Perched on the northeastern coast of Brazil, Fortaleza is the gateway to some of the country’s most magnificent beaches and coastal scenery. With three days, you’ll have time to visit the cultural sites, sample regional cuisine, and party at the city’s legendary forró clubs, as well as enjoying a day trip to the surrounding beaches. Here’s how.
Day 1: City Sightseeing and Cocktails
Get your bearings in Fortaleza by joining a city tour—as one of Brazil’s largest cities, having transport will save a lot of time. Admire landmarks such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Iracema Statue, and the President Castelo Branco Mausoleum; visit the Museum of Ceara to learn about the region’s indigenous heritage; then browse the stalls at the Central Market or shop for traditional handicrafts at the Center of Tourism.
Drive along the seafront Avenida Beira Mar, with views over Iracema and Meireles beaches, and time your arrival at the Fish Market for lunch—Fortaleza is renowned for its fresh-from-the-ocean seafood. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Cachaça Museum, where you can sample Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha. Save time by prebooking your tickets with transfers from Fortaleza and combine it with a visit to the iPark Tourist Complex, where activities include horseback riding, ziplining, and water sports. Back in the city, make your way to the Ponte de Ingleses to watch the sun go down.
Day 2: Sun, Sea, and Waterslides
Just north of Fortaleza, the fishing village of Cumbuco is renowned for its white-sand beaches and stunning coastal scenery, and it’s close enough to explore on a half-day tour. In the afternoon, Fortaleza’s four urban beaches—Mucuripe, Meireles, Iracema, and Futuro—are all worth a visit, but Futuro is the best for swimming and just east of downtown. A fun alternative for families is the Beach Park, the largest water park in Latin America. It’s about a 45-minute drive from the center, so consider booking your tickets and transfers in advance.
Save some energy for the evening hours; Fortaleza is renowned for its forró (traditional Brazilian music and dance) clubs. The Dragão do Mar cultural center has numerous options for bars, restaurants, and live music venues, while joining a barhopping tour means you’ll benefit from local recommendations and hotel transfers.
Day 3: Take a Day Trip
For your final day in Fortaleza, choose among different options for day trips. A couple of hours’ drive from the city is Lagoinha Beach, formerly a hideout for French pirates and now an idyllic fishing colony surrounded by towering red sand dunes. Alternatively, the coastal town of Morro Branco is known for its wind-sculpted red cliffs, multicolored sand dunes, and natural caves. To make the most of your time, combine a visit with stops at the beach towns of Praia das Fontes and Canoa Quebrada along the way. You could even head north to Jericoacoara Beach on a long day tour from Fortaleza. With its powder-white sands and year-round sunshine, it’s renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in northern Brazil.