Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, is one of the largest and most important cities on the northeastern coast of Brazil. This lively capital, originally founded by Dutch colonizers, is brimming with a vibrant culture, an interesting old town (which includes the oldest synagogue in the Americas) and some nice beaches.
Recife is on the Atlantic coast, at the mouth of the Capibaribe, Beberibe and Jordão Rivers, close to the eastern most point of the Americas. The climate is tropical, with two main seasons: dry (September-March) and rainy (April-August). Average annual temperature is 78.8°F, with limited variation. The city, which is only two meters above sea level (some parts are below), is distributed across rivers, canals and islands. Due to the prevalence of waterways in its geography, Recife is known as Veneza Brasileira (Brazilian Venice). Its 1.5 million inhabitants (3.5 million in the Grande Recife) are called recifenses. Services are the base of the economy. Despite the high incidence of poverty, the municipal Human Development Index (HDI) in 2000 (0.810) was above Brazil's national average (0.800). Recife is famous for its beaches, history, Carnaval, arts and cuisine.
The city can be roughly divided in four major areas:
The Centro (Center) is composed of the neighborhoods of Recife Antigo (Old Recife), Santo Antônio, São José, Santo Amaro and Boa Vista, which are scattered through a couple of islands and part of the mainland. They are connected to each other by a series of bridges over the Capibaribe River. The Centro contains most of the historic and government buildings in the city. The port, located in Recife Antigo, was once the most active in all of the Americas.
Zona Sul (South Zone) is the most modern and touristic part of the city, as it was built around the beautiful natural reef beaches that gave the city its name (recife is Portuguese for reef). This area has a great many hotels, restaurants, and bars, as well as the airport and the largest shopping mall. Its most important neighborhood is Boa Viagem, set along the beautiful Boa Viagem beach. Because of the beach and the skyline Boa Viagem is also called the Copacabana of the North East.
Zona Oeste (West Zone) is by far the greenest part of the city. It contains remnants of the Atlantic Forest that once covered most of the Brazilian eastern coast. It contains two famous museums (Instituto Ricardo Brennand and Museu-Oficina Francisco Brennand), as well as the Federal University of Pernambuco, and the Recife Military school (2nd best school around all Brazil).
Zona Norte (North Zone) is mostly a residential area. Throughout the centuries, the neighborhoods along the Capibaribe River were home to the local aristocracy. It contains the city's best schools and hospitals, and is also famous for its parks and bars.
The term Grande Recife is used to describe the Metropolitan Region of Recife, the fifth largest urban agglomeration in Brazil (after Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeio Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre) and the single largest in the Northeast. Grande Recife offers superb touristic attractions both in Recife proper and outside the city limits. Do not miss Olinda or Porto de Galinhas. The first is famous for its natural setting, colonial architecture and carnaval, while the second has been consistently voted the best beach in Brazil. Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Itamaracá Island and Igarassu are known for their beautiful beaches and important historical monuments.
Recife Guararapes-Gilberto Freyre International Airport
Domestic airlines operating regular scheduled flights to Recife: Azul , Avianca Brasil, GOL , Noar , Pantanal , TAM , TRIP , VARIG  and WebJet .
From the airport
MetroRec Subway has an Aeroporto stop on its southern line which will take you directly downtown.
Bus 033 (Aeroporto) goes every 20 minutes to Boa Viagem (15 min) and to the coty center (Av. Dantas Barreto, 30 min). You can also take the Aeroporto opcional which is a little bit faster. Stop in front of the airport building.
Bus 152 (Jordao Baixo) via Boa Viagem, Bus 153 (Jordao Alto), Bus 161 (Brigadeiro Ivo Borges) and Bus 163 (Cajueiro Seco) also go to the city center. Stop on the other side of the street opposite the airport building.
Taxis from the airport to Boa Viagem cost about R$10, to the city center R$20 to 25 and to Olinda R$ 40 (2011), airport taxis are more expensive.
Terminal Integrado de Passageiros (TIP), Rod BR 232 - Coqueiral, ☎ 81 3452-1999. Recife's long-distance bus terminal is way out in the suburbs. TIP is connected to the city by the MetroRec subway at the Rodoviária station on the Centro 1 line, around 15 minutes from downtown. Bus companies have booths at the Central MetroRec station in town, so at least you do not have to trek out just to buy advance bus tickets.
Direct buses to all Northeast and many other capital cities:
To Fortaleza by Guanabara[ ], R$ 120-250, 12 hours.
You can arrive in cruise ships at the Port of Recife . Cruises may come from other Brazilian states, from other countries in South America and the Caribbean, or from Europe. Transatlantic cruise liners include Holland America Line ms Rotterdam , Holland America Line ms Prisendam , Oceania Cruises Insignia , SeaDream Yacht Club , Royal Caribbean International Splendour of the Sea , P&O Cruises Artemis , Cunard Line Queen Elizabeth II, among others. Cruises from Recife to the Fernando de Noronha archipelago are also available.
Taxi is the best bet. Look for registered taxi companies which charge standard rates. Ask for a car with air conditioning (especially in the summer).
Coopetáxi, ☎ 813224-8441
Disk Táxi, ☎ 81 3224-5410
Ligue Táxi, ☎ 81 3228-6830
RádioTáxi Recife, ☎ 81 3222-6580
Recife Táxi, ☎ 81 3424-3020
TeleTáxi, ☎ 81 2121-4242
Buses are the most useful form of mass transportation. The Sistema Estrutural Integrado (Integrated Structural System) , known as SEI, has 119 bus lines which are integrated with the subway system at 13 points through out the metropolitan area.
