How to Spend 1 Day in Recife
One day in the Pernambuco capital is enough time to admire colonial architecture, browse the markets, and hit the beach before sampling the city’s legendary nightlife. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Recife.
Morning: Sightseeing and shopping
Start your day with a walking tour of Recife’s historic center, stopping by notable landmarks such as the 19th-century Santa Isabel Theater, Sao Pedro dos Clerigos Cathedral, and Santo Antônio Convent. Nearby, catch a glimpse of local life at the Mercado Sao Jose.
Just before lunch, head to the Casa da Cultura, a former 19th-century prison that’s now home to a huge market and cultural center. After browsing the stalls for traditional Brazilian handicrafts and souvenirs, learn more about Recife’s famous carnival celebrations at the Frevo Museum. Then, tuck into some local cuisine—finishing the meal with a piece of bolo de rolo (rolled guava cake), a regional specialty.
Afternoon: Cultural gems and caipirinhas
Two of Recife’s most important cultural sites are located just outside the city—visit as part of a tour to avoid the hassle of public transit. The castle-like Ricardo Brennand Institute has an impressive collection of art and artifacts, including medieval armor and a large number of Frans Post paintings. Close by, the Francisco Brennand Ceramic Workshop is devoted to the work of Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand.
Once you’re back in the city, make a beeline for Boa Viagem, Recife’s main beach, and spend the rest of the afternoon sipping caipirinhas on the sand or cooling off in the Atlantic.
Night: Sunset to sunrise
With its canals and historic bridges, Recife is often called the “Venice of Brazil,” and some of the best views of the city are from the water. Set sail along the Capibaribe River on a catamaran cruise, and watch the sunset as you pass landmarks such as the Francisco Brennand Sculpture Park and Marco Zero Square.
After dark, the bars and nightclubs along the beachfront at Boa Viagem fill up with a mix of locals and travelers. Recife’s nightlife is renowned, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself drinking and dancing until the sun comes up.