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The street Rua Prudente de Morais in Olinda

Olinda is a city in the northeastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco. It hosts one of Brazil's most famous carnivals and is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to its 16th and 17th century buildings. Many bars, restaurants, artist and craftspeople studios add charm to the old-town setting.



Olinda was founded in 1537 by the Portuguese Duarte Coelho Pereira. It owed its rapid rise to the sugarcane plantations around its area. From the 16th century onward, religious missions built many churches and convents. The city was, however, pillaged and burnt down by the Dutch in 1631. One of the few surviving buildings is the Church of São João. The Portuguese returned in 1654. Most of the buildings at Olinda date from the 18th century.

Get in


By plane


The nearest airport is Recife's Guararapes Airport'. A taxi to/from the airport will cost some R$ 40.

By bus


Olinda is approximately 7 km north of the center of Recife, with plenty of local buses running in between. The main bus stop in Olinda is Praça do Carmo, which is easy to miss.

By taxi


Taxis from the center of Recife to Olinda take about 20 minutes.

Get around

Map of Olinda

The historic center is compact and can be explored on foot.



In poetry

Olinda is all for the eyes
it's not tangible, it's all desire.
No one says, "That's where I live."
They just say, "That's where I see."

-- Celebrated Brazilian poet Carlos Pena Filho,
in his poem Olinda.

Olinda's beautiful scenery and architecture make for a pleasant sightseeing all around. Colonial architecture, belvederes and the blue sea paint a relaxed environment that is second to none among Brazilian traditional cities.


  • 1 Olinda Cathedral (Catedral metropolitana del Santo Salvador del Mundo), Alto da Sé, s/n. 8AM-Noon, 2PM-5PM. Also known as Church of São Salvador do Mundo, this was the first church built in Brazil. It was built in 1540 and was briefly a Protestant church during the Dutch occupation in the 17th century. Free entrace. Olinda Cathedral (Q10376080) on Wikidata Holy Saviour of the World Cathedral, Olinda on Wikipedia
  • Igreja Nossa Senhora do Carmo, Praça do Carmo.
  • Convento São Francisco, Praça do Carmo. M-F 07:00-11:30, Sat 07:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. The Mosteiro de São Bento (1582) and Convento São Francisco (1585) are very important buildings of baroque Brazil. The Convento São Francisco is a large building containing the convent proper, the Capela de São Roque chapel and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora das Neves church.
  • Igreja Nossa Senhora da Graça and Seminário de Olinda (on the hill above Rua Frei Alfonso Maria). 08:00-11:30, 15:00-17:00. Built in 1549.
  • Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceicao.
  • Igreja da Misericórdia. 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. Built in 1540, with fine azulejos (ceramic tiles) and gilded carvings.
  • Igreja Nossa Senhora do Amparo, Rua Saldanha Marinho. 08:00-12:00. Restored church dating from 1613.
  • Mosteiro de São Bento. 08:00-11:00, 14:00-17:00. This huge monastery was built in 1582 and housed Brazil's first law school. In the chapel are exceptional woodcarvings. Holy mass is celebrated on Su at 10:30 with Gregorian chant.


  • Contemporary Art Museum of Pernambuco (Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Pernambuco), Rua 13 de Maio, 149. 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00. The museum's collection includes works by famous Brazilian artists, including Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, Cícero Dias, João Câmara, Telles Junior, Eliseu Visconti, Djanira, Wellington Virgolino, Guinard, Adolph Gottielib, Burle Max and Francisco Brennand. The historical building in which the museum is located dates from 1756 and was the only ecclesiastical prision in Brazil during the Inquisition. R$ 5 (R$ 2.50 for students).
  • Olinda Regional Museum (Museu Regional de Olinda), Rua do Amparo, 128. Tu-F 09:00-12:00, 14:00-18:00; Sa Su 14:00-18:00. The museum recreates scenes of domestic and social life of the residents of Olinda in the 1700s. Displays include colonial furniture, decorative arts, painted ceramic tilework, pictures and Brazilian and Portuguese sacred art. R$ 1.
  • Puppet Museum (Museu do Mamulengo), Rua de São Bento, 344.
  • 2 [dead link] Sacred Art Museum of Pernambuco (Museu de Arte Sacra de Pernambuco), Rua Bispo Coutinho, 726 - Alto da Sé., +55 81 3184-3154. Tu-F 09:00-13:00. Former city hall (1535) and Episcopal palace (1676), nowadays the building houses a rich collection of religious art with pieces dating back to the 16th century. R$ 1. Pernambuco Museum of Sacred Art (Q10333783) on Wikidata


  • Belvedere Alto da Sé, located at the yard of Church of Alto da Se. To the east, one can see the Atlantic Ocean; to the west, the urban scenery.
  • Mercado da Ribeira is an 18th-century building which now houses art galleries and souvenir shops.
  • Rua do Amparo - restaurants, museums, hotels and art studios.
  • Serenades - groups of singers and musicians play old traditional songs through the city streets on Friday evenings.