MetroRec, Recife's subway system, is the third largest in Brazil, although it still covers only limited areas of the city. 13 of the 28 stations have connections to the SEI metro bus system and, depending on your destination, it may be possible to purchase a single combination subway/bus ticket. MetroRec has three basic lines:
Two Central lines run together from downtown to the west, where they split after Coqueiral station and go to Jaboatão dos Guararapes and Camaragibe respectively. It does provide a useful link between the city center and the TIP Bus Station in the outskirts, at the penultimate stop on the Camaragibe (Centro 1) line.
A new South line provides direct access to the airport and Shopping Center Recife on its way to Cajueiro Seco.
Recife is known for its amazing beaches.
Boa Viagem Beach - Probably one of the world's best urban beaches, with pristine white sands. With 8km of hotels and restaurants, it is the longest urbanized stretch of beach in Brazil. If you want a tan, you came to the right place. The beach road has a wide walkway attached and this is dotted with huts selling food and drink. Try the traditional "água de coco" (coconut water). The beach itself is full of vendors selling food and drink. There are also vendors selling t-shirts, hats, suncream, sunglasses. These guys can get a bit insistent. Simply smile and one word will have them on their way: não (pronounced "now.") The beach is somewhat protected by a coral reef wall visible at low tide, making it good for a swim, but don't go out past the wall, as the waters are more dangerous, with sharks reported in the area.
Brasilia Teimosa Beach - A smaller and less frequented beach near the port.
Pina Beach - A well-developed and popular beach south of Boa Viagem Beach. It's a little more relaxed, with weak waves.
Convento Franciscano de Santo Antônio (Franciscan Convent of Saint Anthony), Rua Imperador Pedro II, Santo Antônio, (Centro), . Mon to Fri 8 to 11.30am, 2 to 5pm, Sat 8 to 11.30am. One of the city's biggest attractions, a convent containing the ostentatious Capela Dourada (Golden Chapel), which certainly lives up to its name. Built in 1588, it is one of the most beautiful baroque churches in Brazil. Altar with gold-covered engravings, beautiful paintings on the ceiling and impressive amount of Portuguese-style tiled panels. This is one of the main sights in Recife. The interior of Jacaranda and ceder wood is completely covered with gold. You will find similar churches full of splendour only in Salvador da Bahia or Ouro Preto. The convent also houses the Museu Franciscano de Arte Sagrada (Franciscan Museum of Sacred Art).R$2.
Madre de Deus (Mother of God), Rua Madre de Deus, Recife Antigo (Centro) (next-door to the Paço Alfândega Shopping Mall), ☎ 81 3224 5587. Tue-Fri 8AM-noon and 2PM-5PM, Sat-Sun 9AM-noon.
Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Carmel Basilica and Convent), Avenida Dantas Barreto - Santo Antônio (Centro), . Mon-Fri 7AM-7PM, Sat 7AM-noon, Sun 8AM-noon and 6PM-9PM. Built between 1710-1767, where the Boa Vista Palace built by the Dutch governor of Northeastern Brazil once stood. A religious art collection can also be visited. Baroque in style; altar with gold engravings and crowns of gold and precious stones. One of the rooms is covered with Portuguese tiles.
Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao dos Militares (Our Lady of the Conception of the Military), Rua Nova, 309, Santo Antônio (Centro), ☎ 81 3224 3106, . Built in 1726. The 1781 ceiling paintings depict the Guararapes Battle against the Dutch. Leaders from the Praieira Revolution and the Paraguay War are burried in the church. The church also houses the Museu de Arte Sacra Padre Roberto Barbalho (Father Roberto Barbalho Museum of Sacred Art).
Nossa Senhora do Pilar, Praça Monsenhor João Castilho Barbosa, (Centro), ☎ 31 3551 4736. Constructed in 1680.
Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Homens Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men), Rua Estreita do Rosário, Santo Antônio (Centro). Mon-Fri 9AM-1:30PM and 2:30PM-6PM, Sat 8AM-noon. Erected by African-Brazilian slaves in the 17th century. Main wooden altar engraved in gold; lateral altars display images from the 18th century.
Santa Cruz (Holy Cross), Pátio de Santa Cruz, Boa Vista (Centro). Built between 1725 and 1732. Parts of the movie Lisbela e o Prisioneiro (2003) were shot in the square in front of the church.
Santíssimo Sacramento - Matriz de Santo Antônio (Holy Sacrament - Saint Anthony Mother Church), Praça da Independência - Santo Antônio (Centro). Daily 7AM-noon and 2PM-6PM. Built between 1753 and 1790, the church is in manueline/baroque style. Interior decorated with enormous crystal chandelier and images of Saint Anthony and Saint Sebastian.
São Pedro dos Clérigos (Saint Peter of Clerics Cathedral), Pátio de Sao José - Centro, . Built between 1728 and 1782, the cathedral is in the charming Saint Peter Square, surrounded by colorful colonial buildings. It is a replica of the Santa Maria Maggiore Sanctuary in Rome. Rosewood altar; pulpit engraved in gold; wooden ceiling sculpted with images of Saint Peter, the twelve apostles and the evangelists. Blend of baroque art, 16th century mannerism, as well as rococo and neoclassic elements.
