Covered in luscious beech trees and masses of blue hydrangeas, the island of Faial lies in the central group of the Azorean Archipelago. Separated from the neighbouring island of Pico by just a narrow channel, Faial offers beautiful views of the other central islands and seascape.
From the barren and ashen landscape on the island’s west coast to the blooming hydrangeas framing houses and roadways, to the migrating whales coasting through the waters, Faial is an island not to miss. You can spend some time by the beach or the natural pools, visit the churches or simply enjoy the fantastic scenery from one of its viewpoints.
Our three-day itinerary will help you plan a trip to the island of Faial. It includes all the main sights, restaurants, and hotels you can enjoy.
The capital and economic hub of Faial, Horta offers privileged views of nearby Pico island. This is also one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the Azores, as sailors and boats from various nationalities stop in the marina.
Don’t miss the Marina da Horta, popular among yachts crossing the Atlantic. Established in the 1980s, this was the first recreational port in the Azores. Traditionally, sailors and other crew members who land here paint the walls of the marina with a design about their ship. Make sure to catch some of these works of art while exploring the area.
There are many options for whale-watching tours that depart from Horta. We recommend booking a tour with Norberto Driver. Trips take place between March and October, mornings and afternoons.
A few steps away from the marina is the Forte de Santa Cruz. Today the fort is home to a boutique hotel, but in the past, it was the last holdout against the Spanish takeover during the Iberian Union. It was also where King Pedro IV elevated Horta from a town into a city.
Stroll along the seaside for a few minutes, and you will reach the main church of Faial. Built in 1680, this church houses several gilded carvings, tiles, and other relics. In particular, there are very detailed and exquisite wood carvings throughout.
Be sure to drop by the museum, located on the grounds of the Jesuit college, right beside the Igreja São Salvador. Here you can learn about the history of the island, in particular its agricultural industry, as well as its role in developing the telegraph cable across the Atlantic Ocean.
A cultural and culinary institution in Horta, Peter’s is famous for hosting sailors who travel here from around the world. It’s the perfect spot for a taste of gin and to admire the views of the marina and Pico Mountain. You can also take a look at the small museum of scrimshaw art.
Grab a towel and head to the southern end of town to relax at the beach. Hugging Monte de Guia on one side and the bay of Porto Pim on the other, this beach is one of the most popular in Faial. Crystal clear waters and warming sunshine make this a great family spot. Nearby, visit the Fábrica da Baleia de Porto Pim, where you can learn about the history of whaling on the island.
Our final stop for the day, Monte de Guia, is a volcanic cone easily accessible from Horta. There is a viewpoint at the top from which you can enjoy panoramic views of Horta, the bay, and Pico.
Start the day with views over the varied landscape of Faial. Facing the city and the beach, this viewpoint also features a tall sculpture of the Immaculate Conception, which gives it its name.
A few minutes drive down the hill from the viewpoint, you will come across a long stretch of black sand. This beach is a great spot to swim or sunbathe while enjoying the views of Pico mountain across the water.
Follow along the road for a few miles until you see Porto do Salão. A ramp takes you straight to the waterfront, where you can relax in the natural pools.
Around Cedros, you can spot a few red windmills. These iconic buildings add a touch of charm to the luscious green landscape, and some still preserve the milling mechanisms.
For a different perspective of the landscape, head to the lookout at Miradouro da Ribeira das Cabras. Here you can see the Fajã da Praia do Norte, in other words, a village built on a flat piece of land formed from volcanic eruptions. If you like, you can have a picnic here while enjoying the view.
After the lookout, it’s time to cool off at the striking Praia da Fajã. Surrounded by green hills, this black sand beach is a favourite for surfers and a great place to wind down and enjoy nature.
One of the spots most worth visiting on Faial is the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre. It covers the story of the Vulcão dos Capelinhos, an underwater volcano that erupted in the area in 1957. The centre occupies the ground floor of an old lighthouse. Here you can learn about the geology of Faial, the volcano, tectonic forces that have shaped the Azores, and the emigration of people to North America following the volcanic eruption.
Near the lighthouse, by the seaside, you can visit the natural pools of Porto Comprido. These volcanic pools are made of basaltic rock and hardened lava that settled here after the eruption. Dip your toes in the water or enjoy the sunset while gazing at the vast Atlantic Ocean.
Our first port of call is the natural pools at the Fajã do Varadouro. These pools are a great place to start the day off in nature. Children can swim in the closed pools, but there are also areas open to the sea.
Head south on the road from the natural pools until you spot the Queijaria O Morro. Located between Ponta dos Capelinhos and the Morro de Castelo Branco, you can’t miss this cheese factory. Cheese from the Azores is known for its quality, and Faial stays true to that reputation. You can visit the factory and learn more about cheese making. Of course, you can also buy some cheese to sample or take home.
Stretch your legs for a bit and follow a short trail to admire the sea views. Formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago, the landscape here is stunning. This is also an important nesting location for many seabirds, which you may spot along the way.
Located on the southern coast, these pools are shaped by basaltic rocks. It's a great spot for diving and snorkelling, or just taking a peaceful dip in the ocean.
A few miles from the natural pools is the viewpoint at Ponta Furada. The landscape here has been shaped for millennia by volcanic eruptions, and you can see the unique formations, such as an arch, that have formed over time.
Drive a little further down the road, and you’ll come across more arches, this time at the natural pools of Lajinha. Sea erosion here has shaped arches and caves and created natural pools that attract residents from all around the island. Enjoy a swim, or relax and admire the rocky coastline.
The island of Faial has a rich variety of flora preserved here at the Botanical Garden. Wander through the paths admiring the rare plants of the Azores, as well as historical agricultural lands, an orchidarium, and a collection of medicinal plants.
Past the botanical garden, keep heading up the road until you reach the natural crater at the top. The Caldeira do Cabeço Gordo is one of the most well-known landscapes of the Azores, and it is how we can imagine what the island looked like centuries ago. The crater is surrounded by bright green vegetation of various hues, with only little spots of water in the centre.
Here you can start the 20km Trilho dos 10 Vulcões. However, we recommend following this trail with a guide as it takes all day to complete.
Faial offers many natural attractions that kids will love to explore. Take some time to wander through the Parque Natural do Faial or the Jardim Botânico or capture the remains of the Vulcão dos Capelinhos. There are also several viewpoints where you can admire the stunning scenery. In summer, don’t miss a swim on the beach or the natural pools scattered across the island. To learn more about the history of the area, you should stop by the Capelinhos Volcano Interpretation Centre and the Fábrica da Baleia de Porto Pim.
The climate in Faial can be quite humid with regular rain and strong winds in winter. In some cases, you can even catch snow. Meanwhile, summer brings in warmer and sunny days. With this in mind, the best time to visit the island of Faial is in summer, between May and September. This is also when most traditional festivities take place.
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