Faial is a small volcanic island in the North Atlantic Ocean about 1500km from Lisbon. With an outstanding location in the heart of the triangle formed by Faial, Pico and São Jorge islands, Faial is the perfect retreat for nature lovers, whale watchers and scuba divers.
Verdant and tranquil, with beautiful landscapes and an incredible blue ocean with prolific marine life, the island remains untouched by mass tourism. Faial is known as the Blue Island because of its abundant blue hydrangeas that bloom in summer. The island is mountainous and dominated by its central crater “Caldeira” and nearby highest point Cabeço Gordo of 1043m. Capelinhos was the latest volcanic eruption in Azores and added 1,5 km2 to the island.
Horta is the only town and one of the most beautiful of the archipelago, with an outstanding view to Pico Mountain, Portugal’s highest mountain (2,351m).
Climate & when to visit
The islands have a mild temperate maritime climate influenced by the warm Gulf Stream, with little temperature variation throughout the year. The average winter temperature is 14ºC and in summer 23-25ºC. Average humidity is around 80-85%. Rain falls every month, but is seldom persistent.
Winds can be temporarily strong in winter, but in summer most days are still or with a gentle breeze. The water temperature varies between 16-23ºC, with the lowest sea temperatures in February-March and the highest in August-September. The busiest months are July, August and September.
Whale watching season: March to November
Best diving season: July, August and September
Hiking season: all year-round, but best from March to November
In summer temperatures are very pleasant and usually light clothing is ok. However, at night, at sea or at high altitudes a warm sweater can be necessary. A raincoat and wind-jacket are recommended due to occasional showers that can occur at any time of the year.
In spring and autumn there are many warm nice days, but you should be prepared for more rain and slightly colder temperatures than in summer. In winter, even though the temperatures are mild, it often rains.
Most of the streets are cobbled, so comfortable shoes are a good option.
The official language is Portuguese, but English is widely spoken. Locals who are active in tourism often speak French and Spanish.
People & Culture
People in Faial are naturally friendly and relaxed. We do not have the rush and stress found in big cities, so the best advice for tourists is to slow down and enjoy the beautiful nature and culture of the islands.
The Sea Week in Horta is by far the most popular festival in Faial. Starting every year on the first Sunday of August, this is mainly a nautical event with yachting regattas, old whaling boat races and many other sea related activities. The city avenue is closed and many street restaurants with typical food are set up. Each evening different musical groups perform.
Traditional local crafts include beautiful crocheted laceworks, delicate fish scales and fig pith miniatures, wickerwork baskets, folk figures made from corn husks and scrimshaw carvings (in whale bone or teeth). Nowadays, because whaling was banned in 1981, modern artists are working with cow bone or old sperm whale teeth.
The Handicraft School in Capelo sells and exhibits traditional crafts, with local artists demonstrating their work to visitors. T-shirts, postcards and books are also widely available.
Wines, liqueurs and cheeses are favorite gifts and are widely available in most local shops and supermarkets. In Faial you are welcome to enter any shop and buying pressure is inexistent.
Weekdays: 9h00am to 1h00pm and from 2h00pm to 6h00pm;
Saturdays: 9h00am to 1h00pm
Banking & currency
Portuguese currency is the Euro. ATMs are found in the main centres and exchange money can only be done at banks, which are open from Monday to Friday between 9h00am and 3h00pm. Credit cards are generally accepted in hotels and some shops and restaurants.
Time is GMT -1, one hour less than Lisbon.
220V and plugs are the usual European two-pin style.
Internet & communications
Most hotels and restaurants have free WiFi available for their clients. Mobile phones work very well in Faial and international roaming is available.
Health & Safety
No vaccinations are required. There is a Hospital and a Health Centre in Horta and 3 pharmacies in the city that open weekdays from 9h00am to 7h00pm. On Saturday they are open until 01h00pm.
Tap water is generally safe to drink. Faial is very peaceful and street violence is inexistent.
Guest house – Accommodation – Lodging – Bed and breakfast – Hotel – Horta – Faial – Azores