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area code 081
last update 2003
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"Tourists wandering around Recife should be particularly careful with their possessions and it's best, too, to use taxis to get home after an evening out. Recife is one of Brazil's most violent cities, an unsurprising statistic given the immediately obvious disparity of wealth and stark poverty, and the large number of homeless people on the streets. On Sundays in the old centre of Recife, the streets often seem deserted except for beggars; everyone else seems to be on the beach at Boa Viagem. Tourists tend to hang out in the much pleasanter environment of laid-back Olinda."
Recife, has a pleasant, warm climate year-round.
to the Equator blesses it with a warm, almost unchanging
temperature which usually lies somewhere between 28°
Tropical and semi-arid
34°C. Heavy rains make daily visits during the main winter
months of June and July, and the heat reaches its peak from
mid-December to February, when locals typically go on
pleasant months are March through June; it's warm but not as hot as
in December through February.
- There are also important historical locations around Recife in Igarassu (19 miles from Recife) and
Jaboatão (10 miles from Recife).
The latter was the site of the Battle of Guararapes, when the Dutch were driven from Pernambuco.
Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres Church
marks the spot where the 30-year occupation was ended.
Recife, Brazil, the Birthplace of Judaism
The sertão, where rain is scarce and
irregular, average temperatures are high, and the vegetation (called
caatinga) is adapted to such tough conditions. Roughly speaking, the
sertão is the area to the west of Arcoverde; Serra Talhada, Cabrobó
and Salgueiro are important cities of the sertão. Petrolina,
although also in the semi-arid zone, has benefited from the
irrigation of the river São Francisco, and has become an important
center of irrigated agriculture.
The sertão of Pernambuco is known as a dangerous zone. The region is
sparsely populated and official authorites have a limited presence.
Despite frequent police raids, plantations of marijuana are found
often (consequence of the lack of alternatives of the local
peasants). Buses go in convoys, usually with police escorting; avoid
driving around this region.
Recife is the Northeast's 4th most visited city behind
Salvador , Natal and
Forteleza. It is best known as the third great Carnaval center of Brazil
(after Salvdor & Rio) with its own much loved traditions of folklore and music. It is famous for the music known as frevo, maracatu and xaxad. Besides a strong arts and crafts tradition, its folklore celebrations known as reisado, bumba-meu-boi and xango are especially noteworthy.
Recife considers itself a cosmopolitan city, and while most visitors enjoy
the stress free infrastructure that the beachfront hotels of Boa Viagem offer, they
will be rewarded by planning trips to enjoy the many historic sights and
cultural attractions the city offers.
Beginning with its split from Olinda in 1710, Recife's three original islands, joined by many bridges, served as Brazil's most important port for many years. The influence of the 30-year Dutch invasion, which began in 1630, is still quite visible. The delta of the Capibaribe and Beberibe rivers adds much shoreline to the Northeast's most important industrial and commercial City. Recife is Brazil's sixth largest City, with almost 3 million residents in the metro area, and competes with Salvador as the most influential center of Brazilian culture.
Saturated with traffic-filled narrow streets, ancient churches and many large office and government buildings, Santo Antônio is the most historic island and the main commercial center. Boa Vista includes both residential quarters and a commercial section where one can find reasonably priced hotels and entertainment establishments. The busy docks of Recife Island have been infused with new life by a major government restoration area, and it has moved beyond its seedy past to be able to claim the best nightlife anywhere outside of the beach boulevard of Boa Viagem.
Recife, like Salvador, was once a center for the slave trade, where millions of Africans were sold to the owners of the sugar-cane fields. The Portuguese, like the Spaniards, left their women in the old country. Unlike the Spaniards, they were much more likely to couple with the locals. The miscegenation is readily evident among the natives today. Most of the population does not work in the visitor industry, but rather in importing and exporting, sugar refining, cotton milling, iron working, pineapple canning, tomato preserving, and the manufacturing of cement, asbestos, paper, roofing, and leather goods.
