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The Northeast Travel Guide

  • Photo: sohadiszno/ Shutterstock

Plan Your Northeast Vacation

Like the whole of Brazil, the Northeast is a place of contrasts. Churches, villas, and fortresses in Recife, Natal, and Fortaleza tell the tale of Portuguese settlers who fought Dutch invaders and amassed fortunes from sugar. The beaches in and around these cities evoke Brazil's playful side and its love affair with sun, sand, and sea. West of the cities, the rugged, often drought-stricken sertão

(bush) shows Brazil's darker side—one where many people struggle for survival. This warp and weave of history and topography is laced with threads of culture: indigenous, European, African, and a unique blend of all three that is essentially Brazilian.

Brazil's northeastern cities are experiencing a renaissance whose changes strike a balance between preservation and progress. Recife remains a bubbling hub of northeastern creativity, while nearby Olinda is still a charming enclave of colonial architecture—though bohemians have long since replaced sugar barons. On Ceará State's 570-km-long (354-mile-long) coast, Fortaleza continues to thrive against a backdrop of fantastic beaches and timeless white dunes. Although smaller and with less-storied pasts, Natal and surrounding beach towns like Praia da Pipa have cemented their status as some of the country’s most beautiful and popular tourist destinations. Meanwhile little-known Alagoas, Brazil’s smallest state, is gaining recognition as the place where white-sand beaches and fisherman villages still remain gloriously underexplored.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Idyllic Beaches Relax on some of Brazil's most beautiful beaches, with warm water all year and sand dunes high enough to ski down.
  2. Gorgeous Olinda Wander along the winding streets of Olinda as you gaze up at the beautiful colonial-era architecture.
  3. Stargaze Stargaze and watch the full moon rise in some of the world’s clearest skies.
  4. Carnival The energetic Carnival in Olinda is considered to be among the best in Brazil, rivaling those in Rio and Salvador.
  5. Northeastern Eats Try the amazing carne de sol, or sun-dried beef, as well as the other unique northeastern dishes using lobster, shrimp, and crabs.

When To Go

When to Go

High season corresponds to school vacations (July) and the period between Christmas and Carnival (late December–mid-March). Prices are better...

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