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Lagoa das Sete Cidades: The Enchanted & Inspiring Lagoon

Blog » Travel » Lagoa das Sete Cidades: The Enchanted & Inspiring Lagoon

Lagoa das Sete Cidades – the lake of the ‘Seven Cities’ – is a natural highlight that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Locals and travelers just love to see the lake from various viewpoints around the big volcanic complex. Or simply enjoy the waters down in the crater.

Many people might think that they are two lakes due to the difference in colors. But in fact, it is a two-colored lake. The bridge in the middle doesn’t separate the body of water underneath.

The green and blue lake is not to be missed during your stay in the Azores. It is one of the go-to spots on São Miguel island. It is even considered one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders. In this post, we will tell you all you need to know about the magical Lagoa das Sete Cidades.

What is Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Alexandre Balas | Lagoa das Sete Cidades in all its glory
Alexandre Balas | Lagoa das Sete Cidades in all its glory

In addition to being one of the most famous spots of São Miguel island, Lagoa das Sete Cidades is such an important place for the Autonomous Region of the Azores. In fact, it is the largest lake in the archipelago and a significant freshwater resource for the islands.

🧭 Recommended Experiences Check all the outstanding Tours you can do in Sete Cidades!

Even if you haven’t been to Sete Cidades yet, you probably already know the image of the lake. Indeed, you can see Lagoa das Sete Cidades on many postcards. It is also one of the first landscapes you will find online when searching about the Azores.

Geology & Volcanology 

While the whole island of São Miguel has about 35 lakes, Sete Cidades massif alone holds a large part of them. It is inside this 36,000-year-old caldera, in the crater of a dormant volcano, that the biggest lake of them all is located – Lagoa das Sete Cidades.

Bruno Ázera |The volcanic complex where Lagoa das Sete Cidades is nestled
Bruno Ázera |The volcanic complex where Lagoa das Sete Cidades is nestled

This ancient stratovolcano gave origin to the lake thanks to the accumulation of ashes at the bottom and the huge green walls of the crater where torrential waters flow.

Did you know | The total area of the lake is about 4.3 km, making it the biggest freshwater resource of the islands, with 33 meters of maximum depth.

Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde, part of the same lake connected by a narrow strait, are very different ecologically speaking. Indeed, the difference in color can be explained by the difference in depth (the Blue lake is deeper than the Green lake). And also by a bigger presence of algae in Green lake.

The Love story behind the two-colored lake

There is also a romantic explanation of the color difference at Lagoa das Sete Cidades. Learn more about the forbidden love between a princess and a shepherd in our post dedicated to the legend of the lake.

👉 Related Post Legend of the Sete Cidades: A True Love Story. Read more

History & Geography 

Marco Medeiros | The hydrangea road leading to Lagoa das Sete Cidades
Marco Medeiros | The hydrangea road leading to Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Lagoa das Sete Cidades formed during the eruption of a volcano in 1445. Nowadays you can pass in the middle of the lake thanks to a bridge. But back in the days, people would wait in line for a boat to pick them up and drop them on the other side. 

The lake of Sete Cidades was a popular spot to handwash laundry. The locals from the village would wash the laundry of the ladies of the bigger towns and transport it by oxcart.

Located on the western side of São Miguel island, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Sete Cidades lake belongs to Ponta Delgada county. Recently, it was elected in 2010 as one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders.

Culture & Festivities

Sete Cidades lake was the chosen place for a comic book in the 1950s. In fact, Edgar Jacobs, a famous comics creator, used the lake as the set for ‘Atlantis Mystery’. Pictured as a hidden civilization under the green and blue lake, the locals of Atlantis would then leave their town in spaceships for another planet.

In July 2022, the very first edition of the Azores’ biggest festival took place by the shore of Lagoa das Sete Cidades. The ‘Atlantis Concert for Earth’ organized by Nuno Bettencourt welcomed the Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull, Nicole Scherzinger, and many more international artists to perform on stage. Queen and Sting also offered a live performance to the amazement of the public. Environmentalists and scientists also spoke out and presented solutions for the preservation of our planet Earth. 