Avenida Dantas Barreto splits the island of Santo Antônio,
home to the central business district and many surviving colonial churches.
Just over the river is Boa Vista, linked to Santo Antônio by a series of
small bridges; the brightly painted criss-cross girders of the Ponte de Boa
Vista are a convenient central landmark. Santo Antônio and Boa Vista are the
dirtiest areas of Recife, and although they bustle with activity during the
day they empty at night, when the enormous, largely deserted streets are a
little spooky and forbidding. Residential suburbs stretch to the north, but
the bulk of the middle-class population is concentrated to the south, in a
long ribbon development along the beach at Boa Viagem.
- Leading English travel guide to the City
and region. Many topics well done
Conventions and Visitors Bureau at recifecvb.com.br
- English & Espanol with visitor section
Recife by pacificislandtravel.com
Dutch travel service offers great insight for the foreign savvy traveler
although well over half is taken straight from the on-line Rough Guide to
Northeast > Pernambuco > Recife
|Boa Viagem is the most popular beach, and while calling it the Copacabana of the Northeast should be taken with the same grain of salt as calling Recife the Venice of Brazil, there is no denying the broad appeal to the thousands who regularly gather on its wide sandy beaches that stretch for 8 km (5 mi).
The longest stretch of urbanized seafront in Brazil, its long coastal reef calms the waves and helps keep the water a comfortable 25° C year-round. Here is where nearly all of Recife's best hotels are located, as well as many outdoor cafés, restaurants and a lively night club scene. This district, home to the upper-middle class, acts as the center of the city's social life. Every night, Boa Viagem beach is lit up, allowing bathers to swim at night and attracting many young people. The hotels can fill up during the summer months from December to March.
is a small, charming town only 7km from Recife. Olinda has an amazing
number of well-preserved historic buildings built on a hillside with
stunning vistas. The smaller-sized accommodations provide a nice
alternative to Recife. Olinda's inhabitants are a merry,
creative, hospitable and communicative people. The elevated old town
is a centre of popular and classic artists and craftsmen focusing on
music, folklore, dance and crafts. There is a wide range of
restaurants offering the local fare, which has a reputation for good
seafood and tropical fruits.
Olinda was declared a World Monument by Unesco, and is considered to be the birthplace of sixteenth century Brazilian culture. There are twenty churches in the UNESCO Heritage City. The old colonial centre is built on the hills, slightly back from
the sea. Spreading inland behind the old town is a modern Brazilian
city of over 300,000 people - known as Novo Olinda, it is now very
much a part of the Recife metro area.
Olinda's hills are steep, and you'll be best
rewarded by taking a leisurely stroll around the town. A good spot
to have a drink and plan your attack is the Alto da Sé, the highest
square in the town, not least because of the stunning view of
Recife's skyscrapers shimmering in the distance, framed in the
foreground by the church towers, gardens and palm trees of Olinda.
There's always an arts and crafts market going on here during the
day, peaking in the late afternoon.
A leading beach resort and art center in an area
of sugar plantations, the city has sugar-processing and cigar-and
textile-manufacturing industries. Olinda's many churches indicate
its prominence in early colonial history. The monasteries of São
Francisco and São Bento have art collections, and the
regional museum, state museum, and sugar museum are of interest.
Also in the city are the fort of São Francisco, called the Cheese
Fort; the Prefeitura, or government house of the captains
general; and the Joaquim Nabuco Institute.
Restaurants || Accommodations|| Must See Activities || Nightlife || Off The Beaten Path|| Local Customs || Shopping
Aeroporto Internacional Gilberto Freyre by .infraero.gov.br
Aeroporto Internacional do Recife/Guararapes-Gilberto Freyre Praça Ministro Salgado Filho s/n, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3464-4188)
Largest in the North East and very impressive
Location: about 7 miles (12km) south of the city center and just a few kilometers from the beachside hotels in the neighborhood of Boa Viagem.
Tourist information booth at the arrivals level is open daily from 8am to 6pm (tel. 081/3462-4960).
