Azores elected best destination for 2016 by National Geographic’s dutch magazine “Traveler”.
Azores elected best destination for 2016 by National Geographic’s dutch magazine “Traveler”.
SATA - Air Açores flies daily to Pico, normally from the airport of Ponta Delgada and the Lajes airport of Terceira island. It is also possible to arrive on Pico by boat. There are daily connections between the islands of the Triangle ( Faial, Pico, and São Jorge). In the Summer time, there is also a maritime connection between Pico and Terceira.
The island of Pico is the second largest of the archipelago of the Azores, with an area of about 447 km² and is part of the Central Group of the archipelago. It is 42 km long and 15.2 km at its maximum width. The highest point of Portugal is in this island, the mountain of Pico, reaching an altitude of 2351 m. The island is placed at 38° 30' N and 28° 20' W and has a population of 14 148.
The island of Pico was discovered at the same time as the other islands of the Central Group. Its name comes from its mountain, the largest in Portugal, and it was the last island of the Central Group to be populated. Its first settlement was in Lajes do Pico, from where the first council of the island was formed.
To get around in the island, you may rent a car, use the taxi service or the public transport bus service, which connects most of the localities of the island.
The highest peak of Portugal, reaching an altitude of 2351m. The climb to the summit can be a demanding yet interesting challenge to those feeling adventurous, rewarding with a panoramic view of Pico and the surrounding islands. The mountain was classified as Natural Reserve in 1982. You should seek a specialized guide for the climb.
In the Criação Velha area, this tube of lava origin is the longest in the Azores and one of the longest in Europe, extending for around 5km.
This whaling industry museum used to be a whale products factory, where all parts of the whale were used.
Since 2004, the vineyard culture and surrounding landscapes, present in the areas of Criação Velha and Santa Luzia, have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Verdelho grapes are protected by basalt walls of dry rock masonry., known as "currais" or "curraletas". They are one of the largest stone meshes made by Man.
Installed in the old Carmelites convent, this museum depicts the history of wine in the island of Pico. There you can visit the vineyards and get a better understanding of how wine was produced in this island.
Lagoons with beautiful views, deserving of your visit.
Located in Lajes do Pico, this museum is installed in the original whaling boathouses of the 19th century. Inside, you will find an important collection of scrimshaw and other items that depict whaling.
Of volcanic formation, the populace named them as "mysteries", after witnessing "rivers of fire" bursting from the ground and destroying their goods, without understanding what was happening.
A culturally important place for comprehending the landscape of the vineyard culture in the island of Pico, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2004.
Of rocky formation, it resulted from the heaping of conical or pyramidal rocks, in a long and layered structure, somewhat resembling an Aztec pyramid.
A rocky formation shaped like a dog's snout, which it is named after. The erosion made way for several tunnels where the sea penetrates, creating some interesting views.
Leaving Madalena, we suggest you start in the North coast of the island, heading towards the area of Cachorro, going through Biscoitos and Bandeiras. Return through the same road in the direction of São ROque do Pico, passing by Miragaia, Santa Luzia and Santo António. In São Roque, follow the seaside road and enjoy the beautiful landscape. Head to Santo Amaro, then returning through the same road until meeting the regional road. A bit ahead, in the regional road, turn left and stop at the sightseeing spot of Terra Alta, where you can enjoy its amazing view. Next, follow through Ribeirinha to Piedade and visit the wine cellars area. Here, you have the chance to acquire some of the best regional pottery items. Go down to the seaside, and head back through the same road until you return to the regional road, and enjoy the dense surrounding forest. Head to the area of Calheta de Nesquim. Resturn through the regional road in the direction of Lajes do Pico. There, visit the whalers museum and see its scrimshaw collection. Head towards Madalena, passing by Silveira, São João, Terra do Pão, São Caetano, São Mateus, Guindaste, Candelária, making a detour to Porto Calhau. Head to Criação Velha, where you can visit the Adega Cooperativa and taste a good wine. If you are staying in Lajes, start this itinerary in the direction of São Roque or Madalena. If you are staying in São Roque, you may follow this itinerary heading towards Madalena or Lajes.
Leaving Madalena towards Lajes do Pico, take the road that crosses the island from West to East. Enjoy some magnificent views while driving on this long, straight road. Next, visit the Lagoa do Capitão, and return to the road heading to Lajes. Stop at the lagoons of Caiado and Paul, and follow through Silveira to return to Madalena.
Starting from Lajes, pass by the lower part of the mountain in the direction of Furna de Frei Matias. After, head to São Roque following the road that crosses the island, where you can enjoy a view of the north coast of the island of Pico, as well as the island of São Jorge. You may choose to go directly to Madalena, and enjoy the town, a view of the isles in the Pico-Faial Canal and of the island of Faial itself.
