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Pico island Azores

Pico, is named after its imposing mountain Ponta de Pico (Pico Alto), which is the highest mountain of Portugal and also the highest elevation of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Pico with its 300,000 years the “youngest” island of the Azores. The island is situated 17 km south of São Jorge and just 6 km west of Faial. If you want, you can stay at the island of Faial and have easy access to Pico. The ferry from Horta to Madalena only takes about ½ hour. There are departures all day long.

Pico is 42 km long, has a maximum width of 15 km (area of 447 km²), making it the second largest island of the Azores. The main settlements are the capital Madalena, São Roque do Pico and Lajes do Pico, the total population is around 15,000.

pico pico

Its volcano is in the south-west of the island, being a basaltic stratocone of 2,350 m high with steep sides. The last eruption was in 1963 (prior major eruptions were around 1562 and 1718). The paths of the lava flows are still visible, those from previous eruptions were particularly substantial, extending for over 10 km.

The island supported a substantial whaling industry until 1980. The position of the island on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge means that deep water is very close. Nowadays, whale hunting is replaced by study, observation and whalewatch trips. 

Other active industries include tourism, ship-building and wine production (Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004). It has a notable wine, the Pico Wine (Vinho do Pico).

The stange rock formations, the black lava (Pico is also called Ilha Negro, meaning black island), the vineyards which are vey distinctive, the meadows and forests, the old natural stone houses and the whales and dolphins make Pico a special island which you certainly want to visit.

Pico Highlights

Villages and Culture

  • Lajes do Pico: the whale hunting museum, Museu dos Baleeiros, Igreja Matriz da Santissima Trindade, de Nossa Senhora da Conceicao, Forte de Santa Catarina
  • Madalena: Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria Madalena, the Marina, the city hall, Museu do Vinho
  • São Roque do Pico: Museu da Industria Baleeira, Convento de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, Igreja de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, greja Matriz de Sao Roque
  • Pico has long been the boat-building center of the Azores: fishing boats, whaleboats (canoas), dories, launches andeven model boats have been built here. In the small north-coast town of Santa Amaro this custom continues and boats are still being build here using traditional methods.



  • Pico - The majestic mountain in Pico, classified in 1972 as Natural Reserve, is a prominent element in the island’s landscape. You can drive up until about 1200 meters above sea level and enjoy the magnificent view (you can easily see as long as Faial and São Jorge). From here it is about 1.000 meters to the very top of Pico. If you decide to climb to the very top, you must be very experienced and in a good physical condition. The weather changes rapidly, and you can easily put yourself into severe problems.
  • The Capitão Caiado, and Paúl Lakes, among many others, set within a natural and entrancing environment in the central plateau area which stretches to the eastern tip of the island. They are surrounded by the original vegetation of the island cedars, laurels and the tree called vinhatico.
  • Misterios - Lava beds originating in eruptions have locally been given the name of misterios (mysteries). They are spread all over the island. The Mistério da Prainha, between São Roque and Prainha, Mistério das Bandeiras, between Santa Luzia and Bandeiras, on the north coast and the Mistério de São João, on the south coast, are the most spectacular.
  • Arcos do Cachorro - an impressive lava flow
  • The lava caves of the Frei Matias Silveira and Montanheiros
  • Quinta das Rosas: Park
  • Matos Souto: Forested park

© Azoresweb 2006