Perhaps the most famous site on São Miguel is the Lagoa das Sete Cidades – a twin lake in the crater of a dormant volcano. The two lakes are connected by a narrow straight, one blue and one green. Because we were visiting in the Fall, I was nervous we wouldn’t be able to see the two colors, but even with the cloudy weather and mist we were able to see both beautiful lakes!
I also love the legend behind the two colored lakes! Normally I try never to quote Wikipedia, but they had the best write-up:
“The ancient story recounts the tale of a bad-tempered widower King and his daughter in a Kingdom in the Western Sea. He was a King, Lord of Alchemy and sorcerer, who lived exclusively for his daughter, Antília, and who would not let the Princess speak to anyone. Apart from the King, the Princess was raised by an old nurse, after the Queen had died. As the years progressed, the princess grew up to be a beautiful young woman and able to attract the attentions of any boy in the kingdom. However, the King restricted her movements to the castle and garden, and few ever saw her. But, unintimidated by her father, and with the help of the nurse, she escaped to the local hills and valleys, as her father slept after his lunch. During one of her escape adventures, she heard a song: the music was beautiful and enchanted her to follow it to its origins. Hiding from view, the princess found a young shepherd playing a flute, sitting on top of a hill. For weeks she returned, listening to the young shepherd, until she was discovered behind some bushes. The shepherd boy fell in love with the princess, and they continued to meet afterwards, talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, until the boy decided to ask the princess in marriage.
Early in the morning, the couple knocked on the door of the Castle, and asked the servants to speak to the King. Very nervous but determined, the shepherd asked the King for his daughter in marriage. Reacting angrily, the King refused and expelled him from the Castle, and forbade his daughter from seeing the young boy. Not wishing more ill feelings, she followed the orders of her father, but met secretly with the shepherd that afternoon in order to tell him that she would never see him again. Antília and the shepherd boy cried all afternoon, embracing, and their tears formed two beautiful lakes, one green, for the Princess’s eyes were green, and the other blue, for the shepherd’s eyes were likewise colored.”
After visiting lakeside, we drove back up to the Miradouro da Vista do Rei – known to be the best viewpoint of the Lagoa das Sete Cidades. Once you park you see the breathtaking view immediately.
But that’s not enough. On countless blogs and sites you’ll read about the eerie abandoned hotel that closed in the 1970s at Vista do Rei. It’s closed to the public, but still quite easy to enter and climb to the top for what’s supposed to be the absolute best view. We decided to risk it and climbed over the wall to see for ourselves. It was super gross and disgusing inside, but worth it for the view from the top! You need to try while you can – the hotel has been bought and is scheduled for rennovations to open again in 2021.