Far adrift, in the Atlantic's vast sweep, Horta serves as a welcoming island respite for some truly epic ocean voyages. One of the most westerly parts of Europe, these Portuguese islands lie a full 1,100 miles from the coast of the mainland. The bustling marina here serves as the perfect stopover and a welcome respite for tired sailors and yachts embarking on transatlantic crossings. The colourful harbour is decorated with a multicoloured patchwork of their stories and flags, and adding to this massive, ever-growing mural is said to offer sailors protection while out on the seas. While Horta's clientele may come and go with the waves, there's nothing transient about the stunning volcanic cones and soaring wildflower-splashed hills that make up this beautiful Atlantic island pit-stop.
Horta is the main city, and a charming welcome to dry land, as you step onto the pentagon-shaped island of Faial. On the frontier of continents, the violent meeting of the European and North American tectonic plates forged this beautiful archipelago - and the rich volcanic scenery here is ripe for exploration and adventure. The busy harbour lies before the dramatic backdrop of the neighbouring Pico Island's cloud-wisped peak - head up to Espalamaca Lookout for the best view of Horta's busy harbour and islands emerging nearby.
Horta has a grand volcanic caldera of its own, and you can journey up through threads of cloud, to look down into the island's immense, bowl-shaped crater. The Lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos is an island icon, having survived 1957's dramatic eruption. It now occupies a scenic location on a headland, surrounded by vast swathes of charred new land, which were churned out from the depths.