Museums (Historic Interest)
Historic buildings at Marco Zero Square in Recife Antigo
Instituto Ricardo Brennand
Brum Fortress (17th century). Source: Cultural Foundation of the Brazilian Army
Brum Fortress (17th century). Source: Cultural Foundation of the Brazilian Army
Abolition Museum (Museu da Abolição), Rua Benfica, 1150 - Madalena (Zona Norte), . Museum that covers the period of slavery and the abolitionist movement in XIX century Brazil. Former plantation house. Former residence of Counsellor Joao Alfredo, leader of Brazil's abolitionist movement in the 19th century.
Casa Manuel Bandeira/Espaço Pasárgada, Rua da União, 26 - Boa Vista (Centro) (next door to Joaquim Nabuco Palace and Pernambucan School), ☎ 81 3231-3994, . Mon-Fri 8AM-6PM. House were the acclaimed poet Manuel Bandeira spent his childhood.
Casa-Museu Gilberto Freyre, Rua Jorge Tasso Neto - Apipucos (Zona Norte), ☎ 81 3441-1733, . Mon-Fri 9AM-4:30PM. Beautiful house where once lived Brazil's greatest sociologist, Gilberto Freyre.
Military Museum (Museu Militar), Praça da Comunidade Luso-Brasileira - Recife Antigo (Centro) (at the Brum Fortress).
Museum of the Archeological, Historic and Geographic Insitute of Pernambuco (Museu do Instituto Arqueológico, Histórico e Geográfico de Pernambuco), Rua do Hospício , 130 - Boa Vista (Centro), ☎ 81 3222-4952. Mon-Fri 1PM-5PM, Sat 8AM-noon.
Museum of Archeology of the Catholic University of Pernambuco (Museu de Arqueologia da Universidade Católica de Pernambuco), Rua do Príncipe, 526, Bl G, 1° Andar - Boa vista (Centro), ☎ 81 3216-4192, . Archeological museum focused on indigenous artifacts. Located at the Catholic University of Pernambuco.
Museum of Natural History Louis Jacques Viget (Museu de História Natural Louis Jacques Brunet), Rua da Aurora - Boa Vista (Centro), ☎ 81 3303-5315. Created in 1861, it is one of the first natural history museums in Latin America. Located at Ginásio Pernambucano. Collection spans archeology, botany, geology and zoology.
Museum of the Northeastern Man (Museu do Homem do Nordeste), Avenida 17 de Agosto, 2187, Casa Forte (Zona Norte), ☎ 3441-5500, . Part of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco. This fantastic museum depicts the various folk arts, traditions, and history of Northeast Brazil. The displays are divided among three sections, focusing on sugar, folk arts, and anthropology. It's located in the suburbs, but well worth the ride out.
Museum of the State of Pernambuco (Museu do Estado de Pernambuco), Avenida Rui Barbosa, 960 - Graças (Zona Norte), . Tue-Fri 10AM-5PM, Sat-Sun 2PM-5PM.
Recife City Museum (Museu da Cidade do Recife), Forte das Cinco Pontas - São José (Centro), ☎ 81 3224-8492. Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM, Sat-Sun 1PM-5PM. Located inside the 17th-century Cinco Pontas Fortress.
Ricardo Brennand Institute, Alameda Antônio Brennand - Várzea (Zona Oeste), ☎ 81 2121 0352, . Tue-Sun 1PM-5PM. Holds a very impressive collection of Brazilian and European historical artifacts from the 15th to 19th centuries. Special attention given to the period of Dutch occupation in Recife and Northeastern Brazil.
Train Museum (Museu do Trêm), Praça Visconde de Mauá - São José (Centro) (in the central station, Estação Central), ☎ 81 3224-4620. Mon-Thu 1PM-6PM, Fri 8AM-noon. The Train Museum is in the old Central Train Station, which now also serves as the central station for MetroREC, Recife's subway system.
Value Museum (Museu de Valores), Rua da Aurora, 1259 - Santo Amaro (Centro), ☎ 0800-992-345, . Mon-Fri 9AM-4PM. Museum of by the local representation of the Central Bank of Brazil. Holds more than 7,000 historic coins from Brazil and abroad, historic maps and artifacts found during excavations at Fort Orange, in nearby Itamaracá Island.
Museums (Art & Folklore)
Aluísio Magalhães Modern Art Museum (Museu de Arte Moderna Aluísio Magalhães - MAMAM), Rua da Aurora, 265 - Boa Vista, ☎ 81 3232 2188, . Tue-Sun noon-6PM.
Casa do Carnaval, Pátio de São Pedro, 52 - São José (Centro), ☎ 81 3224 1103, . Mon-Fri 9AM-5:30PM.
MAMAM at the Courtyard (MAMAM no Pátio), Pátio de São Pedro, 17 - São José (Centro), ☎ 81 3232 2844. Unit of the Aloísio Magalhães Modern Art Museum (MAMAM) at the São Pedro Courtyard. Experimental space for visual arts and critical reflection concerning contemporary development in these arts. Short term exhibitions, performance art, workshops, debates.
Museu de Arte Popular, Pátio de São Pedro, 11 - São José (Centro).
Museu de Arte Sacra Padre Roberto Barbalho, Rua Nova, 309 - Santo Antônio (Centro), ☎ 81 3224 3106. Located at Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao dos Militares Church, the museum contains religious artifacts.
