Last Updated on 2023-09-17
The Islet of Vila Franca, or Ilhéu de Vila Franca in Portuguese, 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.
Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Vila Franca do Campo by discovering its top sights and activities.
One of the must-visit landmarks is the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace (Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz), offering breathtaking panoramic views of the town and the mesmerizing Ilhéu de Vila Franca. Don’t miss the iconic white staircase adorned with beautiful tiles that leads you to this hidden gem.
So, in this comprehensive travel guide, we will provide you with valuable tips and insights to ensure an unforgettable experience in this charming destination.
From top attractions to accommodations and practical travel advice, we’ve got you covered.
Explore the beauty of São Miguel in a unique way! Download the island’s official trails for free, which include essential information such as distance, difficulty, maps and photos, for an unforgettable experience!
What’s the best way to see Islet of Vila Franca (Ilhéu de Vila Franca) in Azores?
Do you want to know what’s the best way to experience the beauty of the Islet of Vila Franca (Ilhéu de Vila Franca) in the Azores?
Embarking on a ferry journey from the Tagarete pier is the ideal way to reach the Islet of Vila Franca. These ferry trips typically operate from June to mid-October, allowing visitors to explore this stunning natural wonder during the prime season.
To ensure a smooth visit, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a daily limit of 400 visitors to the islet. Thus, it is advisable to plan your trip in advance and secure your spot to avoid any disappointment.
The ferry departs hourly between 10 am and 6 pm, providing a short and enjoyable 10-minute ride to the islet before returning to the mainland. The journey offers captivating views of the surrounding azure waters and picturesque landscapes, setting the stage for an unforgettable adventure.
While private and tour boats can approach the islet, only authorized boats are permitted to disembark passengers, ensuring the preservation of the fragile ecosystem.
As you prepare for your visit, it’s essential to note that the islet does not have any facilities or amenities. It is advisable to come well-prepared, bringing essentials such as drinking water, snacks, sunscreen, a towel, and a bag to carry your trash back with you, promoting responsible tourism and environmental conservation.
Immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of the Islet of Vila Franca, cherishing the unique experience and marveling at the pristine natural surroundings.
Best Things to See and Do on Vila Franca Islet, Azores: Exploring Beyond the Beach
While visiting the beach is a popular activity on Ilhéu de Vila Franca, there are other exciting experiences to discover in this enchanting destination.
For those seeking underwater adventures, don’t forget to bring your snorkeling equipment or rent it from the cabin where you purchase your tickets.
Dive into the crystal-clear waters and get up close to the vibrant marine life, observing an array of colorful fish in their natural habitat.
If you’re an adrenaline enthusiast, make sure to mark your calendar for the thrilling Red Bull Cliff Diving event held in this picturesque setting.
Watch as daring athletes take the plunge from towering cliffs, showcasing their skills and bravery in this idyllic location.
On the other hand, if you prefer a more relaxing experience, you’ll be delighted to know that the water temperature on the islet averages around 25º-26º Celsius, providing the perfect conditions for a leisurely swim.
With minimal waves, you can truly unwind and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.
Beyond the beach, Ilhéu de Vila Franca offers a captivating landscape waiting to be explored. Take a leisurely stroll along the shores, marveling at the natural beauty and immersing yourself in the serene atmosphere.
Whether you’re an adventurer, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, Ilhéu de Vila Franca has something to offer everyone. Embrace the unique experiences and create lasting memories in this stunning Azorean gem.
Getting to Vila Franca Islet
To ensure your visit to the Islet of Vila Franca, it is recommended to purchase your ferry ticket online at least one day in advance.
This guarantees your spot and avoids disappointment.
If you haven’t made prior arrangements, you can still try your luck by heading to the Tagarete pier.
On-site, you can inquire if there are any remaining spots available for the ferry trip. Keep in mind that availability may be limited, so it’s best to arrive early to increase your chances of securing a ticket.
Whether you plan ahead or decide on a spontaneous visit, experiencing the beauty of Ilhéu de Vila Franca is well worth the effort.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this captivating destination in the Azores.
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 2023:
The Charming Center of Vila Franca do Campo
The center of Vila Franca do Campo may be small in size, but it is brimming with beauty and cultural attractions.
Take a stroll through its picturesque streets and make sure to include the following stops in your itinerary:
- Pottery Museum of Vila Franca: Immerse yourself in the local pottery traditions and discover the craftsmanship behind Vila Franca’s renowned pottery. Learn about the history and techniques of this traditional art form.
