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Brazil: Recife, Olinda and Fernando de Noronha

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Recife has a vivid character all of its own; hosting a mix of modern high rise building and colonial architecture reflecting the riches of the plantation boom which brought many African and Amazonian indian immigrants to the city. Recently there has been an artistic revival with traditional music and dance featuring in a modern, slightly gritty incarnation. Just up the road is Olinda, where cobbled streets and Portuguese baroque architecture have enchanted visitors for many years.

The tiny state of Alagoas, with its small-scale modern capital Maceió, is wedged between more illustrious neighbours but its homeliness and unpretentious charm attracts sun-worshippers to a string of silky, flour-white beaches lapped by impossibly turquoise seas.

Accessible by air from Recife is the only populated island in a protected Atlantic Ocean archipelago, volcanic Fernando de Noronha. The remote island attracts nature-loving visitors, especially divers and surfers. Craggy cliffs jacketed in scrubby vegetation close in on gorgeous bays of sugary sand, and the waters here are sapphire-clear. Much of the island is a protected marine park: sharks, dolphins, turtles and stingrays thrive there.

Our holidays to Recife, Olinda and Fernando de Noronha

View all holidays
Lencoise Maranhenses

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

Private journey

10 days from £2,236pp

Active Brazil

Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

Private journey

15 days from £3,284pp

Things to do in Recife, Olinda and Fernando de Noronha

Go Snorkelling

Go snorkelling in Brazil


Walking tour of colonial Olinda

Brazil diving

Go scuba diving in Brazil

Our insider tips for Recife, Olinda and Fernando de Noronha


Chris Rendell-Dunn

Visit the quiet, historic town of Olinda in conjunction with the busier, culturally diverse and and multi-faceted port, Recife - it's just 15 minutes up the coast by car.  


Angela Fernandez

Watching the sunset from one of Fernando de Noronha's best beaches, Baíia do Sancho or Baía dos Porcos.


Laura Rendell-Dunn

Exploring the undersea world of Fernando de Noronha at the tide pool at Praia da Atalaia: you can spot octopuses, lobsters and a myriad of fishes in the shallow water.

What our experts say

I arrived in Fernando de Noronha after hearing many rave reviews of the island, and one of its beaches, Bahia do Sancho is indeed the No.1 beach in the world as voted by reviewers on Trip Advisor. It didn't disappoint Its appeal lies in its lack of development – it is quite wild and unspoilt, with beautiful empty bays. Highlights were swimming with sharks and turtles. You feel mostly in the company of Brazilians, and there are no gaudy tourist attractions.  


Laura Rendell-Dunn

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