Take a look at Natal touristic attractions in the video below
Map of Natal
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Natal, the City of the Sun, capital city of the State of Rio Grande do Norte, is a major tourist destination in Brazil. Brazil is a big, peaceful, blessed by Nature country. Natal is growing more, and becoming popular among Brazilian and international tourists. Natal is a safe capital city in Brazil, and one of the Brazilian cities nearest Europe and North America.
Driving by the coast way, we’ll pass by the 2nd most important green urban park of this country, the most significant hotel of the city, Mother Luíza lighthouse, Areia Preta, Artistas, Meio and fortress beaches. We will also visit the fortress built by the Portuguese and the Dutch soldiers. From the fortress, we have a view of the old hydroplanes base made by the Americans during the second world war, which is nowadays a museum of Getúlio Vargas and Franklin Rosevelt. Further by the old town “Ribeira.” On our way, we´ll see the Alberto Maranhão Theater, the art captaincy, André de Albuquerque Square, Câmara Cascudo Museum, the Metropolitan Cathedral and The Three Power Square. Then we reach the center of the city. Our next stop will be at the “Centro de Turismo” a handicraft center located in an old prison built by the Portuguese during the colonization of Natal. After all this we continue to the modern side of Natal, passing by Petrópolis, Tirol and Lagoa Nova Neighborhood ´till we get to the football stadium “Machadão.” On the way back to Ponta Negra we will visit the gemstones lapidary which is a significant activity for the economy of Rio Grande do Norte and Brazil.
It is the most important monument of the city and became a national historical patrimony. Its construction was started in 1598 and was occupied by Dutch between 1633 and 1654. Its shape remembers a five-point star. It has a chapel with a freshwater well, barracks and old cannons and holds the mark of the discovering and offers guided visits.
Cashew of Pirangi
The biggest cashew of the world has a canopy of 8,400 m2. Research shows that the enormous tree is a consequence of a genetic aberration. Fenced preventing it from continuing growing, it produces 60,000 cashews per harvest, and in its surrounds, it can be found small gifts stores.
Touristic Center of Natal
Former Casa de Detenção (a prison), it offers handicraft stores. It can be found there items like rabbet of Luzia Dantas, female handcraft from Currais Novos and Gregório. The potiguar handworks are made of wood. It also offers clay, and ceramic works originated from Caruaru, in Pernambuco. Every Thursday it promotes the “Forró com o Turista” at 10 PM.
Chile Street, once known as Alfândega e do Comércio Street, was one of the most important streets of Ribeira district at the beginning of the XIX century. Beginning on 1850, it was built with stone and lime buildings, which the most of them were storehouses designated to receiving cotton, sugar, tatajuba (regional fruit from the mid-region of Brazil) and fresh fish, among others goods. The street concentrates houses and buildings that by its historical value and architecture traits actually constitute the Historic Preservation Zone. In it can be found the structure where once operate the Government Palace – 1892-1902, and received the Count D’Eau, consort of Princess Isabel. Built in the neoclassic style, it was the higher loft in that time, a three floors building. There also can be found the house where lived Câmara Cascudo and later belonged to the poet Ferreira Itajubá. Actually, it shelters various attractions connected to a culture like music, dance, and theater.
Parque das Dunas
Second biggest urban park in Brasil, the Parque das Dunas is opened from Tuesday to Sunday. Its area is 1,172 hectares and provides observing diverse vegetal and animal species exclusive from Atlantic forest (the park shelters one of the last areas of Atlantic forest of the State). Observing can be made through tracks with trained guides.
Barreira do Inferno
The construction of the Barreira do Inferno complex started in 1964 near the Ponta Negra beach at 17 km from Natal downtown occupying an area about 5 km2 where inside it was about 30 modern architecture building with asphalted roads and efficient lighting system. The complex has pads for the launching of various kind of rockets, fuel and rocket deposits, plus one sophisticated meteorological and another for the launching of meteorological balloons. It relies on tracking scanners and telemetry, the reason Natal is called Brazil Space Capital. It is the first rocket launch base in South America and the fourth with a worldwide important.
