Founded in the 15th century, Vila Franca do Campo rose to become the largest on the island of São Miguel. It served as the capital of the Azores in the 16th century when it was tragically hit by a major earthquake. The capital was moved after the earthquake and subsequent mudslides destroyed much of the settlement as it was then. Following its reconstruction, it became an agricultural hub, particularly for orange and pineapple plantations. Some of the most beautiful architecture on the island can be found in its modernist lighthouse and many churches and convents.
There is also a small caldera (volcanic crater) just off its shore forms a popular natural swimming pool. The isle is green and lush, the beach is lovely and clean, and the lake at its center forms a nearly perfect circle. The Islet of Vila Franca do Campo is classified as a nature reserve, which helps to maintain its raw beauty.
Vila Franca do Campo is located on the southern end of São Miguel Island in the Azores, Portugal. Most flights arrive in Ponta Delgada, from which it’s about a 20-minute drive to Vila Franca do Campo.