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  • Recife, Brazil

    Recife Info and Miniguide

    Recife, capital of Pernambuco State, is known as the "Brazilian Venice" due to its many canals, waterways and innumerable bridges that resemble the famous Venice of Italy. The city has an excellente culinary scene serving delicious international cuisine as well as succulent fish dishes typical of the region. Fresh coconut water is found on almost every corner. Close to the capital is Piedade Beach and travelling further away lie the unspoiled beaches of Tamandare, Sao Jose da Coroa Grande, Maria Farinha and Porto de Galinhas. The sun shines brighter in Recife than anywhere else in Brazil and its beaches are undoubtedly among the loveliest in the Northeast.

    Read More about Recife


    The capital city of the State of Pernambuco, Recife, is amongst the largest cities in Brazil with a population of over 1,500,000. The city’s Boa Viagem beach is one of the most famous urban sandy beaches with warm green waters. The city is well equipped to meet tourist demands with a large number of hotels, restaurants, and other related services. The entire coastline is dotted with beaches. The city is located at the confluence of the Beberibe River and the Capibaribe River, which flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The topography of the city with its rivers, islands, and bridges give one the feeling of being in Venice. Recife, Portuguese for reef, gets its name from the coral reefs that are all along the city’s shores.

    The city is the most important commercial center in the Northern region of Brazil. Modern medical facilities enable the city to receive patients from other neighboring states. From a tourist viewpoint, Recife is a great place to experience a mixture of cultures of native Indian, black slaves, Dutch, and Portuguese that settled in the region. The city is also a good starting point to visit other beach cities such as Joao Pessoa, Natal, and Fortaleza. The 18th century baroque churches and public buildings of the 19th century are some of the architectural wonders in the city.

    History of Recife

    Recife was amongst the first regions in Brazil in which the Portuguese chose to settle. Founded in 1537, Recife was ruled by the Portuguese until Brazil received its independence. The city was ruled briefly by the Dutch between 1630 and 1654. Bulk of the population was fishermen, while sailors made up the rest of the inhabitants that dwelled in houses made of straw. Under Duarte Coelho Pereira the sugarcane industry in the region flourished. The lack of human resources prompted the Portuguese to employ native Brazilians. However, this strategy did not work and finally slaves were brought in from Africa. A significant number of slaves worked on the plantations and influenced the culture of region, which is visible in the culinary arts, music, and dance forms of Brazil.

    How To Get There

    By Air

    The Guararapes-Gilberto Freyre International Airport caters to a large number of domestic and international flights, and is situated close to the city. International flights operate to Buenos Aires, Milan, Lisbon, Miami, Paris, and others. Chartered flights come in from major European cities.

    By Road

    Recife is a twelve-hour drive from Fortaleza or Salvador. Highway BR-101 connects the city with the beaches along the state’s coast as well as Rio de Janeiro and other cities. Buses ply between major cities and Recife from the main bus terminal, Terminal Integrado de Passageiros (TIP).

    By sea

    Cruise ships anchor at Recife’s port with many of them arriving from South America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

    Main Tourist Attractions

    Recife's Beaches

    Boa Viagem Beach is one of the world’s best beaches which are a haven for sunbathers. The beach is lined with shacks selling food and drink, while vendors roam the beach selling sunscreen lotions, sunglasses, and hats. During Christmas and New Year, the entire beach is a big party zone. Porto de Galinhas is another beach popular with tourists, which is just 40 miles from Recife. The Sao Jose da Coroa Grande and the Carne De Vaca are perfect for those who love to spend time surfing. Swimmers are cautioned to remain within the reefs in order to avoid any shark attack on the outskirts of the reefs.

    The Galo da Madrugada Carnival

    In the morning of Carnival Saturday the block of Galo da Madrugada attracts over 1 million people. At midnight on Sunday at Patio do Terco, silent drums pay an homage to the slaves.

    Museum of Pernambuco State

    The museum is a great place to relive the history of Recife under colonial rule leading up to the country’s independence. The museum has over 12,000 pieces of art on exhibit that is housed in a 19th century mansion.

    Museum of the Northeastern Man

    Museu do Homem Nordeste in Recife is located in the suburbs and showcases various folk arts and traditions of Northeast Brazil. The exhibits are divided into three sections that focus on folk arts, the sugar industry, and anthropology.


    Olinda is a town a few minutes from Recife and it was initially the capital of Pernambuco. The town is known for its old cobblestone roads and colorful colonial buildings that are a mix of Portuguese and Brazilian architecture of the 17th century. The city that was developed on a hill offers a splendid view of Pernambuco beach.

    São Pedro dos Clérigos (Saint Peter of Clerics Cathedral)

    The cathedral is a classic blend of baroque art with rococo and gothic elements. Built between 1728 and 1782 the imposing structure is a replica of the Santa Maria Maggiore Sanctuary in Rome. It features a rosewood altar, a wooden ceiling filled with sculptures of Saint Peter, the twelve apostles, and the evangelists. The pulpit is engraved in gold.

    Santo Antonio Church in Igarassu

    Igarassu is a small town a few miles from Recife. The Santo Antonio Church features a small museum with over 20 paintings from the 16th to 18th century. The spectacular building is famous for the Portuguese tiles along the corridors and walls of the cathedral which are in perfect condition after centuries have passed.

    Porto de Galinhas

    The Porto de Galinhas or Port of the Chicken is an hour and a half drive from Recife. The natural pools of the city are filled with marine life once the tide leaves the area. The beach has the distinction of being voted the best beach in Brazil by Viagem e Turismo (Voyage and Tourism), a travel magazine. Sunny weather throughout the year makes it a great place for tourists. The area is packed with hotels and restaurants to suit every budget.

    Recife's Climate

    Recife is close to the equator and experiences warm weather through most of the year with temperatures ranging from 28° and 34° C. The cooler months are June and July, a period when the city records the heaviest rainfall. Summer lasts from December through February, however, that does not deter visitors from flocking to the region, especially from the northern hemisphere. It is advisable to prepare yourself for occasional showers and carry light clothing.

    Practical Information about Recife

    Portuguese is the main language, although many locals do speak English.

    The local time is -2 hrs GMT.

    The American Embassy in Recife is located at Rua Goncalves Maia 163.

    The Recife police can be contacted on 61-3273-0101/0335 in case of an emergency.

    Hospital Ana Neri at Avenida Joao de Barros, 651-Soledade in Recife, Brazil is one among many hospitals and clinics in the city.

    It is advisable to be cautious when swimming in the ocean waters. Feeding the fish is a favorite pastime of many tourists. However, you must leave the area immediately if you spot a shark.

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