Tour Options Around Natal
Maracajaú snorkeling and diving
65 km north of Natal. We will cross the whole city towards the north shore passing by all the beaches, this time by the main road BR 101. Reaching Maracajaú, you will see the big contrast between the city and this small fishing village. This place is most known because of its coral reefs located 7,5 km from the coast. The total coral reef area is about 14 km2, and this area is totally preserved, home for many kinds of sea life such as big barracudas, lobsters, parrot-fish, octopus, rays, sea-lizards, and other thousand different types of fish and crustaceans. So is Maracajaú, the temperature of the water at the corals can reach 32°c in the summer, the perfect scene for snorkeling and diving. On board of a platform floating on the water, there is bar service, snorkeling, and diving equipment.
45 km north of Natal. The adventure starts already at the hotel, leaving in the buggies. The destination is one of the most famous local attractions, the sand dunes of Genipabú. After passing by the Via Costeira, Meio, Artistas and fortress beaches, you’ll reach the ferryboat which will take us to the north coast over the Potengí River. Arriving at Redinha beach, you start your tour with much emotion aiming the fixed dunes where you can also go on a dromedary back riding. You’ll even sail over another river called ceará Mirim, on a very small ferryboat, used by the locals. Driving to the north passing by several wild beaches, you are going to reach the jacumã lake, where on hanging cable chairs you will try on of the highlights of this excursion the “aerobunda” , hanging on these cables you will slide down to the warm and clean water. And can also try the “eskibunda”, a kind of sandboard reaching the water as well.
Located 85km to the south of Natal, there is Pipa beach, a complete paradise for nature lovers. On Pipa’s way, you will visit the city of São José de Minibu and you will stop at the public market to appreciate everything that local men get from the generous nature and what they make out of it: fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, brown sugar candy and an amazing variety of typical dishes and snacks. You continue to the Pipa Ecological Sanctuary where exotic species live entirely free in the exuberant Atlantic forest: small monkeys, all kinds of tropical birds, dolphins and marine turtles. Stop at the Madeiro beach, an amazing place. There are several optional tours available while the tour will be in Pipa beach, featuring boat tours and horse riding.
Barra de Cunhaú
90 km south of Natal. Cunhaú is a charming and old fishing village. Nowadays, one of the most important shrimp production centers of the country, exporting to several countries of the world. Reaching Barra de Cunhaú, there is a boat ride towards the mangrove region, where the sea life begins. At the mangrove, you will get to know the importance of this place for nature and humankind. You can also try to catch the “Sá” crabs very much appreciated by the local people and tourists.
Among numerous beaches compounding the south coast, it is important to emphasize Pirangi, Buzios, Barra de Cunhaú and Baía Formosa beaches. From these, the nearest from Natal is localized at Parnamirim county at 21 km from it and is called North Pirangi. It is the shelter of the biggest cashew of the world, and it is opened to visits and natural pools 800 meters from the coast. Before Pirangi is Cotovelo beach, quiet with low waves, good for swimming. Still in the Rota do Sol, a road linking Ponta Negra to the south coast, lies the Barreira do Inferno, a rocket launching base opened to the public to casual visits.
At 23 km from Natal on the south coast is localized Buzios beach in the Nísia Floresta county, which its main visitants are the surfers because of its high waves. The access is from Rota do Sol. Now, who prefers or practice some sport like windsurfing or kitesurfing has its fun guaranteed by South Pirangi and Pirambuzios beaches because it’s mild waves. These beaches are localized after Buzios, and right before the same one is Barra de Tabatinga with a particular attention to the Dolphin Observatory at the top of a cliff providing a great visual of the sea and the dunes.
