A short impression of Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada Travel Blog

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Not many people think of the Azores when looking for a destination for their next trip. I did and in November 2007 I went there for two weeks to have a great trip.


From Lisbon I flew into Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel, the islands’ capital and biggest city. I spent a total of four days there and this is a written impression of that time.



The dark of  night had already embraced the island as the SATA Internacional Airbus touched ground at Ponta Delgada’s São Paolo II airport. It was nice to feel the warm salty and most of all pure ocean air fill up my lungs. A taxi took me to the youth hostel in the centre of town. Finding a bed wasn’t a problem as it was November and only a handful of people were staying there. A bit disappointing as I like staying in youth hostels for the social contact with other travellers. Especially when the only other person in the dorm was a German who went out of his way to avoid any form of conversation.

After another smothered attempt to get acquainted I found myself walking through the narrow streets looking for a place to have dinner.

Not wanting to stay out too late I went into a café and had a burger and a bottle of extremely orange Fanta. Both rice and potato chips were served with the burger, which also had a baked egg draped over it.


My first full day on Azorean soil I set out to explore Ponta Delgada properly. To spite it being a Wednesday outside of the main tourist season the place had a nice buzz. It has everything you can expect to find in a modern western town but at the same time has a very relaxed rhythm. The place was covered in Christmas decorations and while ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ gently poured out of the speakers in every street, I walked around in my t-shirt at a nice 22 Celcius.

I went looking for a good map of the island ‘ cause I wanted to do some major hiking later on. Only to find there are no decent hiking maps available. I needed one with a grid on it to use with a GPS as I sometimes wander off the roads and into the countryside. After half a day of legwork, including a visit to the cartography department of the Azorean regional government, yielded no results I gave up and bought a tourist map not really suitable for serious hiking.


A lover of gardens and plants I couldn’t not visit the José Do Canto botanical Gardens. A collection, carefully put together over a period of over 150 years that made for a very relaxing two hours of wandering through the exotic vegetation.


For dinner I made my way to a restaurant that came recommended in my travel guide for it’s superb steaks. Restaurante O Jordão has a sign claiming him to be ‘The King of Steaks’. This self-awarded title was well justified once I took the first bite. It was indeed royal.

I met a Danish woman in that restaurant and we went out and had a few drinks together. At the end of the evening we both went our separate ways. No exchanging of phone numbers or e-mail addresses, just the memory of enjoying each others company in conversation for a few hours.


I’ve never been one for big birthday celebrations but it was nice receiving birthday messages on my mobile while sitting in bright sun and gazing at the tranquillity of the Atlantic Ocean.

Some more exploring of the town found me going through some more narrow streets and a bit away from the centre. A visit to the António Borges Garden saw me walking through an obviously man-made piece of nature. It’s the biggest of the many municipal parks in Ponta Delgada and there were a lot of loud youths and young couples making out in the numerous little corners of the park.

I went back to the youth hostel to have a rest before going out to dinner. I asked to be put in another room which was no problem. I immediately had the social contact I longed for in the shape of a Polish guy with whom I went out that evening to have a drink for my birthday. We ended up in a place called Cantinho Dos Anjos (‘Cantina of the Angels’), a sailor’s bar full of memorabilia of passing sailors and other travellers.

After a king size burger we had a great night with a mix of locals and travellers. Later I ended up staying for three days with a Canadian I met that night and who lived on Pico, one of the other islands.

The next day I left for a few days hiking and on Saturday I was back in Ponta Delgada. Because it was weekend the town centre was a bit busier than before and by the evening there appeared lots of cars on the narrow streets packed with dressed-up youths an equipped with very loud stereo’s. On Saturday night the centre becomes very much alive as the people from the surrounding towns come here for the nightlife. It’s obviously not New York or London’s West End but it had a nice buzz to it.

As on week days, the bars don’t come alive until around 10p.m.. The same goes for restaurants.

Sunday saw me taking a day trip to Furnas, in the east of the island. I came back in the evening looking for a restaurant to have my final dinner in Ponta Delgada only to find that on Sunday, a lot of places are closed. Not just shops but also restaurants and bars so it took a while to find a restaurant still open.


The next morning it was off to the airport to fly to the island of Pico. I took one last look at Ponta Delgada from the plane as it glided away over the ocean. How was any of the other islands going to beat this experience?







English will get you by quite well in Ponta Delgada although knowing some Portugese can be very helpful. The Azores have a very distinct accent which can make them difficult to understand even for Portugese speakers. Every island also has their own accent and vocabulary and on the bigger islands there are even differences between regions of the same islands.



Azoreans are very laid-back in most everything they do and making contact with locals is not very difficult. They will help you with anything if asked. After a few days you will find yourself slowing down to the Azorean rhythm with them.



Whereas southern European traffic can be very hectic, in Ponta Delgada it’s much more relaxed. At rush hour the streets fill up with cars just like in any other town but drivers wait in line patiently and horns are not often used.

At the moment major construction is taking place at the waterfront boulevard.



-José do Canto Botanical Garden: for those interested in horticulture this comes highly recommended. Admission is € 2,00 and for that you get a booklet which is available in English, be it with some poor translations from time to time.


-António Borges Garden: more of a park. No admission and worth a stroll through. It has lots of youths outside the school hours.


-marina: Ponta Delgada has a modern but well designed marina that can make for a nice evening walk. At the moment expansion work is taking place.


-buildings: there are some interesting buildings and squares in town. The town hall is nice, as is the church of São Sebastião opposite of it.


-whale watching:

The real Azorean centre for whale watching is the island of Faial but several companies offer trips in very small vessels, weather permitting.


If you want to know anything else, feel free to send me a message and I will try to help you as best I can.

misseejjay says:
Interessant om te lezen Tom. Leest lekker weg. Vrienden van me hebben aangeraden om naar de Azoren te gaan. Ik wordt nu toch wel heel nieuwsgierig. Leuk dat contact wat je had met de Deense "people come and go" just enjoy the moment. Meestal ga ik ook weg tijdens mijn verjaardag. Heb nog geen plannen voor dit jaar. Bedankt voor de review
Posted on: Sep 11, 2011
martino1969 says:
Thanks for am amazing review, I am going solo in September for 3 weeks (planning on staying in Sao Miguel for a week, then hitting Pico, Corvo and maybe one other island/quick question what is the name of the Hostel you stayed at? and how safe is this place for solo tourists. Im travelling with my backpack and my slr
Great review by the way
Posted on: Jul 26, 2010
aggieaggie says:
Mooi en goed geschreven, leuk om te lezen!
Posted on: Aug 21, 2008
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