Museu Franciscano de Arte Sacra, Rua Imperador Pedro II - Santo Antônio (Centro) (at Santo Antônio de Sao Francisco Convent).
Museu Murillo La Greca, Rua Leonardo Bezerra Cavalcanti, 366 - Parnamirim (Zona Norte), ☎ 81 3232 4276, . Mon-Fri, 9AM-5PM. More than 1,400 drawings and 160 paintings by paintor Murillo La Greca.
Museu-Oficina Francisco Brennand, Propriedade Santos Cosme e Damião - Cordeiro (Zona Oeste) (near Avenida Caxangá and Rua Gastão Vidigal), . Great ceramic art in a bucolic area of the city surrounded by forest.
Parque das Escultura, (take a canoe ride from Praça do Marco Zero, in Recife Antigo (Centro). Alternatively, drive through Brasília Teimosa (Zona Sul)). A sculpture park on the reefs of the port of Recife. Contains more than 90 sculptures by Francisco Brennand, including a 30 meter high tower.
Pernambuco Image and Sound Museum (Museu da Imagem e do Som de Pernambuco - MISPE), Rua da Aurora - Boa Vista, ☎ 81 3231 2716, . Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM, Sat-Sun 1PM-5PM. Holds more than 6,000 pieces, including movies, records, photographs, postcards and the like. Uses modern audivisual techniques to document Pernambuco's culture.
Other Historic Buildings
Benfica Cultural Center (Centro Cultural Benfica), Rua Benfica, 157, Madalena (Zona Norte), ☎ 81 3227 0657, . Mon-Fri, 9AM-noon and 2PM-5PM. The center specializes in the "Armorial" Movement and also holds a significant portion of the pieces from the old Fine Arts School.
Joaquim Nabuco House, Rua da Imperatriz, 147 - Santo Antônio (Centro). House were 19th century politician, abolitionist and author Joaquim Nabuco was born.
Joaquim Nabuco Palace (Assembléia Legislativa do Estado de Pernambuco), Rua da União, 439 - Boa Vista (Centro), ☎ 81 3217 2211, . Seat of the Pernambuco State Legislature, built in 1874. A historical documents collection can be visited in the annex building.
Justice Palace (Palácio da Justiça), Praça da República - Santo Antônio (Centro), ☎ 81 3419 3311, . Seat of the Pernambuco State Judiciary, built in 1930.
Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, Rua do Bom Jesus - Recife Antigo. Built in and used by some of the thousands of Sephardic Jews who immigrated here during the brief period Dutch domination between 1630 and 1657. The oldest synagogue in the Americas.
Malakoff Tower Cultural Obseratory (Torre Malakoff), Rua do Observatório, Recife Antigo (Centro), ☎ 81 3424 8704, . Tue-Fri 10AM-8PM, Sat 2PM-8PM, Sun 2PM-7PM. Built in 1853. Beautiful tower in the port front. Functions as an astronomic observatory and arts and science center.
Parque Theater (Teatro do Parque), Rua do Hospício, 81 - Boa Vista (Centro), ☎ 81 3423 6044. Constructed in 1915, Parque Theater is one of the three oldest, historic theaters in Recife. Modern and traditional plays from Spanish and Portuguese playwrights of the 17th-21st centuries are performed at the theater. Next door is the Cineteatro do Parque, Recife's oldest cinemas. Because Recife's municipal government, tickets are subsidized and cost only pennies!
Pernambucan School (Ginásio Pernambucano), Rua da Aurora, 703, Boa Vista, (Centro) (next door to the State Assembly and Manuel Bandeira's House). Built in the second quarter of the 19th century, it is one of Brazil's oldest secondary schools. The school's Louis Jacques Brunet Natural History Museum was one of the first in Latin America. Father Carapuceiro, Barbosa Lima Sobrinho, Epitácio Pessoa and Ariano Suassuna were either teachers or students here. The school was visited by Emperor Dom Pedro II.
Portuguese Reading Room (Gabinete Português de Leitura), Rua do Imperador, 290 - Santo Antônio (Centro), ☎ 81 3224 2593, . Mon-Fri 8AM-noon and 1PM-5PM. Built in 1850.
Princesses' Field Palace (Palácio do Campo das Princesas), Praça da República - Santo Antônio (Centro), ☎ 81 3425 2124, . The state governor's Palace, built in 1841. The name of the building derives from the fact that the daughters of Emperor Dom Pedro II used to play in the palace's gardens.
Pernambucan Academy of Letters (Academia Pernambucana de Letras), Av. Rui Barbosa, 1586, Graças (Zona Norte), . Constructed in 1870.
Santa Isabel Theater (Teatro Santa Isabel), Praça da República - Santo Antônio (Centro), . One of Brazil's finest theaters. Built in 1850.
Parque 13 de Maio (May 13th Park), Praça Dr.Adolfo Cirne - Boa Vista. The largest green area in central Recife, with playground equipment, a petting zoo, and illuminated fountains. 24-hour security.Free.
Parque Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Park), Praça Farias Neves, no number - Dois Irmãos, ☎ 81 3183 5539. (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Tue-Sun 8AM-4PM. A zoo and botanical garden park, with 387 hectares of Atlantic Forest and 14 hectares of botanical gardens. The zoo has around 800 types of animals. The grounds also hold the Natural Science Museum and a number of ecological trails.R$2.