English should be available
Airlines from major cities in Brazil:
Airlines Aerolíneas Argentinas, Av. Mn. Borba 324 (tel
081/3423-4188); Air France, Rua Sete de Setembro 42, Boa Vista (tel
081/3231-7735); Air Portugal (TAP), Av. Guararapes 111 (tel
081/3224-2700); TAM, Praça Min. Salgado (tel 081/3462-4466 or 325-2493);
Transbrasil, Av. Cons. Aguiar 3150 (tel 081/3465-0450 or 423-2566) and
Av. Conde de Boa Vista 1546, Boa Vista (tel 081/3423-1366); United
Airlines, Rua Progresso 465 (tel 081/3423-2444); Varig, Av. Guararapes
120 (tel 081/3424-2155) and Av. Cons. Aguiar 456 (tel 081/3464-4440);
Taxi to Boa Viagem costs R$8 to R$12 and to Olinda R$30 to R$45 (US$15 to US$22.50).
BUS: Boa Viagem, the regular airport bus, no. 33 or no. 42, leaves every 15 minutes and passes within 1 block of most hotels along the beach; the fare is R$1 (US 50¢).
From the airport, it's easy to reach the highway BR-101, which leads
to Porto de Galinhas and the other
of Recife For visitors staying in
Boa Viagem, the airport is only 2km away.
Buses are the primary form of long-distance transport for most
Brazilians, and services are generally both excellent and
inexpensive, with all major cities linked by frequent buses.
Rodoviária: Terminal Integrado de
Passageiros - TIP
Address: rodovia BR 232, Km 15 - Jaboatão
Tel.: (81) 3452-1103
20 km from downtown Recife but a stop on the Metro
Some important bus operators:
Progresso from Recife to Natal
Itapemirim from Recife to Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo
Nossa Senhora da Penha from Recife to Salvador and Rio de
São Geraldo from Recife to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo
Renting a car is an option although it is often
advised against for general exploration. For Pernambuco, there are
many cautions against going without a caravan too deep into the
The best information booth is the one at Praça Boa Viagem, open daily from 8am to 8pm (tel. 081/3462-4960 or 081/3341-6090). The staff is helpful and will provide an excellent free map of Recife and some good general information.
The state tourist office, EMPETUR, runs a 24-hour information
post at the airport (tel 081/3341-5707), where you may find
tourist hotline: just ring 1516 (Mon–Fri 8am–6pm)
and you should be able to find someone who speaks English.
In Olinda, the tourist information office is located inside the craft market Mercado da Ribeira, Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo s/n (tel. 081/3489-1660 or 081/3429-1927), open daily from 9am to 6pm. There is also a kiosk at the Praça do Carmo, where the buses from Recife arrive.
Tourist Office (Empetur)
Address: Centro de Convenções de Pernambuco, Olinda, Pernambuco
Email: empetur @ empetur.com.br
OOfficial Recife Site at recife.pe.gov.br
|Places To Stay
Check out our extensive list of hotels & hostels
Carnaval.com Travel Reservations
The Boa Viagem Beach area has the largest concentration of hotels. It is 10 Minutes From Old Recife, five minutes from the Guararapes Internacional Airport, 15 minutes from the commercial and financial district and 20 Minutes From Olinda (remember to negotiate $ for the cab in advance).
There is not a good hotel district in downtown Recife where it is safe to walk alone at night. Do consider some of the more modest accommodations available in the World Heritage City of Olinda.
Albergue da Juventude
Maracatus do Recife
Recife’s youth hostel in Boa Viagem at Rua Maria Carolina 185 (tel
081/3326-1221), Complete with swimming pool and free breakfast
|Getting Around There
Take your bearings
from one of the three main roads: the seafront Avenida Boa
Viagem, with the highrise hotels and
promenade of palm trees and mosaic pavements; the broad
Avenida Conselheiro Aguiar two blocks
up; and then Avenida Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira.
first metro line was built in the early 1980's to relieve the city
from increasing traffic problems and pollution. It runs mostly above
ground along a former railway alignment from the city centre in the
east towards the western suburbs and the bus station Rodoviária. An
extension from Rodoviária to Timbi Camaragibe, a town of almost 200,000 inhabitants and 4.5 km away, opened in December 2002. The current length of
the network is 25 km with 18 stations. The metro carries some 120,000 passengers a day.
