Recife travel guide

Recife Tourism | Recife Guide

You're Going to Love Recife

Recife is the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco and a vibrant, bustling coastal city. Settled by the Dutch, it has a fascinating Old Town and a modern skyline of gleaming towers along the beach. It is a city surrounded by water, with many canals and rivers as well as the reef-calmed ocean.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Recife

1. So Many Beaches

Recife is famous for its beaches and, in Boa Viagem Beach, has one of the best urban beaches in the world.

2. The Churches

The city is renowned for its beautiful churches, including the Golden Chapel, with its extravagant decoration.

3. Explore the Museums

Recife has many interesting museums, including the Abolition Museum, which focuses on slavery, and the Military Museum.

4. Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue

The oldest synagogue in South America makes for a fascinating visit.

5. Scuba Diving

Recife is known for its shipwrecks and reefs, making for some great diving experiences.

What to do in Recife

1. Instituto Ricardo Brennand: A Plethora of 15th-21st Century Dutch Antiquities

The Instituto Ricardo Brennand is a non-profit cultural institution owned and operated by art enthusiast Ricardo Brennand. The institution consists of an art gallery, library, a museum and a park dedicated to 17th-century Dutch collections from the Dutch rule in Brazil. As you stroll the building, you'll be amazed by the Tudor-style castle design. Marvel at the beauty of the Melee and medieval weapons displayed in the Armory Museum. Peruse the extensive collection of paintings by Frans Post, the New World's first landscapist. As you venture the institute's library, you'll be left breathless as you scan the collection of rare books from the 16th-20th century, photographs, sheet music, and more.

2. Boa Viagem Beach: Recife's Most Popular Beach

Stretching a little over four miles is the must-see Boa Viagem beach. Take a stroll alongside the natural reefs that the beach was named after. Marvel at the natural pools that form around the shoreline when the low tides come in. While soaking in the sun, stop by a barraca (vendor stand) and grab a cold drink. As you approach Praca de Boa Viagem, you'll find stunning homes, hotels, restaurants, and businesses within walking distance of the sand strip. Or simply lay down on the sand and enjoy the sun's warmth.

3. Oficina Ceramica Francisco Brennand: Meet the Sculptor Behind the Art

Located in Várzea, this castle-like structure is enclosed by the Atlantic Forest. Take a stroll inside the building and marvel at the ceramic shops of sculptor Francisco Brennand. Inside, you'll find a plethora of European and Brazilian art, armor, swords, and artifacts. Among Brennand's own creative masterpieces are tiles and anatomical female sculptures on display. Brennand himself is even known to pose with tourists for photos.

4. Capela Dourada: The Golden Chapel

Visit the Capela Dourada (The Golden Chapel) and admire the architecture dedicated to the Franciscan Order. Built in 1697, the chapel's arches represent Luis Mercado's majestic creations. Marvel at Antonio Martins Santiago's lateral niches dedicated to Saint Cosme and San Damiano. As you walk alongside the altars, you'll be mesmerized by the collection of tiles grouped together on the walls. The presentation of the virtues Hope, Charity, and Faith are spectacular, and the statues of Santa Isabel and Senhor dos Passos will leave you breathless. As you stroll the aisles, peruse the painted panels dedicated to the saints.

5. Mirabilandia Park: Brazil's Third-Largest Park

Take a family adventure in this thematic amusement park. Stroll over to the Tio Pas Pedras and discover the small waterfall and spring display surrounded by gardens. This addition to the park is meant to bring ecological awareness to the public. Slide down a snowy mountain when you ride the Matterhorn. If you love haunted houses, then the Mansion of Terror is for you. You'll set out on a mystery quest and meet the frightening creatures that live in the scary, dark mansion.

1. Instituto Ricardo Brennand: A Plethora of 15th-21st Century Dutch Antiquities

The Instituto Ricardo Brennand is a non-profit cultural institution owned and operated by art enthusiast Ricardo Brennand. The institution consists of an art gallery, library, a museum and a park dedicated to 17th-century Dutch collections from the Dutch rule in Brazil. As you stroll the building, you'll be amazed by the Tudor-style castle design. Marvel at the beauty of the Melee and medieval weapons displayed in the Armory Museum. Peruse the extensive collection of paintings by Frans Post, the New World's first landscapist. As you venture the institute's library, you'll be left breathless as you scan the collection of rare books from the 16th-20th century, photographs, sheet music, and more.

2. Boa Viagem Beach: Recife's Most Popular Beach

Stretching a little over four miles is the must-see Boa Viagem beach. Take a stroll alongside the natural reefs that the beach was named after. Marvel at the natural pools that form around the shoreline when the low tides come in. While soaking in the sun, stop by a barraca (vendor stand) and grab a cold drink. As you approach Praca de Boa Viagem, you'll find stunning homes, hotels, restaurants, and businesses within walking distance of the sand strip. Or simply lay down on the sand and enjoy the sun's warmth.

