Visiting Horta - What to See and Do
(Horta Airport HOR, Portugal)
Part of the Portuguese-controlled Azores islands, Horta is a small yet interesting municipality in the western region of the islands. The area takes up much of Faial Island and consists of several smaller parishes, including Capelo, Cedros and Flamengos. Over the last two or three decades, the municipality has increased its tourism identity, as more sailors, passengers and sightseeing visitors arrive on the island than ever before.
For several centuries, the harbour of Horta has been the most alluring feature of the municipality. Traders, sailors and yachtsmen have been mooring at the harbour for eons. Even today, the marina is among the most important attractions in the city. Several beaches around the city and municipality are perfect spots for swimming, sun-baking or rejuvenating. Fortunately, crowded beaches are not experienced here, as they are relatively long strips of sand.
The island of Faial is a historically rich site, but there is much more on offer than simply history. Start by strolling through some of the colonial townships, many of which seem to have hidden from modernity. In addition, tourists may be lucky enough to try whale watching, island-hopping or volcano trekking passages. The magnificent sights that derive from the Atlantic can be experienced via the island's main marina.
Ten things you must do in Horta
- Whale watching is one of the most alluring attractions available in Horta. Just about any municipality with a marina in the Azores offers this activity. Nothing beats a boat cruise on the Atlantic, except perhaps for a boat trip that rides the waves of a humpback whale migrating past Horta.
- Active visitors and those who are into cycling have plenty of off-road mountain biking opportunities. The circuits are found in the mountainous interior of Horta, which provides challenging rides for participants. Of course, it is easier to join an organised tour of Faial's more attractive mountain biking courses. This helps take the pressure off finding a spot and renting equipment.
- Horta is built upon one of the most beautiful volcanic islands in the world. Volcano climbs up the Capelinhos Volcano or to the Faial Caldera are available for visitors. These two sites are among the most famous landmarks in the Azores. Hiking and climbing these monoliths isn't easy. As a matter of fact, it takes quite a lot of energy and time to complete, and should only be attempted by physically fitter travellers.
- Downtown Matiz is popular for sightseeing strolls. The colonial centre of the city is a typically picturesque downtown area, withholding a variety of interesting sites. Walking through the meandering alleyways and lanes of Matiz is a recommended activity. Tourists can really feel the island's colonial past in Matiz.
- The city of Horta and most of the island of Faial were buried by the great volcanic eruption of the Capelinhos Volcano in 1957. For interesting photographs and information about this intriguing event, head to the Horta Regional Museum. In addition, the museum traces the history of Horta from the early medieval period to modern times. Both temporary and permanent displays are shown throughout the museum.
- The most important festival throughout the year is the Week of the Sea. For a period of seven days in early August, the municipality celebrates its close ties with the sea by vamping up the streets. Dancing, performances, music and food continue to blanket the island of Faial. Sailing competitions are also held during the day, along with many other fascinating activities.
- Close to the parish of Conceicao, Foz da Ribeira is one of the most important natural beaches in the archipelago. Upon the beach, limited equipment is available. However, this gives tourists more time to soak up the sun or enjoy a dip in the refreshing water. During the height of summer and the height of winter, this beach experiences a high season, characterised by full accommodation and crowds.
- The Peter's Café Sport site is more than just a bar or restaurant. Inside the site stands the Scrimshaw Museum, which includes in-depth exhibitions on whaling, maritime navigation and local history. It is the most endearing museum on the island, offering customers the chance to explore the surrounding landscape.
- A day of sightseeing local attractions will make anybody tired. Therefore, thermal rock pools are an important part of the tourism industry in Horta. The Varadouro region is home to a plethora of rock pools. Thermal gases heat the pools to a comfortable temperature that is perfect for rejuvenating.
- It is not surprising that Horta is home to plenty of beach destinations. However, one of the standouts is the Praia do Almoxarife. Due to its buzzing reputation, the area gets quite busy during the holiday period, so hotel bookings are essential if choosing to stay overnight. The sand is black, but this won't take away from the beauty of this beach.