Green and blue – these are the main colours I would describe the Azores. Beautiful landscapes and a marvellous coastline stuffed with hundreds of opportunities to capture amazing photographs. This guide to the best Azores photo spots shows my favourite photography locations in Saõ Miguel on the Azores. I am revealing the GPS data, how I approached the composition, which equipment I advise to use in order to capture great photos and the settings of my photos. Even if you’re not that much into photography, you can still follow these spots and you’ve got your Saõ Miguel itinerary. 

Saõ Roque, Ponta Delgada

Saõ Roque is a 15-minute drive from Ponta Delgada. There is plenty of parking along the road. This spot is great for sunrise or sunset but it is also perfect for a cloudy morning or evening when taking the dramatic approach with dark clouds and black and white processing. I set up the tripod at the corner and wanted to show the dynamic of the waves when they move back to the ocean. You can also take the black rocks as a foreground and make use of the blue hour in case there is no sun to set.  

Azores photography locations

f/9 | 5 s | 23 mm | ISO 100

Azores photography locations

f/9 | 10 s | 27 mm | ISO 100

Be careful when you shoot at the corner of this location. The waves might become high and very close to you and your camera. I ended shooting there soaked wet but I was able to turn the camera away the very last second.

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Tripod
Optional: remote control (you can also use the 2s self-timer)

Vista do Rei, Lagoas do Sete Cidades

The first photo location of Sao Miguel’s Lagoas do Sete Cidades is Vista do Rei. Just stop your car at the parking lane. I found this spot with poles to use as my foreground in order to show the whole depth of the lake. Also, the viewer of the image starts his view at the pole and finishes at the end of the lake. I used a polarizing filter to reduce the reflection of the clouds in the lake and intensify the colours.

Azores photography locations

f/9 | 1/50 s | 20 mm | ISO 100

Equipment:
Wide angle lens
Polarizing filter
Optional: Tripod

Igreja De São Nicolau, Sete Cidades

When you continue the road from Vista do Rei you can make a quick stop for a coffee and photograph this beautiful church. It’s located at the end of a tree-lined road and the trees lead the viewer into the picture. Try portrait and landscape format.

Azores photography locations

f/7.1 | 1/100 s | 35 mm | ISO 250

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens

Viewpoint of the ridge, Lagoas do Sete Cidades

Continue the road from the little church then turn right and take the gravelled road. It is advised to have a car with a little bit of horsepower when you go for this spot. Right at the very opposite of the first outlook Vista do Rei there is the viewpoint of the ridge – perfect to take a panorama shot.

Hold the camera still and take 3 shots. Start with the left side of the lake, continue to the centre and move on to the left. Blend the three images in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Sete Citades Azores

f/10 | 1/100 s | 16 mm | ISO 125 – blend of 3 images

Equipment:

Wide angle lens
Polarizing filter: reduce the reflection in the lake unless you have very beautiful cloud formations
Optional: Tripod, however it also works without

Ponta da Ferraria

This is an amazing location for sunset. Be there hours earlier and take your time because you might find plenty of different spots to shoot. It’s all about rocks, water and catching the dynamic of water reaching the rocks in all its power. The trick here is to capture the dynamic of the water. The shutter speed should not be too long, otherwise, the water will look too white and without structure. 

Azores photography locations

f/9 | 25 s | 73 mm | ISO 100
This was taken from above right below the car park. I added an ND filter 1000 because it was still daylight and I wanted to get this effect of the water.

Azores photography locations

f/6.3 | 2 s | 24 mm | ISO 400

Azores Photography guide

f/7.1 | 1,3 s | 40 mm | ISO 200

Azores Photography guide

f/13 | 6 s | 105 mm | ISO 200
You can see the lighthouse from the car park. The best time is to photograph it during the blue hour after the sun has set

Equipment:
Wide angle and telephoto lens
Tripod
ND filter
Polarizing filter
Optional: remote control (or use the 2s self-timer)

Thermal pool of Ribeira Grande

Thermal pools are really popular on the Azores. This one has an upper pool which is a great photo spot. It is beautifully embedded in nature with a little waterfall. Be there at 9.00 am when they open the gates. Entrance fee is 3 Euro per person without using the pools. The pool lies in the shadow. Set the ISO on 100 and choose an aperture of 9-11 in order to reach a shutter speed of approximately 1 second. You do not need a longer exposure, because you want some structure in the waterfall. Use a polarizing filter to eliminate reflections in the water.

Azores photography locations

f/9 | 0,8 s | 24 mm | ISO 100

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Tripod
Polarizing filter 
ND filter 64
Optional: remote (or use the 2s self-timer)
Patience: There might be people bathing in the pools. Wait a bit until you’ve got it yourself and be quick.

Cascata do Salto do Cabrito

There are dozens of waterfalls on the Azores. Salto do Cabrito is very easily accessible. It is just a couple of meters walk from the car park but the road leading to this car park is very narrow and steep. You’ve got several options to capture the waterfall: try portrait and landscape format, position the tripod in front and on both sides and find out which perspective you like most.

f/9 | 0,4 s | 16 mm | ISO 100

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Tripod
Polarizing filter 
ND filter 64
Optional: remote (or use the 2s self-timer)

Miradouro de Santa Iria

The Azores are famous for marvellous viewpoints. Santa Iria on the north coast of Saõ Miguel is one of them. The advantage of these viewpoints is that there is always parking very closely. You can capture these views with an ND filter to make the water appear very flat. The clouds were not moving fast enough to get a great effect on the clouds as well. 

f/8 | 13 s | 25 mm | ISO 100

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Tripod
Polarizing filter 
ND filter 64 or 1000
Optional: remote (or use the 2s self-timer)

Chá Gorreana

Did you know that the Azores have tea plantations? Chá Gorreana in the north of the island is a must-stop on your itinerary. You can play with symmetries and your image compositions, black and white also works here. Finish your shooting with a delicious cup of tea in the factory.