Parque da Jaqueira (Jaqueira Park), Av. Rui Barbosa - Jaqueira. This park is popular for jogging. It also has bicycle trails, plus live music on Sundays.Free.
Maracatu Rehearsals (ensaios de maracatu). Some of the most traditional maracatu groups include: Leão Coroado (since 1863), Estrela Brilhante do Recife (since 1909), Porto Rico (since 1916), Cambinda Estrela do Recife (since 1935), and Elefante, among others.
Catamaran Rides in the Capibaribe River (Catamaran Tours, Cais das Cinco Pontas), Avenida Sul, São José (Centro), ☎ 3424-2845 or 9973-4077, . 4pm and 8pm daily. Tour lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes.RS30.
Agenda de Eventos do Recife . Daily, 4PM and 8PM. Tour last 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Scuba-diving at shipwreck park [ off the coast of Recife. Recife is known as Brazil's shipwreck capital: more than 100 ships have sunk in the coast around the city, 15 of which are accessible to tourists. Together with the natural coral reefs, they make the coast of Recife a perfect spot for scuba-diving, .
Volleyball and footvolley at Boa Viagem beach. The latter was first developed into a sport in the sands of Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s.
Panorama flight (NVO Táxi Aéreo, Aeroclube de Pernambuco), ☎ 3325 0191, . R$150 to 300.
Recife is the third largest theater production center in Brazil, after Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The most traditional theater is Teatro Santa Isabel, while the most modern is the one at Convention Center of the Federal University of Pernambuco.
Santa Isabel Theater. Praça da República, Santo Antônio (Centro), .
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco Theater. UFPE Campus, Cidade Universitária (Zona Oeste), .
Valdemar de Oliveira Theater. Praça Oswaldo Cruz, 412, Boa Vista (Centro), tel.: +55 81 3222-1284.
Cine Rosa e Silva. Executive Trade Center, Avenida Rosa e Silva, 1460, Aflitos, Zona Norte; tel.: +55 81 3243-8255, .
Cineteatro José Carlos Cavalvante Borges (Cine FUNDAJ), Rua Henrique Dias, 609, Derby (Zona Norte), tel.: +55 81 3421-3266, .
Soccer teams from Recife participate in the A-Series (First Division) Brazilian Championship, the Brazil Cup, Pernambucan Championship, and the Copa Libertadores da América.
The three most traditional teams are Clube Nautico Capibaribe (home: Aflitos Stadium); Sport Clube do Recife (home: Ilha do Retiro Stadium); and Santa Cruz Futebol Clube (home: Arruda Stadium). Nautico and Sport are currently in the A-Series Brazilian Champsionship. Santa Cruz is in the C-Series.
Recife is home to internationally famous soccer players including Juninho Pernambucano, Rivaldo, Ricardo Rocha and Vavá.
The city of Recife is home to some of Brazil's top roller hockey teams: Clube Portugues do Recife, Clube Nautico Capibaribe, Sport Clube do Recife and Associacão Amigos do Minho do Recife. Both Clube Portugues and Sport have been national champions.
Recife's Carnaval is one of the country's busiest. Very different from its carioca counterpart, in Recife street shows and parades play contagious rhythms like frevo and maracatu, attracting more than 1.6 million people to celebrate and dance on the streets every year. Apart from frevo and maracatu, two other cultural manifestations that are typical of Pernambucan Carnaval include bumba-meu-boi and caboclinho.
Abril Pro Rock, . Every April. Two-day rock music festival.
Festival de São João, . June. Yearly celebration of nordestino culture, with loads of traditional music and food.
Casa de Cultura, Rue Floriano Peixoto, Santo Antonio (opposite the old Central Train Station (now Train Museum)), . mon to Sat 9am to 7pm, Sun 9am to 2pm. Once the city prison, it is now a warren of small shops (one in each cell) selling regional arts and crafts.
Domingo na Rua, Rua Bom Jesus. Sun 2 to 10pm. Sunday market
Mercado de Sao José (Sao José Market), 1871 project of architect J. Louis Liethier and engineer Louis Léger Vauthier. Iron structure was inspired in the Grenelle Market in Paris, France. Historically, the market played an important role as a meeting place for street magicians, musicians, acrobats and the like. You can still find traditional handicrafts, regional food, medicinal herbs and Cordel Literature.
Paço Alfândega, Rua de Alfandega 35, Recife Antigo, . Mon to Sat 10am to 10pm, Sun noon-8pm. A visit to Paço Alfândega is highly recommended. Paço Alfândega (Customs' Palace in Portuguese) is a comfortable, modern shopping mall set in the renovated structure of a colonial customs house building from the early 1700s, during which Recife was the largest port in the Americas. There is a permanent historic exhibition on the history of Recife and the customs building. The mall also houses one of Recife's main nightclubs and some good restaurants. You can have a good view of the Capibaribe River and its bridges from the main terrace. Next door, you can visit the wonderful Livraria Cultura bookstore.
Plaza Casa Forte, Rua Dr. João Santos Filho, 255 - Casa Forte, ☎ 81 3265 8100, . Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 12-8PM. Western-style shopping mall.
Shopping Boa Vista, Rua do Giriquiti, 48 - Boa Vista, ☎ 81 3423 5666, . Mon-Sat 9AM-9PM, Sun 11AM-7PM.
