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- 21 Jan 2021, 3 nights
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A buzzing coastal town on Brazil's east coast, Fortaleza is one of the country's largest cities. Along its seafront are 25km of urban beaches lined with towering hotels and stalls on the sand serving drinks. A party spirit takes over the beachfront on weekends (which begin on Thursdays here), with clubs and bars playing Brazilian dance music. Head into the centre for markets and small shops alongside huge malls, or take to the water for surfing and scuba diving.
You can treat yourself at a Fortaleza hostel with its own outdoor pool and bubbling Jacuzzi, made even better with a drink from the bar in the evening. At another, get to know the local area with a free city tour followed by an afternoon surfing Wi-Fi from a garden hammock. Fortaleza hostels are all about fun and games with one providing nightly entertainment and free caipirinha cocktails, then complimentary breakfast for the morning after.
On the city's east coast is the Praia do Futuro neighbourhood along a 5km sandy shore popular for water sports. Head here to browse some 150 beach shacks serving seafood and drinks. On the weekend it erupts into a huge party that pumps out reggae and electronica music. It's the waterfront at Praia de Iracema, however, that's the heart of Fortaleza's club scene. Centro is the city's shopping hub in the middle of town, home to the Mercado Central market with over 500 stalls brimming with handicrafts.
As for things to do, you can soak up the sun with a drink at one of the many botecos (bars) lining the beaches or head to the Cervejaria Turatti microbrewery to sample some ales. Ice cream is a must at one of Brazil's famous shops, where you can try liquor-infused flavours, such as caipirinha. The Dragão do Mar (Dragon of the Sea) is a bustling arts and culture centre, hosting everything from bars and a concert hall to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea and the Memorial da Cultura Cearense.
The centre of the city is just 8km from Pinto Martins Fortaleza International Airport, which also flies to domestic airports like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. There are local buses running to and from the airport between 5am and 11pm, as well as taxis throughout the day (just make sure to check the charge before setting off). Buses are the main form of public transport in town, though irregular timetables mean you're best off adopting a chilled-out Brazilian attitude.