Olinda is an amazingly beautiful and brightly colorful town located north from the Recife metropolitan area in Brazil. The region is famous for its paradise beaches with coral reef pools (see my post here). But apart from the natural wonders, you can also find such architectural gems as the little town of Olinda here. Although Olinda receives many tourists, hardly ever any of them is from abroad. People know only about Rio when asked about Brazil. And there's so much to discover! Take a look at the beautiful photos from Olinda and don't miss it during your trip in the north of Brazil.
How to get to Olinda
As it is a popular destination, it's not difficult to get there. Olinda is situated only around 10 km (6 miles) from Recife - the capital city of Pernambuco state. There are numerous buses that you can take from central Recife and the journey will not take more than 30 minutes. If you're a foreigner, a great option is Uber - it's handy, fast and very reliable in Brazil. It's also way cheaper than taxis. The 20 minute ride will cost you around 5 USD.
What to see in Olinda
Olinda is such a tiny town that it is possible to walk around all of it in a couple of hours. Here, I marked all the places worth noting.
Best views of Recife and the coast
Olinda offers the best views of the Atlantic coast as well as of the neighboring city of Recife with the thick forest of tightly packed skyscrapers contrasting with the perfectly flat, smooth ocean. Number 1 on the map shows Alto Da Se - the viewing platform with a lift from where you can admire a panoramic view over the whole town - the sights are so nice - the most important points and churches of Olinda and colorful houses surrounded by tropical flora can be seen from here. And what's best - it's free!
It is pretty mesmerizing to see how many beautiful, typical for the Portuguese colonial architecture churches are in Olinda. Just like the entire town, the churches are pretty much run down, rough and a bit weathered - some parts seem to beg for renovation. However, this gives the city the authentic old vibe - which I really like. Maybe even more than the absolutely perfect, polished town. It makes the place you're visiting less boring and it feels more historical.
The most famous church - the landmark of Olinda, of which the perfect view you can admire from the platform is the cathedral of St. Savior of the World (number 2 on the map) dating back to the 16th century (now reconstructed). Another two sacred buildings can also be easily visible from the Alto da Se - San Francisco Convent and Church of Our Lady of Carmel (Igreja do Carmo - also 16th century) - number 3 and 4 on the map.
Two other churches worth noticing - not visible from the platform are Misericordia Church (you can see in on the way to the colorful, historical street of Largo do Amparo) and the Monastery of St. Benedict (number 5 and 6 on the map) which is located south from the Church of Our Lady of Carmel.
Farol de Olinda - The lighthouse
The Olinda lighthouse (number 7 on the map) is the second oldest in Pernambuco state (opened in 1872). However, the modern tower - as you can see it now dates back to 1941. The lighthouse has distinctive white and black stripes. It's a landmark of Olinda and can be perfectly seen from the platform with the beautiful background of the ocean.
This not to be missed district (number 8 on the map) of the historical center boasts the most beautiful, extremely colorful old houses. You can find nice cafes, restaurants and something original here. On the roofs of some houses there are bronze statues of women. The bright colors give the town the typical Latino American vibe here. Very lively and pleasant to just be around and take a little walk.
Of course, Rio is the most famous place when it comes to carnival, however, in Olinda you can get the more local feeling (especially in Amparo Largo) and party like the local do. When we visited Olinda, the local people were preparing the streets for the carnival and some houses had statues in them which were later used for the parade. Very interesting to see it from behind the curtain.
If you love little, cozy towns full of the local vibe and not destroyed by international tourism - Olinda is a must-see addition to your adventure in Northern Brazil.
Brazil has more towns like this - they are as exceptional as amazing as their European equivalents, however, they are virtually unknown to foreigners. Find out about other incredible Brazilian towns similar to Olinda in the Related Posts section below.
If you liked this article, you can also download it via the GPSmyCity app - you will be able to gain access to the guide, which will direct you to all the attractions described above, even if you're offline. Download it here.
Author: Tom @ Adventuous Travels
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