Shopping Center Guararapes, Av. Barreto de Menezes, 800 - Piedade, ☎ 81 2122 2211, . Mon-Sat 9AM-10PM, Sun 12-8PM.
Shopping Center Recife, R. Pe. Carapuceiro, 777 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3464 6000, . Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 12-9PM. Among the largest shopping malls in Brazil.
Shopping Center Tacaruna, Av. Gov. Agamenon Magalhães 153 - Santo Amaro, ☎ 81 3412 6000, . Mon-Sat 9AM-10PM, Sun 12-8PM.
Pernambuco has a multicultural gastronomy with African and indigenous influences, among others. The national dish Feijoada (a stew of beans, pork and beef, served with rice and Farofa) is not very popular in Recife.
On the other hand some ingredients which are widely used in Recife are hardly found in the South of Brazil, as manioc flour (which is the main ingredient of tapioca), cuscuz (corn flour). pumpkin, jerked beef, goat or lamb. Seafood is exotic and delicious. The regional food has some peculiarities like Carne de Sol and buchada, a dish prepared with the stomach of billy goat.
Recife is the birthplace of two traditional and delicious cakes Bolo de Rolo and Bolo Sousa Leão.
Do try the snacks on offer from beach vendors---little chicken and beef kebabs, oysters, prawns, and grilled cheese. Just be aware that some of the vendors may have been carrying them around for hours--if it doesn't look fresh, it probably isn't.
A must try is Caldinho: a soup served all over the place (restaurants, dedicated carts and people with flasks selling it on the beach). Comes in a variety of flavors from black bean to shrimp. The person selling it will say "completa" when you order it. This simply means "complete", and if you say yes at this point you get a few added extras, such as a small boiled egg put into the cup of hot soup.
Recife is the gastronomic capital of the Northeast. There are more high-quality restaurants here than in any other city in Brazil north of Rio de Janeiro.
Chica Pitanga, Rua Petrolina, 19 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 91 3465 2224. Mon-Fri 11:30AM-3:30PM and 6-10PM, Sat 11:30AM-4PM and 6-10PM, Sun 11:30AM-4PM. Per-kilo restaurant with regional foods.
Creperia Anjo Solto, (Galeria Joana D'Arc, shop 14). Wed-Thu 7PM-4AM, Fri-Sat 9PM-4AM, Sun 7PM-1AM. Crepes both savory and sweet, plus drinks. Note the very late hours.
Bargaço, Avenida Boa Viagem, 670, Boa Viagem, ☎ 3465-1847, . Sun to Thu noon to midnight, Fri to Sat noon to 1am. Bargaço is considered the best fish and seafood restaurant in Recife. A typical speciality of the restaurant is the moqueca, pieces of fish or shrimp stewed with vegetables and coconut milk.
Boi Preto Grill, Av. Boa Viagem 97 - Pina, ☎ 81 3466 6334, .
Buraco da Otília, Rua da Aurora, 1231, ☎ 3231-1528. A traditional restaurant. Specialty is galinha a cabidela (chicken boiled in its own blood) which is a very common dish in Recife.
Carne-de-Sol do Cunha, Rua Rigueira Costa, 80 - Rosarinho (Zona Norte), ☎ 81 3241 6512. A local favorite. It offers traditional Pernambucan food, such as buchada, as well as other regional dishes. Large portions for the price.
Parraxaxá, Rua Baltazar Pereira, 32 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3463 7874, . This Northeast-themed restaurant offers all the traditional regional cuisine. The staff are dressed as either police or outlaws. With its festive decor, the restaurant is a fun way to enjoy a meal.Famous for it´s "Pernambuco Breakfast" (Café da manhã pernambucano). Some young people go there for breakfast after a night out.
Porcão, Avenida Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira, 4215, Boa Viagem, ☎ 3465-3999, . Sun, Tue to Thu noon to 0:30am; Fri to Sat: noon until the last client leaves, Mon closed. Porcão is referred to as the best churrasco restaurant in Recife. It has branches in Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Belo Horizonte and Miami and offers pick up service from major hotels in Recife
Quina do Futuro, Rua Xavier Marques, 134 - Aflitos (at the corner with Rua do Futuro), ☎ 81 3241 9589. Japanese cuisine.
Recanto do Picuí, Praca do Derby, 253, ☎ 3423-5188. The specialty of Recanto do Picuí is jerked beef, Recife style.
Tio Pepe, Rua Almirante Tamandaré 170 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3341 7153. Tue-Sat 11:30AM-11:30PM, Sun 11:30AM-4PM.
Assucar, Rua da Alfândega, 35 - Recife Antigo (Paço Alfândega Shopping Mall, 4th floor), ☎ 81 3419 7582. Gorgeous views of the Capibaribe River. The menu is filled with classic and contemporary northeastern cuisine.
Leite, Praça Joaquim Nabuco, 147, Santo Antônio, ☎ 3224-7977, . Sun - Fri: 11:30am-4pm. Open since 1882, it is Recife's most traditional Portuguese restaurant. The restaurant was named after its founder, Armando Manoel Leite da França, a Portuguese immigrant, who established a small kiosk in 1882. Leite has a large menu ranging from decadent entrees to delicious deserts. The restaurant mainly serves Portuguese dishes. Try the giant shrimp grilled on butter or a regional dessert called carola, banana topped with cheese and baked with sugar and cinnamon.
