The Brazilian Northeast is still a fairly exclusive destination compared to others such as Rio de Janeiro or Salvador de Bahia.
However, it’s a region that many have fallen in love with due to attractive traits, such as a warm climate with 300 sunny days a year and a constant temperature range of 23°C to 31°C! It is therefore a particularly interesting destination if you want to escape the European winter for the holidays, or October and February vacation periods.
Discover the unique landscape of “Nordeste” on our Northeast Brazil Tours
When one thinks of Brazil, we generally imagine vast tropical forests. Yet, a large part of this immense country is covered by a very particular semi-arid ecosystem, called “Caatinga,” the only biotope unique to Brazil.
Here, you will find the popular cashew tree bearing its famous cashew nuts. Take a chance to taste its fruit in a delicious local fruit juice! This ecosystem covers almost all the Northeastern region and you won’t find any jungle apart from on a few mountains that get little annual rainfall.
On the other hand, the coast along the Atlantic ocean boasts immense beaches lined with dunes, and sometimes small cliffs, that go as far as the eye can see, brushed by the trade winds and warm waters all year round. The local vegetation or Restinga, is a coastline version of what grows inland.
With beautiful, wide open spaces and a natural habitat that is still preserved, (due the low number of inhabitants), this part of Brazil has a good tourist infrastructure today. You can travel at ease here staying in hotels or pousadas that combine quality services with charming decor.
Explore the wonderful treasures of a little known region : “Nordeste”
The unique coastline is the treasure of this region. The source of the region’s tourism, you can actually drive along the beaches, the way the locals get from one village to another, traveling through this magnificent wild countryside.
If you have an interest in really seeing the Northeast, we recommend exploring the Northeast coast with our itinerant tours, these also include mini stops of one or two nights to explore the coastline from Fortaleza to São Luís or Natal. The main advantage of opting for a tour is that they pass through some little hidden bits of paradise which we can’t include in these “à la carte” offers for logistical reasons.
Whether you enjoy relaxing, surfing, kite surfing or large open spaces and adventure, you will love driving along these dream beaches in a 4X4 or buggy. Along the way there are charming little hotels in the small traditional fishing villages that are perfect to relax in or party the night away. You can leave from Fortaleza, São Luís or Natal and with each stop you will wake up in a different place ready for a new adventure !
That is not all ! The Northeast, is also rich in culture, populated only recently by Brazilian cowboys or “vaqueiros”. This culture comes from the encounter between the Europeans and the Amerindians, living in an environment of droughts and a poor rural economy. In this unique culture we often come across the concept of “Saudade,” a unique feeling of nostalgia for the old times but acceptance of the present situation expressed by the locals. You can sense it in the local music such as Foró and Sertanejo. The latter meaning the music of the “Sertão,” a virtually uninhabited outback area.
You will appreciate the colonial culture in the towns of São Luís and Olinda that house some beautiful architectural heritage from the early European colonial times. These most definitely merit a visit.
Enjoy the wonders of Nordeste from Fortaleza to Sáo Luís!
The Northeast is divided into several states, so we have divided it into 4 large areas to make it easier to navigate and to simplify your choices . In this section, you will find a description of the places accessible between Fortaleza and São Luís.
Fortaleza, the gateway to the most beautiful beaches of the Northeast
Fortaleza is the capital of the Ceará, its nickname “terra da Luz” (the land of light), refers not to the sun but to the anticipated abolition of slavery compared to the rest of the country. This town has drastically developed its tourism industry since the 1990’s.
In 2003 it became the top holiday destination for Brazilians. With 2 million inhabitants it is a growing city. There are a few remarkable buildings such as the José de Alencar theatre, a small regional museum in the Centro quarter and an interesting cultural centre, the Dragão do Mar. Beira Mar Avenue along the sea front, and near the hotels is where you will find the feverish nightlife of Fortaleza.
Fortaleza boasts the Pinto Martins International Airport, which is the shortest way from Europe to Brazil. It allows easy access to the amazing Nordeste coast with a daily flight from Lisbon of only 7hrs. If you choose to land in Fortaleza to start your holiday, you will begin with endless fine sandy beaches, 28°c seawater and sunshine all year round! It is therefore an ideal starting point for a stay in Jericoacoara, Canoa Quebrada, or to go along the “Route of Emotions” as far as São Luís.
