Olinda is a city in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco. It hosts one of Brazil's most famous carnivals and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its XVI and XVII-century buildings. Many bars, restaurants, artist and craftspeople studios add charm to the old-town setting.
Olinda is approximately 7km from the center of Recife, with plenty of local buses runnning in between. A taxi to/from the airport will cost some R$ 40.
The Historic Center is compact and can be explored on foot.
Olinda's beautiful scenery and architecture make for a pleasant sightseeing all around.
Colonial architecture, belvederes and the blue sea paint a relaxed environment that is second to none among Brazilian traditional cities.
- Churches - Mosteiro de São Bento (1582) and Convento de São Francisco (1585) are very important buildings of baroque Brazil.
- Church of Alto da Se. Central square. Also known as Church of São Salvador do Mundo, this was the first church built in Brazil. It was built in 1540 and was briefly a protestant church during the Dutch occupation in the 17th century. Mo-Fr, 8AM-5PM. Free entrance.
Olinda is all for the eyes
it's not tangible, it's all desire.
No one says, "That's where I live."
They just say, "That's where I see."
-- Celebrated Brazilian poet Carlos Pena Filho,
in his poem Olinda.
- Museum of Sacred Art, 726, Rua Bispo Coutinho. Former house of the senate, nowadays is a rich exhibition of religious art with pieces dating back to the 16th century. From Tue-Mon, 8AM-6PM. R$ 1.00.
- Museum of Contemporary Art of Pernambuco, Rua 13 de Maio, Carmo. Phone (81) 3429-2587. Open Tuesday to Friday, from 8:30am to 12:30pm; Saturdays from 9am until noon; Sundays from 2 to 5pm. Entry: R$ 1,00
- Museum of Olinda, 128, Rua do Amparo. Displays colonial furniture and pictures. Free entrance.
- Museu do Mamelungo
The beach in Olinda proper is polluted. Local buses take you north to Pau Amarelo and Maria Farinha.
- Belvedere Alto da Se, located at the yard of Church of Alto da Se. To the east, one can see the Atlantic Ocean; to the west, the urban scenery.
- Rua do Amparo - restaurants, museums, hotels and art studios.
- Serenades - groups of singers and musicians play old traditional songs through the city streets on Friday evenings.
Outside of carnival season, Olinda boasts a lively culture, featuring mostly forró and maracatú in the clubs and town squares, as well as year-round, Saturday night serenades.
Quite different from those of Rio and Salvador this is a lively street party, where blocos parade accompanied by frevo and maracatu music. There is a certain activity during the weeks before (and some after), but the party itself explodes on the official dates, from Friday evening until Wednesday morning. Its most famous representative are the giant dolls carried on the shoulders of the people. The parties are non-stop, 24 hours, but the bulk of the crowd fills the streets daytime. When looking for accommodation, bear in mind that the most central streets get very noisy.
- Local crafts and artwork. Be wary of making your purchases in or near Alto da Sé, as prices there tend to be inflated due to the constant flow of tourists. The Mercado da Ribeira houses a variety of shops.
- Musical instruments, such as those used in maracatu and forró.
- Sargação, near Praça do Carmo near the beachfront, serves sandwiches and burgers until the late night hours.
- Alto da Sé hosts a variety of food vendors, with a lively environment in the early evening.
- Mourisco, Praça João Alfredo, offers self service at a reasonable price.
- If you wish o splurge, Oficina do Sabor, Rua do Amparo 335, offers a privileged view of Recife.
Olinda's prefeitura (mayor's office) publishes a monthly nightlife guide, available in tourist offices and hotels.
- Mercado Eufrasio Barbosa often hosts cultural presentations and live music shows.
- Xinxim da Bahiana (Avenida Sigismundo Gonçalves, near Praça do Carmo) hosts live bands and DJs throughout the week. Especially interesting are forró on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
- Every other Saturday, the neighborhood of Amparo (adjacent to the Historic Center), hosts a street party featuring the local rhythm of samba de coco.
- Casa da Rabeca do Brasil (Rua Curupira, 125), in Cidade Tabajara(outside of town, accessibel by bus or taxi), hosts a forró party every Saturday night.
- Maracatu nations often hold open rehearsals throughout the year.
Olinda has a wide range of options when it comes to lodging. Reservations could be wise in January and February. During carnival prices triple (literally!!!) and you will have to pay for the five nights from Friday to Wednesday no matter what. Private rooms (R$ 500-1000/5 nights) and apartments/houses (R$800 and up) are mostly cheaper, but standards vary greatly, and they are hard to book ahead. If you arrive on Thursday, there is still time.
- Albergue de Olinda, 333, Rua do Sol, +55 81 34291592. Dorm bed R$ 35, doubles R$ 80.
- Pousada Alquimia, Rua Prudente de Morais 292, ☎ +55 (81) 34291457. Charming pousada with a bit worn, but very clean rooms. Excellent location close to the main square! The owner, Djair, is a very friendly sailor-like guy who makes a great breakfast (included). Small book-exchange (a few non-portuguese) and cool decorations. Double with bathroom R$80.
- Pousada d'Olinda, 128, Praça Conselheiro João Alfredo, +55 81 34391163. Dorm bed R$ 25, doubles R$ 80.
- Pousada dos Quatro Cantos, 441, Rua Prudente de Moraes, +55 81 34290220.
- Casa do Hilton, Rua do Sol, 77.
- Pousada do Fortim, Rua do Sol, 151.
- Hotel Sete Colinas, 307, Ladeira de São Francisco, 055 81 34396055.  
- Visit Recife, only 7km away, worth a visit.
- Take a local bus to Igarassú and visit the oldest church in Brazil.
- Take a bus through Igarassú to Ilha de Itamaracá. There are beautiful beaches, as well as the Centor Cultural de Lia, a cultural center that specializes in the local rhythm called ciranda. If in Itamaracá, do not miss the famous Coroa do Avião (a small, beautiful, sandy island), the IBAMA Centro Peixe Boi (a center for the preservation of the sea cow) and the Forte Orange (a 17th century Dutch fortress).
- Local buses also make the trip to beaches north of Olinda, including Pau Amarelo and Maria Farinha.