There are two lines operating: from downtown Recife to the Bus
Station, and from downtown Recifeto Jaboatão.
Another line which will cover the Boa Viagem area is under
construction. This line will have stations at several points of Boa
Viagem, including the Shopping Center Recife and the airport. This
line is partially open and due to be completed in 2007.
of Recife official site
BUS: (tel 081/3452-1103) The complex layout
of the city and general chaos in the planning and execution of the
buses mean you have to ask and ask often. Also see
Praça da Independência: Where most city buses
originate and terminate on the central island of Santo Antônio, on
Avenida Dantas Barreto, and either side of the Pracinha do Diário.
Avenida Guararapes outside the main post office is also an
City centre to Boa Viagem: take buses marked “Aeroporto”,
“Iguatemi” or “Boa Viagem”, or catch the more comfortable frescão
Olinda from central Recife: walk south down Avenida Dantas
Barreto from the Pracinha do Diário to the last of the series of bus
stops, and catch the bus marked “Casa Caiada” – you’ll think you’re
heading in the wrong direction at first, but you will get there
From Boa Viagem: most buses in either direction can be caught
on Avenida Engenheiro Domingos Ferreira, three blocks in from the
sea. Buses marked “Dantas Barreto” will get you to the city centre,
and so should most of those marked “Conde de Boa Vista”, though it’s
probably best to ask. Boa Viagem to Olinda: get on buses
marked “Rio Doce”.
Taxi: In Recife it is best, to use taxis to get home
after an evening out and avoid the large homeless population.
A taxi from central Recife to Olinda should cost around $8–10 and
will take about fifteen minutes; ask for a quote before you get into
the cab as a usual
precaution against being burned as a tourist.
are hundreds of restaurants to choose from; with a multitude of
cuisines that include: Indian, Arabic, Italian, Seafood and
Japanese. Lots of fresh
fish is available including the sea shore vendors particularly
feature the fried fish, called "agulha"
Eating out is
cheapest in Santo Antônio, and more expensive in Recife island and Boa Viagem,
with Olinda somewhere in between. Fresh seafood,
shellfish and local fruits are popular.
Try carangueijo mole, crabs cooked in a spicy sauce
until shells and legs are soft and edible, which solves the problem of
digging out the meat; small crabs called guaiamum; and agulhas fritas, fried
needle fish. Also enjoy the grilled
meats, including goat, which are found in many restaurants.
As you walk past the cafes of the aroma of coffees and deserts draws
you inside. Try Brazilian espresso and a desert called Cartola.
Cartola, is bananas fried in butter, topped with melted cheese and
then sprinkled with cinnamon & raw sugar...just try it.
Fresh coconut is available everywhere and many dishes come with a delicious
As befits a sugar city, a
favorite local drink is caldo de cana, which is pressed on the street as
part of a thriving street vendor scene. Drink some of this juice of
sugarcane juice and you can feel the jolt; which offers you your best values.
Recife island has plenty of
restaurants, and you may want to eat there as a prelude to going on to a bar
or a nightclub. But prices are relatively high and the emphasis is on
sophistication rather than good old-fashioned hearty Brazilian cooking.
Buon Gustaio, on Rua do Bom Jesus, does superb Italian food, and
Gambrinus, at Rua Marquês de Olinda 263, is one of the places where you
can get some local dishes. There's also a branch of the vegetarian
O Vegetal, on Rua do Brum (lunchtime only).
While in there, don't forget to eat at
Café São Brás; they serve the most delicious curaus, tapiocas, corn
soups, etc. They have several locations around town. The shopping is
also home to Recife's most sophisticated restaurant, Assucar.