3. Oficina Ceramica Francisco Brennand: Meet the Sculptor Behind the Art

Located in Várzea, this castle-like structure is enclosed by the Atlantic Forest. Take a stroll inside the building and marvel at the ceramic shops of sculptor Francisco Brennand. Inside, you'll find a plethora of European and Brazilian art, armor, swords, and artifacts. Among Brennand's own creative masterpieces are tiles and anatomical female sculptures on display. Brennand himself is even known to pose with tourists for photos.

4. Capela Dourada: The Golden Chapel

Visit the Capela Dourada (The Golden Chapel) and admire the architecture dedicated to the Franciscan Order. Built in 1697, the chapel's arches represent Luis Mercado's majestic creations. Marvel at Antonio Martins Santiago's lateral niches dedicated to Saint Cosme and San Damiano. As you walk alongside the altars, you'll be mesmerized by the collection of tiles grouped together on the walls. The presentation of the virtues Hope, Charity, and Faith are spectacular, and the statues of Santa Isabel and Senhor dos Passos will leave you breathless. As you stroll the aisles, peruse the painted panels dedicated to the saints.

5. Mirabilandia Park: Brazil's Third-Largest Park

Take a family adventure in this thematic amusement park. Stroll over to the Tio Pas Pedras and discover the small waterfall and spring display surrounded by gardens. This addition to the park is meant to bring ecological awareness to the public. Slide down a snowy mountain when you ride the Matterhorn. If you love haunted houses, then the Mansion of Terror is for you. You'll set out on a mystery quest and meet the frightening creatures that live in the scary, dark mansion.

Where to Eat in Recife

Chica Pitanga on Rua Petrolina serves good regional food priced by weight, while Assucar on Rua da Alfândega serves classic northeastern Brazil dishes. Expect to pay around R$20 in a budget restaurant and R$80 for a main in Assucar.

When to visit Recife

Recife in September
Estimated hotel price
$45
1 night at 3-star hotel
Recife in September
Estimated hotel price
$45
1 night at 3-star hotel

Recife has a tropical climate, with an average temperature of 78 degrees, which changes little throughout the year. The dry season is September-March, which may be most comfortable for a visit.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Recife

Plane

Guararapes-Gilberto Freyre International Airport serves the city with flights to Europe, North America, South America, and many Brazilian cities. You can get to the city by subway or bus, and a taxi will cost R$10.

Car

Recife is well connected to the national road network, with the BR-101 running north to south and the BR-232 running east to west.

Bus

Long distance buses arrive at Terminal Integrado de Passageiros Antônio Farias. Fares from Fortaleza are from R$120 and R$42 from Natal.

Airlines serving Recife

United Airlines
Good (2,615 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (1,731 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,062 reviews)
KLM
Good (317 reviews)
Air France
Good (354 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,161 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,810 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,118 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,022 reviews)
SWISS
Good (406 reviews)
Iberia
Good (771 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (958 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (746 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (447 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (708 reviews)
Air Europa
Good (114 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (135 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (62 reviews)
Avianca
Good (745 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (813 reviews)
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Where to stay in Recife

Recife Antigo - this is the old town and has some beautiful buildings and is home to the port area.

Popular Neighborhoods in Recife

Boa Viagem - this is the spectacular beachfront area and is known as the Copacabana of northeast Brazil.

Olinda - Olinda is a beautiful beach town just four miles from the city center and has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its 16th and 17th-century buildings.

Where to stay in popular areas of Recife

Most booked hotels in Recife

Radisson Hotel Recife
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
$161+
Grand Mercure Recife Boa Viagem
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$106+
Internacional Palace Hotel
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
$46+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Recife

Public Transportation

Recife has an extensive bus network and a subway system. Single tickets cost from R$1.60.

Taxi

Recife has plenty of taxis, with starting fares set at R$4.75 and then R$3.50 per mile.

Car

The roads in Recife are well made but with lots of bridges and islands, the network can be a little confusing to navigate. Car rental is from R$60, and you'll find Avis and Hertz in town.

The Cost of Living in Recife

Shopping Streets

Casa da Cultura on Rue Floriano Peixoto is a mall in a converted prison selling local arts and crafts. Paço Alfândega on Rua da Alfândega is a modern mall selling fashion and electronics.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk in Recife will cost R$3.83 and a dozen eggs are R$7.40.

Cheap meal
$8.46
A pair of jeans
$100.54
Single public transport ticket
$1.49
Cappuccino
$3.00