The Azores are Portugal’s hidden secret. Comprising a string of nine subtropical islands in the Atlantic Ocean, they have some of the country’s best scenery, including dense forests, volcanic craters and beaches.
São Miguel is the largest and most populous island in the Azores and is the archipelago’s crowning jewel. Its capital Ponta Delgada – just a two-hour flight from Lisbon – is home to a rich cache of Gothic architecture, neighboured by twin crater lakes known as Sete Cidades.
Here, we’ve picked out five of the most striking villas for rent on São Miguel, that are perfect bases for exploring the island and surrounding archipelago.
The Pink House, Ponta Delgada
2 bedrooms; from €210 per night
Dubbed ‘the green island’ by locals, São Miguel is known for its diverse and colourful landscape. This villa in Ponta Delgada has been transformed from a ramshackle barn into a brightly coloured holiday home by Mezzo Atelier. The Pink House blends old with new: carefully repaired stone walls have been integrated into the design of the two-bedroom Azores villa, whose pared-back interiors feature furniture designed by the practice.
Capelas Retreat, Ponta Delgada
3 bedrooms; via BoutiqueHomes from €140 per night
Architect Pedro Mauricio Borges designed this sleek São Miguel villa, which is just outside Ponta Delgada and riffs on the traditional pitched-roof structures that dot the island. Capelas Retreat’s timber trussed ceiling is dotted with skylights, while its open-plan apartments have polished concrete floors and floor-to-ceiling glass, overlooking a courtyard and landscaped gardens.
Villa Refugio Astrolabio, Sete Cidades
1 bedroom; from €135 per night via Airbnb
Concrete reigns supreme at this brutalist holiday home, which hunkers between the craters of Sete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo (pictured top). Villa Refugio’s low-lying cubic volumes are a stark contrast to the landscaped garden, spanning 3,000 sqm. Huge glass windows frame the views.
Pico do Refugio, Rabo de Peixe
2 bedrooms; from €122 per night
Luis Bernardo Brito e Abreu has given this old plantation home in Rabo de Peixe a contemporary spin. The 17th-century farmhouse on São Miguel is in the middle of a nature reserve and sits atop a hill looking out towards the Atlantic Ocean. It’s been converted into eight apartments that retain the old building’s high ceilings and rustic roof beams. These are paired with crisply rendered white walls and concrete floors. You can brush shoulders with visiting artists on the island too as Pico do Refugio offers a seasonal artist’s residency. Works by previous residents dot the apartments’ walls. Other activities include scuba diving.
7 Cidades Lake Lodge, Sete Cidades
1 bedroom; via Airbnb from €100 per night
This cabin is a simple yet satisfying dwelling, designed to play second fiddle to its setting: a volcanic crater on the edge of the Sete Cidades lake, known for its azure waters. Interiors of 7 Cidades Lake Lodge are modern, featuring wooden flooring, white walls and a giant wood-burning stove. But really, it’s about getting back to basics, and this São Miguel villa is a well-positioned basecamp for exploring the island’s west side by foot or bike.
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