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Having recently explored the dynamic city of Fortaleza in Brazil, I wanted to give you guys a few tops tips on what to do there, where to stay, and the best ways to get around. Fortaleza is the large capital of the Brazilian state of Ceará and is a bustling place with around four million inhabitants. As such there is plenty to keep you busy while staying here, not to mention about 25 stunning beaches! From history, culture, and nightlife to tasty local cuisine, Fortaleza offers something for everyone. Here I’ve picked my favorites…
Best things to do in Fortaleza
Check out the Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Fortaleza (also known as St Joseph’s) is one of the highlights of the city with its neo-Gothic architectural style drawing parallels with European churches like Cologne and Notre Dame. The cathedral holds up to 5,000 people and is well worth a visit while staying in the city.
Buy souvenirs at the Central Market
The sprawling stalls of the Mercado Central is heaven for shopaholics with everything from clothing to food all under one roof. This is the perfect place to browse for souvenirs and with over 500 shops you’re sure to find something you love.
Spend a day at the Beach Park
Beach Park is the biggest aqua park in South America and is fun for all the family no matter your age. The park has a whole host of slides and rides for you to enjoy throughout the day as well as beach bars, restaurants and a decent strip of sand so you can relax while the kids continue to go around and around on the rides! Insano is a slide with a 41m drop so is ideal for those seeking to get their heart racing!
Walk along Beira Mar
The Beira-Mar boardwalk is one of the top spots in Fortaleza and is a great place to while away a few hours. This beach walk promenade stretches along the coast between the high-rise hotels and the shore, making for a stark and striking contrast. The Beira-Mar always has something going on, with vendors selling everything from street food to handicrafts, bars and restaurants galore and people putting on mini performances throughout the day so you’ll never be short of something to see or do.
Head to the Fish Market
The Mercado de Peixes do Mucuripe (or fish market to you and me) is an awesome place to take in Brazilian life, with fishermen coming in and out on their traditional wooden boats and locals sitting around dining on fresh seafood. Wander around the market to see the crazy variety of fish on offer before finding a spot on the seafront to devour a hearty plate of prawns.
Açai is a superfood that originates in the Brazilian States of Amazônia and Pará and has become famous the world over. When you’re in Brazil there’s no excuse not to try an açai smoothie or fruit bowl for breakfast! Açai is deep purple in colour and has a rich fruity flavour. But be warned, despite being full of antioxidants, açai berries are quite calorific and high in fat so you probably won’t want to be eating them all day every day no matter how tasty they are!
Watch the sunset from Mirante in Praia de Iracema
Watching the sunset from Mirante in Praia de Iracema is a lovely way to end your day in Fortaleza. The beachfront atmosphere is chilled and the views across the water are spectacular! Grab a cocktail and watch the sky turn a deep shade of orange before wandering along the seafront to find a spot for dinner. The bars and clubs around this area are fun too so it’s a good place for a dance after dark.
Taste the local cuisine
The gastronomy scene in Fortaleza has really taken off over the last few years with markets, bars and restaurants all making the most of local produce. One of the best ingredients here is crab that is caught daily and served up with tasty sauces and a salad and rice combo. Whether you head to a rustic fish market or a stylish beach-front bar like Moleskine Gastrobar, you’re sure to try some sumptuous seafood!
Try kite surfing, surfing or parapente at Praia de Futuro
Water sports are a fun way to enjoy the stunning views around Fortaleza. With everything from tranquil stand-up paddle-boarding, to activities like fly-boarding and paragliding for the adrenaline-junkies, Praia do Futuro is a great beach spot to spend a day. Even if you don’t want to try the water sports, it’s entertaining to while away a few hours on the beach watching people out on the water.
Spend the day at one of the beach clubs in Qumbuco
The beach clubs around Qumbuco are smart and stylish and are a cool spot to hang out with locals and tourists alike. The bars feature flowing drinks, sprawling pools and top DJs so you can drink and dance all afternoon and evening!
Have dinner at the Colosso Lake Lounge
The Colosso is a great place to have dinner while watching the sun set over the lake. If you come earlier in the day you can even do some stand up paddling. The restaurant serves modern food and nice cocktails.
Where to stay in Fortaleza
We stayed at the Oasis Atlantico Fortaleza which is right on the Avenue Beira Mar and has great sea views. The handicraft market is right outside and with the beach just seconds away you’re in one of the best spots in the city! The hotel features a pool with a swim-up bar as well as another restaurant and bar so even if you don’t leave the hotel, you’ll be able to try great Brazilian cuisine and cocktails.
How to get around Fortaleza
We used Uber pretty much the whole time we were in Fortaleza. While there is another official taxi service that runs around the city, we found Uber to be cheap, safe and convenient. Of course, we also spent a lot of the time walking around the city and along the boardwalk as this is the best way to get a real taste of a place and see what’s going on around town!
How to get to Fortaleza Brazil
If you’re traveling from Europe, there are direct flights from Lisbon, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris to Fortaleza’s Pinto Martins Airport, the closest major airport, which is 180 km away.
If you’re coming from the USA, there are direct flights from Orlando and Miami.
I was a guest of the State of Ceará, Brazil but all opinions are my own.