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Travelling to Recife

Recife's airport has a tourist information booth at the arrivals level that's open daily from 8am to 6pm (tel. 081/3462-4960). The best information booth is at Praça Boa Viagem, open daily from 8am to 8pm (tel. 081/3463-3621). The staff are helpful and will provide an excellent free map of Recife.

Travelling to Recife
Arriving in Recife by Plane.

Varig (tel. 0800/997-000 or 081/3341-4411), Gol (tel. 0300/789-2121 or 081/3464-4789), and TAM (tel. 0800/123-100 or 081/3462-5011) all have flights to Recife. Visitors fly into Recife's Aeroporto Internacional dos Guararapes, Praça Ministro Salgado Filho s/n, Boa Viagem (tel. 081/3464-4188), about 12km (7 1/2 miles) south of the city center and just a few kilometers from the beachside hotels in Boa Viagem.

A taxi to Boa Viagem costs R$12 to R$18 (US$5-US$7.50) and to Olinda, R$45 to R$60 (US$19-US$25). You'll find a queue for Taxi Coopseta Aeroporto (tel. 081/3464-4153) on the arrivals level. For visitors staying in Boa Viagem, the regular airport bus, no. 33 or 42, leaves every 15 minutes and passes within 1 block of most hotels along the beach; the fare is R$1.50 (US65¢).

Arriving in Recife by Bus.
Buses arrive at Recife's Terminal Integrado de Passageiros (TIP), Rodovia BR-232, Km 15, Curado (tel. 081/3452-1999), 14km (8 1/2 miles) west of downtown. A Metrô connects the bus station to downtown Recife's station, Estação Central. Note: Buses from Recife to Olinda or to Porto de Galinhas leave from downtown and Boa Viagem, not from this station.
City Layout.

Recife's layout of downtown can be a little confusing as it consists of various islands that are connected by several bridges. Downtown Recife consists of three main areas: Bairro do Recife (often called Recife Antigo, or Old Recife), Santo Antônio, and Boa Vista/Santo Amaro. Recife Antigo is the oldest part of the city, founded by the Dutch in the 1630s.

Ongoing renovations are reviving and revitalizing this area, a la Pelourinho in Salvador. An area of at least 15 city blocks centered on the Rua da Bom Jesus has been restored to its former glory. The best time to experience this area is during the weekends when it is at its liveliest.

Three bridges connect Old Recife with Santo Antônio. It's one of Recife's main commercial areas, and the home of many of its most interesting sights. Narrow streets packed with shops and vendors surround beautiful baroque churches and plazas. On weekdays this part of downtown just hops, particularly the narrow and twisting streets around the Patio de São Pedro.

The principal street in Santo Antônio is Avenida Dantas Barreto, a wide boulevard that runs down the spine of the island. Buses to and from downtown leave from this street, either from Praça da Independencia, where Dantas Barreto meets Rua Primeiro de Março, or from farther up opposite N.S. de Carmo Basilica.

West of Santo Antônio on the mainland lie the modern and not very interesting office districts of Boa Vista and Santo Amaro.

The main beach and residential area of Recife starts just south of downtown and carries on uninterrupted for many miles. The first stretch, where Avenida Boa Viagem begins, is called Pina. The area around Polo Pina is a popular nightlife spot with some bars and restaurants. Farther along the beach the neighborhood name changes to Boa Viagem. This is the city's main hotel area. The beach itself is pleasant and clean but unfortunately the area has the highest number of shark attacks in all of Brazil. At low tide the reefs that lie just off the coast are easily visible in the perfectly clear blue water.

Olinda lies atop a hill, 7km (4 1/4 miles) north of downtown. Regular buses make the trip in about 30 minutes. You'll arrive at the Praça do Carmo bus station at the foot of Olinda. From there it's all uphill. The town is small enough that directions aren't really necessary. Keep strolling and you'll see everything.

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