Recife Tourism

Recife gets its name from the ancient underwater reef that protects its shore. In the 16th century, Recife was only a collection of fishing shacks. With the arrival of the Franciscans, and then Jews, the significance of the city began to expand steadily. The city’s growth is closely tied to the growth of the nearby town of Olinda, which has now been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Touristically, the city is famous for its Old Town, the spectacular Boa Viagem beach, the unrelenting arts and culture scene, vibrant nightlife and two iconic museums. There are many great churches, and also the America’s first Jewish synagogue. The museums all have excellent exhibitions – detailed, well-presented, and thoughtfully laid out.

Aside from three major parks, there’s not much to be done in terms of green spaces. The theatre scene is quite active. Shopping is great too, especially the souvenir kind. Food wise, Pernambuco state’s cuisine is distinct from the rest of Brazil thanks to its greater African and indigenous influence. Beach food is practically its own sub-culture, with an endless number of vendors serving the Boa Viagem beach. The Boa Viagem district also has many great bars, pubs, and nightclubs, which the local young crowd is crazy for.

There are a number of tourist attractions for sightseeing around the city too. For example, Itamaraca Island and Coroa do Aviao islet; Porto de Galinhas, the best beach in the state; Igarassu, the location of Brazil’s oldest church and some great artwork; and the Sao Benedito do Sul waterfalls. Off the shores, there are over 100 shipwrecks to dive to.

Essential travel information and Recife tips for your visit


  • Time Zone: BRT (UTC−3)
  • Currency: Brazilian real
  • Tipping: You don’t need to tip, except when being dropped to or fro from the airport; and a R$ 5/10 tip for the bellhop at hotels.
  • Tourist Traps: Marko Zero, Casa da Cultura
  • Languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish

 Electricity and Internet: 

  • Plug type: C, N
  • Standard: NBR 14136 127 V; 220 V 60 Hz


  • Never drink and drive in Brazil. The police are unbelievably strict, and are allowed to arrest you on mere suspicion.
  • Emergencies: 190 (police), 192 (ambulance)
  • Robbery is common, so take the usual precaustions.
  • The Boa Viagem beach is tiger shark infested.
  • Avoid downtown on Sundays.


  • Kissing on the cheek is a common greeting, but men should stick handshakes and backslaps with each other.
  • Don’t make the ‘OK’ sign with your hand.
  • It’s ok and expected to be slightly late.
  • Avoid sensitive topics.
  • Don’t be late answering social media and email and texts.

The best tours and activities in the city, guided by experts to give you a local insight to the best of Recife

  • Know the pollution level of Recife before you plan your visit.

    • Air Pollution 50 (Moderate)
    • Water Pollution 77.88 (High)
    • Noise and Light Pollution 60.58 (High)
    • Unattended dirt and garbage 81 (Very High)
    • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 58.65 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal 77.88 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City 50.96 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Green zones and parks 64 (High)
  • How safe is Recife for tourists? Understand risks and safety concerns that can hamper your travel experience in Recife.

    • Burglary and Theft 58.75 (Moderate)
    • Mugging and Robbery 88.89 (Very High)
    • Assault and Armed Robbery 91.98 (Very High)
    • Corruption and Bribery 93.92 (Very High)
    • Car Stealing 73.77 (High)
    • Robbery of Car belongings 76.58 (High)
    • Attacks 70.37 (High)
    • Drug offense 75.66 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during daylight 33.13 (Low)
    • Safety walking alone during night 9.26 (Very Low)
    • Insulting and offensive behaviour 50.33 (Moderate)
    • Hate crime due to Racism, Religion, ethnic origin 25.33 (Low)
    • Property crimes and Vandalism 83.02 (Very High)
  • Quality of Life Index of Recife is 81.57 (Moderate)

    • Safety Index 23.13 (Low)
    • Climate Index 79.28 (High)
    • Pollution Index 69.55 (High)
    • Traffic Commute Time Index 45.21 (High)
    • Cost of Living Index 39.35 (Very Low)
    • Health Care Index 60.68 (High)
    • Property Price to Income Ratio 18.37 (Very High)
    • Purchasing Power Index 26.47 (Very Low)
    • Indices such as Quality of life, Climate & Healthcare index are good to be high whereas others such as Property price, Traffic & Cost of living Index are good to be low.

  • Here's how much it will cost to shop in Recife

    • Local calling per minute on Prepaid mobile 0.28 USD
    • International Movie per seat 6.69 USD
    • Summer clothing in a chain store 34.6 USD
    • Pair of Basic Nike Shoes 64.43 USD
    • Pair of Basic Levis Jeans 40.69 USD

*Stats and figures mentioned are crowd-sourced ​and subjected to change without notice.

* Some of the data on this page is powered by Numbeo