When Is the Best Time
The thermal springs and pools of Caldeira Velha are located in the heart of Sao Miguel, the biggest island of the Azores. These hot springs and pools nestled in the rainforest with giant fern trees are a natural wonder that attracts visitors worldwide therefore, it became a Nature Reserve in 2008.
Caldeira Velha is a geothermal phenomenon and a unique experience close to Lagoa do Fogo. The Azores are of volcanic origin, and some of these volcanoes on Sao Miguel are still active. Caldeira Velha is remotely located on the northern flank of Fogo Lake and Volcano.
I will give you all information on how to secure a ticket online in advance, the best time, the water temperature for each pool and what to bring to this fantastic place in Sao Miguel.
Don't miss out on my 9 Azores Islands Guides.
Parking Caldeira Velha
There is ample parking nearby, and it is a five-minute walk to the entrance. In former times, the parking lot was frequently full, but nowadays, the visitor flow is regulated. Caldeira Velha Parking Google Maps
Opening Hours Caldeira Velha
- May – September 9.00 - 20.30
- October and April 9.00 - 18.30
- November – March 9.00 – 17.00
Entry Tickets – Fee Caldeira Velha
There are two different types of tickets available.
- A simple visit to the pools, rainforest, and area is cheaper—price: adults 3€ and children 1€.
- Or the ticket which also allows taking a bath in the pools, which I highly recommend.
Price: Adults are 10 €, and children are 5€. The price is the same for years.
Online Tickets – Time Entry Slots
Visitor limit of 100 every 1 ½ hour. You can purchase your ticket at the counter if not all are sold out. You will be given a coloured wristband at the entrance gate to indicate to the staff when you need to leave the park.
Book your ticket online (ticket booking link - click to the left "full ticket") in advance; otherwise, you may not get access. Enter your visit date and choose the time you like to access Caldeira Velha. Book your ticket at least a day before better two. It is a popular spot and worth visiting.
There are two changing cabins, restrooms and showers inside the park and nowadays lockers for a 2€ fee. Either take a locker or watch your valuables. Plenty of benches are provided to leave your bag or sit there and enjoy the breathtaking lush vegetation.
Access for People With Disabilities
At least people with disabilities have the opportunity to get a closer look. Opposite the entrance is a small parking reserved for taxis and people with disabilities. The path inside is paved and cobbled, accessible by wheelchair.
Fumaroles and Three Pools
Caldeira Velha, in the middle of the rainforest, is a haven to soak in the beauty of the Azores while enjoying the hot pools. Before you reach the second pool, you cross a wooden bridge which leads above a bubbling pond. You can smell the sulphur of the fumaroles, the evidence of volcanic activity. The fumaroles are openings like cracks or holes in this pond, they heat the water between 60°C and 100°C – boiling water.
The springs and pools are fed by waterfalls and a network of underground thermal streams, which provide a steady flow of naturally heated water. Visitors can enjoy three thermal pool areas, ranging in temperature from lukewarm to warm and hot, all surrounded by lush vegetation and the sound of cascading water.
1 Pool and Waterfall
The main pool is the biggest and the most picturesque, with the waterfall in the back. The water temperature is cool compared to the other ones, around 25°C. We got the recommendation to access this pool first, and I agree. Be careful; the steps that lead into the pool are slippery. I was glad to wear my Teva.
2 Pool After the Fumaroles
This pool was the warmest, reaching a temperature of at least 38°C. This was my favourite pool because of the temp, but I felt cold when I got out. Although it was September, I was freezing after this pool because of the high elevation it is cooler here.
3 Two Pools at the Beginning
These two pools are slightly colder, with a limit of 9 and 6 people, but usually, no one cares about it. You first cross a wooden bridge to get to these pools.
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Best Time to Visit Caldeira Velha
Visiting the thermal pools is great throughout the year. The most pleasant months regarding temperatures are May to October. Caldeira Velha is perfect for a rainy day. You don’t care when you are in the hot pools in this breathtaking nature. The pools are located at higher elevations of more than 600 m above sea level with high humidity. Therefore, it is always cooler at Caldeira Velha than at sea.
The Azores are less busy in the winter. However, it is the most popular time for the locals. The best daytime is either in the morning when the park opens at 9 am, after 1 pm at lunchtime, or in the evening for the last admission. Sao Miguel and Pico are popular destinations for residents from mainland Portugal, especially from Lisbon in the summertime; July and August are the busiest. If possible, avoid these two months.
My Personal Hotel Tip
Pedras do Mar Resort & Spa has a fantastic location with spectacular mountains and Atlantic views. I highly recommend a room with a sea view. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, which is fantastic and great for swimming. In front of the hotel is a huge parking for rental cars. A bike rental is offered. A rich breakfast is included to start the day.
Tips and What to Bring
- A bottle of water - there is no cafe inside.
- Older swimwear and towel - the iron reach water can react to your clothes, but Parque Terra Nostra was the worst. We prefer lightweight, absorbent and quick-dry cotton towels that can be washed in hot water.
- Either flip flops to change from pool to pool or Teva. I preferred my Teva because some areas were slippy.
- You may like to wear a warm sweater after your visit from fall to spring when the temperature is not high.
- Leave your valuables in your accommodation.
I highly recommend hiking at Fogo Lake in the morning before the clouds roll in, having lunch in nearby Caldeiras (Google Maps Location), and afterwards taking a bath to relax your muscles from the hike in the hot pools of Caldeira Velha. However, don't forget to book your entrance ticket at least the day before.
Don't miss out on my 9 Azores Guides; hikes, waterfalls, things to see and do, the best time, and my personal tips.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Caldeira Velha is a fantastic must-visit place, but you need to book your ticket in advance, or you are forced to wait for hours. I will give you all the information about the time slot entry, the pools and their temperatures, the history and the best time. Don't miss out on this beautiful place in the Azores with fern trees around.
I have to confess we passed by accident, and all tickets were sold out. A kind group from Lisbon had two tickets left, and we were able to join them.
The geothermal pools became a popular destination for those seeking relief from various diseases, tourists from mainland Portugal, and visitors from all over the world. Many believed that the hot springs had the ability to cure everything from arthritis to respiratory problems. The water is iron-rich and may react to your jewellery and stain your swimwear.
The Interpretation Centre in the middle of the park provides information about all Azores Islands, how they were developed, and details how geothermal energy and steam are used to produce electricity. The exhibition is quite interesting all information is displayed in Portuguese and English.
For those who are thirsty and hungry after the visit, there is usually a food truck opposite the entrance.
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