Recife is the capital city of Pernambuco in Northern Brazil. It’s a fast-growing commercial city in the country. Although urban lifestyle is gaining popularity in this city, it still holds onto its cultural roots. Olinda, a historic UNESCO world heritage site, is just 6.3 miles (10.2km) away from Recife. Like its neighbor, Recife is also home to many historical landmarks. Some of the notable places include a 16th-century town center, Golden Chapel, 18th-century Churches, lighthouses, and more. Check out our list of top things to do in Recife.
Recife is a city of carnivals, busy shopping areas, and a colorful old town. This city gets its name after a reef that protects it. It also has many rivers, peninsulas, islets, and more than 50 bridges. Hence, it is popularly known as the “Brazillian Venice.” Another striking scenic beauty in Recife is it’s long-stretched Boa Viagem beach. It has the picturesque blue ocean on one side and the upbeat restaurants, resorts, and nightlife on the other. Recife is a lively city that celebrates art culture and nature.
Boa Viagem, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil
Relaxing by the beach is an ultimate pastime activity in Brazil. Boa Viegam in Recife is one such destination where you can unwind yourself. This long stretch of beach in Recife has many restaurants, bars, and shopping spaces that create an upmarket vibe. The calm and clear turquoise waters at Boa Viagem are the exact opposite of the busy life inshore. The rocky reefs protecting Boa Viegam, along with the shallow waters create pool-like structures that attract many families. Furthermore, the beachfront bars and nightclubs illuminate the whole beach and create a party vibe. Boa Viagem is the best place to experience nightlife in Recife.
Marco Zero Square
When speaking of the top things to do in Recife, the prominent spot that comes to everyone’s mind is the Marco Zero Square. Marco Zero Square is known as the real heart of Recife. This colorful shopping area is in the Recife Antigo quarter of the city. It is the ground zero from where all the distances of the Pernambuco region are calculated. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the reef and the sculpture park from the Marco Zero Square. You can also walk to the Handicraft Center of Pernambuco to shop for unique souvenirs to carry home. It is a perfect spot to enjoy an evening drink or click a picture with historic Recife buildings in the background.
Recife’s Old Town
After hitting the Marco Zero Square, explore Recife’s historic buildings on a walking tour. Check out the beautiful sculptures at the Parque das Esculturas Francisco Brennand that is on the other side of the pier. Be amazed by the modern musical museum honoring the famous Brazillian singer-composer Luiz Gonzaga. Another exciting place to visit is the Caixa Cultural Recife and its many exhibits about north-eastern Brazillian culture. Don’t forget to check out the Statue of Barão do Rio Branco, and the famous wind rose at the center of the ground-zero area.
The Portuguese colonizers founded Recife’s old town in the year 1537. It is home to many government buildings, the Recife port, and the oldest synagogue of the Americas. The best way to explore the pastel-shaded architectural wonders in this city is to go on a guided cultural and walking tour of Old Recife. You can also check out the several colorful old buildings that have taken the shape of modern bars and restaurants.
Instituto Ricardo Brennand
Instituto Ricardo Brennand is a cultural institution in Recife created by Brazillian collector Ricardo Brennand in 2002. This institution comprises of a large park, library, museum, and an art gallery. The institution is inside almost 20 acres (77,500 sq.m) of the Atlantic reserve forest. This museum holds a permanent collection of unique artifacts from the middle-ages till the 20th century. These artifacts are of considerable significance to the Dutch and Colonial periods in Brazil.
The art gallery holds the most extensive collection of the artworks of the Dutch-Golden-Era painter Frans Post. The museum also holds the world’s biggest collection of ordinances. It consists of more than 3,000 pieces passed during the period 14th to 19th century. The library, on the other hand, is home to more than 62,000 volumes of books from the middle ages. Instituto Ricardo Brennand is a very modern museum with a robust exterior that makes you feel like you’re entering a fort. Explore the rare works of Brasiliana with the help of a Ricardo Brennand Institute ticket.
Oficina Ceramica Francisco Brennand
Oficina Ceramica Fransico Brennand is a representation of timeless art and hard work by famous ceramic plaster artist, Francisco Brennand. This art gallery holds the old ruins of São João da Várzea ceramic works by Francisco Brennand’s father (1917). Honoring his father’s legacy, Fransico Brennand worked for 34 long years to create the sculpture complex designed from an old brick and tile factory. This workshop is a monumental architectural ensemble, built on the remains of the Atlantic Forests and the waters Capibaribe River. You will also be lucky to meet the man behind the spectacular creations in this place
To experience the whole vibe of this place, you can go on a half-day tour to Oficina Ceramica Francisco Brennand grounds, and explore its many art galleries, sculptures, and breathtaking tropical gardens.
Casa de Cultura
Pernambuco’s famous culture house situated in the 19th-century detention center buildings is a must-go spot in Recife. This culture house has more than 150 hand-craft stores in former cells that housed famous personalities like Paulo Cavalcanti, Antonio Silvino, Graciliano Ramos, Gregory Bezerra, and so on. There are also many book stores and eateries that will amaze you at Casa De Cultura. This culture house is a one-stop spot to experience the vibrant art, delicious local foods, history, and warm hospitality of the people of Recife.
