Horta, Faial Island (Azores)
Horta is a single municipality and city in the western part of the Azores Archipelago, and encompasses the island of Faial. Three parishes comprise the urban area and historical centre of Horta; Angústias, Conceição and Matriz. The remaining parishes comprise the rest of the municipality and include lands from the ocean to the central volcano, with the exception of Flamengos, the only landlocked parish. From Espalamaca or Monte da Guia, the city of Horta is typical of insular Portuguese coastal communities and the urban tradition of the medieval-Renaissance. The city is seaward-looking, and populated by several volcanic cones located to its southern and eastern margins, the most predominant being Monte da Guaia, Monte do Carneiro and Monte Escuro. The city's population centre is situated along its principal avenue, and cut by several smaller roadways. However, its proto-urban form lies to the north near Espalamaca, with a grouping of north-south and east-west roads that developed from Horta's initial colonization.
Horta and its environs were first settled in the early-1400s by a mix of Flemish and Portuguese immigrants. The parish of Horta was founded in 1514, but remained a small town until the 19th century, when it prospered as a stopover on important commercial routes between Europe and the New World. Horta evolved into a centre of commerce and travel. It was a gateway for Azorean orange-growing and the export of wine from Pico Island, an important stop for North American whalers and later, as a refuelling port for coal-powered ships during their trans-Atlantic passages. A commercial port was built in 1876, and trans-Atlantic telephone cables were installed in 1893. This increased Horta's economic development and urban growth, as well as cultural and sporting activities on the island. After 1939, Horta became a scheduled waypoint on the transatlantic flying boat routes between North America and Europe. By 1960, yachts started using Horta's sheltered port during transatlantic voyages, an airport was built in 1971 and a 300-slip marina was added in 1986. Today, the Horta Marina is the main harbour of the Azores, and fourth most-visited marina in the world.
Horta's location offers excellent shelter against the winds from any direction, and makes it an almost compulsory stop for all yachts in route from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. However, the abundant natural beauty of Horta has made it an increasingly popular tourism destination. Horta's extraordinarily picturesque interior, marine landscapes and coastline offer visitors a unique opportunity to explore the area's natural splendour. Horta and its environs are home to vast ecological reserves, majestic volcanoes and mountains, a stunning archipelago, pristine beaches, and tropical flora and fauna. Horta is also home to a myriad of bird species and marine life to discover.
Horta's unique legacy transforms any visit to the city and its environs into a truly unforgettable experience. You can explore the volcanic evolution and beauty of Horta and Faial Island during visits to Monte da Guia, Monte do Carneiro, Monte Escuro Monte da Espalamaca, the Caldeira, Cabeco Gordo, Parque Florestal do Capelo, Praia do Almoxarife, Ponta Furada, and Ponta dos Capelinhos. Discover the culture and history of Horta at the Peter Café Sport, Scrimshaw Museum, Horta Regional Museum, historical buildings of the Old Town, old fortifications at Porto Pim, and more.
Horta's exquisite inland beauty is the perfect setting for incredibly scenic and memorable land excursions, including bird-watching, mountain, valley and volcano hikes, and Jeep safaris. Horta's lovely harbour, bay and beaches are also a joy to behold. The teeming, crystal-clear coastal waters are ideally-suited a wide array of popular water sports, including swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, sailing, boating, sea-kayaking, and whale- and dolphin-watching.
Due to its compact size, Horta can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Horta
The ship is scheduled to dock at the Horta Cruise Terminal. Horta City can be reached via a short drive or 25-minute walk. If needed, taxis are available outside the port gate. Taxis are not metred; please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
Horta is home to shops offering scrimshaw, embroidered and lace goods, wines of Pico Islands, and locally-made handicrafts and souvenirs. Shopping opportunities include the port area, city centre and Modelo Shopping Centre, located approximately 0.9 miles (about 1.5 kilometres) from the pier. The local currency is the Euro; U.S. dollars, US travellers cheques, Euro travelers cheques and Canadian dollars are generally accepted.