Down on the beach there are hundreds of places to eat, with one of
the biggest concentrations in the Pina district, between the city
centre and Boa Viagem. Catch a bus in the direction of Boa Viagem and get
off on Avenida Herculano Bandeira, which is just where the bus veers round
to run parallel to the sea. Almost the whole of the avenida is taken
up with restaurants, most of them concentrating on seafood; especially
In Boa Viagem itself the best value is to be found at the seafood
places on the promenade near the city-centre end of the beach, and in the
dining rooms of the cheaper hotels, all of which are open to non-residents.
--Largely adopted from
Recife by Rough Guides
Convention & Visitors Bureau directory list w/ links
O Lacador - (Rua Visconde de
Jequitinhonha, 138) The most affordable churrasco buffet in Recife.
& Dao Joao - (Rua do Apolo, 134) - Portuguese food.
has a few suggestions
Teatro Princesa Isabel or Santa Isabel Theater -Recife's
prime theater Erecteded by the french architect Louis Lerger Vauthier, in 1841. Its capacity is for 900
people. Praça da República s/n (tel.
Recife: Recife Antigo or the historic
downtown has undergone a complete face-lift, becoming a cultural and
entertainment district. The activities center around the Rua do Bom Jesus;
lined with more than 15 bars and restaurants, making it a great option any night of the week.
Polo Pina - A popular nightlife spot with many bars and
Pina de Copacabana, Rua da Moeda 121 (tel. 081/9127-9435), a
few blocks off the Rua de Bom Jesus is popular with live music and DJ's most
Fashion Club, Av. Marques de Olinda 133, Old Recife (tel.
Two dance floors and three bars still can't hold everyone on Friday and
Dokas, Rua do Brum 27a (tel. 081/3224-5099;
www.dokas.cjb.net), reggae, blues, alternative
Cravo e Canela - (Rua das Creoulas 260), a
sophisticated and relaxed bar.
New Hits - (Rua Gervasio Fioravante 111), a very happening
Olinda is not
known for its nightlife, but is a popular place for quiet romantic dinners.
A Manoá, Rua Bispo Coutinho 645, has live music
Uruguay Club, Av. Prudente de Morais 281 (tel. 081/3439-8552), bar
& restaurant with live
classical, jazz, and blues Monday through Saturday.
Guide to Sex in Recife ||
Prostitution Vigilance by news.bbc.co.uk 26JAN05
Gay & Lesbian Bars
Butterfly, Rua Raul Azevedo 165, in Boa Viagem (tel.
081/3465-8073), male gay dance club with drag queen and
transvestite performances; Thursday through Sunday after 9:30pm on.
Crazy Dance Club in Olinda, Rua do Amparo 27 (tel.
081/3429-3953), open Thursday through Sunday after 9pm.
Find karaoke, go-go dancers, and a small dance floor.
Casa da Cultura de Recife (Recife
Cultural Center), Rua Floriano Peixoto s/n, across from
the metro station (tel. 081/3224-2850) was once a prison, but now
the top regional craft center in the northeast of Brazil for
handicrafts which make the best souvenirs.
on the riverbank, is an excellent bookstore. It's next to the
gorgeous Paço Alfândega Shopping, an eighteenth-century
convent that later served as the Custom House.
José, across the river from Recife Antigo, is a fun place to for
clever jewelry, and palm fronds used to make all manner of objects.
Recife's downtown neighborhood around the Pátio
São Pedro and in between Avenida N.S. do Carmo and Rua Primeiro de
Março is jammed with small stall vendors.
mostly in Boa Viagem
R. Amélia, 114, Graças, Recife. Phone: (81) 3241-8589
PLAZA SHOPPING CASA FORTE
R. Dr. João Santos Filho, 255, Casa Forte, Recife. Phone: (81)
SHOPPING BOA VIAGEM - OUTLET
Av. Pres. Dutra, 298, Boa Viagem, Recife. Phone: (81) 3471-8013
SHOPPING CENTER BOA VISTA
R. do Giriquiti, 48, Boa Vista, Recife. Phone: (81) 3423-5666
SHOPPING CENTER GUARARAPES
R. Av.Barreto de Menezes, 800, Jaboatão dos Guararapes. Phone:
(81) 3464-2211 (www.shopping-guararapes.com.br).
