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Ribeira Grande Travel Guide

Ponta da Cintrao in Ribeira Grande

What to see and do in Ribeira Grande


The municipality of Ribeira Grande is located on the north coast of São Miguel and is made up of 14 parishes. Around 20 km from Ponta Delgada, the namesake charming town with its historic centre and attractive Baroque structures is a must visit while in the Azores. Some of the notable buildings in the town include Igreja dos Santos Reis Magos (a beautiful church dating back to 1830s), Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Estrela (one of the most stunning and the oldest temples in the island), the Municipal Museum (which houses several permanent exhibitions) and Ponte dos 8 Arcos (the bridge of the Eight Arches; a masonry pillar bridge which is an excellent piece of Azorean roadworks from the 19th century) to name a few.

Other important buildings include Teatro Ribeiragrandense, Igreja do Senhor dos Passos, Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, Farol da Ponta do Cintrão (lighthouse) and Museu da Emigração Açoriana. While the architecture is lovely and definitely worth a look, most visitors to Ribeira Grande come to explore its stunning natural attractions. Ribeira Grande is blessed with a large number of natural sights for visitors to savour.

Lakes of Ribeira Grande


There are two popular lakes in the Ribeira Grande region - Lagoa do Fogo and Lagoa de São Brás.

Lagoa do Fogo is the largest of the lakes in the Azores and very popular with tourists too. You can approach the lake from different routes and the views are stunning from all directions. The lake is stunning and the colours are magnificent. When we went it up, it was cloudy. But the clouds cleared after a while and the view from the top was fabulous.

Lagoa do Fogo in Ribeira Grande

Lagoa do Fogo in Ribeira Grande

Lagoa do Fogo in Ribeira Grande

Lagoa de São Brás which is the fifth largest lake on the island is located in a relatively flat terrain and was deserted when we visited. It was just the two of us and the local animals - a couple of cows and some ducks. We had the whole lake all to ourselves - it was beautiful.

Lagoa de São Brás in Azores

Lagoa de São Brás in Azores

Lagoa de São Brás in Azores

Viewpoints (Miradouros) of Ribeira Grande

Miradouro de Santa Iria: Located on top of a cliff this viewpoint offers a wonderful view of the coastline. And if you are a cat lover, don't forget to bring some cat treats. There is a small picnic area near the viewpoint which is home to a number of stray cats.

Miradouro de Santa Iria

Miradouro de Santa Iria

Miradouro de Santa Iria

Miradouro de Santa Iria

Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão: My favourite viewpoint with stunning views of the cliff and the northern coast.

Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão

Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão

Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão

Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão

Miradouro do Castelo: Nice views of the coastline and the Monte Verde beach.

Miradouro do Tio Domingos: Beautiful panoramic views of the north coast and access to the beach of Viola.

Miradouro Lagoa do Fogo: Excellent views of Lake Fogo.

Miradouro Lagoa do Fogo

Porto de Santa Iria: Not exactly a viewpoint but this was located on the route to Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão. Very high cliffs with a fishing and leisure area. Although we did not experience, a boat ride departs from here taking visitors to the volcanic caves located at the Ponta do Cintrão.

Porto de Santa Iria

Porto de Santa Iria

Beaches of Ribeira Grande


Owing to its large coastline, Ribeira Grande has a number of stunning beaches - Areal de Santa Bárbara, Praia do Monte Verde, Praia da Viola, Praia dos Moinhos, Poços das Calhetas and Praia do Calhau da Maia to name a few. Our favourites are listed below.

Areal de Santa Bárbara: Easily accessible with a large car park, this beach is a lovely place to relax and watch the huge, rough ocean waves. Not good for swimming but excellent for surfers. Facilities available include a beach bar, showers & toilets and a surf school.

Areal de Santa Bárbara

Areal de Santa Bárbara

Areal de Santa Bárbara

Praia do Monte Verde: A very popular beach which is also the location for one of the biggest music festivals in the island - the Monte Verde Festival. When we visited it wasn't very busy except for a few surfers and some other people relaxing and enjoying the serenity of the beach like us.

Praia do Monte Verde

Praia do Monte Verde

Praia do Monte Verde

Praia do Monte Verde

Local products of Ribeira Grande


If you plan to bring back souvenirs from Ribeira Grande, make sure that you pick at least one of the following local food/drink, arts/crafts products.

Tea: Ribeira Grande's has a unique landscape conducive to the cultivation of tea and Cha Gorreana (the tea plantation) has been producing tea on the island since 1883. Most tourists to Riberia Grande visit the plantation, where one can take a self-guided tour through the factory, explore a small museum, sample some natural & organic tea and pick up some tea from the gift shop.

Cha Gorreana

Cha Gorreana

Liqueurs: Azores’ mild climate helps with the cultivation of many tropical fruits like pineapples, passion fruit, guavas, figs and bananas. This, in turn, has created a local liqueur industry where these luscious fruits are the star players. Located in Ribeira Grande is Mulher de Capote which distils liqueurs and brandies with most of these fruits. A visit to the distillery and after a quick tour of the facility by one of the staff, you can head for the tastings. You can choose what you want to try - fruit-infused liqueurs, vodkas or gins. We tasted a few variants and purchased many minis. Flavours we loved were: Honey liqueur, Milk Liqueur, Rice Pudding liqueur and Passion Fruit Liqueur. Delicious!

Mulher de Capote

Mulher de Capote

Mulher de Capote

Mulher de Capote

Biscuits: There is a thriving biscuit industry in Ribeira Grande. You will find a variety of biscuits in all local shops and supermarkets - coconut biscuits, butter biscuits, cat's tongues biscuits (named so because they are shaped like a cat's tongue), cinnamon biscuits, 'catarinas' and 'areados' to name a few.

Biscuits from the Azores

Lapinhas: These are beautiful miniature nativity scenes made from many different materials like clay, shells, wood, dried flowers and moss etc. and assembled on wooden supports. The entire scene is covered with a protective glass casing.

Fish scale jewellery: Beautifully made from fish scales, these jewellery pieces are delicate and take a lot of time to create. Skilled artisans meticulously cut and transform the fish scales into jewellery and other decorative items.

Queijada: These are authentic and absolutely delicious, local sweet treats. You can find it all local shops, cafes and supermarkets.

Queijada


8 comments:

  1. These photos are amazing. The first one reminds me of Painted Rocks in Upper Michigan, but many of the other ones remind of the Irish countryside. I love to travel and eat so this post is definitely something to bookmark and return to!

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  2. I love lakes and these photos give me a reason to plan a trip to this place. The little liqueurs are interesting too. I'd love to try them out.

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  3. Photos are amazing, especially the food! These photos made me thinking to plan my trip there as soon as possible :)

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  4. Beautiful lakes, breathtaking cliffs, relaxing greenery, tasty tropical fruits, delicious food, baroque architecture - enough to call Azores a paradise !

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  5. Oh my god! Such beautiful pictures. Sitting in the exact opposite world, I am drooling about this place!

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  6. I love the photos, lakes are some of my favorite places to explore! I also love that you included some local wildlife :)

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  7. Those vistas are amazing! We would love to trek and camp there. We can also see a lot of cliffs; is there a rock climbing scene there?

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  8. Stunning pictures of lakes of Ribeira Grande, plus the viewpoint at Miradouro da Ponta do Cintrão is breathtaking. I got to know about a new place from your place. Thanks for the share. Plus I love that cat!

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