Last Updated on 2023-03-12
The Ilhéu de Vila Franca is one of the best known postcards of São Miguel, in the Azores, and is part of the Natural Reserve of Ilhéu de Vila Franca.
It is an ancient submerged volcano, whose crater is above sea level. Ilhéu de Vila Franca Azores it’s also known as the Princess ring, because of the crater’s shape.
It is a bathing area open to visitors in the summer, meaning you can enjoy a natural pool in the middle of the ocean.
The fact that the islet of volcanic origin is only accessible by ferry during a period of the year, makes a visit to this place even more special.
If you visit Vila Franca do Campo at a time when trips to the islet are no longer available, don’t worry as there are other tourist attractions to visit.
So, in this article, I will give you some travel tips, such as the best things to see and do in Vila Franca do Campo, accommodation, and how to do to Vila Franca.
What’s the best way to see Ilhéu de Vila Franca in Azores?
The best way to see the Ilhéu de Vila Franca is by ferry that leaves the Tagarete pier.
As a general rule, ferry trips to the islet start in June and end in mid-October.
In addition, there is a limit of 400 visitors per day, so you must plan your visit.
Every hour, between 10 am and 6 pm, the boat makes the trip of about 10 minutes to the Ilhéu and returns 10 minutes later.
Private and tour boats can approach the islet, but only official boats can let passengers out.
Remember that there are no bars on the islet, so you will have to take everything you need with you, such as water, snacks, sunscreen, a towel and a bag to bring your rubbish back.
Best things to See and Do in Ilhéu de Vila Franca Azores
Going to the beach, of course, is the most frequent activity, however, there are other activities that you can explore.
So, try to bring your snorkeling equipment, or rent it next to the cabin where you buy the tickets and observe the fish up close.
If you are a fan of extreme sports, then take note that Red Bull Cliff Diving takes place in this idyllic setting.
On the other hand, if your favorite sports activity is soaking, I have good news, as the water temperature on the islet is around 25º-26º and there are almost no waves.
How to get to Ilhéu de Vila Franca?
To get to Ilhéu de Vila Franca you must buy the ferry ticket online at least one day in advance.
If you can’t, you can always head to the Tagarete pier to see if there are still places available.
Best things to See and Do in Vila Franca Azores
The Ilhéu can be a very interesting place, but in Vila Franca do Campo there is a lot to discover! Here are some suggestions on what to visit in Vila Franca in 2022
The center of Vila Franca do Campo
It couldn’t be any other way, right? The center of Vila do Campo is small but very beautiful.
Park your car and walk along the streets, and your itinerary should include the Pottery Museum of Vila Franca, the Church of São Miguel Arcanjo, the Forte Real, and the Poço Largo Leisure Park.
In Rua do Penedo you will find the factory of the famous Queijadas da Vila, which despite being on sale in several places in São Miguel, are produced in Vila Franca.
The Queijadas da Vila factory
The village’s Queijadas are also known as Queijadas do Morgado, and if you like to taste sweets like us, don’t miss the opportunity to do so in the place where they are produced.
By the way, when you buy the queijadas directly from the factory, you are guaranteed they are fresh.
The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace (Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz)
A little far from the center, the Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz is an excellent viewpoint from which to observe both the city and the Ilhéu de Vila Franca.
The long white staircase with tiles is a hallmark, but it is the ocean views that draw visitors to the top of the hill.
There is a car park if you want to spend some time admiring the landscape.
Accommodation in Vila Franca
We stayed at Tradicampo Eco-Country Houses, in Algarvia, about 30 km from Vila Franca, and we recommend it.
Traveling by car is very easy in São Miguel, and in a relatively short ride to go from one side of the island to the other.
In Algarvia, it has the advantage of being a quiet place.
In addition, the accommodation has everything a family needs, such as spacious rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue area, swimming pool with sun loungers, bicycles, etc.
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