Visiting the Lagoa do Fogo in the Azores

Years ago when I researched potential honeymoon locations, the Azores popped up on my radar. An image of bright green pastures set against the backdrop of the strikingly blue Atlantic Ocean piqued my interest. Though we ended up going to New Zealand for our honeymoon (no complaints there!), I still hoped to travel to the Azores one day. That dream became a reality not so long ago. My favorite walk of our trip was on the island of São Miguel. In this post, I will share our experience and tips for visiting the Lagoa do Fogo in the Azores. 

The Basics of the Lagoa do Fogo

‘Lagoa do Fogo’ translates to ‘Lake of Fire’. It is a crater lake within the volcanic complex of Água de Pau Massif and is a protected natural reserve housing various endemic and introduced plant species, as well as a variety of birds.

Basics for Visiting the Lagoa do Fogo

When visiting the Lagoa do Fogo, remember the following:

  • Check the weather: Seeing the Lagoa do Fogo with somewhat clear skies is the goal, but the weather can change quickly and varies across the island. Try to check the weather in the area before going. The report might not always be accurate, but it’s worth trying.
  • Wear layers and solid footwear: Since the weather can change quickly be sure you can shed or add clothing. If you opt for the hiking or walking options, make sure you have sturdy shoes.
  • Pack food and water: Unless you’re going for the quickest option, food and water is a good idea.
  • Respect the nature: Make sure to not leave any trash behind or leave a disruptive mark in the area.
  • Watch out for the seagulls: You might encounter flocks of seagulls and keep in mind they have a reputation for being aggressive during the nesting period (April to May).

Options for Visiting the Lagoa do Fogo

There are 3 general ways one could visit the Lagoa do Fogo and this sections details each of them.

Option 1: Viewpoints (Portuguese = ‘Miradouros’)

There a number of viewpoints which allow you to take in views of the lake. The two that are listed on most official maps are the Miradouro da Barrosa and Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo.

Parking is available at the Miradouro da Barrosa, but it is limited. There is more parking at Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo as it is the starting point for Option 3 and a popular stop for tour buses.

There are other viewpoints, but keep in mind that parking and viewing space can be limited.

This option is great if:

  • you are short on time and simply want to get an overview of the lake
  • you have a car and want to get alternative views of the lake before or after pursuing option 2 or 3 (That’s what we did!)

Option 2: The Long Hike

There is an 11km circular hike, which means you hike and then at some point, you turn around and come back. According to the official tourism website of the Azores, the hike is of medium difficulty and takes around 4 hours.

It’s important to bear in mind that the hike will take longer if you want to walk around the lake or spend some time enjoying the views there.

Unfortunately, we didn’t do this hike, but I recommend using the trail leaflet of the Azores tourism board to start planning if you decide to do so.

This option is great if:

  • you have at least four hours (you will need more time take in everything you are seeing).
  • the weather does not involve rain, fog, or heavy cloud cover.
  • you are in somewhat decent shape and have the proper footwear (e.g., hiking shoes or solid sneakers).

Option 3: The Short Hike

From the Miradouro da Lagoa do Fogo, you can walk down a steep trail that will get you to the lake. This shorter circular hike option (up to 4km) is what we decided to pursue. The difficulty level is easy-medium due to the steepnesses of the initial and last parts of the hike.

In terms of time, it took us 15 minutes to walk down the steep trail and meet the edge of the lake. From there, it’s up to you how far and how long you want to peruse the lake. We spend close to 1.5 hours leisurely walking around the accessible parts of the lake and sitting to take in the scenery.

On the way back up, it took us about 25 minutes to walk back up the steep portion of the trail.

I would budget 1-2 hours for this hiking option. If you have the time and the weather is cooperating, budget closer to the 2-hour mark. It’s totally worth it.

This option is great if:

  • you want to do a hike, but not commit to Option 2
  • the weather does not involve rain, fog, or heavy cloud cover.
  • you are in somewhat decent shape and have the proper footwear (e.g., hiking shoes or solid sneakers).

Final Thoughts

Visiting the Lagoa do Fogo was my favorite hike of our Azores trip and probably one of my favorite hikes ever. I hope to do the longer hike in the future, but I think the shorter hike is a great option. We were super lucky that the weather cooperated (most of the time) for our hike. The lake really lights up when the sun is out and the sight is spectacular. Overall, I would highly recommend visiting the Lagoa do Fogo and pursuing the options that best fit you.

Have you ever been to the Lagoa do Fogo? Do you want to go? Let me know in the comments below!

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Smiti Nathan

I’m an archaeologist that travels around the world for both work and pleasure. I have a penchant for exploring ancient and modern places and the people, plants, and foods entangled in them. I write about archaeology, travel, and productivity.

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