Top 10 Things to Do in Recife, Brazil

Aerial view of Recife, Brazil
••• Americo Nunes/Getty Images

Although it is Brazil's fourth largest city, Recife hasn't lost its traditional and cultural attractions to commercial development. The capital of Pernambuco state in northeast Brazil, Recife is a fluid mix of new and old.

It's a busy seaport, a commercial and trading center, with high rises, busy streets and business deals. It's also known for its artistic and folkloric traditions, music and dance.

Protected by the reef that gives the city its name, Recife is built around a number of inlets, canals, and bridges, living up to its name as the "Venice of Brazil." It offers walkable tours, great beaches and lively arts and entertainment.

Click on the thumbnail maps for larger views of Olinda, Recife area and the beaches of Pernambuco, or this larger map of central Recife.

When to Go

Anytime! Recife has an average year round temperature in the 80's Fahrenheit or 27 Celsius. See this Recife Climate Graph.

However, the city puts on a great carnival so you might want to schedule a visit to the Recife and Olinda carnivals in February/March, or to the off-season carnival, called Recifolia, in October. Either occasion means thousands of visitors, so make your reservations early.

Getting and Staying There

Recife has air, land and sea access. For air and land details, check the Arriving information. Check flights from your area.

You can also browse for hotels and car rentals.

Recife is also a port of call for many cruise lines. See Recife Cruises for details.

Base your exploration of the city and region from one of these hotels.

Things to do and See

  1. Beaches! One of the best is Boa Viagem, an upscale area, which also offers most of the restaurants and nightclubs.
  1. Take a walking tour of the old city from the Praca da Republica to the impressive, 19th-century Teatro Santa Isabel and then the Catedral de Sao Pedro dos Clerigos. Next, browse through the colorful Mercado do Sao Jose (Saint John's Market) for local arts and crafts and handiwork, including a special section for lace, and finish your walk at the Basilica de NS da Penha.
  2. Watch a football (soccer) game. Recife is big on futebol!
  3. Shop at Shopping Center Recife, Brazil's second largest shopping center.
  4. Tour the Casa de Cultura. Once a prison, the buildings now house craft and souvenir shops and are the locale for music and dance performances.
  5. Olaria de Brennand is a ceramics factory with a display area of thousands of pieces.
  6. Museo do Homen do Nordoeste displays anthropological and popular art and is considered to be Recife's best museum.
  7. Olinda is the reason many visitors travel to Recife. Olinda is a living museum, a UNESCO heritage city, and considered to be the origin of the entire Brazilian culture of the 16th century.
  8. Carnaval! Two months before the actual date, the rehearsals start and the blocos, or carnival section or group, draw in hundreds of watchers. The main dance is the frevo, an energetic, exhilarating experience. In Olinda, everybody participates. You'll need a costume.
  1. In Olinda the Folclore Nordestino festival at the end of August is a highlight of dance and music from the entire northeastern region.

No matter when you go to Recife and or Olinda, tell us about your experience. Post a message in the forum.

Boa viagem!