participating and following the experience from start to finish.
Conclusion – Lagoa das Furnas
In a variety, Lagoa das Furnas is an authentic paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with various activities and experiences for all kinds of people.
You can visit historic churches, camellia-filled gardens, numerous relaxing natural hot pools, sample various delicacies from the area and observe breathtaking landscapes.
It is a advisable visit both for families who want to relax, as for adventurous people who enjoy nature and to make trails.
What are you waiting for? Come and see the Furnas Lake and all its charms!
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