Where To Stay On Pico Island: The Unique, Beautiful, & Historic Casas de Incensos (Azores)
I recently spent a week exploring Portugal’s magical Azores islands, including two days on Pico. Out of all the hotels and rentals I stayed in, the two nights I spent at Casas de Incensos were definitely the most special, and I wanted to share more about why this is my pick for where to stay on Pico Island!
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Just a note before we dive in—this post contains some affiliate links. I paid for my own stay & didn’t receive anything from the hotel, but I may make a small affiliate commission from any bookings/sales that come through clicks from my links (which I greatly appreciate, and at no extra cost to you). All opinions are, as always, completely my own!
My TL;dr review of where to stay on Pico Island
I’ve got a lot more details and photos below, but if you’re in a hurry here’s my “short and sweet” version. I absolutely think you should stay here if you’re looking for something unique!
I also always recommend you check out lots of reviews on both Booking.com and TripAdvisor, they’re super helpful! I usually book through Booking (and did this time) for rewards and easy itinerary management.
- The property is gorgeous, with lush plant life all over (it smells amazing!), and the historic lava stone buildings and red doors popping against the landscape.
- My room was spacious and clean with plenty of little hospitality touches. Do be aware that there isn’t air conditioning (this is very common in Pico). The room did have a strong fan that I could move around, and you can open the windows.
- The breakfast at Casas de Incensos is lovely, especially the fresh soft cheese and Ana’s pepper jam. The patio where breakfast is served (in good weather) has a beautiful view.
- Ana was a warm, welcoming host. She gave me a great glimpse into local culture, the history of the property, good restaurant recommendations, and even shared her delicious pepper jam recipe with me!
- The location is beautiful, but not super central/convenient. You definitely need a car to get around, and restaurants will be 10-15 minutes away. But, to me, the experience was totally worth it vs. staying in Madalena. And it set me up for easy exploration of the east half of the island.
Do be aware that the good places in Pico can book up ahead, so make sure to book as soon as possible. Most good places have a 2-night minimum, and some (like the amazing Lava Homes, which I wanted to try out) have a 3-night min. The others I had really wanted to try were Quinta Pereirinha (a unique farmstay), Pocinhobay (gorgeous, wasn’t available), and Miradouro de Papalva (wasn’t available).
I did spend my last night in Pico at Alma do Pico near Madalena, for easy airport access. It was nice enough and had a unique “hang out in nature” vibe along with a pool (a rarity). But the location wasn’t any more convenient than a couple of the ones mentioned above (it was definitely quite affordable though).
Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details!
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Casas de Incensos was my Pico accommodation for the first two nights on the island, and it’s almost an hour’s drive from the airport. The roads are good and easy to navigate (the only exception is that the narrow, steep road off the highway that leads down to the hotel is a little crazy…but totally doable).
The hotel is located on Pico’s south coast toward the western side (about 2/3 of the way across the island). Do note that Google Maps will not be able to take you to the right place…it will take you close, but make sure to get detailed directions from Ana, or talk to her on the phone as you drive in.
I do think you need a car for staying here and getting around. For renting a car internationally, I always search in a few different places and compare both the prices and specific offerings/benefits.
Other Azores adventures to help plan your trip:
…& more coming soon. Check out all my Portugal posts here!
The grounds and property
The hotel is a complex of several tastefully and creatively renovated historic lava stone houses. They’re nestled closely together (as family dwellings used to be), and surrounded by lush greenery, succulents, and flowers.
Ana mentioned that due to the soil and the specific weather patterns that Pico gets, things grow here like crazy…trees, succulents, tropical flowers, and any kind of fruit or veggie you want.
In addition to the individual apartments, there’s a whitewashed building that houses the kitchen and a dining room in case weather is bad and we can’t have breakfast on the patio.
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The view from Casas de Incensos is beautiful, looking back toward Madalena. However, it’s important to know that the view isn’t unobstructed or perfect, and you’re not right on the water (which is fine, but sometimes the pictures can make it seem that way).
Similarly, there is a small pool on the grounds…again, using what was already there (this was a cow trough I believe?). It’s quite small, but nice to have for sitting around after a day of sightseeing.
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Ana didn’t realize that I was only one person, and put me in (what I think was) the largest apartment. I was on the end, which was nice because I felt like I had a bit more privacy (particularly on my deck).
The walkway up to my front door was like being in a mutant fairy garden. The air smells amazing, with all sorts of flowers and insanely huge succulents. You almost feel like you’re in the middle of the jungle.
Ana reminded me not to leave my front door open because bats really like this apartment 🙂
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Here’s another angle on my apartment, the walkway is to the right and this looks into both floors (as you can see, though, you can’t really see anything which was nice for privacy).
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You walk into the apartment on the top floor, which is a nice cozy living area. I love having a true seating area available, for reading or working on my computer!
There was a mini fridge where I could store things, and Ana had kindly provided some local cheese, jam, wine, and water to drink!
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The bedroom was downstairs, very clean and comfortable enough. Same for the bathroom, it was small but nice and had amenities to use. And the service was great, during breakfast “elves” snuck in and cleaned my room! (I don’t take a long time to eat, so this was impressive.)
The thing to be aware of—and this is unfortunately very common on Pico—is that there was no air conditioning. Ana did provide a fan downstairs and you can open the windows a bit (plus the stone keeps the worst of the heat out). I know she’s hoping to put A/C in the houses in the future, but for now the fan worked pretty well.
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I believe each of the units has a little balcony and seating area as well.
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Just a quick minute to admire the vibrant flowers all around the property! Those succulents are seriously half my size.
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The hotel breakfast
Your time at Casas de Incensos does include breakfast each morning, and it is quite a spread! Ana gave me a few kinds of local breads (sweet bread, a traditional Pico corn-based bread, plus a less-typical seeded one). I also had local incensos honey, pumpkin jam, and fig jam.
I sipped coffee and juice, then dove into the cheese. She provided several local cheeses, including this amazing soft cheese with her homemade pepper jam—wow! There was a waffle too, but I was stuffed at that point.
Breakfast is served out on the patio with a lovely view, as long as the weather allows. On my last morning it was raining, so I had breakfast in the little dining room.
You have a bunch of choices for where to stay on Pico, but I definitely vote for something unique, historic, and beautiful like Casas de Incensos!
Other unique local “hidden gem” hotels & rentals you’ll love:
- Staying At The Unique ELaiolithos Luxury Resort In Naxos, Greece
- Review: The Gorgeous “Hotel Unique” In Fethiye, Turkey
- Where To Stay: Craigellachie Hotel, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
- Review of the Beautiful Tensing Pen Resort In Negril, Jamaica
- Private Rainforest Vibes at Costa Rica’s Luxury Amor Arenal Resort
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