Jericoacoara, true paradise and the jewel of the Northeast
Our flagship destination in the Northeast is undoubtedly the old fishing village of Jericoacoara, it has one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world and regularly tops any listings. Everyone falls in love with this village that has remained beautifully simple and resisted the temptations of mass tourism.
Inaccessible for cars, here you can discover a quiet paradise where you can wander the sandy streets lined with craft shops, restaurants and welcoming bars. This little bay is lined by dunes and cliffs and is a haven for kite surfers with spots at Prea and Guriu close by. It is also ideal for relaxing and totally unwinding or for nature lovers with its fabulous natural landscape.
We suggest reaching Jericoacoara in two half days or a full day, traveling in an all terrain vehicle along the beaches from Fortaleza or Cumbuco. If you choose the formula of two half days, we suggest stopping for the night in Guajiru, a superb little fishing village where you can enjoy the calm and magic of a truly peaceful place.
From the incredible Lençois desert to historic São Luís
São Luís is the capital of the Maranhão state. It is a small town famous for a splendid past and is known today for its architectural heritage. It has many buildings covered in “azuleijos,” small decorated porcelain tiles that date back to colonial times.
It is known as the largest collection of Portuguese colonial architecture in the world and is therefore listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Wandering the streets of this town once called “The Brazilian Athens”, (referring to the writers that came here at the end of the 19th century), takes you on a dreamlike trip into the prosperous past of this region. The hard climatic conditions have worn some buildings out over the centuries, but the local government and private initiatives are slowly renovating this exceptional place in the town centre.
4hrs. from here you will discover Barreirinhas, the entrance to a truly unique nature park : Lencois Maranhenses. Unspoiled sand dunes dotted with clear rain water lagoons, are spread along an area of 1500 km2. A breath taking sight, particularly at sunset, it’s the ultimate romantic destination.
Note : The lagoons are only full of water from May to October after the rainy season. Also to reach the Lençois from Barreirinhas, you have to drive along a bumpy sand track for about 40 minutes, then walk across the dunes for at least 10 minutes to reach the nearest lagoons. You should therefore have a minimum physical condition and mobility to be able to appreciate this place; however this is still an excursion ideal for kids over 6 years old and active retirees. If this is not the case, there are other options, contact us to discuss.
From Natal to Fortaleza, ocher cliffs and golden beaches
Discover two magnificent beach towns on the Northeastern coast. This section covers our selection of the best vacation destinations between Fortaleza and Natal.
The Potiguar coastline of Rio Grande do Norte
Imagine leaving Natal and driving along the beach in an all terrain vehicle, a fresh breeze blowing on your sun tanned face. Traveling along these vast deserted beaches lined with dunes and ocher coloured cliffs, will take you to the wonderful little seaside resort of Pipa, originally a fishing village and now one of the best vacation spots on the Rio Grande do Norte coast.
This is the perfect place to try some fresh lobster and other exotic fish. For a relaxing and fun time you can sunbathe on the beach, swim in the warm sea (or even with dolphins), try out the water sports and relax ! The local night life is a time to party and have fun!
Canoa Quebrada : discover the enchanting east coast of Ceará
The pretty fishing village of Canoa Quebrada is perched on top of the ocher cliffs facing the ocean, at 2hr30 by road from Fortaleza.
Popularized by the hippie youth and backpackers from all horizons in the 1960s / 70s, you will fall under the charm of this magnificent beach protected at low tide by the corals. Today it is a popular destination for tourists because it is a good alternative to staying in Jericoacoara as it is easier to get to and less expensive.
There are many water sports available and also buggy rides across the dunes, zip cording and paragliding. Each evening the main pedestrian street called “Broadway” by the locals, comes alive and is in full swing. An ideal destination to combine days on the beach and festive evenings.
A perfect vacation awaits you on one of our Northeast Brazil tours
With Fernando de Noronha and its rich marine life, the ultra exclusive Kenoa Resort in Maceio and the enchanting historical quarters in Recife and Olinda, the southern region of the Northeast is waiting to seduce you with its amazing treasures. You can find out more on our page dedicated to Recife, Olinda & Maceio.
Swim with marine turtles in Fernando de Noronha and discover a paradise island
The most exclusive and memorable place you can reach from Natal or Recife is the island of Fernando de Noronha. This alluring island is a reputed ecological sanctuary.
Access and the number of visitors is limited to reduce man’s impact on the environment. Places here are therefore few and expensive.
