It’s all about drinking in the views on this trip, which covers Faial’s best coasts and craters. Your first stop is at Ponta de Espalamaca. From here, you can snap postcard-worthy photos of Horta’s bay and, on a clear day, spot three of the other Azorean islands– Graciosa, Sao Jorge and Pico. You’ll then continue along the nicknamed ‘Windmill Route’ – which passes by a trio of the island’s remaining Flemish-style, red-topped windmills – to the Caldeira do Faial. This two-kilometre-wide extinct volcano crater is packed with laurel forest, and there’s a pretty lake in the centre. Afterwards, it’s onto a second volcano – Capelinhos – which lies dormant on the west coast. The last eruption – 60 years ago – left behind a dusty, moon-like surface.
Horta’s pretty town centre is your stomping ground for today. Your guided tour kicks off with a visit to the Horta Museum, which has a collection of artefacts from Faial’s history. But, what’s on the outside is just as intriguing as the inside. The museum’s housed in an imposing black-and-white building that was once a Jesuit college. It dates back to the 18th century, and was left unfinished after the Jesuits were run out of Portugal in 1760. You’ll also call in at Horta’s iconic marina, which comes decorated with dozens of paintings left behind by past visitors. To round things off, a gin and tonic at the famous Peter’s Café Sport – a favourite watering hole for thousands of sailors on their way across the Atlantic – is on the agenda.
Buckle up for a 4x4 ride across Faial. You’ll see all the island’s highlights, kicking off with the Caldeira do Faial Natural Reserve. We’ll head up to a viewpoint to get some photos of the park’s famous crater, which is now covered in laurrisilva forest. Next, we’ll jump back in our 4x4 and make tracks for the north of the island. After taking in the views of the Fajã da Praia do Norte – a beautiful coastal spot – we’ll head to the dark landscapes surrounding the Capelinhos volcano. Its last big eruption was back in the ‘50s, when it spewed lava for over a year. We’ll follow a route along the coast, passing Varadouro Bay, before turning inland and climbing up to the viewpoint at Espalamaca. Get your camera out for snaps of Horta, Faial’s upper regions, and – if it’s a clear day – the next-door islands of Pico, São Jorge and Graciosa.
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