With colorful colonial houses and narrow cobbled streets climbing the slopes of the hills, discover the romance of a charming town facing the ocean, that seems lost in time.
The small town of Olinda, just 8kms from Recife, in the southern part of the Northeast, deserves its UNESCO World Cultural Heritage title. With more than 300,000 inhabitants today, it is one of the biggest cities in the Northeast and played an important role in the local economy until the mid-19th century. This prosperity led to the construction of some beautiful buildings and homes which remain as a splendid reflection of the town’s prosperous past. Its particularly steep topography earned it the nickname of “The Town of Seven Hills“.
Centuries of history and remarkable colonial architecture make this city one of the most beautiful places to visit in Brazil for lovers of history and culture. It’s also an interesting stop if you want to learn more about the largest country in Latin America on your way to the island of Fernando de Noronha.
Finally, Olinda is a favorite destination for partygoers and other night owls during the carnival in February. The city is known throughout Brazil for having the most feverish carnival in the country!
On your Recife and Olinda Tour
The Cultural Heritage of Pernambuco with its captivating capital, Recife
“The tropical Venice”
The treasures of Olinda’s colonial architecture
Recife and Olinda Tour package :
- 1 private transfer with Portuguese speaking driver from Recife airport to your hotel in Olinda
- 2 nights with a double room in the hotel
- 1 half-day guided tour of Olinda with a professional guide.
- 1 full day (8hrs) visiting Recife with an English speaking guide.
- 1 private transfer from Olinda to Recife airport.
Discover Olinda’s rich cultural history and the economic pillar of the colonial Northeast
Olinda was founded by the Portuguese around 1535 on the hills overlooking the Atlantic, from where they could see ships arriving from Europe or Africa.
It has a particular charm that enchants the visitor. Legend has it that it got its name from the first settlers who cried out “O Linda!” or “what a beauty!” when discovering its idyllic landscape.
Right from the sixteenth century, Olinda became one of the most prosperous cities in the Northeast thanks to its sugar industry. As with other Brazilian cities, its cultural and architectural growth, linked to the exploitation of sugar cane, attracted artists from all walks of life. They created a city center of wealth and splendor that has stood the test of time.
On this Recife and Olinda tour, you will discover the vibrant and colorful colonial architecture along the narrow cobbled streets that wind down to the sea. Visit the Santa Isabel theatre or the numerous baroque churches, including the Alto da Sé Cathedral and the Convento de São Francisco, with their splendid Portuguese, Italian and Spanish architecture. Finally, you can stroll around the São Jose market with its array of intense colors in a town where tropical vegetation meets the blue ocean.
Olinda, a serenely beautiful city that pulses to the crazy rhythm of carnival!
The architectural splendors of the historic center take on a particular image during the Carnival, which is quite different from the one in Rio, but no less popular.
Whereas in Rio there is a very formal parade in the Sambodrome, Olinda celebrates to the rhythm of the blocos. These carnival groups parade through the narrow streets followed by the crowd of “Folioes,” these are what the people who dress up and participate in the festivities are called.
If you come to enjoy these few days when the party is in full swing throughout Brazil, do not miss the “bonecos” parades, these giant papier-mâché puppets, that are a tradition in Olinda and recognized as an example of true Nordeste heritage.
Finally, do not miss the famous “Galo da Madrugada” the largest bloco in the world! Following its procession, you will discover “Frevo”, a musical style from the nearby city of Recife, so furious that even samba seems slow in comparison. This is typical Olinda carnival music, which you will recognize from the feverish rhythm of drums and percussion. The Maracatu dance invokes the subversive aspect of the days of slavery. The parade, a mixture of music and dance evokes the ancestral lands of Africa.
The heritage of Pernambuco on your Recife and Olinda tour
The colorful character of Olinda’s culture extends throughout the Pernambuco region, as far as Recife, its twin city, which was founded in 1537 from a simple fishing port.
It became the regional capital 300 years later, thanks to its large port which gave it a more strategic position for maritime trade.
Nicknamed the “Brazilian Venice” because it has three islands and peninsulas, it will charm you with its canals and channels that form the Capibaribe river. During your guided tour, you will explore these islands that form the historic heart of the city.
Recife and Olinda Tour – Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Olinda / In
Arrival of your morning flight in Recife.
A driver awaits you at the airport to take you to Olinda, a 30 to 40 minute trip depending on the traffic.
Arrival in Olinda, the driver will drop you off at the hotel.
Afternoon, your English speaking guide will meet you for a half day visit of Olinda (4hrs).
Olinda, the city of seven hills, is a marvel of colonial architecture and a walk through its steep streets with colorful houses is a real delight. With colonial mansions and vast gardens, Baroque churches with rich decorations, all the splendor of a prestigious past will appear in front of you.
From one street to another, let your mind wander along the brightly colored facades and imagine the old days where “brown gold”, (sugar cane), ensured the prosperity of the region. From the churches of Sé and da Misericordia, you will admire the magnificent view of the city below, as well as its neighbor Recife.
Return and night at the pousada
Day 2 : Recife
After a delicious sweet and savory Brazilian breakfast buffet at your hotel, a driver will take you to Recife. You will spend the day visiting this Northeastern capital with a local guide (about 8hrs.).
During the visit, your guide will show you the three islands of the city: Recife, Santo Antônio and Boa Vista. On the island of Santo Antônio, the heart of the historical part of the city, you will visit the Casa de Cultura (House of Culture), located in a mid – nineteenth century former prison. You will then join the beautiful raised Republic square where you will find many of the city’s remarkable buildings such as the Governor’s Palace, the famous Santa Isabel Theater and the Justice Palace.
During your visit you will also come across the famous Capela Dourada (golden chapel) and the bustling and colorful São José market, as well as the famous artist Francisco Brennand’s workshop.
Lunch where you like during the day.
Return to the hotel at end of the afternoon.
Night at the hotel.
Recife and Olinda Tour – Accommodation
Hotel 7 colinas
The hotel 7 colinas is a modern but charming hotel that has the double advantage of being located in the historic center of Olinda and in a beautiful garden of 15 000m2 with some very old trees. There is also an interesting museum in an old house with period furniture.
With its 44 pleasant and functional rooms, with balconies or terraces and various services (restaurant, sauna, swimming pools, gym, bar, library etc. ..) this hotel has a very comprehensive and quality offer. The 7 colinas hotel is, for us, the best choice in Olinda for groups or family visitors as well as those looking to enjoy a little bit of nature during their stay.
Pousada Do Amparo
The pousada do Amparo is a charming establishment very well located in the heart of Olinda. Indeed, Amparo is also known as the street of artists and is a great example of the local atmosphere. Housed in an ancient building with a nice little garden and swimming pool, the 17 rooms of this pousada have all been individually decorated, highlighting the interesting architectural structure of each room.
Communal areas are decorated with grand materials and antique furniture with a touch of modernity creating an intimate and romantic atmosphere. It is an elegant establishment that has been a regional reference for 20 years. We love the quality decor and the warm atmosphere. It is the ideal destination for couples and those looking for a charming or small establishment.