Azores photography locations

f/7.1 | 1/160 s | 200 mm | ISO 320

Chá Gorreana

f/7.1 | 1/125 s | 70 mm | ISO 320

Azores photography locations

f/7.1 | 1/200 s | 200 mm | ISO 320

Equipment:
Telephoto lens to focus on the details and symmetries 

Miradouro do Pico dos Bodes

This viewpoint is in the south-east of Saõ Miguel. You have to leave the main road and walk up about 10 minutes to reach the top. The curved wall works great in the photo and the view to the other side with the hills in front of the ocean is fantastic. With a bit of luck, the fog is coming in and you can capture the wonderful ocean view with a bit of mist.

Azores photo spot

f/9 | 1/125 s | 17 mm | ISO 125

Azores photo spot

f/9 | 1/200 s | 16 mm | ISO 125

Equipment:
Wide angle lens
Polarizing filter 

"There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs"
Ansel Adams

Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego

This viewpoint is right at the main road in the east of the island. It is a beautiful small park with flowers and short trails to walk. Perfect for a little break from your road-trip. Try to work the wooden handrail in your composition.

f/9 | 1/60 s | 16 mm | ISO 200

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Polarizing filter 

Miradouro da Barrosa

This viewpoint is the best to look down to Lagoa do Fogo. You might need a bit of luck because fog is the best friend of the lake. It took me two attempts to see it in its glory. Spotazores.com is a great source to check the conditions. The website shows webcams of different locations and it tells you if Lagoa do Fogo is visible or hidden behind a thick layer of fog.

Lagoa do Fogo

f/11 | 20 s | 19 mm | ISO 125

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Polarizing filter 
Optional: ND filter to capture the movement of the clouds 
Optional: Tripod (when using an ND filter)

Terra Nostra Park in Furnas

The Terra Nostra Park in Furnas is a beautiful park with an amazing flora. I have never seen so many different ferns at one place – they’re perfect to try some abstract photography. You can spend a whole day there so plan quite a bit of time. You can also take a bath in the thermal pool if you fancy that. 

I can strongly recommend to stay in the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel* from where you have direct access to the park at any time of the day. 

f/7.1 | 1/60 s | 16 mm | ISO 200

Terra Nostra Park Furnas

f/5 | 1/125 s | 35 mm | ISO 500

Terra Nostra Park Furnas

f/5 | 1/125 s | 16 mm | ISO 500

Terra Nostra Park Furnas

f/5 | 1/400 s | 35 mm | ISO 500

Equipment:
Standard lens

Miradouro do Salto do Cavalo

This spot is great for sunset or sunrise. It has parking right next to the location. The poles of the fence are a perfect foreground to the hills and the ocean in the background. Be aware that it gets a bit windy and cold towards sunset. 

photo spots Azores

f/14 | 1/5 s | 24 mm | ISO 200

f/10 | 203 s | 23 mm | ISO 200

Equipment:
Wide angle or standard lens
Polarizing filter 
Tripod
Optional: ND filter to capture the movement of the clouds or to try a super long exposure right after sunset like I did in the second photo

Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz

This chapel is a wonderful piece of architecture and a must for symmetry lovers. The blue tiles work perfectly in contrast to the blue sky. Black and white is a great option, too. This place is amazing to play with symmetries, shadows and contrast. Besides, from the top of the chapel, you’ve got a fantastic view.

f/10 | 1/320 s | 27 mm | ISO 250

Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz

f/10 | 1/250 s | 16 mm | ISO 250

Equipment:
Wide angle lens
Optional: Polarizing filter

Mosteiros Beach

Mosteiros Beach is in the west of the island. There is parking right at the beach. Make sure to wear good shoes and be careful when you walk on the rocks. I recommend to visit this location for sunset but be there earlier to find your perfect position to capture the two rocks. You can play with long exposure and when the sun sets use a shorter shutter speed to capture the waves differently. You have to increase the ISO to do that. Check out at what maximum ISO your camera still delivers great results.

f/9 | 25 s | 40 mm | ISO 100

Mosteiros Beach Azores

f/7.1 | 1,3 s | 32 mm | ISO 100

Mosteiros Beach Azores

f/6.3 | 1/50 s | 82 mm | ISO 800

Recommended quipment:
Standard and/or telephoto lens
Polarizing filter 
ND filter
Tripod
Optional: remote control (or use the self-timer)

Nicola’s hot tips for long exposure shots:
When you shoot with long shutter speed, make sure your tripod is steady. Hang your backpack on the hook to make it more stable. Keep the upper pole of the tripod low in order to avoid shaking. Switch off the image stabilizer on your lens and always use a remote or at least the self-timer. Do not touch the camera or the tripod during the exposure. If you have a DSLR you can also activate the mirror lockup.

I am offering customized photography tours. If you’re interested in a exclusive photography adventure, contact me. I’m happy to schedule a call to discuss the details.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links marked with *. It means I will get a small commission if you book/buy via my link. This is at no extra cost for you.