Horta offers a diverse selection of Portuguese, Mediterranean, International and American cuisine, and is renowned for its spiced sausage with yams, beef stew, fish, fish soup and stew, limpets, lobster, crab, and tapas. Popular local restaurants include the Barão Palace, Canto da Doca, Casa Teahouse & Bar, Restaurante A Salgueirinha, Pizzaria California, Restaurante Genuino, O Cagarro, XF Bar, Restaurante A Arvore, Capitolio, Fabrica, Peter Cafe Sport, Restaurante O Lima, Medalhas, Restaurant Atletico, and Vista da Baia.
The city centre of Horta is home to a town square, Civic Centre, Town Hall, Horta Marina, Horta Regional Museum, Old Dock, cafés, restaurants, boutiques, and shops, and splendid views of Horta Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, volcanic cones, Monte Escuro, and Monte da Guia.
Horta´s marina is the main harbour of the Azores, and the fourth most-visited marina in the world. Its location offers an excellent shelter against the winds from any direction, and makes the marina an almost compulsory stop for yachts, cruise ships and trans-Atlantic voyagers en route from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. The Horta Marina has held the European Blue Flag since 1987.
Horta hosts many international regattas, including Les Sables - Les Azores - Les Sables, Vannes - Les Açores - Vannes, Portsmouth - Horta, Route des Hortensia, ARC Europe, Atlantis Cup, La Route Du Rhum, L'Atlantique Pogo, and Ceuta-Horta.
Peter Café Sport
Founded in 1918, the internationally-renowned Peter Café Sport is so much more than just a welcoming station and sailor's bar. This colourful yachtsmen's club also features a post office, currency exchange spot, weather station and Scrimshaw Museum, along with wonderful views of the marina and out to Pico Island.
Horta Regional Museum
The Horta Regional Museum explores the development of the island, its local history, whaling, trans-Atlantic cables, trans-Atlantic crossings, and more. The museum has a permanent exhibit, Exhibition of Capelinhos Volcano, detailing in photographs the volcanic eruption in the Azores in 1957. The museum also contains a large collection of scale models of buildings, ships and people carved from fig kernels by Euclides Rosa. There are some good permanent exhibits on the history of Faial and Horta, with related artefacts on display.
The avenue that follows the bay where the Horta Marina is located features many historical buildings, a tourist information centre, and several cafés and restaurants.
Monte da Espalamaca
The imposing Monte da Espalamaca features a Mirador marked by a huge cross, along with exquisite views overlooking the Parque da Algoa.
This protected, circular bay features a scenic sandy beach, and is highlighted by old fortifications that once protected the city. You can even enter the beach through an old gate house that was a part of the fort.
Monte da Guia
Located at Horta on Faial Island, Monte da Guia is a volcanic land mass that helped to form the bay of Porto Pim. The summit offers breath-taking panoramic vistas overlooking the city, coast, distant craters and mountains. Looking the other way from the top of Monte da Guia is a nice view of two craters side-by-side. The area is a protected reserve, and home to abundant wildlife, including endemic turtles and bird species.
Based in Horta City, HortaCetaceos offers guests a unique opportunity to observe whales and dolphins in their natural habitat, the stunningly beautiful Azores Archipelago.
Located 6.2 miles (10 kilometres) from Horta, Caldeira is a large crater that is approximately 1.2 miles (about two kilometres) around and 1,312 feet (400 metres) deep. This incredible volcano basin, which now serves as a natural reserve, abounds with flowers, trees and other natural vegetation. You can walk around the rim, or just marvel at the splendid vistas in all directions. The Valley of Flamengos, along with the cone and dome in the Caldeira, are as fascinating as the flora and fauna around them.
Close to the Caldeira Crater, Cabeco Gordo is the highest point on the island, and offers spectacular panoramic vistas of Pico, Sao Jorge and all of Faial Island.
SailAzores Yacht Charter
Based in the Horta Marina, SailAzores features yacht charters for sailing around the central group of five islands. The Azores are a wonderful, pristine group of islands, and the sea-life is fantastic. Yachting amidst a schools of dolphin and sperm whales is an unforgettable experience.
Norberto Diver specialises in scenic and informative snorkelling, scuba diving, and whale- and dolphin-watching excursions, topped off by a fish barbecue in the Horta Harbour.