This center attracts about 500 to 700 visitors every day. To experience this place like a local, you can explore this prison converted to artists’ market on a private city tour to Recife. Shop for souvenirs made of clay or ceramic, exclusive leather goods, terracotta, and wooden figures, curtains, blankets, key chains, fridge magnets, and more in this center. Notably, Casa De Cultura is the largest culture and art center in the Pernambuco region. It is popularly known as the “Fortress of Culture.”
The carnivals are one of the most important things to do in Recife that no traveler should miss. The annual Carnival celebrations happen during February. The carnival season is the best time to visit Recife. Although Brazillian carnivals are, in general, world-famous, this fiesta of Recife and Olinda is a rare sight to witness as the two cities excel by competing against one another. The Carnival of Recife attracts more than a million visitors every year. Also, the practice sessions start as early as two months in advance. Experience the best of native Indian and African maracatu in your veins as you enjoy the passionate frevo performances.
Party till the Sun goes down as you have another amazing spectate to experience at night. The drum beats get so intense until the stroke of midnight, that it makes you feel like you are in Africa. But, the minute clock hits twelve, the drum beats fall silent as a gesture of remembrance to the ancestors of the land. The stroke of midnight during the carnival is a magnificent moment of culture at Praca Terco, Recife. Following the silencing of drums is the prayer session where you will witness the entire crowd expressing their gratitude to God by lifting their hands.
Porto De Galinhas
Porto De Galinhas is a spectacular beach on the southern shores of the Pernambuco region. Porto De Galinhas is one of the top ten beaches in Brazil. It is also the best beach in the Pernambuco region. This beach offers a wide range of water activities and breath-taking turquoise ocean views. Porto De Galinhas is just 37 miles (60 km) away from Recife. You can plan a day tour to Porto De Galinhas from Recife and explore the many natural pools of this place. You can also take a quick boat ride to reach the pools and enjoy 40 minutes of snorkeling in the Atlantic waters. Furthermore, enjoy hours of shopping, eating, and hanging out at the port. Enjoy the delicious freshly caught seafood and other local specialties at Porto De Galinhas.
Tamandaré is an amazing coastal city that is just 66 miles (107km) away from the Pernambuco capital. This city is home to many beaches such as Tamandaré Beach, Pontal do Lira, Barra, dos Carneiros, and Campas. These beaches are known for their calm and clear waters that are suitable for various water sport activities. It is also notable that the Carneiros Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can also explore the 17th century Fort of Saint Ignatius near Tamandare Beach. Although there are many cabs and ride facilities available from Recife to Tamandare, none can match the comforts of a private transfer from Recife airport to Tamandare.
Olinda, the neighboring city of Recife, is the main attraction that brings a lot of tourism to Recife. This city itself is a museum of timeless history that is recorded as a UNESCO World Heritage city. This open-air living museum comprises of many colonial houses, pastel-colored historic buildings, and churches that you can explore from Recife. Learn about the origin of the lively Brazillian culture and explore the old stone buildings of Olinda. Some of the notable spots in this city are Olinda historic center, Alto Da Se, the monastery of St. Benedict, the convent of St. Fransisco, Carmo Church, and more. Although there are several things to do in Recife, your trip will not be complete without a visit to Olinda.
Just So You Know:
- Baobob Garden is a part of The Capibaribe Park that was developed by the city of Recife and INCITI for people to reconnect with nature. An African Baobob is called the “Tree of Life.”
- Recife Port is the first slave port in the Americas and was founded in 1537 by Dutch Colonizers.
- Recife hosted the 1950 FIFA world cup and 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
- This city is Brazil’s second-biggest medical hub (next to Sao Paulo) with state-of-the-art facilities. It offers treatment for several patients in Northern and North-Eastern Brazil.
- The city flag consists of a lion holding a cross, with the slogan “Virtus Et Fides,” meaning “Power of Faith.”
Where to Stay:
- ⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Enseada Boa Viagem is located at a walking distance (650m) from Boa Viagem beach. The rooms carry elegant decor featuring free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and an ensuite bathroom. The hotel also has a free parking facility.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Internacional Palace Hotel is a beachfront property offering spectacular sea views. You can also enjoy a relaxing dip in their outdoor swimming pool. You can enjoy delicious food and drinks at the on-site restaurant and bar. The rooms are spacious and amenity-rich.
- ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Hotel Atlante Plaza is a luxury hotel with a rooftop oceanfront pool and a sun terrace. This hotel also features a state-of-the-art fitness center. The restaurant on-site serves the best breakfast in town.
Get Some Culture:
- Rua do Bom Jesus Island is a significant cultural attraction located just a few minutes from the Marco Zero Square. This island is home to the famous Kahal Zur Synagogue, Praca Artur Oscar, and Malakoff Tower. You can witness free outdoor concerts happening on this Island during the weekends.
- Paço do Frevo museum aims at the preservation and transfer of knowledge about Recife’s dance and music form called Frevo to the future generations. You can learn the Frevo art form in this museum.
- Museu Cais do Sertao is a museum on the Port of Recife that was opened to honor the life, culture, and stories of the Sertanejo people. The former warehouses at Recife Port have taken the shape of a beautiful museum to celebrate the land’s culture.
Grab A Bite:
- Camarada Camaro is the best restaurant to enjoy delectable seafood in Recife. This restaurant carries a rustic and casual ocean-themed decor and serves the authentic tastes of Brazil.
- Recife and Olinda are famous for their delicious traditional foods. Go on a food tour to Olinda to enjoy the rich history of the city and its lip-smacking traditional Brazillian meal.