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

  • Save 4% City Tour of Olinda Including Instituto Ricardo Brennand
    City Tour of Olinda Including Instituto Ricardo Brennand4 Reviews

    Duration: 5 Hrs

    Come and experience Olinda and Recife, the 'Venice of Brazil' on this 5-hours city tour. See all the highlights of these city...

    Book Now
  • Save 4% Recife Boat Tour
    Recife Boat Tour1 Reviews

    Duration: 3 Hrs

    Unforgettable ride through the waters of the Capibaribe River covering the three islands in the center of Recife; Santo Anton...

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  • Save 4% Stand up Paddle in Jaboato River from Recife
    Stand up Paddle in Jaboato River from RecifeNew on TripHobo

    Duration: 3 Hrs

    Increasingly the SUP (Stand Up Paddle) is better known and has more fans around the world. Here in Recife would not be differ...

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  • Save 4% Arrival Transfer from Recife Airport to Olinda
    Arrival Transfer from Recife Airport to OlindaNew on TripHobo

    Duration: Flexible

    Relax with this transfer from the International Airport of Recife to all hotels in Olinda. This service uses transportation o...

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

    • Air Pollution 55.77 (Moderate)
    • Water Pollution 82.69 (Very High)
    • Noise and Light Pollution 65.38 (High)
    • Unattended dirt and garbage 78.85 (High)
    • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 63.46 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal 78.85 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City 57.69 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Green zones and parks 60.42 (High)
  • How safe is Recife for tourists? Understand risks and safety concerns that can hamper your travel experience in Recife.

    • Burglary and Theft 57.79 (Moderate)
    • Mugging and Robbery 90.32 (Very High)
    • Assault and Armed Robbery 94.76 (Very High)
    • Corruption and Bribery 95.42 (Very High)
    • Car Stealing 73.39 (High)
    • Robbery of Car belongings 77.5 (High)
    • Attacks 70.16 (High)
    • Drug offense 79.03 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during daylight 26.23 (Low)
    • Safety walking alone during night 3.23 (Very Low)
    • Insulting and offensive behaviour 48.36 (Moderate)
    • Hate crime due to Racism, Religion, ethnic origin 22.98 (Low)
    • Property crimes and Vandalism 86.29 (Very High)
  • Quality of Life Index of Recife is 75.03 (Moderate)

    • Safety Index 21.7 (Low)
    • Climate Index 79.28 (High)
    • Pollution Index 74.59 (High)
    • Traffic Commute Time Index 46.61 (High)
    • Cost of Living Index 41.74 (Very Low)
    • Health Care Index 60.21 (High)
    • Property Price to Income Ratio 19.94 (Very High)
    • Purchasing Power Index 27.03 (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 0.31 USD
    • International Movie per seat 6.74 USD
    • Summer clothing in a chain store 38.91 USD
    • Pair of Basic Nike Shoes 67.24 USD
    • Pair of Basic Levis Jeans 40.29 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