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Most of the tourists that go to Brazil think of Rio as the number one destination spot. Well, they are right. But year after year, another city is getting closer to it, and already is the main destination for many tourists coming from Europe or North America: Fortaleza. With a weather that dares being even better than the one in Rio, this city in northeast Brazil coast has turned itself in a tropical paradise. Temperatures among 25°C to 36°C (77°F to 97°F) all year long, 20 miles of sandy and sunny beaches, packed with luxury hotels, resorts as well as cozy inns, Fortaleza and the surrounding beaches are a whole new world of fun to be explored. 


As it is easy to imagine, the sea have always been the most important thing for Fortaleza, and historically, a great part of this importance was conquered by the traditional Jangada boat. This picture shows one of them, and it was standing there, just in front of our hotel. They have been one of the most traditional images of Ceara. Even today, when modern fishing boats face depart from the city ports every day, early in the morning, hundreds of lonely sailors leave the coast aboard this tiny and fragile wooden made boats, making this a true picturesque scene.


A walk downtown should include Beira Mar Ave, one of the main promenades around the beach area (the one at left). Starting at 6 pm every night, during high season, there you will find the Feira de Artesanato, a real showcase of Ceara arts. Paintings, pottery, traditional arts and performing musicians. At left, one of the most known city monuments, Iracema Arc, a work by artist Zenon Barreto representing the young indian girl that used to live in this same beach, according to brazilian novelist José de Alencar.


Do not forget to visit to Centro Cultural Dragao do Mar. It is a cultural complex, including museums, planetarium, movies, library and very cozy bars and restaurants (right photo), painted with strong colors, the right place for some music and fun, specially on friday and saturday nights.


The statues of Iracema and Peri Indians, located at Mucuripe Beach. Next to it you will find de departure point of touristic boats that make two hours cruises. After your tour, take some time do Visit Coco Park, the largest in town, a lovely place full of attractions to children, as well as some restaurants and bars. Or why not Visit Praia do Futuro (Future Beach), the best place in town to have a beer in front of the sea.


At right, one of the many items found at Feira de Artesanato (souvenirs and handcraft fair), every night at Praia de Iracema beach, from 6 to 10 PM. The small figures are Lampiao and his wife Maria Bonita, the most notorious robbers from the past, that became quite famous at northeast Brazil.


The Englishman Bridge, left, used to be part of Recife old port, in the past. Today is a pleasant touristic atractions, with a small restaurant, souvenir shop and the best place in town to go fishing or just take great photos from the shoreline. Next to it are located a number of very popular restaurants and bars where you will be able to hear and dance to the most popular rythm in town, the Forro.


Boat trips are very popular among tourists in Fortaleza. The main tour operators are Ceara Saveiros (located Mucuripe Beach), Marina Park Hotel (at pier in front of the hotel), and Martur (also at Mucuripe Beach). Tours usually departs at 10 am and last 2 hours. During high season there are also evening and nigh tours. Do not forget to take you bathing suit, as all of the boat tours use to stop at some places to allow tourist to dive and swim for some time along the beautiful coast.

At right, a photo taken downtown.


Photo from Jose de Alencar Theater, located downtown. Usually on weekends, at the inner court, you will find free dance and music shows of authentic northeast brazilian music like the Forro, Baiao, Maracatu and many other. Costumes and instruments are very interesting and give a chance to know the vast array of musical traditions from Ceara state. The theather was built among 1908 and 1910, with steel brougth from Scotland, neoclassic style. You will also find there a library, art gallery and a cafeteria.


At right, Fortaleza Cathedral, located downtown.


In the state of Ceara you will find almost 400 miles of beaches, sand dunes and tall green palms. Among the best places to visit is the famous Jericoacoara beach (170 miles from Fortaleza). This ancient Indian word means Alligator basking in the sun... And, if there used to be some of them there, they probably chose the best place for basking in the sun, because a recent touristic scenic places survey made by the Washington Post, considered Jericoacoara one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world.


At right you can see a very common scene at the state of Ceara. A dream for some, and an everyday image in Fortaleza. Another thing that usually surprises visitors in Fortaleza is the green water colors and its warm temperature, all year round. The city has many beaches, some crowded with tourists and some others wild and apparently unchanged for centuries. Knowing this beaches, every one of them with its unique personality is a not only a challenge, but also a pleasure and the main goal of the visitors.

One more suggestion for a day tour outside Fortaleza is a visit to Canoa Furada beach, located in Aracati, about 100 miles away. Formerly a forgotten place, it is now one of the best options to relax and enjoy the nature. Or, if you prefer action, go to Aqua Park, a theme park located in Porto das Dunas, just 15 miles from downtown. There you will find all the usual water park attractions. The place has also lockers, restaurant and bars. Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Fortaleza is located in northeast Brazil, a 3 hours flight trip from Rio, and 5 hours flight from Miami. There are also many non stop flights from Europe. The city has many first class hotels, all of them facing the beach and the Jangadas boats. And, best of all, you don’t need to worry about which is the best time of the year to go there. In Fortaleza it is always summer.