@nickdewar on Instagram | Concert for Earth 2022 by Sete Cidades lake
@nickdewar on Instagram | Concert for Earth 2022 by Sete Cidades lake

Fauna & Flora

The lake of Sete Cidades is an essential habitat for wide biodiversity. This is why it is a Protected Landscape of Natura 2000 network. The surroundings of the lake are fundamental for endemic species because it holds primitive vegetation from the islands. For instance, you can find Azores Juniper (Juniperus brevifolia), heather (Erica azorica), and many more plants.

David Rodrigues | Some wildlife at Lagoa das Sete Cidades
David Rodrigues | Some wildlife at Lagoa das Sete Cidades

In terms of fauna, if you look closely you will find many migratory birds, some even in danger of extinction. Among the endemic birds are Azores wood pigeons (Columba palumbus azorica), or the Azorean goldcrest (Regulus regulus azoricus). In the water, all the fish species were introduced. You will mostly see carps (Cyprinus carpio) and perches (Perca fluviatilis).

What to do at Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Lagoa das Sete Cidades is a good place to enjoy a sunny day venturing outdoors. There are many things to do around and on the lake. We will see that right away so you can have the best time in the Azores.

Kayaking in Sete Cidades

Fábio Fraga | Kayaking on Lagoa das Sete Cidades
Fábio Fraga | Kayaking on Lagoa das Sete Cidades
🛶 Recomended Tour  Kayaking Volcanic Lakes Adventure (€10/hour). Know More!

One of the funniest things you can do at Lagoa das Sete Cidades is definitely rent a kayak with Futurismo and go see the lake from another perspective. Pass under the bridge and make sure you see all of it.

For the bravest souls, you can also rent a paddleboard and try some yoga poses. If you fall, you will get refreshed by the clear waters of the lake. What an amazing feeling to be on the water on a warm day.

The shop is located on the shore of the blue lake. Our guides will tell you everything you need to know before you venture out on your own. They will also provide you with all the equipment.

Hiking around the Green Lake

David Rodrigues | Walking on the path around Green Lake
David Rodrigues | Walking on the path around Green Lake

Around the lake, there are many hikes to do and other lakes to see. From Serra Devassa in the mountains to viewpoints hunting at Grota do Inferno, or also the tunnel between Sete Cidades and Mosteiros, you have a large choice ahead.

🥾 Recomended Tour  Hiking Tour in Sete Cidades. Know More!

However, closer to this paradise, there is one quite short hike that goes all around the green lake’s shore. It can get quite steep and muddy, so make sure you have appropriate footwear. Also, note that it is not very well maintained. Although, it is a good exercise if you want to stay near the lake of Sete Cidades. 

Rent a bike to see around Lagoa das Sete Cidades

   Fábio Fraga | Rent a bike and go around Lagoa das Sete Cidades
Fábio Fraga | Rent a bike and go around Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Rent a bike at our shop on the shore of Lagoa Azul. You decide if you want a guided tour with one of our friendly and experienced staff, or if you’d rather explore by yourself.

🚴‍♀️ Recomended Tour  Explore the Sete Cidades volcanic complex with family and friends with our bikes  (€10/hour). Know More!

From the shop, you can simply go around Blue lake as far as you can. Or go up to the mountains. There are many dirt roads to wander.

Have a picnic by the lake

Enrico Pesacantini | The greenery around the lake is simply stunning

Enjoy the peacefulness of Lagoa das Sete Cidades to have a picnic on the shore of the lake. There are many picnic tables, mostly on the eastern side of Blue lake. 

🚙 Recomended Tour  The Ultimate Adventure in São Miguel (Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo Jeep Tour). Know More!

