Ribeira Grande

Ribeira Grande

The second largest city in the Azores, Ribeira Grande, a city of 30,000, is the main starting point for exploring the north and east of São Miguel and a good place to stay.

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Ribeira Grande offers a beautiful historic centre, many restaurants, a commercial centre and great conditions for surfing and watching the rough sea right from the beaches.

Sights and attractions

Among the most beautiful sights is the photogenic historic Ponte da Ribeira Grande bridge arching over the valley of the eponymous river, which runs right through the centre of town. The bridge is built in traditional colonial style with a white facade and black and brown basalt stone edges.

The local clock tower (Torre do Relógio), which forms the main landmark of the town, is in the same style. Indeed, the traditional architectural style can be seen on most of the houses within the pretty historic centre.

Beaches, swimming and surfing

Ribeira Grande is one of the few São Miguel towns whose coastline offers sandy beaches. In fact, it's more like the only one. The beaches here are made up of exotic black volcanic sand, which tends to be beautifully hardened, making them great for walking and running on, but also comfortable for sunbathing in good weather.

Right in the centre you'll find Praia do Monte Verde, but more popular is Praia de Santa Bárbara on the western edge of town. Swimming here (as throughout the Azores) is more suited to very fit swimmers. The tricky part is the larger waves with strong back currents, which in turn encourage surfing. This is one of the most popular sports in Ribeira Grande and has a long tradition here.

There are surfing opportunities for complete beginners as well, with several surf schools right in Ribeira Brava, such as the Santa Barbara Surf School.

Less skilled swimmers will not miss the classic swimming pool with an artificial pool, which is built on the promenade just a few metres from the sea. They will also enjoy the all-day admission for a nominal price 1,50 eur.

Accommodation Ribeira Grande

Accommodation in Ribeira Grande is mainly in private apartments, small guesthouses and guesthouses. Prices for the cheapest ones start at 45 eur per night, with the absolute best value for money being the small Casa Norte Guesthouse in the centre of town or the A Casa da Cascata with great views of the clock tower and the bridge over the valley.

There's only one classic hotel with a small spa area and prices from 150 eur per night. However, considering the quality, this is a very good price and if you like nice accommodation with all the amenities, Hotel Verde Mar & SPA ***** it's one of the best in São Miguel.

How to get to Ribeira Grande?

Find out the transport options to Ribeira Grande.

By car

It's very convenient and quick to get to the town from Ponta Delgada, where there is a full motorway (about 20 km), but also around the perimeter of the island, along which there is a good class I road.

Street parking is not charged, but expect very cramped conditions.

The larger free parking lot can be found at the Piscinas Municipais swimming pool (location on en.mapy.cz) or about 150 metres from the centre and the clock tower (location at en.mapy.cz).

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By bus

Ribeira Grande is easily accessible by bus, but like everywhere in the Azores, you'll always be limited to travelling around the towns when using the bus service. Unfortunately, current timetables are not available online, only the 2013 version. However, the line numbers and number of services per day should, give or take, match.

  • Ponta Delgada - approximately every hour, lines 101, 102, 105, 106, 108, 110 + 103 via a detour through the village of Pico do Fogo
  • Furnas - 2x daily line 110
  • Nordeste and villages on the north-east coast - 4 times a day lines 105 or 106
  • Calhetas (connection to lines further west) - approx. 1x per hour line 102

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