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Brazil: North coast: Natal, Fortaleza and Sao Luis

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The far north is a fascinating region hardly touched by tourism. The city of São Luís (a World Heritage Site) is an unexpected treat, its colonial and art nouveau buildings decorated with delicate European ceramic tiles. Just beyond is the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, its surreal, shifting landscape a wrinkled sheet of rippling sand dunes, pitted with jade and aquamarine freshwater lagoons. The river Preguiças flows into the mangrove-rich Parnaíba delta, where the bird-filled islets support traditional fishing communities. The wild sandy coastline has a few laid-back little resorts, notably Jericoacoara.

Fortaleza is an unashamedly holiday-focussed party city, famed for its exuberant nightlife - its broad, skyscraper-fringed beaches reminiscent of Copacabana.  It is also the entry point for visitors to gorgeous barefoot beaches within easy reach, such as Canoa Quebrada. 

Round the corner of Brazil’s shoulder the northeast, once wealthy with vast sugar plantations, has a cultural identity all of its own, complemented by wonderful beaches. Close to the pleasant port Natal is award-winning Pipa; the gorgeous sands there visited by turtles, and the bay by dolphins.

Our holidays to North coast: Natal, Fortaleza and Sao Luis

Lencoise Maranhenses

Off the beaten track Brazil: Dunes and lagoons of Lencois Maranhenses

Private journey

10 days from £2,236pp

Things to do in North coast: Natal, Fortaleza and Sao Luis

Sao Luis

Explore historic Sao Luis


Discover northeast Brazil's dunes and lagoons

Our insider tips for North coast: Natal, Fortaleza and Sao Luis


Paul Winrow-Giffin

From a trip into the dunes, view the shimmering sight of the sunshine-dappled pools created by the summer and autumn rains.


Sarah Bradley

Wander round the atmospheric centre of São Luís, gradually being restored to its former colonial glory.

Sophie Barber

Sophie Barber

Enjoy the thrills and spills of a dune buggy ride among the cactus-dotted cliffs at Jericoacoara, followed by a Technicolor sunset view over the sands.

Caroline Maber

Caroline Maber

Spot the rich wildlife of mammals, birds and reptiles from a boat trip on the river Preguiças.

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