Recife, Brazil: 10 Things Travelers Cannot Miss


This FIFA World Cup is doing wonders for our knowledge of Brazil’s geography and culture. It goes beyond the usual stereotypes conveyed by pop culture. Following Team USA, we explored Manaus and Natal. The final clash of the group G takes place in Recife, the capital of the state of Pernambuco. It is a place renowned, among other things, for its rich culture, scenic landscapes, and exquisite cuisine. For those on a trip to Recife, here are ideas on how to get the best out of your stay.

Recife, Brazil: Fisherman by sunset
photo credit: anderson freire via photopin cc

Explore Recife

Recife has the moniker of Veneza Brasileira (Brasilian Venice). It is actually 4 islands linked by a network of bridges arching over the Jordão, Capibaribe, and Beberibe rivers. Watercourses and canals run through the city giving visitors an unusually picturesque landscape. Even better, explore the city by night, the atmosphere is breath-taking.

Tan on the beach

The Boa Viagem beach (Bon voyage) is among the most famous urbanized beaches of Brazil if not the world. It is in the heart of Recife, and offers tourists all possible amenities: 5 miles of shops, restaurants, hotels, walking vendors. Enjoy all the regional refreshments and meals in one fantastic place. Moreover, the coast is safe from the dangers of the Atlantic Ocean thanks to a coral reef. Opt for Pina Beach instead if you and your friends want to ditch the crowd.

Discover shipwrecks

Recife could be Brazil’s shipwreck capital. Numerous ships have sunk in the coast around the city, 15 of which are accessible to tourists. Thanks to this and the coral reef, it is a dream spot for scuba diving.

Recife by night
photo credit: Luci Correla via Flickr cc

Be a Monuments man

Experience the Portuguese and Dutch heritage  by visiting the many splendid churches it houses. The Capela Douarda, the Nossa Senhora do Carmo will amaze you. Their gold-covered altars, tiled panes and frescoes, and engraved gems, perfectly illustrate the grandiose of these monuments’ baroque architecture. Moreover, the “São Pedro dos Clérigos” is a must-see. This cathedral is a genuine replica of the famous Santa Maria Maggiore Sanctuary of Rome. Truly, Recife is a tropical little Italy.

Dance to contagious rhythms

Recife’s Carnaval itself is a giant colorful parade filled with street shows and celebrations of the local culture. Participants dance to the rhythms of frevo, maraatu and the bumba-meu-boi. Note that the frevo is now included in the UNESCO’s list of world heritage. Festivities start as early as 2 months before the actual date. Rehearsals attract watchers, locals, and tourists alike.

Recife is truly a fantastic venue for music lovers. In April, attend the April Pro Rock, which is a 2-day rock music festival. USMNT fans going for the Germany-USA game will be in town just in time for the Festival de São João. Do not miss this opportunity to load on regional food and drink.

Carnaval in Recife
photo credit: Prefeitura de Olinda via photopin cc

Feast like a king

Ditch the National Fiejoada dish and embrace the local delights. Every diet type will found a favorite dish. Seafood enthusiasts will love fresh prawn, oyster, and crab. Notable meat dishes include Carne del Sol and Kebabs of grilled beef and chicken. To eat like a local, try the Caldinho (a regional soup that comes in flavors) and their grilled cheese. Complete the menu with the Bolo de Rolo and the Bolo Sousa Leao, 2 authentic cakes originating from Pernambuco.

Watch a futebol (soccer) game.

Recife is big on futebol! With 3 teams in the top Brazilian league, and regular participation in the Copa Libertadores, it would be a shame not to attend a game and finally decide which team as the most fervent fan base: Sport Club do Recife, Santa Cruz Futebol Clube or Clube Nautico Capibaribe.

The Yanks will play in the brand new Arena Pernambuco, a stadium built specially for the World Cup.

Visit the twin city of Olinda

Olinda is the reason many visitors travel to Recife together with the Orange Fort. The twin city of Recife is on the UNESCO world heritage list. Like Recife, the city has many touristic attractions: museums, a historic downtown area, and the Olinda Carnival.

pano of Recife
photo credit: Prefeitura de Olinda via photopin cc

There is so much to do in Recife. You could even tour the Casa de Cultura, an ancient prison turned an artist house. You definitely should jump on a cruise to visit the archipelago Fernando de Noronha.