Overview

Introduction

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.

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.

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About Pico

Area: 447 sq. km
Length: 42 km (26 miles)
Width: 15 km (9 miles)
Population: 15,000 inhabitants
Capital: Madalena do Pico

Highlights

Pico wine
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.

Day excursions
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.

Activities

Pico Mountain Hike
For the more adventurous traveller a climb to the summit of Mount Pico can present the opportunity of a life time especially if you are blessed with clear skies. The peak, at 2,351 metres, offers spectacular views over the central islands of the archipelago. The ascent generally takes between 3½ and 4½ hours depending on how fit you are and weather conditions. The climb should only be attempted by strong walkers. The walk is not technically difficult but would involve some steep slopes along uneven paths and in places slippery vegetation and loose stones. The climb starts from 1200 metres. To climb the mountain you must be accompanied by a qualified guide.

  • Price from Madalena is £76 per person (based on 2 people)
  • Price from São Roque is £186 per person (based on 2 people)
  • Price from Prainha is £91 per person (based on 2 people)


Notes

  • Excursion provider: Melo
  • Daily pick-up from hotels at 06:30
  • Duration: 7 hours including 3-4 hours uphill
  • Difficulty Level: High
  • Accompanied by an experienced English speaking guide
  • Equipment required: Comfortable clothing, walking boots, rain jacket, sun lotion, water, food supplies and a camera
  • Prices for larger groups on request




Private Taxi Tours
Sunvil is able to pre-book the following private taxi tours on Pico with English speaking driver. Tours can also be tailor-made to suit the individual requirements of our clients, please telephone us for a quotation.

Pico Island (Full Day)
Depart from Madalena to the village of São Roque on the north coast of Pico, visiting the black rocks of Cachorro en route. Take the mountain road (altitude 900m) towards the village of Lajes do Pico, which for many years was the centre of the whaling industry in the Azores. Continue on to the Whaler’s Museum and home to a fascinating exhibition about the industry. Return to Madalena stopping at ‘Verdelho’ wine cellar en route.

  • Price from Madalena is £157 per taxi
  • Price from São Roque is £170 per taxi
  • Price from Prainha is £183 per taxi


Faial Island (Full Day)
Depart from Madalena harbour to Faial Island (30 minutes by boat) – boat ticket not included. From Horta harbour take the mountain road towards Caldeira, the highest point on Faial at 1,043 metres. Continue north to Capelinhos, the site of the last volcanic eruption in the Azores in 1957 and visit the museum, which details the evolution of the eruption. Return to Pico by boat.

  • Price from Horta harbour (Faial) is £206 per taxi


Notes

  • Excursion provider: Melo
  • Pick-up from hotels in Madalena (Pico) at about 09:00
  • Meeting point on Faial (when coming from Pico) is Horta harbour
  • Prices are based on a maximum of 3 people per taxi
  • Full day (7 hours)
  • Not included: Lunch and entrance fees to museums and parks and the boat crossing between Madalena (Pico) and Horta (Faial)
  • A qualified English speaking guide can be provided at a supplement on request

Festivals

  • 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.
Mount Pico

The volcanic landscape of Pico was recently (2010) declared one of ‘The 7 natural wonders of Portugal’.

Useful information

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Michelle Vincent
Michelle Vincent
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT - 1 hour

Currency

Euro

Language

Portuguese

Average flight times

4 hours 5 minutes

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Note: Map is for guidance purposes only.

Talk to our The Azores expert

Rosanna Melaragni
Rosanna Melaragni

Rosanna is the head of our Discovery Department which covers tailor made holidays to Portugal and the Azores, Italy and Sicily, Scandinavia and the new programme to Spain. She is our longest serving member of staff having joined in 1994 after completing an honours degree in French and Italian and subsequently working for a tour operator in Yorkshire. She is responsible for brochure writing, contracting accommodation, programme costing, computer inputting and generally troubleshoots where necessary. She has global knowledge of our tailor made programme.

Call one of our experts to discuss your next holiday with Sunvil on

020 8758 4722

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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