Mingus, Rua Atlantico 102 - Boa Viagem, . This modern restaurant offers patrons a variety of dishes and regional wines. Mingus delights its diners with fine cuisine along with relaxing jazz harmonies.
Ponte Nova, Rua Bruno Veloso, 528 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3327 7226, . Ponte Nova serves contemporary, French-influenced, regional cuisine. Adding to its reputation as one of the best restaurants in town, Chef Joca Pontes was voted 2007's best chef by Veja Magazine. This restaurant will surely impress those who dine here.
Fancy sitting around all day on the beach under a beach umbrella? Well, you can! The chairs and the guy that moves the umbrella are free. All they ask in return is that you buy your food and drink from them.
They all carry a menu and the food arrives quickly and freshly made on the beach. Try the seafood. The fish is usually caught locally and earlier that same day.
Apart from your own vendor, there will be a variety of vendors walking up and down the beach, selling a variety of things. Learning the language for these items is useful but unnecessary as the vendor will take the time to show you what he/she has on offer.
Prawns (Camarao) - Be careful of the prawns-- smell them before purchase. A free sample is available with the word prova. They might have been walked up and down the beach for hours in the hot sun. A quick sniff is enough to tell you if they are fresh or not. If you decide to eat them, here is a quick tip: hold the tail of the prawn, tear off and discard the head and leg sections, hold the very tip of the tail, pop the rest in your mouth and bite off the tip leaving it in your fingers. Yes, you can eat the shell; peel it if you wish, but you will not see the locals doing this.
Oysters (Ostra) - Vendors will be carrying a bucket full of ice and live oysters. They are prepared for you one at a time. Served with a squeeze of lime, salt and cumin powder.
Crab - They do not come prepared, so unless you know which bits to eat and which bits to discard, steer clear!
Grilled cheese (Queijo de Coalho) - No warnings here--just go ahead and enjoy. It's a real treat.
Kebabs (Espetinhos) - Grilled chicken or beef. Cooked fresh right in front of you.
Ice-cream - The prices are a lot more expensive than just off the beach. But you don't have to get out of your chair. In that heat, you will appreciate that.
Caldinho - you will notice guys walking up and down the beach with flasks. These are full of different flavors of a soup called caldinho. Try prawn one with hot pepper sauce.
Ovos de codorna - Small boiled quail eggs ready to peel salt and eat.
Nuts - A variety of nuts is available, cashew being the most obvious because it is grown right there in northeastern Brazil. Also, peanuts in 2 varieties: roasted or boiled.
There are many many bars in Recife, most, if not all, serving food as well as drinks. The prices are cheap, ranging from R$2.50 to R$4 for a 600 ml bottle of cerveja, a lager style beer.
There are bars of varying quality up and down the streets of Recife. A few good picks include the following:
Bar Central, Rua Mamede Simões 144 - Boa Vista, ☎ 81 3222 7622. Mon-Fri 12-2AM, Sat 8PM-2AM, Sun closed. A lively and fun place more upmarket than most. The bar attracts a diverse crowd, ranging from writers to musician. Bar Central is also queer-friendly and very famous with indie kids.
Biruta, Rua Bem-Te-Vi, 15 - Pina (Zona Sul), ☎ 81 3326 5151, . A lovely bar on the north end of the beach that gets a great sea breeze all evening. Get there early to get a table with a view.
Downtown Pub, Rua Vigário Tenório, 105 - Recife Antigo, ☎ 81 3424 6317 (email@example.com), . This British pub-inspired bar puts on live music shows and is self-entitled "House of Rock".If you like "Heavy Metal", watch out. There might be a concert over there.
Entre Amigos, Rua Marquês de Valença, 30 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3312 1000, . A bar restaurant with 2 names and 3 seating areas, one of which has air conditioning. Situated in downtown Boa Viagem and a 5 minute walk from the beach. A great place to watch the football or soak up the lively atmosphere of the very busy bar, it has a great buffet for lunch or you can eat à la carte.
Guaiamum Gigante, Rua Dr. José de Góes, Parnamirim, ☎ 81 3441 1509, . This bar-restaurant seats up to 600 people. Although it may not be too pleasing to the eyes, Guaiamum Gigante serves great portions of delicious seafood for a relatively low price. This is a nice place to go on Sundays!
At the less classy end of the market, there are some great bars. They don't have great signage to tell you that it's a bar. Basically, if you see some plastic garden furniture in the street, you are looking at a bar. These are usually the most fun places with the loudest people and the best vibe. Be careful of the ice in places like this as it might not be made from bottled water. It also helps to have a good constitution of you are going to eat in these bars.
There are huts selling food, beer, and the like about every half kilometer in the center of Boa Viagem beach.
Warning: It might not be safe to walk to and from all these nightspots. Ask around, and take a cab to escape muggings.
Depois Dancing Bar, Rua Rio Branco, 66 - Recife Antigo.
Sala de Reboco, Rua Gregório Júnior, 264 - Cordeiro, ☎ 81 3228 7052, . Specializing in forró.
Many tourists stay along the beach in Boa Viagem, 10 km (7 mi) south of the center. The area of Boa Vista just across the Ponte Velha from the train station has a number of budget and mid-range hotels.
Albergue Maracatus do Recife (Hosteling International), Rua Maria Carolina, 185 - Boa Viagem (200 meters from the beach), ☎ 81 3326 1221, . Shared rooms for 4 to 10 people.
