Recife is Brazil’s fourth largest city, but the city sticks to its traditional charm as well as its cultural attractions. Also known as the “Venice of Brazil”, Recife is ripe with canals winding through it and therefore has a wide number of bridges connecting its streets.

There’s plenty to see and do in Recife and we’ve put together the top things that should be on your to-do list while on your visit!

Party at the city’s Carnival

Much like the world-famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Recife and its neighbouring town, Olinda, put on an amazing party every year. Typically, the carnival is in February or March but there’s also an off-season carnival called Recifolia in October. Preparation for the carnival tends to begin around two months before and locals will often encourage tourists to join in with the city’s feverish dance, the Frevo.

Unlike other carnivals across the country, Recife’s is largely free, which is why it attracts so many people every year; it also holds the Guinness World Record for biggest street party! There are plenty of ways to get involved, whether you want to join a bloco (a small street parade) or admire from afar on one of the grand stands, the carnival should be top of your list when you visit Recife.

Visit one of the beautiful beaches

Recife’s beaches are some of the best in the whole of South America whether you want to relax or explore, there’s always a perfect beach for you. Sitting just next to the metropolis is Boa Viagem, which is the best known urban beach in Brazil. It has warm waters and beautiful fine sand and is protected by a barrier of natural reef, aptly named Arrecife, which the city is named after.

Take a trip to a small island just off of the coast of Recife called Fernando de Noronha and you’ll be blessed with stunning beaches, dramatic cliffs and some of the best diving spots on the planet. If you love exploring, it’s well worth the trip. Typically you can get there on a short plane journey and  it would make a fantastic day or two-day trip!

Boa Viagem beach in Recife Brazil

Visit Brazil’s third largest shopping centre

If you need a break from the sun, then take a trip to RioMar Recife Mall, the city’s largest shopping centre and the third largest in Brazil. It features a multiplex cinema with 12 cinema screens and Recife’s only bowling alley. There are more than 400 stores to browse and you can break up your shopping trip by visiting one of the many restaurants located inside. The centre sits right in the middle of Boa Viagem beach, which makes it easily accessible for visitors who are already relaxing on the beach. There are also local buses that stop right outside!

Buy handmade souvenirs at Casa de Cultura

Buying souvenirs for friends and family can prove to be difficult. However, a trip to Casa de Cultura will give you lots of choice. It is based in a cross-shaped building that was originally a prison when it was built in 1850. Now it is home to a large handcraft and arts mall, which attracts people from all over the state. Whether you want a new board game, painting or even a bikini, you are guaranteed to find something to please the whole family when you return from your trip to Recife.

Once you’ve finished shopping, take a trip to the food court, where you can enjoy some authentic Brazilian food cooked by locals: bolo de rolo, tapioca, pamonha, cachça will all be on the menu amongst many more.

Recife cityscape featuring the cross building that was a prison and is now a craft market

Take a trip to Olinda

Take a trip to Recife’s neighbouring town Olinda and be enchanted by its pastel-coloured houses and booming arts scene. Founded in the 16th century, this pristinely-preserved colonial town was the former state capital and one of the most important settlements in Brazil at the time. Legend has it that Olinda was the origin of Brazilian culture! Visit one of the museums in the town to find out about its rich history, wander the streets for some Instagram-worthy snaps and gaze at the magnificent churches. It makes for a fantastic day trip, but you may find yourself wanting to stay longer in this fairytale town.

Pastel coloured houses on a street in Olinda

There’s so much to do and see in Recife, we’ve just scratched the surface. Call one of our experts on 020 7580 3000 to book your tailor-made holiday today. What’s your favourite thing to do in Recife? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook or Twitter!