Ponta Delgada is the large capital city located on the island of São Miguel in the Azores Autonomous Region of Portugal. You’ll have the opportunity to cruise to Ponta Delgada while on your European cruise. You’ll have the chance to experience all things volcanic because of the island’s extraordinary amount of volcanic rock.
There are many things to do in Ponta Delgada, including shore excursions such as a scenic drive around the island of São Miguel. During whichever activity you choose to do, you’ll definitely see plenty of pineapples (also called ananás), one of the most popular items to eat in the Azores.
Here are 16 additional ideas of foods to try while visiting Ponta Delgada.
1. Bolo D. Amelie
Portugal is well known for its little cake treats. Also known as Amelia Cakes, this Portuguese sweet tart is made with ginger and cinnamon and doused with powdered sugar. It’s named for a cake created for Queen Amelia, the last queen of Portugal.
2. Cozido das Furnas
In Ponta Delgada, this Portuguese stew is prepared in a unique way through geothermal heat. Holes, known as fumaroles, are created in the hot volcanic soil and then metal stock pots are placed inside the fumaroles.
The cozido das furnas is then added to the pots. The stew simmers until it is ready to be served by the local restaurants. Portions tend to be hefty with pork, chicken or sausage mixed with vegetables such as kale and cabbage, and topped with the broth.
3. Caldeira Corn
For a healthy dose of fresh corn, try Caldeira corn cooked in the caldeiras, or geysers. Though the area where the cooking geysers are located may smell a bit like sulfur, there’s absolutely no sulfur taste in any of the food.
Known as lapas in Portuguese, this dish of mollusks, that live in cone-shaped shells, are served grill-fried with a spicy mix of butter, pepper and garlic. However, some like to eat limpets raw (like oysters). It’s a local delicacy (and one that’s rather chewy) found only in the Azores.
5. Bolo Lêvedo
This delightful muffin is part cake, part bread. It even looks like an English muffin, yet it’s cooked on a griddle. It’s one of the most versatile breads you’ll ever eat. Enjoy it with jam or stuffed with cheese, or use it as a bun for sandwiches or burgers.
6. Queijadas da Vila
These tiny sweet desserts were created by nuns living in a convent, and they are definitely heavenly. The buns are made from milk, eggs, butter, flour and lots of sugar. You’ll find them wrapped in white paper, so you can pack them in your bag while you’re on your shore excursion.
7. São Jorge Cheese
You haven’t tasted cheese like queijo de São Jorge. The best Azores cheese comes from São Jorge island where it’s aged for months until its color turns yellow and it becomes semi-hard. The result is a distinctive tangy, spicy and salty taste.
8. Quince Jam
This is a marmalade that pairs especially well with cheese. It’s fragrant and sweet and delicious with savory meals. Take some home with you, but be sure to keep it and any other foods brought back on board sealed and unopened for the duration of your cruise.
Though you’ll likely find cracas in other parts of the Mediterranean, you’ll also find it in Ponta Delgada. Cracas are barnacles that have a salty seawater taste. It’s one of those foods you may have to develop a taste to enjoy unless you love all things that come from the sea.
Beef is plentiful in the Azores. Alcatra is a special braised beef that’s cooked for hours so it falls apart with the touch of a fork. You’ll find it in restaurants served with sweet bread, rice or potatoes.
11. Azorean Green Tea
In addition to wine, if you’re looking for gourmet things to buy in Ponta Delgada to bring home as gifts, try Chá Verde, a special Azorean green tea. Or look for flor de Acafroa, otherwise known as safflower. The Azorean safflower is a welcome addition when making paellas or poached fish dishes.
Just make sure the containers are packaged and unopened so you can take it back home.
12. Pastel de Nata
Another Mediterranean delicacy, pastela da nata is phyllo dough filled with an egg custard and sprinkled with cinnamon. Yum!
13. Fried Mackerel
Though it sounds like a simple dish, it’s worth it when you want a fresh catch for dinner. This traditional mackerel dish is fried and served as a side dish. To eat them, you pop the whole fish in your mouth and pull out the tail to discard after eating the rest.
14. Black Sausage
Also called blood sausage, black sausage is one of the most flavorful meats made by Azoreans. There are numerous recipes that families pass down through generations. The blend of seasonings, which always includes cinnamon, makes Azorean sausage distinctive from other sausages around the world.
This is the Mediterranean version of fried dough. It’s light and fluffy. When sliced open, locals prefer to fill the bread with tropical fruit and chocolate or caramel.
16. Azorean Wine
There’s a 500-year history of making wines in the Azores. Pico Island produces a must-taste white wine and is considered one of the UNESCO World Heritage wine regions worldwide. This means Pico Island is a landmark area that is legally protected for its cultural, historical or scientific significance to the world.
Wine is one of the best things to buy in Ponta Delgada to bring back home. Carnival allows you to bring one 750 ml bottle per adult if you’re over 21 years of age, but check with the cruise staff just to make sure.
Between bites of Portuguese sweets and tours of local volcanic craters, you’ll begin to realize just how magnificent it is to visit Europe by cruise ship. On a Carnival European cruise, you get to see what other non-cruising tourists rarely see, especially if you visit the Azores, a remote, but bustling outpost in the Atlantic Ocean.