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CruiseDirection - Magazine May 2019

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Even though the city of Recife is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the South American country of Brazil, it has only recently popped up on the tourism radar. It is not as modern or as cosmopolitan as Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, but it is a beautiful city on the coast that is surrounded by a coastal reef and lush vegetation.  

The name of the city comes from the Portuguese for ‘reef’, which obviously refers to the long and protective coastal reef on the shore. It is a major port city that has an interesting mix of architecture, featuring high rises, colonial churches, and outdoor markets in a unique mixture of tradition and modernisation. It is also called the ‘Venice of Brazil’ as there are many canals, bridges, and one-way streets across the city. The weather here in this slice of Brazil is typical tropical temperatures that vary little. Rainy in the winter months of June and July, the summer months of mid-December to February are peak season and the warmest.

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Why visit Recife ?

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A beautiful city on the coast

Surrounded by a coastal reef and lush vegetation

Recife is probably the most culturally diverse and historically important city in Brazil. It was founded by the Portuguese in 1530 and was briefly populated by Dutch settlers who helped shape the city and its historic architecture. The population is descended from Portuguese, Indians, and African slaves and in addition to the many hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, and beaches, it is also home to a Jewish community and the first synagogue ever established in the Americas.  

There are a variety of different places to start from when touring Recife and the Boa Viagem district where many of the hotels are located is a good one. This will allow you to explore the waterfront area with its beaches and restaurants. The city’s nightlife is also based in this area and getting to the old city of Recife is an easy walk. Visitors can take a walking tour of the old city and see the numerous governmental buildings and cathedrals located there. Saint John’s Market is also located here and visitors can leave the old city with bundles of food and local crafts. Culture is a theme in the city and visitors should make it a point to enjoy the folk arts and crafts, music, dance, sculptures and paintings that can be found everywhere they turn. The cultural centre of the city is the Casa da Cultura de Recife, which was once a colonial prison. The 8 kilometre promenade at Boa Viagem is also an excellent place to visit not only for its picturesque view of the Atlantic Ocean, but also for the exposition of arts and crafts of the province that are displayed in front of the church on a daily basis.  

Nature and animal lovers will enjoy the Horto Zoobotanico, the city’s recently remodelled zoo and botanical garden and the Museu de Homen do Nodeste, the museum of anthropology that is filled with relics of the area and country. Visitors can drive 40 minutes out of town to the historic city of Olinda, which was once the capital of Brazil, and enjoy the 16th and 17th century architecture, churches, and homes that UNESCO has adopted as a World Heritage site.  

Recife is home to beautiful beaches, calm waters, great water sports and diving opportunities and the Recife-Olinda Carnival, the best in Brazil. This Carnival is earlier in the year than most, so if you wish to experience it as well as this amazing city, make sure you book your trip early!

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