The Grey Island
42km long and 15km wide, with an area of 447 sq. km, Pico is dominated by its volcano (snow capped in winter) at 2351m the highest point in Portugal. The views to and from the volcano are spectacular and its presence seemingly binds together the central islands of Faial, Sao Jorge and Pico itself. One cannot mistake that this island is volcanic.
Between Madalena and Lajes the black stones and rocks have been painstakingly gathered to make the labyrinthine walled enclosures which protect the famous Pico verdelho grape (fortified Verdelho wine) which, it is said, was imported in the 16th century from Cyprus. The houses and churches, too, are black – their features outlined in white. An area of 987 hectares of vineyards and its surrounding landscape, has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Holidays In Pico
Pico and nearby Faial (30 minutes by boat from Madalena) were the centres for traditional, open-boat whale hunting, an important industry for the islands until its ban in 1987.
These two islands are now the centre for the growing interest in whale watching and the conservation of these magnificent mammals.
Hire a car or a taxi for an island tour to visit the lakes and marvel at the magnificent views and changing facets of the mountain and its relationship with the sea. A particular favourite of the Sunvil team is a drive along the north coast of Pico where wonderful views to neighbouring Sao Jorge can be found. Visit the fascinating whaler’s museum at Lajes. Walks are plentiful and, for the experienced walker (you must take a guide), the ascent to the summit of the volcano is a must.
Area: 447 sq. km
Length: 42 km (26 miles)
Width: 15 km (9 miles)
Population: 15,000 inhabitants
Capital: Madalena do Pico
Pick up a bottle of the local Verdelho (aperitif wine) or the equally famous Angelica and Pico brandies.
Museu dos Baleeiros
Visit the fascinating whaling museum in Lajes do Pico offering a fascinating insight into the islands’ long history of open-boat whale hunting (banned in 1987).
Gruta das Torres
Take a tour (c.45-minutes) of a lava cave located just south of Madalena. A short film shows the history of volcanic caves in the archipelago followed by a walk along one of the longest caves (4,480m) found in the Azores.
A 30-minute ferry links Madalena to Horta (Faial) at least five times a day. A 90-minute catamaran links Sao Roque to Velas (Sao Jorge) twice a day. These
connections make Pico an ideal base for multi-island exploration.
- Espírito Santo (April & September) – festivities unravel throughout the island (Friday -Tuesday).
- Cais de Agosto (end July) – Music festival in Sao Roque.
- Festa do Sr Bom Jesus Milagroso (August) – Religious festival in Sao Mateus.
- Festa dos Baleeiros (Whaler’s Week) in Lajes (August) – Religious, cultural and music festival celebrating the sea.