To south yet the beaches of Cumurupim and Barreta are localized with its reefs making seaside natural pools at low tide. In Camurupim is localized the Arituba lagoon with fresh water suitable for swimming and places with bars and restaurants margining the lagoon. In south coast yet there is Barra de Cunhaú, a fisher village neighboring Pipa beach and recently has drawn a lot of tourists who came seeking peace. The region of Barra de Cunhaú is important because the shrimp farms and the restaurants offer good menu options with shrimps and fish. The inns are small, but it is setting up others providing comfortable chalets and rooms.
Finishing the south coast, we introduce Baia Formosa, surrounded by cliffs and dunes, localized only at 93 km from Natal. This beach is just starting to be discovered by tourists, perfect for the ones who seek peace and nature. The access to this beach is from the BR-101, direction Natal-João Pessoa and it’s about 22 km from BR-101 to the beach.
The north coast is more extensive and exposes a more significant number of beaches. The most visited are Genipabu, Jacumã, Maracajaú, Barra de Punaú, Perobas, São Miguel do Gostoso, Galinhos, Macau and Ponta do Mel.
At 25 km from Natal it is localized the most famous beach of the State, Genipabu. The buggy excursions on the dunes to see the beautiful view of its lagoon is one of the most important touristic attractions of the State. The access is from the north zone or by raft on Potengi River.
Genipabu dunes are such a rollercoaster with guaranteed fun in the radicals maneuvers make by the professional buggy drivers (professionals allowed by the State to realize this kind of excursion). Beyond the traditional raft excursions and the “skibunda” there is a differential, the camel excursions to make the fun complete.
At 33 km from Natal, flanked by reefs making the waves lower and good for swimming, lies Jacumã. Its access is by BR-101 toward Touros County. Its dunes and lagoon with the famous “aerobunda” and “skibunda” are the principal attraction there. Leading north there are the Porto Mirim, with lots of coconut trees, and Muriu offering seaside bars.
In Maracajaú, localized in Maxaranguape county, the main attraction are the parrachos, coral formations just at 7 km from the coast. Maracajaú, 54 km from Natal, has landscape shaped by dunes, lagoons and coconut trees and the access is by BR-101 until Natal-Touros. From the Igapó bridge are 49 km by BR-101 until the rotatory return. After it there are more 5 km of the asphalted road until the beach.
Yet in Maxaranguape, the biggest attraction is the lone tree localized near the end of the cape of São Roque, the side of Brazil nearest from Africa.
Now the Galinhos region, 160 km from Natal, has drawn the attention of the tourist seeking new touristic destines almost non-explored, far from the daily turmoil. Dunes, salt lakes, and mangroves make a landscape that enchants the tourist. The Galinhos village is uncommon, it doesn’t have automobilist transit, and cart pull up by horses or donkeys makes a different scenery.
|São Miguel do Gostoso||Barra de Maxaranguape|
Surfing, Kite-surfing and Stand-up Paddle
|Because it is favorably situated in the easternmost part of Brazil, cheap the coastline of the state is blessed with the nice surfing conditions as it enjoys the regular swells coming in from the south or northern Atlantic depending on the time of year.|
|Kites have become the latest craze in a new form of water sport called kite surfing that has gained immense popularity in the region of Natal, São Miguel do Gostoso, Praia da Pipa, Tibau do Sul, Barra do Cunhaú, as well as in other local beaches. The region has seen the influx of huge colorful kites that serve as another form of attraction to visitors.|
|Stand Up Paddle, paddle board or even SUP, is a sport that has been recently introduced in Brazil. Created in Hawaii , Stand Up brings the surfing experience to all ages with a high technology board that facilitates flotation and balance. Stand Up allows you literally to stand on water, really an incredible feeling and a magnificent view of the local nature. Next to Morro do Careca at the Ponta Negra Beach is where you will enjoy one of the best places to row because of its geographic cut.|
Natal is not only known for its nature and beautiful beaches, and its history is proof of this. The city has already been fought over by the French, Dutch and Portuguese, and during the Dutch Occupation period, it was known as New Amsterdam. Furthermore, it played an important role in the Allies’ victory in World War II because of its geographical proximity to both Africa and Europe.
