The Vereda Pico Branco and Terra Chã hike is the most popular hiking trail on Porto Santo Island. The route leads you to the second-highest peak on the island, Pico Branco. The other viewpoint on the trail is Terra Chã, which has coastal views and is one of the greenest areas on the entire island. The hike is just a 5-kilometer round-trip and is a perfect sunrise adventure.
VEREDA PICO BRANCO & TERRA CHÃ HIKE DETAILS
- Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike was 5 kilometers round-trip.
- Hike Duration: The hike will take you about 2 hours if you enjoy a few moments at each viewpoint.
- Hike Difficulty: This hike was pretty well maintained and had safety railings at most of the sections where you might find a drop-off. There was some incline but nothing to trouble you, so overall I would say this hike is suitable for children, families, and a pet dog.
- Hike Incline: Total incline for the hike was 336 meters.
- My Strava Map Upload: Vereda Pico Branco and Terra Chã hike
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY IN PORTO SANTO
HOW TO GET TO THE VEREDA PICO BRANCO & TERRA CHÃ HIKE
This trail is actually one of the two official hikes on the island. Because it is only one of two recognized trails on the island it is quite easy to find. On the northern side of the island, you will find the red and yellow sign next to the road. The trail is marked with a pin location on the map below so you can plan your transit route. There is a gravel parking lot at the base of the hike. I actually rode my bike here from the southeast area of the island, which was a pretty uphill ride but definitely possible if you can climb a few hundred meters of elevation on the bike.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE VEREDA PICO BRANCO & TERRA CHÃ HIKE
The hike begins from the main ring-road that wraps around the entire island of Porto Santo. You will see a sign, which is a huge whiteboard with all of the hiking details posted right next to the road. This is also where you can park the car on the gravel parking lot. It can be a bit odd to park in the dark in the wide-open gravel parking lot but really just park anywhere there won’t be much traffic in this parking lot.
I decided to do this hike for sunrise, so all of the photos I am showing about the trail were taken on the hike back. For me, the walk to the summit was in the dark with a headlamp in the hour before sunrise. If you do plan to be at the summit for sunrise, I suggest leaving an hour before the official sunrise time as it is just less than 3-kilometers to the top but it is all uphill so that should be enough time to be at the top for sunrise.
The trail is quite rocky and covered in gravel but there is almost always a railing when there is a drop to your side. I found the trail quite moderate and would suggest it for families (maybe during the day) as a great little adventure. The early parts of the trail wind around the side of the hill before you reach the switchbacks and begin to climb up toward the peaks.
The unique part about Vereda Pico Branco and Terra Chã hike is that it’s very green. Porto Santo is a pretty barren island except for a few trees on the nearby Pico Castelo. The contrast of the rich blue from the ocean and the crisp green trees is a refreshing change from the dry, dusty orange and earthy tones Porto Santo is known for.
The trail is just 2.5 kilometers to the summit so while it is pretty steep on the uphill journey, it isn’t too far. Before you know it, you will be rounding the corner to one of the best viewpoints on Porto Santo Island.
At the summit of Terra Chã, you will be under a canopy of trees as you look out over the ocean to the peak of Pico do Concelho and the small island in the distance, Ilhéu de Cima. There’s a little house at the summit and a picnic table so you can really set up and enjoy the view.
On the day I visited, I had to wait two hours after sunrise for the clouds to properly clear, and as you can see they never really left me alone with the view. Nonetheless, it’s one of the best views on Porto Santo and with just a 2.5-kilometer journey to the top, it should be on your bucket list while visiting the island. Below are my photos from the summit and of a drone flight from the summit where I explored the view from the ocean looking back to Terra Chã.
PICO BRANCO HIKE
After visiting Terra Chã, the hike then backtracks to the intersection where you would have seen the three red and yellow signs. I recommend being at Terra Chã for sunrise and then going back up to Pico Branco after sunrise to check out the view from that viewpoint. The view is different as you can see out to the north where you have a few spectacular bays.
The summit area of Pico Branco is a bit bare and not quite as pretty as Terra Chã but the views are still quite good and it’s worth the little 400-m hike to the top. On the way down, you don’t need to backtrack from the top back to the intersection, you can kind of loop around the edge but it is a bit of a scramble so if you prefer safety, just head back on the path you came up.
The walk back down follows the same trail and as you can see from the photo below, it’s quite a spectacular trail along the mountain. This photo was taken as I came down from Pico Branco as I began the descent back to the parking lot and the beginning of the hike.
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Vereda Pico Branco and Terra Chã hike on Porto Santo Island.
WHERE TO STAY ON PORTO SANTO
There are a lot of options on Porto Santo Island from big all-inclusive hotels to small Airbnb apartments. I’ve written a huge post about all of the best options when it comes to Porto Santo and you can check it out here: WHERE TO STAY ON PORTO SANTO ISLAND: 11 BEST RESORTS AND HOTELS
I stayed for five days at Vila Baleira Resort and five days at Hotel Porto Santo & Spa but also heard and saw great things about Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa. Here’s a quick glimpse at those three, beautiful beachside accommodations.
VILA BALEIRA RESORT
Vila Baleira Porto Santo (Luxury & All-inclusive): THIS IS WHERE I STAYED! Vila Baleira is a 4-star resort situated right on the golden sand beach of Porto Santo. The rooms are on one side of the road and the restaurant and pool area are directly next to the beach. I had the all-inclusive package, which meant we got a wristband when we arrived and then had buffet breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as unlimited coffee and alcohol all day, every day.
Click here to check the best current rates and availability of Vila Baleira Porto Santo.
Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa (Luxury): This is a 5-star resort on Porto Santo Island and it is by the largest hotel group in Portugal. The moment you step in the resort you’ll be rewarded with a blissful setting and its world-class amenities. I would’ve liked to stay here and from everything, I heard while on the island, it is a pretty awesome place to stay. It’s the top pick for a hotel on Porto Santo Island if you want luxury!
Click here to check the best current rates and availability of Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & Spa.
Hotel Porto Santo & Spa (Luxury): THIS IS WHERE I STAYED! Another classy, 4-star resort is Hotel Porto Santo & Spa where I stayed for my second 5-day period on my 10-day trip to Porto Santo Island. I’d happily recommend this Porto Santo hotel for couples and those looking for beachfront luxury with a very relaxing atmosphere. On top of that, the spa has a Turkish bath, a heated pool, massage rooms, relaxation spots, hot sand therapy, and more. Not to mention the restaurant serves fresh local dishes.
Click here to check the best current rates and availability of Hotel Porto Santo & Spa.