Ultimate Guide to Pico Island, Azores
Pico Island, the second largest island in the Azores (following São Miguel island), is known for being the home of Portugal’s tallest mountain, Pico, standing at 2351mt. But those who end up visiting it discover that there’s so much more to Pico than that interesting fact. This is an island made of landscapes of incredible beauty that makes you feel as if you were on another planet or even paradise itself.
Its delicious gastronomy and genuine hospitality and friendliness of its people (which is really a common characteristic in the Azores) makes Pico Island a must-go-to destination any time of the year.
Pico Island is part of the “Triangle” central island group of the Azores archipelago. It’s located about 8kms away from Faial, and 15km from São Jorge, and stretches for 151 km. It’s total population is around 14,000.
A few curiosities about Pico Island
• Pico Mountain is the highest in Portugal, at an altitude of 2351mt
• The Pico Volcanic Landscape was considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal
• The Natural Park on the island of Pico is the largest natural park in the Azores
• Pico Island is represented on page 20 of the Portuguese Passport
• The inhabitants of the municipality of São Roque do Pico are among the Portuguese with the highest life expectancy.
• The southern part of the island was considered the most famous whale watching area in the world
• Pico is an example to follow in terms of sustainable environmental development
How to get to Pico Island
Both Azores Airlines and TAP offer direct flights to Pico Island from Lisbon and Oporto. However, if you’re looking for more affordable options, you can always choose to fly to one of the other main islands such as São Miguel or Terceira (which have a few low-cost airlines flying there), and then take an internal flight to Pico.
If, for example, you depart from Lisbon or Oporto, you can take advantage of the free inter-island routing from SATA, Azores’ official airline. This alows you to fly to São Miguel or Terceira and then get a free flight to any other Azorean island you wish. The only thing is that you cannot stay in São Miguel or Terceira for more than 24 hours on arrival or departure.
There’s also another alternative: you can fly to Faial Island, for example, (there’s direct flights from Lisbon and Oporto) and then take a ferry to Pico island. The ferry trip takes about 30 minutes and the tickets can be purchased directly at the local ticket office or online through the Atlântico Line website .
Transports on Pico Island
The best way to get around Pico Island is by car, just like in all the other islands in the Azores. Do a quick search on Rentalcars.com to find out what the best options are for you. You’ll find dozens of vehicles from several different car rental companies, which you can then compare in terms of prices, features and reviews.
Where to stay
Despite being the second largest island in the Azores, Pico is not exactly big. You can travel cross the island by car, from one side to the other, in just 1 hour, so when it comes to choosing where to stay in Pico Island it will ultimately depend on your taste and preferences.
Pico island is divided in 3 municipalities: Madalena, São Roque and Lajes do Pico. Each one have several parishes. I stayed at one of the houses of Adegas do Pico, in the Prainha de Baixo area, São Roque municipality, with an amazing direct seaview. There are several different houses available for you to choose from, depending on the number of people you’re travelling with. I stayed at Casa do Farol, a two bedroom house, extremely well equipped and decorated with plenty of taste. The area is very quiet and there are some great natural pools a short walk away. I definitely recommend it!
Areas of Accommodation
Madalena is located directly in front of the city of Horta, in Faial Island. It is also where the ferries dock and where the island’s airport is located. In addition to its great geographical location, it’s also known for having a strong wine culture.
São Roque do Pico
The second ferry port is located at São Roque do Pico, so this area can be a great option if you’re coming from Faial or São Jorge islands. It is also known as the “Capital of Rural Tourism” due to the high concentration of traditional local houses available for short term rental.
Lajes do Pico
Located in the southeastern part of the island, one of Lajes do Pico‘s main attractions is it’s privileged location for all those looking to watch whales, dolphins and other marine species in their natural habitat, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Where to eat
Meat, fish and seafood lovers will have their taste buds highly satisfied at Pico island. Among the typical dishes and delicacies are sausages with yam, meat dip, fish stock and octopus stewed with fragrant wine. all of this with the pairing of some delicious local wine. I really liked “Farias Branco”, a white wine I discovered during my visit to Flores Island, in the Aldeia da Cuada restaurant.
Caffe 5 “Cinq” (Madalena)
A small restaurant, in the centre of the village of Madalena, with a great atmosphere and food. I suggest the delicious stewed squid with sweet potatoes.
Address: Rua Carlos Dabney 5, 9950-327 Madalena | Tel : +351 292 623 970 | Website: Caffe 5 “ Cinq”
Cella Bar (Madalena)
Known as “the most beautiful bar in the world”, Cella Bar is, in fact, a very special place, with incredible architectural features and a view to die for. Besides being a bar it’s also a restaurant,
Address: Rua Da Barca, 9950-303 Madalena | Tel : +351 292 623 654 | Website: Cella Bar
Magma (São Roque do Pico)
An incredible restaurant, with a beautiful view (especially at sunset) and an elegant decoration, inserted in a tourist complex. Advance booking is recommended.
Address: Travessa do Outeiro das Eiras 2A, 9940-185 São Roque do Pico | Tel : +351 292 241 200 | Website: Magma
I didn’t get the chance to visit this restaurant, but whenever I asked for restaurant recommendations, this one was always mentioned. If you do go there, I recommend you book in advance and try the Fish Broth (which must also be ordered in advance).
Address: Rua João de Lima Whitton , Madalena | Tel : +351 292 623 490 | Website: Ancoradouro
Adega Açoriana (Prainha de Baixo)
This restaurant was located close to the house where I stayed at Pico but, unfortunately, I also didn’t get the chance to visit. Local tapas, Azorean wines and a direct view of the ocean are the main attractions at this bar/restaurant located right in front of the natural pools of Prainha de Baixo.
Address: Rua da Poça Branca, 43, Prainha De Baixo | Tel : +351 292 655 211 | Website: Adega Açoriana
What to visit and do on Pico Island
Exploring Pico island means getting lost in a natural paradise that leaves you in awe everytime you look around. From discovering million-year-old volcanic lava tunnels to climbing Portugal’s highest mountain or getting to know the fascinating species that inhabit the ocean close to the island’s shore: there’s so much to do and see in Pico Island that you’ll hardly feel lost or wandering what to do next.
For more detailed info on what to do in Pico Island, check out the article:
What to do in Pico Island, Azores
I truly hope this travel guide helps you to plan your next adventure to one of Portugal’s most beautiful destinations. You’ll find plenty of other articles here on the blog about the Azores. Make sure to check them out to learn all this amazing archipelago as to offer.