What other travellers say about Natal Read what Virtual Tourist say about Natal
Foreigners are also discovering Natal
Food and Drink
Even with the current expansion of the market boosted by the growing influx of tourists, Natal still don’t have the gastronomical variety of the big cities; unlike London, New York or even Sao Paulo, you can’t find a restaurant of just any nationality; to name a few, there is no register of Indonesian, Cuban, Hungarian, Swiss restaurants in Natal.
However, even the more demanding gourmet may have a memorable experience in Natal.
Because of the proximity with the sea, it’s natural that many restaurants specialize in fish and sea food; the regional Natal cuisine (see photos: by Canindé Soares) makes use of several local ingredients to create some of the most appreciated regional meals of Brazil; the immigrants brought their culinary first to the southern places where they settled, but today there are Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Arabic, etc restaurants everywhere in Brazil; likewise, the internal migrational movements spreaded the several regional cuisines all around the country, bringing to Natal some restaurants from Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Amazon and other Brazilian regions.
Famous Brazilian barbecue
|Useful info about food, restaurants and other related matters, as well as a guide of restaurants in Natal sorted by specialties, can be accessed below:|
The union of three ethnic group founders of the Brazilian people – the black, the Native American, and the Portuguese – mixed with the Dutch immigrants makes the origin the people of the Rio Grande do Norte.
The diverse cultural influence is present in the popular events and the potiguar (term used to name those born in Rio Grande do Norte) folklore, going from processions to vaquejada, and typical dances like forró, stylized quadrille and Bumba-meu-boi. Viola singers, cordelistas (people who write small histories), repentistas (improvisators), emboladores and dance groups that narrate the potiguar people history are the most outstanding presence of this culture, which is one of the richest in the Northeast.
Great representative of the potiguar capital culture Natal disposes of the Ribeira district, which since the start of its foundation is a heterogenic aggregation of poetry, history, architecture, myths, and people. Its elements foundations concentrated in a single geographic space generate an extraordinary and deeply rich in culture, human species, legends, majestic buildings place and a single matter in the urban city development.
Rio Grande do Norte presents lots of cultural activities among handicraft, arts and handicraft exhibition, popular traditional expression exhibition, movie festival; musical festivals; dance festival and dance and music contest, and sporadically, movie festival. “Broidery” as the most present handicraft activity, as well the theater groups and libraries, are the cultural segments that receive grant part of the “support” from the city halls in the general national context.
Natal night holds lots of gifts to the tourists with high level nightclubs. The tendencies reigning the nocturnal potiguar live are well diversified. They range from techno to latin music, samba and rock’n roll, which contradicting the local culture it’s a local passion too.
The most of the nightclubs in Natal including the new generation ones lies in the Ponta Negra district, but also has good alternatives in Petrópolis, regarded as the high capital district, and in the Ribeira district, portuary zone margining Pontengi river, and it is there that is lying the oldest big houses in the city.
Morro do Careca, a sand dune, is the symbol of the potiguar tourism and the culminating point of the Ponta Negra district, and gained tons of cosmopolitans starting from the beach that give it its name. Restaurants, nightclubs, bars with live music make the nocturnal live get hot. The landscaping charm drews the visitor and invites him to enjoy all the exciting attractions of the Ponta Negra night.
Everyone enjoys shopping, even (or especially) in a foreigner country. Below, some general info about commerce in Natal and a coverage of places which are of particular interest for tourists.
Natal Shopping Center The oldest shopping center in Natal.
Via Direta Across the road from Natal Shopping. Hosts a public service center.
Praia Shopping Close to Ponta Negra beach
Supermarkets Doing as the locals do.