The Festas da Madalena happen in Madalena during July, in honor of its patron saint, with several music concerts and activities that attract many people to the island of Pico. In São Roque, in the month of August, the Cais de Agosto festival presents a line up of prestigious musical artists. In addition, there are several sports competitions and handcraft fair. The culture of the island of Pico is visible in the traditions of wine and whaling. The raw materials taken from the whales allowed for great works of scrimshaw, such as the engraved spermwhale teeth, or miniature whaling boats replicas.
Vegetable raw materials are also used for handcrafts, such as corn leaf and dragon tree leaf. These fibers are used in crafting flowers and dolls. The dolls made of dragonn tree leaf are one of the most traditional Azorean craftworks. The lacework and embroidery are another important handcraft expression of the island, especially items made with the techniques of gancho or crochet de arte.
As in all the islands of the Azores, the Festas do Espírito Santo are of great meaning in the island of Pico. The festivities keep the streets filled with cheer, from Pentecost to the Summer. The folklore has a strong presence in this island, through the dances of chamarrita, caracol, pezinho do pico and sapateia. The festa do Senhor Bom Jesus Milagroso happens in August, and is one the most important religious demonstrations in the island. September is when the Festas das Vindimas happen, with many ethnographic displays on the vineyard culture.
In Lajes, the Semana dos Baleeiros honors the saint patron of the whalers, Nossa Senhora de Lourdes. It also pays homage to the whaling traditions that were of great economic importance for the island of Pico. There is sports component to the festivities, with the whaling boat races.
It is the largest religious temple in the island of Pico.
Manor built in the 17th or 18th century. Here you can find the public library and the archive of Angra do Heroísmo.
Built as replacement for the old, weathered temple.
A temple built in the baroque style, it houses many treasures.
In the interior of the church you will find a beautiful depiction of the Virgem, deserving of a visit.
Located in Calheta do Nesquim, this church resulted from an ancient hermitage of the 16th century.
The gastronomy of the island of Pico invites you to have a taste of the best the Azores have to offer. The traditional dishes include the famous fish stews, the octopus stew, the molha de carne and the linguiça with yams. The cheese of the island of Pico is also a reference worthy of a try. Accompany these dishes with some corn flour bread and a good wine. Regarding seafood, you will have, at your disposal, beautiful dishes of lobster, slipper lobster and deep-water crab.
The winemaking traditions of the island translate into a wide range of red, white and rosé wines of the most prestigious varieties. Try the aperitive wine verdelho, the tinto, and the vinho de cheiro. The Basalto, Czar, Lajido and Terras de Lava wines are some references. Try also the excellent spirits of the island of Pico, such as the fig, the blackberry, the medlar and the catmint. The liquors of Pico are a great and sweeter option - try the angelica and the many fruit liquors. The confectionery, closely related with the Festas do Espírito Santo, includes the rosquilhas, the sweet rice, the massa sovada and the bolo de vésperas.
In Pico, you can find several natural pools formed by basalt rock of volcanic origin. We recommend a dive in the natural pools of São Roque do Pico, in the bathing area of Lajes and in the bathing area of Madalena.
The waters off the coast of the island of Pico are rich in fishing spots, with a great abundance of species. From white seabream, mullet and parrotfish to anchovy, mackerel and barracuda, you may fish by bottom fishing, buoy fishing, or spearfishing. Fish in the area off Madalena, Lajes and São Roque. There are also several fishing docks along the coast such as in the area of Lugar da Furna.
Pico is a dream location for diving. The diver fins here the perfect conditions for diving with sharks, such as the swift blue shark. Dive in the Banco Submarino Condor, one of the best places in the world for diving with blue sharks and mako sharks. Dive also in the Arcos do Pocinho and in the Banco Princesa Alice, one of the best diving spots in the Atlantic.
The island of Pico is a meeting point for cetaceans in the Atlantic, with over 24 species sighted. Spermwhales can be seen during the whole year, while humpback whales are most commonly seen in the Summer. You may also see the largest animal on earth, the blue whale. There are also large populations of dolphin, being possible to swim with them. We suggest doing these activities off Madalena and off the Lajes marina. You may go for a boat trip around the island, or even to reach the other islands of the triangle, and, of course, for whale watching. For sailing, we recommend doing it in the Lajes marina or in the Madalena port.
The area of Madalena, Baía da Barca, has the most consistent reef break of the island, perfect for surf and bodyboard. Also, in Lajes, you can find a reef break that allows for tubular waves. The area of Madalena, Areia Larga, is perfect for windsurf due to the strong winds and waves.
The climb to the top of the mountain of Pico is the ultimate challenge when it comes to hiking trails. It is a very physically demanding challenge, and should be done with a mountain guide. From the 2351m high summit, you can view the whole island of Pico and the other islands in the Central Group. There are also the hiking trails of Caminhos de Santa Luzia and Caminho dos Burros. On horse, you can enjoy the best of nature, following the trail of Ponta da Ilha. On bike, take the trails of Verdelho, Moinhos and Lagoas.
In the island of Pico, hunters can hunt woodcock, quail and pigeon. Please contact the Serviço Florestal do Pico for information on the hunting season and hunting regulations in place.