21 Things To Do & See In Pico
Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Pico island is the second largest of the Azores. Although it’s a very “virgin” island there is still a bunch to see and do. Here is a kick-a** list of adventures to experience in Pico.
Climb the mountain
Obviously, this one had to be on the list. Climbing Pico mountain is, after all, one of the main reasons people come to Pico in the first place. I’ve climbed the beauty and let me tell you it is absolutely worth it. Please note that this is not an easy climb so if you have any history of heart problems or you’re not active/in good shape, you might want to skip this one. Otherwise, I highly recommend pushing yourself to accomplish this climb. It will boost your confidence, remind you of your inner strength, and of course give you photos the whole world will be jealous of. If you’re looking to climb, Pico Me Up is my recommendation for a tour company. Please do not go alone! There have been way too many stories of people getting lost, sometimes for over 24 hours, luckily being rescued by the guides from Pico Me Up. If you’re gonna climb the beast, make sure you have the best experience possible because trust me, you’re going to want to feel comfortable climbing up 2351m of volcano.
The main city, Madalena, is full of restaurants, swimming spots, stores and shops. So scrolling through the city, sitting beside the marina, and watching people flood the streets is a super fun way to spend an afternoon or night!
Watch the sunrise at Lagoa do capitão
Okay the photo above isn't the sunrise. But it's only more beautiful at 6am!
Trust me when I say I like to sleep in, but guys, this one is worth it. Wake up at 5:30 am, get your butt to Lagoa do Capitão, and watch the sunset. The silence and serenity of you and nature in the beautiful pink and orange sky as the sun peaks right alongside Pico mountain is simply indescribable.
Take photos at Lagoa do Caiado
A 15-minute drive from Lagoa do Capitão is this beautiful lake called Lagoa do Caiado. Besides being one of the most peaceful places on the island, from the lake, you can see the island of São Jorge. This spot makes for some awesome photos!
Watch the sunset at the marina
The marina of Madalena is beautiful at sunset. Your view? The metallic ocean, Faial island’s silhouette, and the incredible pink and orange sky. The marina is most times filled with groups of fishermen on their boats having a little party, old couples fishing till the sun is gone and youngsters sharing a drink and eating falafel - oh wait that might just be us. But seriously, this is one of my favourite spots to watch the sunset (other than the top of Pico Mountain). If you want more privacy, I recommend seeing the sunset from the road closest to the ocean in Criação Velha.
Take a wine tour
Pico is where the wine is at!! You can try a variety of extremely unique wines that are not only delicious but recognized as one of the best wines in the world! I’d recommend doing a Wine tour with Pico Me Up, but if you have to choose one place it would have to be Adega Amaral.
Go to Lajes do Pico
Lajes is one of my favourite towns. Located on the south side of Pico, its streets are extra colourful and full of culture. They have excellent restaurants, a great swimming spot, a super picturesque mill, and are well known for whale watching and the whale museum. I haven’t watched whales in Pico yet (only in São Miguel) so I can’t truly recommend that experience but if you want to try it out Lajes is one of the most popular places to do so on the island. It also has a killer view of Pico Mountain.
Swim at one of Pico’s Piscinas Naturais
As some of you know from my past blogs, Pico is full of natural swimming pools. The water in Pico is so clean and if you come in the summer it’s a pretty good temperature for the Atlantic Ocean. Some of my favourite swimming spots are:
Lajes do Pico Natura Swimming Pool: warmest water, showers, umbrellas for shade
Piscinas Naturais de Criação Velha: very calm water, not very deep, café on site including changing rooms, sometimes music, and showers
Areia Funda, Madalena: very lively vibe, always filled with people, shallow and deep water (open sea), changeroom and shower
Poceirão: never swam here but looks incredibly beautiful and clean. On my list to do for a very long time! It’s on the farthest right side of the island.
Poça das Mujas - A MUST SEE! The road to get there is a little beaten up but this is one of the most beautiful spots to swim in Pico. Blue crystal water awaits you!
For more options, simply google "piscinas naturais pico" and you will have a bunch come up!
Visit os Arcos
Not too many people talk about Arcos and I’m not sure why. This is one of the coolest spots on the island to me. There are giant lava formations of flat rock along the coast and from the way the lava flowed into the ocean, it formed beautiful arcs. This place is an incredible spot for a picnic and has one of the best views of the mountain in my opinion.
Visit the only sand beach on Pico
Although Pico is the island with the most natural swimming pools in all of the Azores, there is still one sand beach in the parish of Prainha, which literally means “little beach”.
Spend the afternoon on the black sand beach and enjoy the peace and quiet of Prainha.
Have a picnic at a park
In the peaceful parish of Prainha, is a beautiful forest park called Parque florestal do mistério de Prainha where you can spend the day with loved ones, walking, having a picnic, and adoring the beautiful view. You can also probably see whales from there if you bring binoculars!
