The island of Pico is one of the islands of the central group of the Azores archipelago. The main town on the island is Madalena. There is a small airport that allows connections to other islands and mainland Portugal. In Pico, the main activities are agriculture, fishing,
Check our post about traveling to the Azores to have more information about this archipelago and how to visit it.
The name of the island comes from the existence of a volcanic mountain, Pico, that makes the landscape very interesting. Wherever you are on the island, the Pico mountain is always part of the landscape.
The island is small, but with plenty to see and do. Depending on the number of activities you intend to do on your trip, you can choose to visit the island for a full day, using another island in the triangle as a base, such as São Jorge or Faial, or extend the visit for more days.
We visited the island in low season, and only for a day. The boat left Faial at 7:30 in the morning and only came back at the end of the day, which allowed us to make the most of the time of our visit.
You can check here our post on the island of Faial, our base to explore the islands of the triangle.
How to get to Pico
The small airport on the island has regular connections to other islands of the Azores using the local airline SATA. Sometimes there are also flights to mainland Portugal.
Alternatively, you can reach the island by ferry through one of the city’s ports. Atlanticoline guarantees the regular operation of the routes between the various islands of the Azores, and some of the routes and schedules are subject to seasonality. For the island of Pico, there are routes that arrive in Madalena and others in São Roque.
Check here the fares and ferry schedules for the islands of the triangle.
Where to Stay in Pico
When we visited Pico island, we only did it for a full day, so we did not need to find accommodation. However, if you want to climb the Pico mountain, for example, we recommend that you extend your trip for another day or two, in which case you will have to find a place to stay.
The supply of local accommodation and hotels is more than enough for the demand. Depending on the type of trip you are looking for, it could make sense to rent an apartment temporarily or to make a reservation at a local accommodation or a hotel.
Find here your hotel in Pico island.
How to get around Pico
The best way to travel within the island of Pico is by car or motorcycle. The roads have the quality necessary to enjoy the trip without hassles. On all the islands of the Azores, you should pay a lot of attention on the road because the weather conditions are very variable and at any time you can be out of sight due to the fog. In addition, you must take into account that cattle can move on the same roads as cars, so always drive with caution.
What to Do and See in Pico
Madalena is the main town on the island of Pico and one of the ports where the ferry comes from the other islands is here. It is a small, simple and pleasant city. It has some traditional street shops and several restaurants.
It is a village by the sea, which gained its name due to rocks of volcanic origin that are by the sea and which have the shape of a dog. It looks like it was carved manually, but it is a natural formation.
Lava Tunnel and Lajidos (Gruta das Torres)
It is a geological formation of volcanic origin in the area of Crianção Velha. It is the largest lava tunnel known in Portugal with more than 5km.
It is an old fishing pier that nowadays is used as a bathing area. It’s worth the stop for the view or to take a dip in the sea.
It is a village that besides being one of the places where it is possible to arrive by ferry coming from other islands, it has a lot of restaurants and the Whaling Industry Museum. As the village stretches along the seafront, it allows for good walks in that area.
Whaling Industry Museum
The Whaling Industry Museum tells the whole history of fishing and the industrial processing of whales, an activity that happened in Pico for a long time. It is a museum that is part of the Direcção Regional da Cultura, so if you present your SATA boarding pass you will have free access.
Captain’s Lagoon (Lagoa do Capitão)
The captain’s lagoon is halfway down the longitudinal road. It is a lagoon where it is possible to observe the mountain of Pico, as well as to appreciate the animal life of that area.
Lajes do Pico
It is a small seaside village known as the whale culture capital. It was in this village that we ended up having lunch in a restaurant with sustainable cuisine. If you want to observe whales or dolphins from Pico, this is the place where you should look for one of the companies that leads you to do this activity.
Baixa da Ribeirinha beach
It is a volcanic sand beach that is one of the most sought after in the area. In addition to an excellent beach area, it allows wonderful views of the island of São Jorge, which is just across the channel between the two islands.
The Pico mountain, 2351 meters high, is the highest mountain in Portugal. For those who enjoy hiking, visiting the Pico mountain is an activity not to be missed. We drove as far as it was possible so we could see the scenery and that alone was worth it. In the area of access to the trails, there is a support house to those who climb the mountain.
The ascent to the Pico mountain has to be registered and is limited to a number of people daily. The climb costs € 10 (plus € 2 to climb the Piquinho) and you should expect to take about 7 hours in total (3 hours to climb and 4 to descend).
It is a smaller mountain next to Pico Mountain. It is also possible to climb, however, similar to the Pico mountain, access is limited.
Wine Museum of Pico
This museum tells the history of wine production on the island of Pico. We did not visit it but we had a walk at the exterior of the museum. It has a centennial tree and a footbridge where you can observe the landscape of that area.
Vineyards of Criação Velha
The vineyards of Criação Velha are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a form of vineyard cultivation in small plots surrounded by stone walls. The landscape, whether viewed from the ground or from a higher point is unforgettable.
Moinho do Frade
This restored windmill is in the middle of the vineyards of Criação Velha and makes it possible to have a different perspective of the vineyards. The place is very well maintained and the scenery with the Pico mountain is simply priceless.
The longitudinal road (EN3) was, at first, our biggest disappointment on the island. We had read reports that it was one of the most beautiful roads in Portugal, but when we visited the island, the clouds were very low and besides not being able to see the Pico mountain anywhere, on the longitudinal road we had to take a cautious drive because visibility was very poor due to the fog.
As we crossed the island towards Lajes do Pico, that fog disappeared and gave way to blue sky and radiant sun. On the way back we took the same road and then we saw one of the most beautiful landscapes in Portugal. On this road, it is always possible to see the mountain next to us and the immensity of the fields, the nature and the various shades of green that we can observe make it one of the most beautiful landscapes that we’ve ever had the opportunity to see.
Where to Eat in Pico
Cella Bar (Madalena)
It is a wooden bar by the sea. Its architecture is very distinctive and the interior is very welcoming. In addition to the restaurant, there is a bar area and a terrace on the roof that allows you to enjoy the sea view. We saw the sunset at this bar, overlooking the island of Pico, the island of Faial and the Atlantic Ocean and we highly recommend the visit.
Restaurant Casa da Âncora (São Roque)
Restaurant Lavrador (Lajes do Pico)
Pico Island was a pleasant surprise for us. After having spent a few days in Faial, where we are constantly seeing the Pico mountain in the distance, it was the realization of something that we were wanting to experience. When we were in Faial, we almost never had a clear view of the island of Pico, because the weather only allowed us to see part of the mountain, so it was creating more and more mystery.
The island of Pico is a calm island and the ideal place for those who like to walk on the mountain tracks and, in addition, there are also excellent bathing areas. The landscape of the vines of Criação Velha and the drive in the longitudinal road are images that you will not forget. If you are thinking of visiting this area of the archipelago, do not forget to book a day or two to visit this island.
If you still have time…
Hike Pico’s Mountain
We did not go up to Pico Mountain because we did not have time to do it. Access is limited to a certain number of people, so it is possible to preserve the trails and not impact the nature of that place. However, it is something that when we return to visit the island, we would like to do.
Visit the islands of Faial and São Jorge
The island of Pico is part of the triangle of islands of the central group, together with the island of São Jorge and the island of Faial. Its proximity and the regular ferry services create the ideal conditions to use any of the three islands as a base for your visit.
- Order your Revolut card - the only card we use while traveling
- Book your flight to Pico with Momondo or with Skyscanner
- Book your hotel in Pico with Booking
- We recommend the travel guide DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Azores
- Chose your travel insurance with Iati (with 5% off) or with World Nomads