Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Lagoon of the Seven Cities) - Atlas Obscura

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Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Lagoon of the Seven Cities)

Legend has it the lovelorn tears of a princess and a shepherd boy formed the blue and green twin lakes in the Azores archipelago. 


Jacob and Esau. Apollo and Artemis. Mary Kate and Ashley. People have always been fascinated with twins, and these twin lakes are no less interesting.  

In a 22,000-year-old (at least) volcanic crater on the island of São Miguel in the Azores archipelago of Portugal, you’ll find the blue and green lakes of Sete Cidades. While technically one body of water, the lagoon appears like two separate lakesLagoa Azul (Blue Lake) and Lagoa Verde (Green Lake)nearly separated by a narrow stretch of land with a bridge. The water is surrounded by a lush landscape of ancient subtropical forest, laurisilva (laurel forest), and blue hydrangea.

The twin lakes are often cited as one of Portugal’s seven natural wonders, and for good reason. While ecologically separate, they comprise the largest body of water in the Azorean archipelago and are an important freshwater source for the region. And their folklore is even more captivating.

Legend has it that a noble princess and a lowly shepherd fell in love, and their romantic liaisons took place in the hills over Sete Cidades where they could meet under the stars. The king discovered the clandestine lovers and forbade them to meet, as kings often do. The young princess had emerald green eyes, and the shepherd boy’s eyes were hydrangea blue. When their romance was dashed they each cried a lake of tears, one green and one blue.

While science has proven the lakes to be a single body of water that simply reflects sunlight in two different colors, it’s a beautiful destination that easily conveys romantic fairy tales past and present.

Don’t miss the King’s viewpoint—King Carlos I, not the mean father of yore—where the Portuguese ruler and his wife, Queen Amelia, stood during their visit in 1901 and declared it the most beautiful spot in the Azores.

Know Before You Go

To reach the Vista do Rei (King's viewpoint), set your map coordinates to the Ruínas do Monte Palace Hotel. Public parking is available there, and you'll regularly find vendors of snacks and souvenirs. It's a nice pit stop on a driving tour of São Miguel. At the lakefronts, there are options for swimming, kayaking, and other ways to enjoy the water depending on your entry point. 

Please note: Start early to climb the summit because the whole region can quickly become overcrowded with quad bike caravans around midday.

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August 31, 2023

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