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State of Pernambuco

(105,000+ reviews from top 30 attractions)
Beaches Museums Historic Sites
Home to a World Heritage-listed city that's considered one of the oldest European settlements on the continent, State of Pernambuco manages to preserve much of its colonial architecture and atmosphere despite modern developments. Big urban centers contain the majority of State of Pernambuco tourist attractions, which include landmark churches built in the early 16th century. A melting pot of African, European, and indigenous cultures, the region boasts a varied musical scene, drawing travelers interested in taking culturally enriching holidays in State of Pernambuco. Away from its major urban centers, the region boasts a relatively short but appealing coastline dotted with sandy beaches and lapped by surfing waves. Plan your visit to State of Pernambuco and other destinations in Brazil using our Brazil tour planner.
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State of Pernambuco Holiday Planning Guide

Home to a World Heritage-listed city that's considered one of the oldest European settlements on the continent, the state of Pernambuco manages to preserve much of its colonial architecture and atmosphere despite modern developments. Big urban centers contain the majority of Pernambuco's tourist attractions, which include landmark churches built in the early 16th century. A melting pot of African, European, and indigenous cultures, the region boasts a varied musical scene, drawing travelers interested in taking culturally enriching holidays in Pernambuco. Away from its major urban centers, the region boasts a relatively short but appealing coastline dotted with sandy beaches and lapped by surfing waves.

Places to Visit in State of Pernambuco

Cities in the State of Pernambuco

Recife: A vibrant coastal city that once housed the headquarters of Dutch Brazil, Recife offers urban beaches, great nightlife, and a renowned Carnival.

Olinda: The first permanent European settlement in the state, Olinda boasts World Heritage-listed colonial architecture and a relaxing atmosphere full of galleries and artisan shops.

Jaboatao dos Guararapes: A great day escape from the capital, Jaboatao dos Guararapes provides quiet urban beaches and an opportunity to tour ancient churches and ruins.

Caruaru: Experience the Brazilian wilderness during your Pernambuco trip by basing yourself in Caruaru--an excellent hub to explore the surrounding nature with its public parks, gardens, and quaint artisan shops.

Paulista: Famed for its coconut tree-lined beaches and a water park, Paulista attracts visitors with its natural pools, islets, and calm waters.

Popular State of Pernambuco Tourist Attractions

Vila de Porto de Galinhas Beach: Enjoy the iconic landscape, snorkel in the estuary, and stroll among palms and mangroves--or take a boat out to the natural pools created by reefs.

Muro Alto Beach: Unwind on this long beach backed by green vegetation, snorkel in the calm waters, or rent a kayak to explore the natural "high wall" formed by reefs.

Carneiros Beach: Swim or snorkel around some dozen shipwrecks, take a catamaran ride, or simply laze on the soft white sands backed by palms.

Instituto Ricardo Brennand: Add some culture to your tour of Pernambuco by exploring historic artefacts here, ranging from the Early Middle Ages to modern art. Learn about colonial Brazil and its Dutch heritage at one of the largest armories in the world.

Baia do Sancho: Unplug at a secluded beach on this World Heritage-listed island complete with clear waters, iconic coastal landscapes, and diverse wildlife--all providing excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Recife Antigo: Tour the colorful 16th-century architecture and a well-preserved urban core with vibrant art communities, galleries, and classy boutiques. Pause to dine while enjoying a view of the river.

Boa Viagem Beach: This long urban beach attracts a young crowd day and night with great views, recreational park, and emerald waters.

Praca do Marco Zero: Containing the milestone from which all local road distances are measured, this public square stands at the estuary of the Capibaribe River and boasts a sculpture park and towering crystal column.

Pontal De Maracaipe: Unwind on the soft sands of Pontal de Maracaipe, take kitesurfing lessons, or visit a research and viewing facility dedicated to the preservation of Brazilian sea horses.

Praia do Sueste: Take advantage of snorkeling opportunities and view the diverse marine life in this bay of the World Heritage-listed island. On land, explore a rare mangrove forest and nearby fort.

Planning a State of Pernambuco Vacation with Kids

Places to Visit in State of Pernambuco with Kids

As a popular tourist destination, State of Pernambuco offers many kid-friendly destinations. In Recife, children have plenty of opportunities to combine their beach activities with a visit to the movie theater or a water park. Young ones will certainly enjoy the atmosphere in the city during festival time, so consider planning your Pernambuco vacation to coincide with the state's busy holiday schedule. In addition to beaches on UNESCO-protected Fernando de Noronha, you can visit a marine park or a museum dedicated to sharks. Inland areas like Caruaru have many neat public parks and gardens, as well as adventure areas and museums.

Things to Do in State of Pernambuco with Kids

Of the many things to do in Pernambuco with kids, most revolve either around family-friendly beach activities or nature exploration. The state abounds in water parks, ziplines, and museums, plus great snorkeling spots, short treks, and pony rides. The capital Recife's urban beaches and vibrant street life appeal to all ages, especially during its colorful festival. Add some history and culture to your Pernambuco itinerary with a visit to Instituto Ricardo Brennand, boasting a gigantic armory and an array of other displays.

When on Fernando de Noronha Island, take the kids to Museu do Tubarao to explore giant jaws of sharks and other fascinating artifacts, and then swim with the sea turtles or help them hatch at Projeto Tamar.

