Wine, Culture & Adventure on Pico Island

As I approached Pico by ferry from neighbouring Faial, its huge 2,351m volcanic cone—the highest point in Portugal—towered over the port town of Madalena.

Known within the Azores as the black island, Pico has a distinctive character all to its own. The reason for its nickname becomes abundantly clear as soon as I set foot ashore: its soil is black as ink and its windy roads contoured with walls of dark volcanic rock.

The Ilheus de Madalena, large rocks off the coast of Pico Island

Pico is geologically the youngest of the Azores islands, giving its landscape a grittier feel. Against this backdrop you’ll see many houses painted in a traditional style—black outlines against chalk-white walls, accented with fiery red doors and window frames. It didn’t take long for me to be charmed.

My first day on Pico had a cultural focus and involved touring the wine country and visiting some of the former whaling towns. The second day would be all about climbing mount Pico and…

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