Getting around São Miguel

Lagoa Sao Miguel

There is a public bus service on the island, but just finding out when and from where the bus leaves is often very difficult and you can't do without the help of the locals. Moreover, buses don't go to all places of interest and are really only an emergency option for travellers without a driving licence.

Over 90% of tourists get around São Miguel by rental car, which is the only reasonable option.

By car

The ideal is to rent a car and travel the island cross-country. The scooter option is not really suitable due to the unpredictable weather. Being independent of buses while exploring the island is a great advantage in the Azores, as the island offers a number of sightseeing spots, including parking. Each such viewpoint is a great attraction and it would be a shame not to take advantage of them.

Azores roads are narrow and winding, so the journey will be very slow. On the other hand, traffic is light even in the tourist season and driving is rather relaxed. The largest city, Ponta Delgada, doesn't suffer from any traffic jams either, so there's nothing to worry about.

How much does it cost to rent a car in São Miguel and what are the best rental companies? We've compiled detailed information on travelling by car in a separate chapter on car hire in São Miguel.


Relying on bus transport is not wise anywhere in the Azores. While São Miguel has a dense network of intercity bus lines, most of them run only 3-4 times a day. The only exceptions are the connection between Ponta Delgada and Ribeira Grande, which runs about once an hour, and the trip from Ponta Delgada to Vila Franca do Campo or Mosteiros.

Tickets are always payable with the driver and vary according to the distance travelled from 1,50 eur to 6 eur.

A big problem with bus services in São Miguel is the lack of information, both online and on the spot. While there is an official website with timetables and routes you can find (, but it is non-functional most of the time.

At the moment, the only source of timetable information is the German website with pdf files from 2013, which at least serve as an idea of line numbers, routes and frequency of services. These have remained virtually unchanged over the years. São Miguel is served by three main bus carriers, which divide the island into thirds:

  • Auto Viação Micaelense - West of the island - 2013 timetable
  • Varela - southeast of the island - 2013 timetable
  • Caetano, Raposo e Pereiras - north-east of the island - 2013 timetable

All stops are always on signal. You must press the "stop" button before getting off the bus, you must always wave before boarding. The problem is that the stops are often not signposted at all and when they are, it is just a sign informing you that there is a stop. You will not find information about timetables or line numbers practically anywhere, not even at the main stops.

The location of the stops is displayed quite reliably by, while Google Maps even adds information about the line number and departure time, which is based on outdated timetables and therefore may not always be accurate.

Even in Ponta Delgada, where the largest number of lines depart, you won't find a central bus station with an information office or ticket office. The buses here stop at the main bus stop near the square (location on, but information on the spot is generally zero.

Where can I get to without a car?

As mentioned, travelling without a car is a fallback option in São Miguel and you'll only ever see a limited number of attractions. You can easily get to the following places by bus, for example:

  • Vila Franca do Campo - from Ponta Delgada about 12 times a day
  • Mosterios - from Ponta Delgada about 4-8 times a day
  • Furnas - from Ponta Delgada about 3-4 times a day, from Ribeira Grande 2-5 times a day
  • Ribeira Grande - from Ponta Delgada 1-2 times per hour
  • Sete Cidades - from Ponta Delgada only 2-3 times a day
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