Lagoa do Fogo, located on the island of Sao Miguel of the Azores, is one of my top travel experiences to date.
From the multiple vast viewpoints from up top, to the hiking opportunities down below, Lagoa do Fogo offers so much to its visitors.
I wanted to create a complete guide that fully goes over everything you will want to know for a visit to the area and help answer any questions you may have along the way.
Read on to learn more about this one of kind place in the Azores!
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1) What is Lagoa do Fogo
History: Lagoa do Fogo, translated to Lake of Fire, was created as a result of the Agua de Pau volcanic activity in the area. The volcanic area was created around 15,000 years ago and the last eruption happened in the 1500’s.
Size: The lake is the highest elevated lake on Sao Miguel island and spans nearly 2 miles (3 km) in length and is 1.5 miles (2.5 km) wide.
Viewpoints: There are two main viewpoints from above – Miradouro da Barrossa and Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo, where you can enjoy the views from a few different angles.
Hikes: You can decide between two hikes – a shorter 30 minute trail from Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo viewpoint to the bottom of the lake and back up, or a longer 4 hour round trip hike starting in Praia (a 30 minute drive) that takes you to the opposite side of the lake from the viewpoint areas.
Weather: Low lying clouds are a major issue around this area of the island. Due to its high elevation, you will often be welcomed to a view of nothing but clouds. Don’t worry though – I will go into the best ways to prepare yourself for a visit.
Car Rental: You will want to rent a car on Sao Miguel in order to visit most of the attractions on the island and go at your own pace (learn more in the Driving in the Azores Guide).
Tour Option: You can also decide to join a Full Day Sao Miguel Tour that will bring you to Lagoa do Fogo and Sete Cidades.
This guide will go into more detail about all the above to help you have the best experience possible when visiting Lagoa do Fogo.
Shuttle Update: in 2023 a new shuttle system was put in place. Read on for some very important information regarding the rules.
2) Map & Points of Interest
Before jumping into Lagoa do Fogo, I thought it would be helpful to pinpoint all the different points of interest on a map.
See below for a Google Maps view of the area with the two viewpoints, the 30 minute hike, and the 4 hour trail route.
→ Feel free to browse through Rentalcars.com for plenty of car rental options. You can filter by car type, price, & more to find the perfect rental car for your trip to the Azores.
Lagoa do Fogo Shuttle
Please Read for an Important Updates!
Before continuing on, I want to note that starting in 2023 there is a new shuttle system in place that can completely change the way to go about a trip to Lagoa do Fogo.
Due to the parking situation, it is now not allowed to take a rental car up to the viewpoints from June to September, between the hours of 9:00AM to 7:00PM. Only Sao Miguel residents are allowed to drive the road during those times.
Instead you will need to park at one of two parking lots. These are located at Caldeira Velha (north) and Casa da Agua (south). From there, you will then hop on a 5 Euro shuttle that stops at the main two viewpoint areas (in addition to a third viewpoint spot).
By the looks of it, this first go around in 2023 did not go over well with visitors. Many complained of long wait times (1+ hours) and a crowded ride. Going into 2024, we will see what upgrades they decide upon. If anyone has any updates on this, feel free to comment down below.
Based on some reviews, many recommend to go first thing in the morning, well prior to 9:00AM. This allows you to avoid the shuttle system and instead drive your own car & be on your own schedule.
Unless you want to set aside an entire half day for this, I would highly recommend going early or simply joining a guided tour instead.
3) Lagoa do Fogo Weather & Webcams
The most important aspect to me when planning my visit to Lagoa do Fogo was understanding the weather of the area.
As mentioned before, Lagoa do Fogo is one of the highest points on the island with constant low clouds coming in over the lake and completely taking away any sort of view.
Here is my advice – plan your trip to Sao Miguel with the thought process that you can have the flexibility to move around your days to account for the weather.
Places like Lagoa do Fogo and the famous Sete Cidades area are only worth visiting if you can actually see the view.
If the day you were planning on seeing places like this have poor weather conditions, you should have the flexibility to move your days around so you will have the best chance to enjoy it all.
You may now be asking yourself, how would you know what the weather looks like in these places if you are not there yourself.
Well, for that you can rely on the very helpful Azores webcams that are spread throughout all 9 islands.
These webcams will give you a live look at places like Lagoa do Fogo so you can see in real time what the weather situation is like. If the webcams are completely covered in clouds, maybe head off to another attraction on the island before checking again later on.
