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.

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.

Activities

Guided Walks

The islands of the Azores, with their mild climate (day time temperature ranging from 14-22 degrees), are the most wonderful islands for walking. Our suggested walks incorporate some of the best scenic walks on the island.

Vinhas da Criacao Velha (Half Day)
This 8km walk (2 hours) starts at Porto do Calhau, passing through vineyards towards a solitary windmill, from where there is a panoramic view over the vineyards, protected from the wind by lava rock walls, and inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. From here, the walk continues through pasture meadows following the coastline, offering some spectacular coastal and mountain views before ending at Areia Larca.

  • Grade 1 - Easy
  • Price is £36 per person


Lava (Full Day)
This 6km walk (3 - 4 hours) passes through a fascinating landscape of lava fields in which the famous ‘currais’ (semi-circled, stone walls in which vines are cultivated) are found. These unusual vineyards, on Pico’s southern coast, produce an excellent Verdelho wine and are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

  • Grade 2 - Medium
  • Price is £56 per person


Caminho das Voltas (Full Day)

On the north coast of Pico is the small village of Santo Amaro, where the main ship building yard in the Azores can be found. This 6.3km walk (c.2-3 hr) twists and turns along the coastline of Pico and affords magnificent views over the ocean to Sao Jorge and of vineyards, rural scenes and Mount Pico. During the walk, you will have the opportunity to visit the maritime museum, an agricultural museum and the shipwright school in Santo Amaro (entrance fees payable locally).

  • Grade 2 - Medium
  • Price is £56 per person


Notes

  • Excursion provider: Abegoria Adventure
  • Pick-up from hotels in Madalena (Pico) at about 09:00
  • Guided walks with English speaking guide
  • Full day walks include a picnic lunch
  • Minimum 2 people and maximum 16
  • Recommended: Comfortable clothing, walking boots, swimming suit, towel, rain jacket, sun lotion, binoculars and a camera

Jeep Tours

Enjoy an unforgettable drive along the islands’ best trails. Driving through trees and pastures often overlooking the Atlantic Ocean you will discover places and landscapes of rare beauty not often encountered by the average tourist. During the trip there will be several stops with time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Pico (Full Day) – Option 1
Visit to the Wine Museum in Madalena ¦ Protected landscapes of the vineyard culture of Pico Island, world heritage by UNESCO ¦ Cais Mourato, Cachorro, Lajido Sta Luzia, Arcos and Cabrito, with liqueur tasting in a typical cellar ¦ Natural swimming pools of São Roque do Pico ¦ Lunch at São Roque do Pico ¦ Capitain's Lake as well as other lakes on Pico ¦ Return to Madalena through the Central Plateau Road ¦ Porto do Calhau, Pocinho and Criação Velha.


Pico (Full Day) – Option 2

Visit to the Wine Museum in Madalena ¦ Protected landscapes of the vineyard culture of Pico Island, world heritage by UNESCO ¦ Cais Mourato, Cachorro, Lajido Sta Luzia, Arcos and Cabrito, with liqueur tasting in a typical cellar ¦ Lunch at São Roque do Pico ¦ Capitain's Lake as well as other lakes on Pico ¦ Lajes do Pico and the Whaler's Museum ¦ Return to Madalena on the south side (Porto S. Caetano, Guindaste) ¦ Porto do Calhau, Pocinho and Criação Velha.

Price is £78 per person (Full Day)


Notes

  • Excursion provider: Abegoria Adventure
  • Pick-up from hotels in Madalena (Pico) at about 09:00
  • Minimum 2 people
  • Escorted by an English speaking driver/guide
  • Duration: 8 hours including lunch
  • Itineraries are subject to change

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

Private Taxi Tours

Pico Island – Full day

Depart from Madalena to the village of Sao 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 Prainha is £170 per taxi
  • Price from São Roque is £183 per taxi


Faial Island – Full day

Depart from Madalena harbour to Faial Island (30 minutes by boat). 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)
  • A qualified English speaking guide can be provided at a supplement on request
  • Not included: Lunch and entrance fees to museums and parks and the boat crossing between Madalena (Pico) and Horta (Faial)
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

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Pico

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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
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