Diving enthusiasts will have an exceptional time here thanks to the clear waters full of marine life. Rays, sharks, turtles and many other coloured fish abound here, a unique experience in today’s world. Brazilians often say that “Sancho” beach is the most beautiful in the world!
Note : Due to its exclusivity, Fernando de Noronha must be booked well in advance to have a choice of rooms and flights that are not too expensive.
Olinda awaits, to charm you with a thousand colors…
If you are coming back from Noronha why not stop off at Olinda, not far from the town of Recife the capital of Permanbuco state.
Its remarkably well-preserved colonial architecture earned it UNESCO World Heritage status in 1982. You can climb the paved streets that cut through this historic district with a guide and discover all the mysteries of this interesting town. In February festival enthusiasts can walk the crowded streets to follow the carnival and dance to the local “Frevo“ music amongst the dressed up and frenzied crowd. The more courageous can swim off the beaches of Permanbucano, famous for their sharks!
An exclusive stay in a dream setting in Eastern Brazil
A short distance from Maceio, there is an exceptionally charming up market resort. This is the result of a collaboration with a renowned architect, Osvaldo Tenorio, and it is a perfect harmony between bare concrete, wood, stone, glass and local materials that have stood the test of time.
The Kenoa Resort is an exclusive eco-design hotel offering apartments and rooms as well as a villa with a private external and internal garden and exquisite dining room …. all this at the edge of a virtually deserted beach. Each room has its own pool maintained at a temperature of 28 degrees and the chef will be happy to welcome you with his specialties. If you like exclusive stays or if you want to spend an exceptional time, visit this privileged place in the state of Alagoas.
Top Northeast Brazil FAQs
When is the best time to travel to Northeast Brazil?
The best time to travel to the Northeast of Brazil is from June to February. The region has a semi – arid climate due to its proximity to the equator, meaning it is warm and sunny all year, however it does have a rainy season from March to May. The annual average temperature in the states of Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, Pernambuco and Bahia is between 25°C and 30°C / 77°F and 86°F. If you intend on spending time on the beaches of Bahia or the city of Salvador then it is definitely recommended that you go outside the months of March to May.
What are the top places to see in Northeast Brazil?
Fortaleza, known as “terra da luz” or the land of light is considered the gateway to the beautiful beaches of the Northeast. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Brazil and a top tourist destination for national visitors. Brazilians love to come to Fortaleza on holiday and branch out to the surrounding beaches and small fishing towns. Despite this, the city itself has many attractions and sites including the José de Alancar Theatre, a historic building in the city centre that boasts impressive art nouveau architecture. Dragão do Mar is a vast cultural centre with museums, art displays, cafés, theatres and cinemas. At night, the establishments in the surrounding area get quite lively as well. Close-by is Beira – mar, the avenue on the oceanfront that features a number of viewpoints, bars, restaurants and clubs. There is something for everyone in Fortaleza!
Not far from Fortaleza is Canoa Quebrada, a small village perched atop the ocher cliffs facing out to the ocean. Here is an ideal place to practice sports including kitesurfing, paragliding, windsurfing and zip – chording. The town was popularized in the 60´s and 70´s by backpackers and hippies who came here to get away from the big cities and enjoy the serenity and natural beauty. It now has quite a lively nightlife with revellers descending on “Broadway” the main strip, to enjoy the local music.
Fernando de Noronha is an ecological paradise that forms part of the state of Pernambuco although it is some 354km off the Brazilian coast. It is an exclusive destination as there are only a limited number of visitors allowed on the island at any one time. The wildlife of the island is the main attraction: dolphins, rays, sharks and tropical fish all call the archipelago home. Also, the highly endangered hawksbill turtle use the island to nest and hatch their young, you may encounter one whilst diving with one of the schools! Also, make sure to check the “Sancho” beach, which Brazilians regard as one of the most beautiful in the world.
If you travel as far as Recife, we recommend that you also pay a visit to nearby Olinda. It has an incredibly well – preserved colonial architecture that earned it UNESCO World Heritage status in 1982. Olinda is also a fantastic carnival destination because of its local “Frevo” music and dance which is traditional in the area and differs from what you would hear at carnival in Rio de Janeiro for example. If luxury and upmarket resorts are to your taste, the Kenoa resort a short way from Maceió is a must. Designed by Osvaldo Tenorio it is an exclusive site, designed with eco – sustainability in mind on the end of a deserted white sand beach. Frequented by celebrities and tourists alike, it is the perfect end to a holiday in the Northeast!