Below are two screenshots of the Lagoa do Fogo area. The first shows it all clear, while the second shows being trapped in the clouds.
During my first morning on Sao Miguel, I checked the webcams and saw that the weather was clear. I ended up spending most of my first day all around the Lagoa do Fogo area to take advantage of all that it had to offer.
Although the webcam may show a clear view or a clouded view at one moment, that does not mean it will continue to stay that way for hours.
You will find that these clouds can move quickly, so don’t feel let down if you arrive without a view. Give it a little while to see if the weather ends up clearing up sooner rather than later.
» Feel free to read the Weather in the Azores Guide for more tips and helpful info about how to navigate the weather of the islands
4) Miradouro da Barrossa
As you are making the winding journey up to the Lagoa do Fogo area, you will first come across a viewpoint area called Miradouro da Barrossa.
This is a great spot to get your first glimpse of Lagoa do Fogo and the incredibly beautiful surrounding nature and landscape.
There are actually two spots just seconds away from each other to pull over here and you can decide to just stop at one of them or you can stop at both.
The first viewpoint is highlighted on Google Maps simply as “Miradouros” and the second one will be named “Miradouro da Barrossa”. The map above clearly shows the two viewpoints if you are unsure where to stop.
The view will be quite similar, with the first viewpoint having the winding road in view while the second viewpoint is more unobstructed.
The parking areas here are not as big as the main viewpoint area (up next), but you should be able to safely get a spot off the side of the road to enjoy the view for a little bit.
Note the “Miradouro da Barrossa” parking lot is just off of a hairpin turn so slow down as you are making your way there.
5) Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo
The main viewpoint area is a bit closer to the lake at Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo. Here you will find a larger parking area and plenty of space to take in another view of Lagoa do Fogo from above.
This view will have a different angle from before as you are able to see the “W” shaped lake down below surrounded by the immense greenery, and the Atlantic Ocean farther out in the distance.
6) Lagoa do Fogo Hiking Option
Right below the viewing area, you will find the start to a winding pathway to the bottom of Lagoa do Fogo.
The trail down should take around 30 minutes and can be steep and uneven is some sections, so do be careful on the way and down. Once you arrive down below you then get to enjoy the lake from a small sandy beach at the bottom.
This is a great option for those that want to get up and close to the lake but do not want to take part of the 4 hour hike on the other side of Lagoa do Fogo.
However, if you do have some time, you can extend your route and head all along the shores of the Lagoa do Fogo (from just a few minutes to well over an hour).
You may find some other spots along the lake, where you can enjoy the entire area for yourself instead of situating yourself right by the first beach.
Once you have had enough time by the lakeside, you will head back on the same winding path to the viewpoint and parking lot.
Be sure to check out some of the other top things to do in the Azores during your trip.
7) Praia – Lagoa do Fogo Hike
While most people who visit the Lagoa do Fogo area simply head to the viewpoints and maybe down the short hiking trail, I would definitely recommend the Praia – Lagoa do Fogo hike if you are up for it.
To get to the starting point of the hike you will need to make the 30 minute drive back down and around the Lagoa do Fogo area.
The coordinates of the trailhead are 37°43’40.0″N 25°28’17.5″W and can be simply entered into Google Maps.
The hike can be broken down into a few main sections. First will be the trail through the farmland, followed by the vast forest, and ultimately the immense greenery section leading you to Lagoa do Fogo itself.
The trail does have a moderate incline at the beginning but the majority of the trail is pretty manageable for the most part.
After enjoying some time at the lake, turn back around in the same direction and head back to the parking lot to end your time around the Lagoa do Fogo area.
8) Caldeira Velha
It is hard to beat a nice relaxing hot springs experience to wrap up your day. Just 10 minutes away from the main viewpoint of Lagoa do Fogo, you will find the Caldeira Velha thermal pools area.
Here you can enter sit back and relax in a natural hot spring pool in the middle of the Sao Miguel forest with nature surrounding you in every which direction.
» You can learn much more about the thermal pools in the Caldeira Velha Hot Springs Guide I put together.
9) Where to Stay in Sao Miguel
There are a few main towns around the island but if you are looking for the most happening spot that would be in Ponta Delgada.
There are way more accommodation and restaurant options here than any other location on the island.
If you want to get a little further away you can also check out the town of Furnas, which is home to several natural hot springs. Here are some hotel recommendations for each:
That about wraps up a guide to everything you need to know about Lagoa do Fogo of the Azores Islands. If you do happen to have any additional questions or comments, feel free to write them in below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!