Outside of Carnaval season, Olinda boasts a lively culture, featuring mostly forró and maracatú in the clubs and town squares, as well as year-round, Saturday night serenades.

  • Angola Mae Capoeira School, Rua Ilma Cunha 243.



Quite different from those of Rio and Salvador this is a lively street party, where blocos parade accompanied by frevo and maracatu music. There is a certain activity during the weeks before (and some after), but the party itself explodes on the official dates, from Friday evening until Wednesday morning. Its most famous representative are the giant dolls carried on the shoulders of the people. The parties are non-stop, 24 hours, but the bulk of the crowd fills the streets daytime. When looking for accommodation, bear in mind that the most central streets get very noisy.



The beach in Olinda proper is polluted. Local buses can take you north to Pau Amarelo and Maria Farinha.


  • Local crafts and artwork. Be wary of making your purchases in or near Alto da Sé, as prices there tend to be inflated due to the constant flow of tourists. The Mercado da Ribeira houses a variety of shops.
  • Musical instruments, such as those used in maracatu and forró.


  • Sargação, near Praça do Carmo near the beachfront, serves sandwiches and burgers until the late night hours.
  • Alto da Sé hosts a variety of food vendors, with a lively environment in the early evening.
  • Mourisco, Praça João Alfredo, offers self service at a reasonable price.
  • Oficina do Sabor, Rua do Amparo 335, +55 81 3429-3331. Tu-Sa 12:00-16:00, 18:00-00:00, Su 17:00-00:00. If you wish to splurge, Oficina do Sabor offers a privileged view of Recife. Try the baked pumpkin stuffed with shrimp or fish, cooked in coconut sauce (R$18). R$15-20.



Olinda's prefeitura (mayor's office) publishes a monthly nightlife guide, available in tourist offices and hotels.

  • Mercado Eufrasio Barbosa often hosts cultural presentations and live music shows.
  • Xinxim da Bahiana (Avenida Sigismundo Gonçalves, near Praça do Carmo) hosts live bands and DJs throughout the week. Especially interesting are forró on Wednesday and Saturday nights.
  • Every other Saturday, the neighborhood of Amparo (adjacent to the Historic Center), hosts a street party featuring the local rhythm of samba de coco.
  • Casa da Rabeca do Brasil (Rua Curupira, 125), in Cidade Tabajara(outside of town, accessible by bus or taxi), hosts a forró party every Saturday night.
  • Maracatu nations often hold open rehearsals throughout the year.



Olinda has a wide range of options when it comes to lodging. Reservations could be wise in January and February. During carnival prices triple (literally!) and you will have to pay for the five nights from Friday to Wednesday no matter what. Private rooms (R$ 500-1000/5 nights) and apartments/houses (R$ 800 and up) are mostly cheaper, but standards vary greatly, and they are hard to book ahead. If you arrive on Thursday, there is still time.







See list of foreign consulates in the page for the neighboring city of Recife.

  • Tourist Information, Praça do Carmo 100, +55 81 3305-1048. M-F 08:00-12:00, 14:00-17:00.
  • Prontolinda Medical Services, +55 81 3431-8000.
  • Post Office, near Praça do Carmo.
  • Telemar telephone office, Praça do Carmo.
  • Olinda Internet Cafe, Praça do Carmo 5-B. Internet access.
  •, Praça Joao Pessoa 15. Internet access.
  • Banco do Brasil, Av Getulio Vargas (just northeast of Olinda).

Go next

  • Visit Recife, 7 km away, worth a visit.
  • Take a local bus to Igarassu and visit the oldest church in Brazil.
  • Take a bus through Igarassu to Ilha de Itamaracá. There are beautiful beaches, as well as the Centro Cultural de Lia, a cultural center that specializes in the local rhythm called ciranda. If in Itamaracá, do not miss the famous Coroa do Avião (a small, beautiful, sandy island), the IBAMA Centro Peixe Boi (a center for the preservation of the manatee) and the Forte Orange (a 17th-century Dutch fortress).
  • Local buses also make the trip to beaches north of Olinda, including Pau Amarelo and Maria Farinha.
Routes through Olinda
NatalJoão Pessoa  N  S  RecifeMaceió

This city travel guide to Olinda is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.