Hostel Boa Viagem (Hosteling International), Rua Aviador Severiano Lins, 455 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3326 9572, . Prices vary according to the season.
Piratas da Praia, Av. Conselheiro Aguiar, 2034 / 307 - Boa viagem, ☎ 81 3326 1281, . Free wi fi and 24 hour parking, if you choose to rent a car. They also have different holiday and Carnaval packages.
Pousada Villa Boa Vista, Rua Miguel Couto, 81 - Boa Vista, .
Pousada Bamboo, Rua Setubal, 186 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3343 1179, . This small, 15-room hotel is affiliated with the Pousada bar and club. Guests of the hotel have free admission to the club. Under German/Australian management, the hotel offers yacht and sightseeing tours. Breakfast is included in the price, along with free airport transfers.
Hotel Aconchego, Rua Félix de Brito e Melo, 382 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3464 2989, . 24 hour restaurant and room service
Imperial Suites, Rua Antonio Lumack do Monte, 203 - Boa Viagem, .
Best Western Manibu Recife, Av Conselheiro Aguiar, 919 - Boa Viagem. This well-known hotel provides its guests with two bars, a restaurant that seats 170 people, and a solarium.
Holiday Inn Recife, Av. Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira, 3067 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 2122 3939, . Complimentary breakfast buffets, along with a well-equipped fitness room. Staff speaks both English and Portuguese.
Hotel Central, Av. Manoel Borba, 209 - Boa Vista, ☎ 81 3222 4001. The oldest hotel in Recife. Used to attract stars and the like in the early 20th century. Remains architecturally appealing.
Hotel São Domingos, Praça Maciel Pinheiro, 66 - Boa Vista, ☎ 81 231 1388. Mid-range hotel with good buffet breakfast.
Hotel Atlante Plaza, Av. Boa Viagem, 5426 - Boa Viagem (on the beachfront), . Hotel Atlante Plaza is arguably the best hotel in Recife. It has two restaurants, a 24-hour babysitting service, 24-hour room service, and beauty salon. This is probably the only hotel that offers its guests a pillow menu; guests can choose from various scents and stuffings, such as lavender and camomile.
Blue Tree Towers Recife, Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo, 01 - Jaboatão dos Guararapes (on Piedade beach), ☎ 81 3468 1255, . This 4-star hotel is comprised of 135 rooms, all with a view of the sea. The hotel also provides child care and room service.
Internacional Palace Hotel, Av. Boa Viagem, 3722 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 4009 2500, . Internacional Palace Hotel provides exceptional service with a great staff. Steps away from the beach, the hotel houses Arrecifes Restaurant, which serves a blend of international and regional cuisine. It also has a coffee shop and bar. Internacional Palace Hotel has weekend and honeymoon packages.
Recife Palace Hotel, Av. Boa Viagem, 4070 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 4009 2500, . A sister hotel to the Internacional Palace Hotel, Recife Palace Hotel has a total of 295 rooms, all with sea views, cable TV, and air conditioning. Housing a 5 star cuisine, the hotel has two restaurants, a bar, and coffee shop on the premises. Recife Palace Hotel is located close to the beach, 5 minutes away from the airport, and is walking distance to the city center.
Marante Plaza Hotel, Av. Boa Viagem, 1070 - Boa Viagem, ☎ 81 3465 1070, . 121 suites with air conditioning, saunas, and an art gallery.
Mar Hotel Recife, Rua Barão de Souza Leão, 451 - Boa Viagem, . Close to the airport and the beach, Mar Hotel Recife offers a wide variety of services, such as 24-hour room service, fitness rooms, and spa services.
Recife's reputation for safety is not one of the best. Robberies on streets and buses are fairly common. Do not be alarmed — odds are you will have a fabulous time here — but be aware of your surroundings and take the usual big city precautions.
While entering or leaving Olinda at dusk or dawn, you have an elevated risk of being ambushed. Taxis are recommended.
Beware of the unlicensed guides. Make sure you have the travel itinerary planned out and a price (including meals, fuel, etc.) agreed upon before starting out.
Watch out for shark warnings before entering the water at the Boa Viagem beach.
If you are carrying notes of 50 or 100 reais, be sure to tell the taxi driver before you get in because he might not have change. Some taxi drivers might not know how to get to where you are going, so make sure that you have the address written down. If you are a woman traveling alone, sit in the back as some drivers may try to take advantage of the situation.
Avoid Recife's downtown on Sundays. Streets are deserted all day long and are very unsafe. Consider taking a tour to a neighboring city or beach instead.
Porto de Galinhas, Maracaípe, Serrambi and Tamandaré are wonderful beaches. The best beach in the vicinity of Recife is Porto de Galinhas. On New Year's, this place is like a fantasy with amazing open-air parties, tourists from all over Brazil, and an amazing beach. Other awesome spots are: Maracaípe, Serrambi, Tamandaré, São José da Coroa Grande, Muro Alto, Cupe, Suape, Calhetas, Gaibu, Maria Farinha and Itamaracá Island.
Itamaracá Island for its beaches, Coroa do Aviao islet, the 17th century Dutch Fort Orange, the colonial village of Vila Velha, and the IBAMA manatee nature center.
Igarassu, home to Brazil's oldest church and Latin America's largest collection of barroque paintaings.