SHOPPING CENTER RECIFE
R. Padre Carapuceiro, 777, Boa Viagem, Recife. Phone: (81)
3464-6123 Brazil's second
largest shopping center. (www.shopping-recife.com.br), all buses
heading downtown stop here.
SHOPPING CENTER TACARUNA
Av. Agamenon Magalhães, 153, Campo Grande, Recife. Phone: (81)
R. João Jude de Melo, 77, Parnamirim. Recife.Phone: (81)
Olinda's several markets and
endless artesanato shops make it a good place for shopping. There
are two standouts.
Mercado da Ribeira, built in the sixteenth century, is at Rua
Bernardo Vieira de Melo 160,
s/n (tel. 081/3439-1660), which is
open daily from 9am to 6pm.
and offers the usual range of craft
goods, while a ten-minute walk
Mercado Eufrasio Barbosa [at
Sigismundo Gonçalves s/n (tel. 081/3439-1415) also called
a bigger artesanato and antique
market housed in the long pink building
which is the former customs house by
the main road where you can find
religious arts, paintings,
woodcarvings, and regional crafts.
Remember that Boa Viagem is the beach area, on the south side of
town, and Boa Vista is a neighborhood near the center of the city
Fast Facts for Recife
American Express There is no American Express office in
Area Codes The area code for Recife and Olinda is 081.
Banks Banco do Brasil: in Recife -- Rua Barão De Souza Leão
440, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3462-3777); in Olinda -- Av. Getulio
Vargas 1470, Bairro Novo (tel. 081/3439-1344).
Car Rentals Avis (tel. 0800/118-066 or 081/3462-5069);
Localiza (tel. 0800/312-121 or 081/3341-2082); Unidas (tel.
0800/121-121 or 081/3461-4661).
Consulates United States, Rua Gonçalves Maia 163, Boa Vista
(tel. 081/3421-2441); Great Britain (Honorary), Av. Domingos
Ferreira 4150, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3465-0230).
Emergencies Dial 190 for police, 193 for fire department and
ambulance. The Tourist Police station is at the airport at Praça
Min. Salgado Filho s/n (tel. 081/3326-9603).
Hospitals Centro Hospitalar Albert Sabin, Rua Senador José
Henrique 141, Ilha do Leite (tel. 081/3421-5411).
Visa Renewal If you need to extend your visa go to the
Policia Federal, Cais do Apolo 321, Bairro do Recife (tel.
081/3425-4026). The fee is R$63 (US$21). You may need to show both a
return ticket and evidence of sufficient funds to cover the
remainder of your stay.
for the State of Pernambuco:
7,929,154 (IBGE, 2000 Population Census)
US$ 10.04 billion (R$ 31.7 billion)
Per capita GDP:
US$ 1,255.78 (R$ 3,962.00)
Number of cities: 185
Representation in the National Legislature:
three senators and 25 federal deputies
24.7% (2000 Census)
9.8% (IBGE 2002)
Recife (1,422,905), Jaboatão dos Guararapes (581,556), Olinda (367,902), Caruaru (253,634), Paulista (262,237), Petrolina (218,538), Cabo de Santo Agostinho (152,977), and Vitória de Santo Antão (117,609)
coastal mangrove swamps, tropical forest zone, and sub-humid transition zone with semi-arid scrub forest
Pernambuco is the name of a
Brazilian native tree that makes the best bows for violins, violas,
and cellos. Unfortuantely the larger trees have become so scarce
there is a conservation movement to restore the pernambuco or
pau-brasil tree. See