Artcraft and handicraft fairs. Probably, the best places to buy souvenirs. Natal has a few permanent artcraft and handicraft markets. It looks like this: several (tens or close to a hundred) small barrows, either in a spacious loft or in open air, independently owned and run, offering several kinds of artcraft, handicraft, small souvenirs, etc. The word in Portuguese for this kind of place is Feira. Always shop around before buying, as usually more than one barrow offer the same product. However low the prices may look, always bargain, particularly if you buy two or more items.
Useful Tourist Information
The oficial languague is Portuguese.
In Brazil, the currency is Real. Access <<this link>> for currency conversions.
Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, shops and restaurants. Travellers’ cheques and currency can be changed at exchange bureau (in the International airport and nearby the conference venue, <<access here>> [PT-BR only] to find out an exchange bureau in Natal), and possibly at hotel receptions (it depends on Hotel’s local policies).
The average maximum daily temperature and average minimum temperature in the Natal area in October are 32ºC (high) and 22ºC (low). The weather in Natal is not an issue by its location in the Atlantic ocean coast, therefore always windy which alleviates the heat.
The time zone in Natal is GMT-3.
Natal’s electric supply is 220 volts/60 Hz, supporting the pin socket type J. Take into account that Brazilian standard pin socket type J is only used in Brazil, where the plugs have three round pins and sockets three holes of 4 mm (10 amps, for general electric / electronic devices) or 4.8 mm (20 amps, used for electric showers). Although the standard Brazil pin socket type J has been standardized, some hotels can still use the old pin socket type B.
More about Natal
Area: 169 km2
Population: 712,317 , of which 334,355 are male and 377,962 are female
People who are born in Natal are called natalenses; those who are born in the state of Rio Grande do Norte are called potiguares, which in the indian tupi language means “people who eat shrimps”.
Statistics on Natal: the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) makes public the results of their periodic census; visit the IBGE website (some sections have an English version).
IBGE also breaks out information by cities (in Portuguese only); check out the IBGE statistics about NATAL.
History: take a look at a brief History of Natal. If you can read Portuguese, take a look at this comprehensive work about the History of Rio Grande do Norte
Natal is becoming a major destination for Brazilian tourists
Natal has always been an island of tranquility in Brazil; the sunny beaches always attracted tourists from all around the country. However, Natal used to have a problem: poor infra-structure; those who, like me, came here for the first time about 15 years ago, had to cope with the lack of hotels and restaurants, absolute absence of information, the innefective transportation system, etc.
Years of good management and the perception that tourism was its greatest potential have drastically changed Natal: there are many more hotels, restaurants and every kind of tourism related business; transportation and communication systems are much better; more and more natalenses know how important the tourists are for the economy, and this reflects on the way (which was already warm) that they treat visitants.
Surveys start to show that the tourists are already noticing the changes in Natal.
Embratur is the federal Brazilian agency in charge of promoting tourism in Brazil, both domestic and international; the website is http://www.embratur.gov.br. Among several other studies of several kinds, Embratur periodically conduts surveys among tourists to picture the Brazilian tourism market; the last such survey was in 2,001. Click to access the
Survey on Domestic Tourism, year 2001 (PDF format).
The Table #40, page 83 of the report, shows that Natal is already the 5th tourist destination in Brazil.
Only São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza and Salvador receive more people than Natal.
Moreover, the same survey shows that the state of Rio Grande do Norte is seeing the influx of tourists growing faster than other state. See Table #36, which ranks states by number of tourists. Check out column “Destinos” (Destinations); from 1998 to 2001, the participation of RN grew from 2,32 to 3,38%. The states of SP, RJ and MG gained share, while most others lost.
Embratur doesn’t explain the reasons, but the economic crisis may have forced people to travel to closer cities.
»Useful Phone Numbers
Tourism Information: 0800 – 841516
Tourist Police: 3219 – 5595
» Hospitals, doctors and dentists With emergency service.
» Citizen Central Several public services in one place.
» Consulates List of consulates in Natal.
» Internet Access There are several places in Natal.