Fortaleza City Guide
Fortaleza is one of Brazil’s best loved beach cities. Its beautiful coast is a top holiday destination for Brazilians and the rest of the world is now following suit! It’s also a hub for the joyful party atmosphere that Northern Brazil is known for. Any Fortaleza city guide will tell you that its night life is legendary, particularly in the colourful neighbourhood of Iracema. Fortaleza is also a hub of Brazilian folk music and culture, its festivals often bustling with intriguing local dances. Fortaleza tourist information will be quick to inform you that José de Alencar’s Indianist novels about the relations between Portuguese settlers and indigenous people are so highly prized by the city that his ideas have entered into its local mythology. The vibrant mixture of strong folk tradition, metropolitan architecture and urban beach culture at Morro Branco and Fontes beaches make it a really inspirational place to visit.
Things to do in Fortaleza
The Dragão do Mar Centre of Art and Culture in the pretty and historic area of Iracema is well worth a visit. The complex includes the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Memorial da Cultura Cearense which has exhibits on the traditional culture of Fortaleza’s state, Ceará. The Theatro José de Alencar is one of Fortaleza’s most interesting landmarks. From the outside you can see its vibrant stained glass façade and the grand inside can be toured too. The Praia do Futuro beach sweeps elegantly along the coast with interesting beach huts called barracas where you’ll find delicious food for sale, it’s a well-known fact that one of the best things to do in Fortaleza is enjoy the sand and sea on Futuro’s shore.
Things to see in Fortaleza
Away from the hustle and bustle of the city there is the Parque Ecológico do Côco, a scenic area of protected mangrove swamp. The park is a refreshing place to tour via boat on a hot day and there is good information on the ecology of the area. The Museum of Ceará is one of the stimulating things to see in Fortaleza on a lazy afternoon, it is dedicated to exhibits on the state of Ceará and its formation. Generally it’s worth a walk around the Iracema beach and waterfront, this area is considered Fortaleza’s bohemian centre and it is known for its artists and exciting nightlife. The Fortaleza Cathedral has some interesting examples of mosaics; its gothic spires are worth a look at too.
Fortaleza’s Pinto Martins airport is well connected, with flights from North American and some direct European flights landing here. Once at the airport you can take a bus into Fortaleza’s city centre, or alternatively take a taxi. Once you’re in Fortaleza transport is not too hard to master as you will be travelling mostly around the compact five blocks nearest to the sea. The city is well served by buses that run every ten minutes on most routes. It is not advisable to walk around the port area but other parts of Fortaleza’s seafront are perfect for a stroll.
Although not as famous as some of its Brazilian counterparts, the Fortaleza events at Carnival time are still worth seeing. It’s also worth visiting in the period before Carnival, from about New Year’s Eve onwards when many venues host pre-Carnival events. There is also a large carnival-like music event called Fortal that is held in June and July. Another June event that is an intriguing look at Fortaleza’s folk culture is the Festa Junina. During this time you may be able to see the Quadrilhas juninas - folk dances that are often accompanied by the local Northeastern music forró.
Restaurants in Fortaleza
The local cuisine of Fortaleza is a hearty affair, with rice and beans often making up a large component of most of meals. The area is also known for its seafood and Thursday is crab day along Praia do Futuro. See if you can track down some delicious peixada in the city, a combination of fish and vegetables in a coconut sauce. Most of the best restaurants in Fortaleza are concentrated in in Varjota area so this is where foodies should head! The Mercado Central (Central Market) is also a good place to pick up local specialities.