Having a picnic between activities is a great idea whether you are traveling solo or with friends and family. Good food made with local products, along with a great view offered by the lake, welcome to the Azores!

Best time to visit Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Best season

Wonderful photo of the Sete Cidades Lake
Álvaro RP | The hortensia road in Sete Cidades

As Sete Cidades is one of the most popular tourist spots on the green island, it gets quite a lot of visitors every year. So in the summertime, it can get a bit crowded. If you wish to rent a kayak/stand-up paddle board or a bike, it is better to contact Futurismo beforehand. 

🚙 Recomended Tour  Jeep Tour to Sete Cidades – Full day. Know More!

However, summer is the best season to visit the lake. Mostly if you want to see the famous and so wonderful Hydrangeas season. In July and August, it is the full bloom! All the streets are filled with the typically blue flowers. There is one particular street leading to Sete Cidades called the hortensia road due to its high naturally blue walls.

Best time of the day

David Rodrigues | If you go at sunrise, sometimes the clouds stay stuck down, creating a beautiful lake of clouds
David Rodrigues | If you go at sunrise, sometimes the clouds stay stuck down, creating a beautiful lake of clouds

If you want the place to yourself, you should certainly consider going in the morning. Or why not for a sunset at the end of the day? You will have the most spectacular view if the clouds stay away.

🚙 Recomended Tour  Jeep Tour Sete Cidades & Lakes – Full day. Know More!

During lunchtime, it is also good as people are busy eating. Enjoy the quiet to go have a picnic by the lake.

Plan your visit to Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Let’s see the practical information that you might need to get to Sete Cidades and useful tips you could use from a local point of view.

How to get to Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Javi Garcia | Visiting Sete Cidades on a guided Jeep tour
Javi Garcia | Visiting Sete Cidades on a guided Jeep tour

Lagoa das Sete Cidades is located right next to the village of the same name. It is about 25km away from the biggest city on the island – Ponta Delgada – which corresponds to 40 minutes by car.

If you are going by the south coast, just follow the EN1-1A road. Then, you see the directions toward Sete Cidades, on EN9-1A. It will lead you to the village where you will find the lake.

Renting a car is a good choice and makes it easier to visit this remote area. But there are also buses departing from Ponta Delgada daily. However, they can take more time as they stop at every village on the way, and there are not so many during the day. A taxi is also a solution or renting a bike if you like challenges. 

Last but not least, a guided tour can take you to Sete Cidades lake and is a good choice if you wish to know more about the island.

What to bring to Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Álvaro RP | Looking at the green and blue lake
Álvaro RP | Looking at the green and blue lake

Depending on what you want to experience at Lagoa das Sete Cidades, you may want to bring a swimming suit and change of cloth for an adventure on the water. A waterproof camera will help you keep these amazing moments forever. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat if you are sensitive to the sun.

If you are more of a land adventurer, then good hiking shoes are a must-have! Also, a rain jacket is the smartest accessory to have with you. A bottle of water and some snacks are always good to have to enjoy on the way.

Did you know | Dress in layers if you are planning to hike so that you can take layers off as you warm up. 

Where to eat near Lagoa das Sete Cidades

If you need a place to eat near Lagoa das Sete Cidades, click here. In this link, you will find the Top 10 restaurants on Tripadvisor.

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.

Para consultar a previsão do tempo para os próximos dias, use os aplicativos/websites Windy ou Windguru, esses são os mais precisos.

Where to stay near Lagoa das Sete Cidades

In order to make it easier for you, we already filtered the search on:

Pro Tips

In order to truly see the color difference of Sete Cidades lake, your best bet is to go on a sunny day. Alternatively, when it is cloudy, the sunrays don’t reflect on the water and the lakes appear to be more or less the same color. 

If you want to see the lakes from above, there are several viewpoints around the crater walls. The most famous one is Vista do Rei, but there is also Miradouro da Cumeeira on the opposite side. 

