Nordeste is a town and the north-eastern area of the Sao Miguel island in the Azores. The name literally means "northeast" and it is exactly what it describes. The town of Nordeste is the center of the region, which is incredibly picturesque - dotted with little villages, green fields, spectacular cliffs, waterfalls and multiple viewpoints. You can also find here the oldest and the only still functioning tea plantation in Europe.
The town of Nordeste has the extraordinary Portuguese architecture - typical for the Azores with whitewashed buildings and black corners and window frames (see the post about Ponta Delgada - the capital). As I mentioned in the previous article about Furnas, the red roofs of the houses among green fields and high cliffs create such an unusual mix of the Irish countryside and some tropical, volcanic islands. Nordeste is perfect for a day trip - it's probably the least visited part of the Azores.
How to get to Nordeste
The best way to get to Nordeste is to drive as you can stop at so many amazing points along the way. However, if you don't drive - you can take a bus from Ponta Delgada that would cost around 7 EUR. It takes over 1 hour to reach the Nordeste town. If you want to see many places along the way and don't have much time, you can take a tour from the main tourist office in Ponta Delgada.
The cost of the tour should be in the range of around 50 EUR per person - it's not too cheap but it is worth it if you have no better option. We combined the tour to Furnas together with Nordeste and visited both in one day - if you have more time, it's better to split it and both places are amazing.
Furnas is simply incredible - there are multiple hot springs, volcanic lakes that you can enjoy. Also, you can enjoy something unique - food that is buried underground and cooked by the volcanic heat. Take a look at my post about Furnas here.
What to see in Nordeste
The countryside is so picturesque - there is no one definite place that I would recommend here. While driving north from Furnas, we stopped in a few little towns to get some snacks. Most of them are quite similar to each other and resemble other towns in Portugal or Brazil, but there's something unique about them - especially the white buildings with black finishes. Stop at one of the little village cafes and enjoy the local tranquility in this unique part of the world!
Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes - Achada Waterfall
The Ribeira dos Caldeiroes National Park is located north of Furnas near the village of Achada and is not to be missed! It's a lush green, forested place where you can enjoy a picnic or just stop for the view in front of the beautiful waterfall - a great place for those who love taking photos - don't forget your tripod to take some amazing long exposure shots! The flora is exceptional - amazing tree ferns make it look pretty exotic. The entrance is free so enjoy!
Our next stop was the town of Nordeste located on the north-eastern tip of the island. The town is incredibly small and has a sleepy atmosphere. But it doesn't make it less attractive! In the center of the town, you can find the 15th century church of Sao Jorge and nearby you'll see beautiful views of the seaside. What's unique about Nordeste, however, is the spectacular bridge standing on 7 arches - completed in 1883. All this makes Nordeste one of the most picturesque villages not only in the Azores, but in the whole of Portugal. Although Nordeste is so tiny - there are some accommodation options available here - so you can visit Nordeste in a day, stay overnight and return the next day to Ponta Delgada - if you have more time.
South of Nordeste, you can stop at the lighthouse Arnel which is also one of the many viewpoints along the Sao Miguel island.
Ponta do Sossego viewpoint
A few miles further south is the most beautiful viewpoint of Nordeste - Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego. The countryside here looks like a copy of the Irish countryside - with the exception of a few date palms in the beautifully maintained garden. What's nice about all those 'miradouros' (viewpoints) in Azores is that it's not only a simple place to admire the view but also a great spot for a picnic or spending some time outside. There are benches and a little arbor where one can relax. The views of the cliff is of course an amazing bonus!
Gorreana tea factory
It was a long day and towards the evening, on the way back to Ponta Delgada, we also visited two other places. The first one was the Europe's oldest tea factory called Gorreana. The factory was established in 1883 and is still functioning - remaining the only operating tea factory in Europe! The tea produced here is of the highest quality - in the main building you can see all the machinery from the last century and all the processes of preparing the tea leaves are explained. Even if you're not a tea fan - the place is still worth visiting - something very unique on a European scale.
Santa Iria Viewpoint and the town of Ribeira Grande
Our last stop on the northern coast before turning south towards Ponta Delgada was the Miradouro de Santa Iria. It's an another beautiful lookout over the coast where you can also sit down and relax. The sunset evening changed the sky into multiple shades of orange and red and we were lucky to get such an amazing view to finish the day. Nearby village of Ribeira Grande is also worth visiting - come here during the day if you have a chance!
Author: Tom @ Adventurous Travels
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