This sprawling city is known as the ‘Venice of Brazil’ on account of the canals and waterways which crisscross the city. As well as the historic old city of colonial buildings and churches, and a business district of high-rise office blocks and shopping malls, Recife boasts many fine beaches.
Recife a bustling city of commerce and culture in Brazil’s northeast which takes its name from the Portuguese word for reef, due to the city’s location behind a protective coral reef. Beach life is popular here but not as all pervading as it is in Rio. A melting pot of cultures, with indigenous people, early settlers and slaves all represented, has made Recife one of the best centres for folk art, music and dance in the country, and the annual Carnival is always a vibrant affair.
Besides the beaches, most sites of interest are located in or around the historic heart of the city. Despite restoration efforts many of the old churches and colonial buildings are in a state of sophisticated decay. Yet with its museums, cultural centres, public squares, bars and cafes oozing with music and folkloric interest, it remains a great place to explore.
Just four miles away is the traditional town of Olinda. Its baroque churches, mansions, gardens and fine colonial architecture have earned it the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
• Marco Zero (dock-side monument to mark the founding of the city in 1537)
• Rua Bom Jesus (street settled by Jewish businesses during Dutch rule)
• Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco and Capela Dourada (baroque church and chapel)
• Pátio de São Pedro (square lined with historic buildings)
• Museu do Homem do Nordeste (museum of regional history)
• Boa Viajem beach
Recife Convention & Visitors Bureau
Avenida Domingos Ferreira 4023 (also at Boa Viagem 51021-904), Recife, Brazil
Tel: +55 81332 88300.
There is a large shopping centre in Recife, which also houses ten cinemas and numerous restaurants. There are also several shops and markets in the city, selling traditional handicrafts, such as rugs, carved wood, ceramics and jewellery. The most popular are the Boa Viagem Arts and Crafts Fair, São José Market and Pernambuco Culture House.
Fresh coconut is available everywhere and many dishes come with a delicious coconut sauce. Fresh seafood and local fruits are popular, and grilled meats, including goat and beef dishes, are found in many restaurants.
When to go:
It is hot and dry in Recife for much of the year but there is respite thanks to sea breezes. There is a light rainy season from March to September. Carnival in February or March is the cultural highlight of the year.
1.8km (1.1 miles).