What to do around Lagoa das Sete Cidades

Spending a day in Sete Cidades is nice, but if you want to explore this beautiful region of São Miguel island, you might want to spend a night there. Here are the best things to do around Lagoa das Sete Cidades.

Visit the town of Sete Cidades 

Fernando Resendes | Walking to the church of São Nicolau
Fernando Resendes | Walking to the church of São Nicolau

Sete Cidades is a picturesque little town with only about 800 inhabitants. Located at the bottom of the volcanic crater, this village by the lake is peaceful and relaxing to take a stroll. Don’t forget to visit its well-known church São Nicolau.

Vista do Rei viewpoint

David Rodrigues | The famous view from Vista do Rei viewpoint

Literally the ‘King’s viewpoint’, named after King D. Carlos and his wife Queen D. Amelia’s visit to the island in 1901. This is where you can have one of the best views over the lake and the surroundings.

👉 Related post Vista do Rei Viewpoint, Sete Cidades, Azores. Read more

Monte Palace abandoned hotel

monte palace hotel sete cidades
David Rodrigues | Monte Palace hotel

This huge abandoned hotel on top of the volcano has such a fascinating story. Some people like to enter the ruin to do some urban exploration, although it can be quite dangerous as the building is falling apart. 

👉 Related post Monte Palace: The History of the Abandoned Hotel on the Island of São Miguel, Azores. Read more

Ponta da Ferraria hot spring

Enrico Pescantini | Swimming at the hot springs of Ponta da Ferraria

Ponta da Ferraria is one of the hot springs on São Miguel island, but this one is very special. Indeed, what makes it unique is the fact that the hot water is inside the ocean, and not in a pool built by men. You can also go all the way to Mosteiros and watch the sunset. 

👉 Related post Ponta da Ferraria, Azores: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide. Read more

🧭 Recommended Experiences in Ponta da Ferraria. Check Now!

Complementary Info

Cultural Agenda in São Miguel Island

Terceira island has a lot of cultural events to offer year-round. You can check the complete upcoming events list on the following link. View the Agenda!

How to get to São Miguel island

There are many different ways that travelers can get to São Miguel island by plane. The main entrance points are via Lisbon and Oporto (on the mainland), but there are already many direct routes.

The best way to find a flight that works for you is to use a flight search engine like eDreams or Skyscanner. As you may already know, these websites allow you to compare prices and schedules from multiple airlines all in one place.

Once you’ve found a flight that works for you, all you need to do is book it! And then, in just a few short hours, you’ll be on your way to one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world.


Beautiful Lagoa das Sete Cidades from above


If Lagoa das Sete Cidades was elected one of the country’s seven wonders, it is for a reason! And you will understand why when you get there. The stunning surroundings and the mysteries around this lake make it unique. 

It is not only a breathtaking touristic highlight or a famous natural monument but also an important habitat for the local fauna and flora. 

Discover this wonderful place where the lost Atlantis might be submerged!


Mendonça, L. (2017). Perguntas e Respostas sobre a História dos Açores. 2ª Edição, Letras Lavadas. Ponta Delgada

Forjaz, V., Ribeiro, L., Almeida, L., Pereira, N. e Rodrigues, J. (2019). Dos Vulcões dos Açores. 4ª Edição, Letras Lavadas. Ponta Delgada

Rodeia, C. e Rodrigues, J. A. (2013). Açores – ilhas de Sonho. (2013). Açores – ilhas de Sonho. 3ª Edição, Publiçor – Publicações e Publicidade, Lda. Ponta Delgada

National Geographic (2019). A história da lagoa das Sete Cidades e das suas gentes.

Melissa Masvaleix

Nature lover and adventure seeker, Mélissa is a French girl who landed in the Azores 3 years ago and never let go of this paradise in the Atlantic. She particularly enjoys the tranquility of the islands contrasting with the infinite outdoor experience possibilities.

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