See the President’s abandoned house
In the town of Candelária lies one of Portugal’s past president’s house. You can see that it must have been a beautiful masterpiece at its prime because even now, abandoned and destroyed, it has the aura of a fairytale manor. Hurricane Lorenzo broke down and destroyed a lot of the house, including the front yard which includes a beautiful water well.
If you dare head inside, you’ll find old fishing rods, a chest (no treasure that I know of) and some old barrels - very cool! Please be respectful and leave everything as is.
Here's the directions - just copy these coordinates (38.44627958808165, -28.501695662903717) then paste them on google maps search and it will show you where to go :)
Explore a deep grotto
Gruta das Torres is a lava cave formed from lava flow that cooled approximately 1500 years ago and is 5150m in length!
The intrinsic caves are interconnected and completely natural still - so there is no lighting and almost the entire tube is simply lava floor. The tour is about 1 - 1.5 hours and is done with a guide and proper equipment including lanterns to light up the tube. Your guide will teach you a lot about the lava, formation of the cave, and even about Pico and Azores in general!
Hike a trail
There are so many trails to choose from in Pico. But regardless of which one you choose, the island is so beautiful that it won’t matter. Here is where you can find a list of the trails available in Pico. I haven’t done any of these yet but the first on my list is Mistérios do Sul do Pico!
Have a day drink at Boavista Pool Snack Bar
Near Lajes is a town called Ribeiras. There’s this super cool outdoor snack bar called Boa Vista Pool Snack Bar with loud lively music, an incredible view (boa vista literally means good view in Portuguese) and a pool - an actual man-made pool. You can get some cool snacks at the snack bar and enjoy fresh gin and tonics. The service was great and we really enjoyed our time there!
Take an island tour & a boat tour
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Along with strolling through the endless vineyards, taking photos at the beautiful red mills, and visiting famous spots like cachorro, island tours offer you the ability to see all the things that make Pico what it is in one day!
And a boat tour, I mean who doesn’t want to have a romantic time on a private boat exploring the ocean with a view of the triangle islands! (Faial, Pico and São Jorge). A boat tour is perfect for any occasion or no occasion at all.
For both an island tour and boat tour I highly recommend Pico Me Up as your guide. Their private boat is beautiful and the perfect place for a romantic time out on sea and their island tour guides are very knowledgable and caring.
Enjoy Saturday nights out
Pico was notorious for party time! Especially before Covid, live music would flood the streets everywhere and festivals were second nature. Obviously, due to the pandemic things have taken a notch down, but you can still have an awesome Saturday night out.
I’d recommend sunset drinks at esplanada dark, snack time & drinks part 2 at Via Bar (get some nuts, chips, and lupin beans aka Tremoços in Portuguese), then head to either RB - Recycle Bar, which is literally right beside via bar for a dance if they’re having something going on, OR go to one of my favourite places - café concerto. Cafe concerto is a must go to when you’re here. They’re a fun rock bar where every thing inside is music themed - their seats are music disks, their chandeliers are tubas, and there’s a stage where live bands play! They also have table football (foosball), darts and a pool table.
Get a Thai massage
Not too many people know this, but you can teleport to Thailand here in Madalena. When I went to Thailand I had the best massage of my life - and you can experience a taste of Thailand right here in Pico by booking a massage at Duangchai Thai Massage.
The masseuse is a super lovely woman from Thailand who has brought her expertise here. Her technique brings me back to Thailand but with a smoother, more full, and wholesome experience. I prefer her massage over the one I received in Thailand but the core of it stays true to what you experience there.
If you can't go to her location in downtown Madalena, you can book her to come to your lodging! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to feel what a real thai massage feels like! She’s absolutely magic.
Stop at miradouro da terr’alta
Possibly one of the best viewpoints in Pico lies on the North Coast between Terra Alta and Ribeirinha. From Miradouro da Terr’alta you get a complete 180-degree view of the ocean and on clear days, a full view of São Jorge island. The grandness of the open ocean and sky and the island right in front of you in the distance is breathtaking.
Go back in time to Jurassic park
Jurassic Park or Pico? As a good friend of mine says, Jurassicopico 🦖 Driving through Ribeiras de Lajes do Pico, you’ll find endless spots on the side of the road to stop and admire the lush green scenery that has naturally grown to look like a scene out of Jurassic park.
With woven leaves and pops of purple from the flowers between, you’re taken away to a mystical place & an incredible spot for photos. This specific photo actually has a beautiful waterfall behind all the greenery which brings me to my next point.
Sorry TLC, we’re chasing waterfalls today. On a rainy day or right after it’s rained for a bit, the best thing to do is chase waterfalls. On the north side of the island just east of Sao Roque, you can literally hear the waterfalls coming up on the side of the road. When you look towards the mountain you’ll see cascade after cascade of rushing water. It’s serene and beautiful.
I hope you get to cross a bunch of these off your list during your time in Pico. Don’t forget to take the side roads, and adventure along the way, because some of the best moments come on our way to the next destination.
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