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- 05 Mar 2021, 3 nights
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Colourful Recife is the perfect blend of local Brazilian tradition, modern culture and laid-back beach life. Thrumming nightlife and a carnival to rival Rio de Janeiro's make it a big draw for party animals, while beach-lovers can go for a paddle in the calm waters protected by coastal coral reefs. You'll find plenty of art galleries and cultural spaces too, with vibrant street markets and historic buildings to wander through.
Staying in a hostel in Recife is the perfect way to soak up Brazilian culture. Some offer perks like free welcome drinks on arrival and free breakfasts where you can try local favourites like cuzcuz (similar to cous cous) and tapioca. Stay in a brightly coloured Recife hostel in the heart of the old town or a modern spot decorated in vintage style next to the beach. Outdoor spaces are a key feature in most Recife hostels, with hammocks to lounge in and barbecues to fire up at dinner time.
Recife Antigo (Old Recife) is the city's historic centre, with pedestrianised streets that often host bustling markets. Many of the colourful colonial buildings have been redeveloped and now have cool bars and clubs inside. To the south of the city is Boa Viagem, one of the most-visited beaches in northeastern Brazil. As well as 8km of sandy beach and calm waters, this upscale area has lots of outdoor cafés, restaurants and a lively nightlife scene.
When you're not sunning yourself on the tropical beach, you can go shopping in the cool air con of RioMar Recife, the third-largest mall in the country with more than 400 stores. For local souvenirs, head to the Casa da Cultura (House of Culture), a huge handicraft market in a former prison. During the evening there are often live music performances here. The nearby town of Olinda is also worth visiting. It was founded in the 16th century as a sugarcane trading centre, but today it's an artists' enclave with lots of galleries and studios.
Recife Airport, or Guararapes-Gilberto Freyre International, is around an hour from downtown on the local metro train. If you're arriving by bus, you'll be dropped off at the Terminal Integrado de Passageiros (Integrated Passenger Terminal). This is just outside the city centre and it's about a 15-minute journey into town on the metro's central line. The metro is the easiest way to get around once you're in Recife, although there are public buses and taxis too.