Pico Island & Faial Island, Azores Travel Blog

Equipped with some local recommendations we headed to Pico Island for a couple of days. We flew from Ponta Delgada direct with SATA and the flight took 90mins. The flights are a standard price (€92 each including a bag). This generally includes free amendments to your flight too. Renting a car is essential and we found the best deal on rentalcars.com*. Note that most the rental cars on Pico island have seen better days but they are cheap. Our company was Ilha Verde.

If you find this content useful, please consider buying me a coffee.

Pico Island (Two days)

Where we stayed

We stayed in the town of Madalena which was perfect. It’s just 15 minutes from the airport. It has a ferry port which made our day trip straightforward in addition to a supermarket, restaurants and cafes.

Our Airbnb was very comfortable and spacious with everything we needed. It’s large and modern but definitely missing some Azorean charm.

Day One

Mistériois do Sul do Pico (Walk & Swim)

This linear hike starts in São João which is a 20 minute drive from Madalena. As it is linear, we chose to walk a smaller section of it. We parked near the church (Igreja de São João) and walked along the coastline (with the ocean on our left). Soon you will see a path on your left (next to a house) – take a two minute detour to the left down to a clearing and admire the views. It doesn’t appear on the map but you’ll see the path. Then continue a bit further and stop for a quick dip in Ponta do Admoiro (the most beautiful natural swimming pool). The water is some of the clearest I’ve seen, even by Azores standards!

Gruta Das Torres

Gruta das Torres is a lava cave 10 minutes outside Madalena. The tour and information is very interesting with a background on how Pico Island and the cave itself was formed. The only light in the cave is flashlights and the whole tour lasts about 30-45 minutes. There’s also a few moments of complete darkness and silence which is a great experience. Well worth a visit. Bring cash (€8).

Gruta Das Torres

Lajido and Cachorro

Lajido da Criação Velha is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is a 9km trail through the Pico Vineyards landscape but it’s linear (rather than circular). An alternative option is to drive to the area and walk around it. Stop by the visitor center, it’s well worth a look. Drive five minutes west to the Lava Cliffs of Cachorro -these are impressive cliffs formed by lava flows in the ocean with fantastic views.


I recommend Cella Bar – the food is nice and the views are spectacular. It’s a fancier setting than most in Madalena with local foods (including vegetarian options) and a great selection of Pico wines for a reasonable price. Make sure you catch the sunset!

Day Two

Calheta do Nesquim Hike – We mainly did this hike because it’s one of few circular hikes on a Pico Island. It begins at the church in the town of Calheta do Nesquim. There are a number of steep climbs in the first half. When it eventually flattens out you will walk through a small farming village with plenty of animals. You need to keep your eyes peeled for the path signs as they’re easy to miss – the locals had to redirect us a couple of times. The path down isn’t very well kept so hiking boots are needed. Overall it was a tough hike in the heat but I loved seeing the local areas. Start early. If you’re planning on hiking Pico Mountain give this one a miss and save your legs.

On the way home, stop off at Museu dos Baleeiros which is a modern and thought-provoking museum about the whaling industry (€2 entry). It’s sad to learn about whale hunting which was a huge industry in the Azores until the 1980s when they started importing goods and foods.

Grab dinner in Mercado Bio in Madalena – it looks like a health food shop but there’s a restaurant area in the back. They have a great selection of food including excellent vegetarian options. I recommend the vegetarian chilli (€10).

Other things to do on Pico Island

Whale Watching:

Pico Island is one of the best places to do whale watching tours. They operate between March and November with March/April being the best time. Espaço Talassa Pico Island is the longest standing company on Pico Island and has a great track record. They have stopped their swimming with dolphins tours for ethical reasons which is another good reason to choose them.

Pico Mountain
This is first on every list for obvious reasons. Almost every local we spoke to recommended it. We didn’t actually do this hike because it wasn’t clear enough. There are mixed opinions on how difficult it is. Many people have to turn back due to fog and wind around this time of year (October). You pay €20 and are given a GPS. You can hike it independently or with a guide.

Faial Island Day Trip

We took the ferry to Faial island (€50 return for two people and the car) which took 30 minutes. You can book your tickets at Madalena port in advance even if the website lists them as unavailable.

Vulcão dos Capelinhos

Vulcåo dos Capelinhos is a recently formed land mass from a 1957 volcanic eruption. The area includes an impressive visitor centre (€10 ticket) that includes a film and interactive tour. It’s possible to climb to the highest point but we couldn’t due to the high winds. We spent about an hour there.

Vulcåo dos Capelinhos

Caldeira do Cabeço Gordo

Check the weather as this is a foggy area due to the height. You can walk around the top of the crater but first go through the little tunnel to the viewpoint for a look. Sadly it was too foggy and we had to turn back. If you do it please send me photos!

Then it was back to Horta for a walk along the seafront (not particularly exciting) and a quick pastry in Cafe Do Porto Pim before getting the last ferry back to Madalena at 5.15pm. We stopped off at two great viewpoints on the way back to take in the Horta skyline.

Thanks for reading . If you found this content useful, please consider buying me a coffee.


Miradouro Mirante

Read my other Azores travel posts

Detailed Sao Miguel guide with itineraries HERE.
Budget friendly things to do in Ponta Delgada (no car needed)
Azores: São Miguel: Best places to eat (vegan & vegetarian)
Quick Guide to Sao Miguel Island, Azores

3 thoughts on “Pico Island & Faial Island, Azores Travel Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s