Parque Florestal do Capelo
Just a short drive from the Ceplinhos Volcano, the delightful Parque Florestal do Capelo explores volcanic eruptions, whaling, and the emigration and development of the Azores. The park features an Interpretation Centre, Lighthouse, swimming hole by the old whaling port and a museum of a typical rural house.
Join a pair of marine biologist for a thrilling swimming, snorkelling and diving excursion in the abundant waters of the Azores Archipelago. Swim with dolphins, marvel at a myriad of fish species, and search for sharks and blue, common and sperm whales.
Jardim Botanico do Faial
If you love horticulture, the Jardim Botanico do Faial is the place for you. Explore culinary and medicinal herbs, orchids, endemic and exotic species in this beautiful, well-planned botanical garden.
Praia do Almoxarife
This idyllic locale in the Azores Archipelago features volcanic black-sand beaches, warm, calm, emerald-coloured waters, and stunning views of the Pico and São Jorge islands. Praia do Almoxarife also features an adjacent camping ground, and is close to bars and restaurants.
Oceaneye explores the volcanic, geothermal and undersea beauty of the Azores Archipelagos. Swim in the warmer water near undersea vents, search for parrot fish, rays, sharks, and other diverse fish species, explore a cave in Monte da Guia, and observe the gas bubbles emanating from deep in the earth near Almoxarife Beach.
Whale Watch Azores
Explore nature's largest mammals and other marine life of the Azores via catamaran during an excursion at Whale Watch Azores. Look for whales, dolphins, marlin, turtles, flying fish, hammerhead sharks, and more.
Whale Watching Peter
This scenic and exciting whale-watching tour, offered by Peter Cafe Sport, features a catamaran cruise along the Horta coast in search of diverse dolphin species and sperm whales.
The friendly 'Footprint Activa' team offers off-road Jeep excursions that explore the beauty of Faial Island, its landscapes and monuments.
This family-owned-and-run excursion embraces their love of the Azores, from its volcanic mountains, valleys and countryside to its wonderful wildlife, unique flavours and beautiful sea teeming with whales, dolphins, fish, and marine life.
Aquario de Porto Pim
This aquarium serves as a transfer station between catches in the Atlantic and their final destinations, namely the aquariums around the world. Videos and real tanks with live fish are displayed.
One of the most-visited outdoor landmarks on the island, Ponta Furada is home to impressive volcanic rock formations. Located between the airport and Horta City near the towns of Lajinha and Feteira, Ponta Furada has a small car park, and offers marvellous views of the island of Pico, Atlantic Ocean and Faial.
The GEOACORES Association - Azores Geopark Association, is a non-profit association located in the Azores. Its mission is to ensure the geological conservation, environmental education and sustainable development of the Azores.
Ponta dos Capelinhos
This popular destination offers a unique, up-close look at the effects of a volcanic eruption in 1957-58. An entirely new land mass was created, and houses and fields were buried. An old lighthouse still stands. Visit the town of Capelo to see the Capelinhos Volcano and Recreational Forest Park and Capelinhos Museum, which chronicles the active period of the volcano.
Located 3.7 miles (six kilometres) from Pico, Espalamaca is ideal for a beautiful panoramic view overlooking the city, harbour, marina, beach of Almoxarife, and the islands of Pico Azores and Sao Jorge.
Faial is known as the 'Blue Island' of the Azores. During the summer months, blue can be found everywhere on the island; from the blue hydrangeas dividing the farmers' fields and lining the roadside, to charming houses with blue accents.
Each year, Horta hosts a series of fun-filled cultural festivals enjoyed by parishes and visitors alike. Included are the Sra. Angústias Feast, St. John's Feast, December Festival and Holy Ghost Festivities.
Experience Horta's exquisite inland beauty during outdoor activities such as is bird-watching, mountain, valley and volcano hikes, and Jeep safaris. The teeming, crystal-clear waters of Horta's harbour, bay and beaches are ideally-suited for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, sailing, boating, sea-kayaking, whale- and dolphin-watching, and a wide array of other popular water sports during your visit.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship