Last Updated on 2023-09-17
Ribeira Grande is a city in São Miguel, in the Azores, and has several interesting places for visitors.
In this article you’ll find tips on what to see in Ribeira Grande, from the historic center to the museums, including suggestions on where to stay and restaurants.
We also mention the Caldeira Velha Monument, one of the ex-libris of the region.
Keep reading until the end and understand why so many people fall in love with the Azores!
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 to see in Ribeira Grande Azores
The historic center of Ribeira Grande
There is nothing better to get to know a city than to start by exploring the historic center.
Usually, this is where the oldest monuments, museums and restaurants are located.
Spend a few hours discovering a well-kept city, with beautiful gardens and plenty of places to take pictures.
Put the Jardim Municipal da Ribeira Grande on your phone’s GPS and from there, walk towards the center.
Pay close attention to Ponte dos Oito Arcos, or Ponte de Ribeira Grande, pass the playground if you are traveling with children and head to the Clock Tower on Rua da Praça.
Then continue to the Church of Nossa Senhora da Estrela and take a jump to the Capela de São Miguel, which is right next door.
Take your time and before leaving, stop by the Miradouro do Palheiro to see the city and the sea.
The Salto do Cabrito waterfall (Cascata Salto do Cabrito)
If you like to see waterfalls, but not much like walking through forests, take note that you can go very close to the Salto do Cabrito waterfall by car.
There is a road and parking lot next to the hydroelectric power station that you can use if you don’t feel like walking.
In any case, the walk to the Cabrito waterfall is easy to do, although the road is a little steep.
When you reach the waterfall, you will see an impressive waterfall of about 40 meters.
We feel small before the grandeur of the waterfall, surrounded by lush forest. If you feel adventurous, you can go up some stairs on the right side of the hydroelectric plant to see the waterfall up close.
Museum in Ribeira Grande
Like knowing the history of a place by visiting local museums? Then I have good news for you!
Even though Ribeira Grande on São Miguel Island is relatively small, it has several museum spaces to explore.
So, note that your itinerary through the city center should include the Municipal Museum, the Azorean Emigration Museum, the Tobacco Museum, and the Casa do Arcano.
The Municipal Museum is in the former Solar de São Vicente Ferreira, and the main attraction is the oldest walking crib in Europe.
In addition, you can see various artifacts related to the São Miguel way of life over time.
The adult price is €2 (€1 for those over 65 years old), but children up to 6 years old do not pay.
On the other hand, the Azorean Emigration Museum (MEA) highlights the stories of those who emigrated to the United States of America, Canada, Bermuda, Brazil, and Uruguay, among other countries.
By the way, did you know about the connection between tobacco and São Miguel? It was a surprise for me to see some tobacco fields on the island, and in addition, the former Fábrica de Tabacos da Maia took on the role of a museum.
Casa do Arcano is a regional treasure whose star is a glass and wooden box about 2 meters high and where scenes from the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, are represented.
It is the work of Mother Margarida Isabel do Apocalypse, who dedicated her life to making these miniatures with impressive details.
You can also learn more about the mother’s work and life through an explanatory video.
Caldeira Velha Natural Monument (Monumento Natural da Caldeira Velha)
It is difficult to separate São Miguel and thermal baths, so if you are interested in soaking in hot water, put a visit to Caldeira Velha in your Azores itinerary.
The Caldeira Velha Natural Monument has four thermal pools surrounded by rich vegetation giving the place an atmosphere of adventure.
Entrance is paid, and we recomend to buy tickets in advance on the internet, so you don’t run the risk of getting there and the tickets are sold out.
Best Things To Do in Ribeira Grande, Azores
As you may have already noticed, there is a lot to do in this area of São Miguel, so here are some suggestions of what to do in Ribeira Grande.
- go for a swim in Santa Bárbara Beach;
- drive to the Miradouro de Santa Iria on the road between Ribeira Grande and Maia;
- go canyoning at the Salto do Cabrito waterfall;
- taste the typical gastronomy such as the numerous fish dishes.
Accommodation in Ribeira Grande
We stayed in Algarvia, more specifically at Quinta das Cycas da Tradicampo Eco-Country Houses, about 30 km from Ribeira Grande and we recommend it.
From this area of São Miguel, it is easy to get to any point on the island, and has the advantage of being a quiet place. Also it is located in an area with less human intervention.
Book your hotel at Ribeira Grande
Ideal Duration: Exploring Ribeira Grande in the Azores – How Many Days to Stay?
The number of days needed to visit Ribeira Grande in the Azores can vary depending on personal preferences and the specific activities you wish to engage in.
While it is possible to explore the main attractions of Ribeira Grande in one or two days, it’s recommended to allocate at least 2-3 days to fully appreciate the town and its surroundings.
With 2-3 days, you’ll have enough time to explore the historic center, visit local attractions such as museums and churches, and venture into the stunning natural landscapes surrounding Ribeira Grande.
You can immerse yourself in the local culture, indulge in the delicious Azorean cuisine, and engage in outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, or simply enjoying the scenic beauty of the area.
Restaurants in Ribeira Grande Azores
Alabote Restaurante Bar is a modern space where local products have an special place.
We tried Black pudding with Pineapple, followed by Braised Tuna, Fillets with Mango Sauce, Bacalhau na Telha with cornbread, and even a children’s menu.
The food was so good that we ate it all and left no room for dessert. It was a shame because Bavaroise de Passion Fruit and Semifrio de Pineapple stayed in my memory.
By the way, did you know that “halabote” is an Azorean expression that means “let’s go”? We are always learning!
Map and how to get to Ribeira Grande in the Azores
To get to Ribeira Grande from Ponta Delgada, take the EN1-1A and expect a journey of around 20 minutes.
Alternatively, take one of the following buses: C102, C105, C106, or C110 on Avenida Marginal.
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