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Discover the thriving port city of Recife, known as the “Venice of Brazil” due to its extensive canals and picturesque waterways. On a Recife cruise, walk around this vibrant Brazilian city and admire the mix of historic colonial buildings, sleek high-rises, and fascinating cultural centers.
Dip your toes in golden sand and snorkel in gentle turquoise waters. Dance to live music in Recife Antiguo. Visit the neighboring city of Olinda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See local works of art in a museum surrounded by rainforest. Recife is one of the major culinary hot spots you’ll visit on a Brazil cruise, so don’t miss sampling the fresh seafood dishes and tropical ingredients you’ll find everywhere, from upscale restaurants to beachside bars.
Walk around the historic center of the city, Recife Antiguo, where you’ll get a taste of the city’s colonial past. Stroll down cobblestone streets lined with old buildings and churches, and wander around the many boutique stores, cafes, and restaurants found in the area. Don’t miss stopping by the Patio de Sao Pedro, a picturesque town square with live music performances on the weekends, and the Rua do Bom Jesus, where you’ll see colorfully painted houses that date back to when the city was under Dutch rule in the 17th century.
Head to where X marks the spot at Marco Zero plaza, home of the exact site where the city of Recife was founded by the Portuguese in 1537. This harbor-facing square features a compass floor mosaic designed by Brazilian artist Cicero Dias and a bronze sculpture by French sculptor Felix Charpentier. Marco Zero is a popular spot with both tourists and locals, especially during Carnival, when it becomes the center of the city’s festivities.
Learn all about the culture and music of Sertão, the region of Brazil where Recife is located, in this innovative and interactive museum. Step inside fully recreated rooms from the past, and listen to forró songs in stunning audiovisual exhibits. Try belting out a local tune during a session in the museum’s karaoke and instrument rooms.
Explore the sprawling Oficina Ceramica Francisco Brennand, a museum housed in an old sugar refinery that displays over 2,000 works of art by Brazil’s most renowned artist, Francisco Brennand. Admire his paintings, tile work, drawings, and large sculptures, as well as the green surroundings of the museum, which is set inside a lush rainforest.
Near the Oficina Ceramica, you’ll find the equally stunning Instituto Ricardo Brennand, another museum located within a rainforest just outside of Recife’s city center. This expansive collection features artworks from all over the globe and from vastly different time periods. Expect to see everything from weaponry that dates back to the Early Middle Ages, artifacts from the 17th century, and extensive works by Brazilian artists created in the 15th century to today.
Stroll around historic Olinda, a picturesque town and UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 1535. This former Portuguese settlement was once the center of the prosperous sugarcane industry in Brazil. Admire the traces of its past wealth by walking around the sprawling gardens, chapels, and over 20 baroque churches that still stand today.
A popular destination for visitors on a Recife cruise is Porto das Galinhas, a gorgeous stretch of sand featuring crystal-clear swimming pools. Located in the center of town, Porto das Galinhas is lined by palm trees and waterfront restaurants. Take a dip in the water, eat some fresh seafood under the sun, or rent some snorkeling gear and dive into the ocean to see what kind of treasures you discover.
Recife’s multicultural past is front and center in its diverse cuisine, which fuses Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, African, and Brazilian flavors and ingredients. Popular dishes include caldinho, a rich shellfish broth; churrasco, Brazil’s traditional barbecued meat; and bolo de rolo, a cake made with a guava filling. Don’t leave without trying juice from a freshly opened coconut.
Recife’s history spans back to the 16th century when it was a thriving trade port overseen by wealthy Portuguese settlers in the nearby city of Olinda. Recife’s strategic location by the sea was coveted by many different countries, and throughout the years it was captured by the French, English, and Dutch, who established Recife as the capital of New Holland in 1630.
After Brazil established its independence in 1822, Recife officially became the capital of the state of Pernambuco in 1827. The city is named after the long reef that borders its shoreline. Today, Recife is a major commercial hub featuring a large international airport, a national railway system, and a shipping port. There are several large universities in the city, as well as important museums and soccer stadiums.
The Recife cruise port is located in Recife Antiguo, the historic side of the city. From there, you can walk to several shops and restaurants, as well as around the cobblestone streets of Old Recife, where you’ll find many colonial buildings and churches.
From the Recife cruise port, you can easily walk to Recife Antiguo, where you’ll see points of interest like the Marco Zero Plaza and the Cais do Sertão Museum. If you want to explore the city further, there are plenty of taxis and a local bus system to help you get around. Your best bet is to book a shore excursion, which will ensure that you’ll arrive back to the ship in time.
On a Recife cruise, you’ll find a mix of large shopping malls and small stores throughout the city. Head to Old Recife to explore its street market stalls selling local goods and items. If you’re looking for a piece of art, the Pernambuco Craftsmanship Center next to Marco Zero Square is where artists gather to sell their pieces. In nearby Olinda, you’ll find local artist studios that specialize in everything from traditional puppets to sculptures. While in Riomar, the largest mall in the city, you can easily spend the day exploring its over 300 stores, restaurants, and movie theaters.
The local currency in Recife is the Brazilian real. You’ll find ATMs throughout Recife in shopping malls and banks. Credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially if you plan on shopping for small goods in local markets. Tipping in Brazil is prevalent and expected. Plan on tipping at least ten percent in restaurants and for taxi drivers, or more if you experienced great service.