Tips for a Family Vacation in State of Pernambuco

Brazil is a child-friendly nation, and major tourist attractions tend to be suitable for young visitors. You should check the necessary vaccinations ahead of your State of Pernambuco trip, especially if you are planning on visiting the interior. No matter what time of year your vacation falls, slather on the sunscreen during the day to protect everyone's skin from the strong sun.

Dining and Shopping on Holiday in State of Pernambuco

Cuisine of State of Pernambuco

Pernambuco has a typical northeast cuisine with plenty of beef, goat, and seafood in the coastal region. Meat lovers will want to order salted and cured "sun-dried" beef (carne de sol)--usually served grilled--or charque, a cured meat similar to jerky. Adventurous gourmands shouldn't miss buchada, goat tripe stew. Grilled or stewed goat meat is considered a specialty.

During the June festivities try pamonha, a boiled paste made from sweet corn and wrapped in corn husks. Savory pamonhas can be stuffed with cheese, sausage, minced meat, or peppers, while sweet ones have ground coconut pulp. Another sweet dish to sample is canjica, a porridge made with white whole maize kernels cooked with milk, sugar, and cinnamon with added coconut milk and cloves.

If visiting Olinda during your State of Pernambuco vacation, try jerimum recheado com camarao, an entire pumpkin stuffed with seafood and coconut milk stew.

One of the favorite desserts in Recife is called cartola. It is made of caramelized bananas topped with a layer of mild cheese.

Shopping in State of Pernambuco

Take advantage of your trip to Pernambuco to pick up some quality local handicrafts reflecting the culture of the region. Recife has a major crafts center featuring an array of locally made goods from some 500 vendors, and its central market also offers plenty of choices. Look for carved wood, embroidery, leather, and more. Pernambuco House of Culture, a jail-turned-shopping center, features tiny shops in each of the cells, selling gems, lace, and other souvenirs. Alternatively, if you prefer boutiques in a classy 18th-century setting, visit Paço Alfândega.

For a range of quality artwork from puppets to paintings, visit Olinda, where a long artistic heritage is alive and well today in markets, shops, and ateliers.

If you head inland during your holiday in Pernambuco, pick up one of the famous clay figurines at the celebrated market in Caruaru.

Know Before You Go on a Trip to State of Pernambuco

Interesting Facts About State of Pernambuco

* Pernambuco is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the largest outdoor country festival.

* The city of Recife is believed to have the highest per capita consumption of whiskey in the world.

* Pernambuco was ruled by the Dutch from 1630 to 1654.

* Pernambuco still retains its revolutionary flag of 1817 with a star, rainbow, sun, and Latin cross.

Holidays & Festivals in State of Pernambuco

Pernambuco has a long tradition of festivals, and if you time your visit to coincide, you'll be treated to an unforgettable atmosphere. The bonfires honoring St. John during Festas Juninas create a distinct haze in the air throughout June. Colorful celebrations with music, fireworks, and costumes take over the streets, while locals and visitors gorge on corn-based dishes served up during this harvest festival. One of the largest and most genuine celebrations takes place in downtown Caruaru, with different national and local singers performing and thousands of people gathering from all over Brazil at the city's Pátio do Forró.

Liven up your State of Pernambuco vacation with a traditional Carnival in Recife or Olinda, which earned the state a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest outdoor country festival. Rivaling the festival in Rio, Carnival in Pernambuco is famous for mass attendance and festive atmosphere. Frevo and maracatu rhythms dominate, and parades of giant effigies march down the streets. The event takes place in February but usually spills over to March.

Useful State of Pernambuco Travel Tips

Climate of State of Pernambuco

In general, the State of Pernambuco has a tropical climate with average temperatures of 26 C (79 F) and two clearly defined seasons--one being a rainy period running from March to July. While the climate changes from the humid coast to the dry inland sertão, proximity to the equator guarantees sunshine throughout the year, so you can expect a great deal of sun during your Pernambuco vacation.

The state capital of Recife has a tropical monsoon climate with warm to hot temperatures and high humidity tempered by pleasant trade winds. The city's warmest months are January and February with mean temperatures ranging from 22 to 30 C (72 to 86 F). July has the coolest temperatures, averaging between 21 and 27 C (70 and 81 F), with an average of 388 mm (15.3 in) of rain. November is the driest and sunniest month, when maximum temperatures hover around 30 C (86 F).

In the countryside the climate gets cooler, with temperatures on the Borborema Plateau descending to lows of 5 to 10 C (41 to 50 F) in winter, especially in towns above an altitude of 1,000 m (3,280 ft). In the sertão region, days are hot and nights are cool, and prolonged droughts are frequent.

Transportation in State of Pernambuco

A major tourist destination, the State of Pernambuco provides a decent transportation network. The capital Recife is a major transport hub, letting you connect to all major cities and areas. In general, Pernambuco has a good bus network, with frequent departures from all major cities. The state has no passenger railways.

If you opt to rent a car for your Pernambuco holiday, you'll find rental companies in all major centers. Several federal highways run through Pernambuco, including one on the coast and another linking the coast westward to Caruaru. Driving the coast is considered safe, but the authorities do not recommend driving through the sertão due to possible violence and lack of law enforcement.

Pernambuco has two major airports: one in Recife, very busy with daily international and domestic flights, and another in Petrolina. Considering the risk of driving through the sertão, flying out to Petrolina is recommended.