A brief guide to Recife

After exploring the delights of Rio, the culture of São Luís and the dream dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses, it’s time for Recife.  Here you will find a mix of good restaurants, culture, history and beaches making it a perfect place to stop off for a few days and if you are lucky enough to be visiting at carnival time, be prepared to let loose and join in.

    Olinda. Photo by Valdiney Pimenta.

Things to do in Recife

Instituto Ricardo Brennand

A medieval style castle with immense gardens, outdoor sculptures and beautiful fountains which form the scenery created by Ricardo Brennand, a Pernambuco-born collector, and which plays host to items of priceless cultural value.  Open from Tuesday to Sunday 1-5pm and costing approximately £5 per adult.

Visit one of the many beaches

If you like peace and quiet and don’t mind heading slightly further afield, make your way to Coroa do Aviao Beach which is set on an island.  You can treat yourself to some delicious seafood and really relax.  There’s also Porto de Galinhas which is about 65km away but has been awarded the title of the best beach in Brazil a number of times and so is worth a visit.  If you prefer it a little less secluded, try Boa Viagem which is a long sandy beach so you can do a little bit of people watching in between soaking up the sun (but not so great for swimming due to the sharks!).

Visit old Recife

The area is full of points of interest including Marco Zero Square and its panel “The compass rose” by Cicero Dias, the Park of Sculptures Francisco Brennand, buildings from the late 17th century and eclectic buildings from the early 20th century and much more.

Visit Olinda

Declared a World Historical and Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1982, Olinda fascinates everyone not only for its architecture, but also for its natural beauty.  Located just 6km away from Recife, this is a day trip must.  Be dazzled by the Carmo Church, take a picture perfect snap of the brightly coloured historical houses and enjoy the tranquillity of the São Francisco Convent.

Where to stay

For a spot on Boa Viagem beach, try Hotel Atlante Plaza.  This hotel is all about location but also offers comfort.

If you prefer to be immersed in culture, stay at the Pousada Villa Boa Vista for a good value and well located hotel.

What to eat and drink

Whilst in Recife, there will be lots of different things to try.  We recommend the fried needlefish, peixada, sun dried meat, cassava, sarapatel, bolo de rolo (a cake with very thin layers filled with guava paste), cocada (sweet coconut), negobom (sweet banana) as well as the fresh coconut water of course.

Getting here

From Sao Luis, it’s a 3 hour flight or if you decide to head here from Rio, it’s a 2.5 hour flight.  With both options, it’s then a train journey from the airport into the centre which takes about half an hour.

A brief guide to Recife
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