The Port of Recife is near the eastern-most point of the Americas. Its tropical climate has two seasons. The dry season is from September to March, and the rainy season is from April to August. The average annual temperature is around 26ºC (79ºF) with little variation. One to two meters above sea level with some areas below sea level, the city crosses rivers and canals to cover islands, giving it the nickname of the “Venice of Brazil.” The city is famous for its beautiful beaches, rich history, festive carnival, fine arts, and distinctive cuisine.
The Port of Recife includes four major districts. The Centro (downtown) contains Old Recife and several neighborhoods scattered on two islands and the mainland. Most of the historic buildings and the port are located in the Centro. The Zona Sul is the modern, tourist-attractive area built around the natural reefs and beaches. Most of the hotels and restaurants, the airport, and the main shopping mall are located in Zona Sul. Its main neighborhood, the Boa Viagem, lines the famous Boa Viagem beach. Zona Oeste is the greenest part of the Port of Recife, containing bits of the Atlantic forest that once covered Brazil’s east coast. It is home to two important museums and the Federal University of Pernambuco. Zona Norte is a residential area that was once home to the local aristocracy. Famous for its beautiful parks and lively bars, Zona Norte has the best schools and hospitals.
Being the fifth biggest metropolitan area in Brazil, the Port of Recife offers a variety of attractions for travelers. The old rival village of Olinda offers colonial architecture and carnival in a beautiful natural setting. Porto de Galinhas boasts what has been called the best beach in Brazil. Other beautiful beaches and historic sites are located in the Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Itamaraca Island, and Igarassu.
One of the world’s most popular urban beaches, Boa Viagem has pristine white sands and a wide walkway where sun bathers can find food and drink. Tourists should learn to say “nao” to the many vendors on the beach. The Port of Recife’s best beach is Porto de Galinhas, a popular spot for open-air parties with Brazilians. Many other beaches adorn the Port of Recife.
The Port of Recife also contains several impressive and historic churches. The 1588 Convento Franciscano de Santo Antonio is one of the city’s most popular attractions. Containing the grandiose Golden Chapel (Capela Dourada), it is one of Brazil’s most beautiful baroque churches. The altar is covered with golden engravings, and beautiful paintings adorn the ceiling and tiled panels. The convent also houses the Museu Franciscano de Arte Sagrada (museum of sacred art). It is open for tours every day but Sunday.
The Sao Pedro dos Clerigos was built from 1728 to 1782. Located at Saint Peter Square, it is surrounded by historic colonial buildings. It contains a rosewood altar, gold-engraved pulpit, wooden-sculpted ceiling, and a blend of baroque and rococo art. Nossa Senhora do Carmo was completed in 1767 on the spot where the Boa Vista Palace once stood. This Baroque structure contains a golden altar, crowns of precious gems, and a collection of religious art. The 1700s Santissimo Sacramento – Matriz de Santo Antonio, open every day, boasts a huge crystal chandelier. African-Brazilian slaves built the 17th Century Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Homens Pretos.
The 1726 Nossa Senhora da Conceicao dos Militares has ceiling paintings illustrating the Guararapes Battle with the Dutch. It contains the graves of the native leaders of the fight as well as the Museu de Arte Sacra Padre Roberto Barbalho.
Visitors to the Port of Recife will find several interesting historic museums. The Ricardo Brennand Institute contains an impressive collection of Brazilian and European artifacts from the 15th to 19th Centuries, particularly from the period of Dutch occupation. The Museu do Homem do Nordeste is a wonderful collection depicting the folk arts, history, and traditions of northeast Brazil that makes the trip to the Port of Recife’s suburbs worth the trip.
The Museum of the City of Recife is located in the 17th Century Cinco Pontas Fortress and is open 7 days a week. Located in the former home of Brazil’s abolitionist leader, Consellor Joao Alfredo, the Abolition Museum in Zona Norte covers the slavery era and the 19th Century abolitionist movement.
The Museu de Valores in the Centro district contains over seven thousand historic coins, maps, and artifacts found when Fort Orange on Itamaraca Island was excavated. The 1861 Museu de Historia Natural Louis Jacques Brunet in the Centro district is one of Latin America’s best natural history museum. The Museu de Arqueologia da Universidade Catholica de Permanbuco in Centro contains collections of indigenous artifacts. Famous Brazilians’ homes are also museums. The Casa-Museu Gilberto Freyre memorializes Brazil’s greatest sociologist, and the Casa Manual Bandeira/Espaco Pasargada celebrates the childhood home of poet Manuel Bandeira. The Parque das Esculturas on the reefs of the Port of Recife houses over 90 sculptures by Francisco Brennand.
The City of Recife contains many other outstanding buildings that visitors will not want to miss. The Teatro Santa Isabel is one of Brazil’s best theaters. The Palacio do Campo das Princesas, the state governor’s palace, was home to Emperor Dom Pedro II. The Joaquim Nabuco House memorializes the birthplace of the 19th Century abolitionist and politician, and the Joaquim Nabuco Palace is home to the Pernambuco State Legislature. The Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Americas.
Carnaval in the Port of Recife is one of Brazil’s busiest. Unlike its carioca counterpart, it boasts street shows, parades, and continuous rhythms. The Port of Recife Carnaval brings 1.6 million people to the city each year.
Tourists will also enjoy aquatic fun in the Port of Recife. You can take catamaran rides on the Capibaribe River or catamaran tours through the city’s canals. Visitors love scuba-diving at Shipwreck Park where over 100 ships have sunk around the city. Combined with the beautiful natural coral reefs, this is the spot for scuba diving.
Visitors wishing to travel by sea to the Port of Recife can find a comprehensive list of cruises at the Cruise Compete website.