- Church of São Miguel Arcanjo: Marvel at the architectural splendor of the Church of São Miguel Arcanjo, a historic landmark that showcases exquisite craftsmanship and religious artwork.
- Forte Real: Explore the historic Forte Real, a fortress that once played a crucial role in defending the island. Take in the panoramic views of the surrounding area and imagine the fort’s strategic significance in the past.
- Poço Largo Leisure Park: Relax and unwind in the tranquil surroundings of Poço Largo Leisure Park. Enjoy the lush greenery, serene ponds, and recreational facilities that make it an ideal spot for leisurely activities and picnics.
Don’t forget to visit the factory of Queijadas da Vila in Rua do Penedo. These famous pastries, synonymous with Vila Franca, are a true delight and a must-try when in the area.
Explore the captivating center of Vila Franca do Campo and immerse yourself in its rich cultural heritage and local flavors.
The Queijadas da Vila Factory: Indulge in the Authentic Delights
No trip to Vila Franca do Campo is complete without treating yourself to the famous Queijadas da Vila, also known as Queijadas do Morgado.
These mouthwatering sweets are a must-try, and what better place to sample them than at the very factory where they are made?
Indulge your taste buds and savor the authentic flavors of Vila Franca do Campo by purchasing queijadas directly from the factory. By doing so, you can be confident in their freshness and enjoy them at their best.
The village’s Queijadas, known as Queijadas do Morgado, have garnered a reputation for their exquisite taste.
If you have a sweet tooth like us, don’t miss the opportunity to satisfy your cravings and immerse yourself in the local culinary heritage.
Make a visit to the Queijadas da Vila factory a priority during your time in Vila Franca do Campo.
Treat yourself to these delectable treats, experience the true essence of the region, and create lasting memories of the flavors that define this charming village.
Discover Tranquility and Breathtaking Views at the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace (Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz)
Situated a short distance from the center, the Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Paz offers a serene escape and an exceptional vantage point to admire both the city and the magnificent Ilhéu de Vila Franca.
As you ascend the long white staircase adorned with tiles, you’ll quickly notice the chapel’s distinctive architectural charm.
However, it is the awe-inspiring vistas of the ocean that truly captivate visitors once they reach the hilltop.
For those looking to take their time and fully immerse themselves in the breathtaking landscape, a convenient car park is available nearby.
This allows you to leisurely soak in the panoramic views and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you.
Whether you seek tranquility, stunning photo opportunities, or a moment of reflection, the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace offers an idyllic setting to fulfill these desires.
Don’t miss the chance to visit this enchanting spot and create unforgettable memories amidst the picturesque scenery of Vila Franca do Campo.
Accommodation in Vila Franca
If you’re planning to stay in Vila Franca do Campo and explore the area further, we recommend checking the availability of hotels and apartments on our interactive map for Accommodation in Vila Franca.
For our stay, we had a wonderful experience at Tradicampo Eco-Country Houses, located in Algarvia, approximately 30 km from Vila Franca. The advantage of staying in Algarvia is the tranquil setting it offers (Book here).
Tradicampo Eco-Country Houses provide spacious rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue area, swimming pool with sun loungers, bicycles, and more, making it an ideal choice for families or those seeking a comfortable and convenient stay.
With the flexibility of traveling by car on São Miguel, you’ll find it relatively easy to explore the island, allowing you to enjoy the peacefulness of Algarvia while still being within reach of Vila Franca’s attractions.
Plan Your Visit to Islet of Vila Franca
To make the most of your time in Vila Franca do Campo and ensure a smooth experience, it’s highly recommended to plan your visit in advance.
The Islet of Vila Franca is a popular destination, and availability may be limited during peak seasons. Therefore, booking your accommodations and activities as soon as possible is advisable.
Start by creating a well-structured itinerary that includes the must-visit places, such as the Islet of Vila Franca itself, with its unique natural pool and captivating views.
Explore the charming streets of Vila Franca do Campo, visit historical sites like the Chapel of Our Lady of Peace, and indulge in local cuisine to savor the authentic flavors of the Azores.
Consider the duration of your stay and allocate sufficient time to fully immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture and history.
Don’t miss out on opportunities to engage with the local community, attend festivals or events, and learn about the traditions and customs that make Vila Franca do Campo unique.
By planning ahead and booking your accommodations, activities, and transportation in advance, you’ll have peace of mind and can make the most of your visit to the Islet of Vila Franca.
So, prepare your itinerary, secure your reservations, and get ready for an unforgettable experience in this enchanting part of the Azores.
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