Belem Travel Guide

Photo of Belem

Belem Overview

On the banks of the Bay of Guajara, Belem, the capital of city of the Para state, is full of pleasant surprises and a place well worth exploring. Dating back to 1616, following the foundation of Forte de Castelo at the ParaRiver, it is a city of immense culture and heritage and one with two distinct sides, the modern commercial and colonial district. Visitors will be particularly interested in the colonial district, with its charming churches, Portuguese influenced homes and serene plazas lined with countless mango trees. The bohemian artsy shops and cafés down at the waterfront also provide tourists with plenty of action and activity. Be sure to check out the central square, Praca de Republica, which comes alive at the weekend when the locals come out to relax and play.

 
Way up on Brazils northeast coast, Belem is well connected to the rest of the country by air, land and sea. Long distance buses depart at intervals during the week to Sao Luis, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, amongst others. Ferries leave from Terminal Hidroviaria along the river stopping off at Santarem, Obidos and Manaus. In town there are hoards of buses running across the city and to the outskirts. The easiest option is to look for the number, give it a wave and then run to wherever it decides to stop. Anyone stumbling across a bicycle can explore the city hassle free along the excellent network of cycle lanes.

Things to do in Belem

Belem Churches - Belem has some wonderful examples of architecture, which include the Basilica Santuario de Nazare, with its soaring marble pillars and fine stained glass windows. The basilica is home to Brazils largest religious festival, Cirio de Nazare. Catedral de Se is also worth a look for its baroque/neoclassical design dating back to the 1750s.

 
Casa de Onze Janelas - The House of Eleven Windows has seen numerous changes over the years, going from the home of a sugar baron to military hospital to todays fine art gallery, containing both modern and classical displays as well as a worthy photography exhibit.
 
Estacao das Docas - Three derelict riverside warehouses that have been turned into an excellent waterfront commercial centre of cafés, restaurants, shops and a theatre. Great spot for river views and the chance to catch some live music.
 
Forte de Castelo - Built in 1616 to protect the city against invasion form the Dutch and Portuguese, the fort provides unsurpassed views of the river from the top of its walls. Check out the museum on traditional Paras communities.
 
Mercado Ver-o-Peso - This vibrant traditional market is a city icon and a constant hive of activity, providing visitors with a good insight into the local culture. Its translates as check the weight, as the early Portuguese were extremely stringent and zealous when applying taxes. The market is home to some fine seafood restaurants.
 
Museu Goeldi - Outstanding museum with an abundance of Amazonian zoological and ethnological displays. Within the grounds is a zoological botanical garden, home to manatees, alligators, snakes and other creatures of the Amazon.
 
Teatro da Paz - Housed in one of Belems most loved buildings is the citys elegant theatre, decorated in Italian style. Check listings for performances or take an interesting guided tour.
 
BelemRiver Cruise - On the banks of the Amazon, Belem is a great spot from where to take a short trip up the river. Operators run tours from Estacao das Docas and usually include bird watching at sunrise, evening and sunset meals or day trips to one of the nearby islands.
 
Belem Nightlife - With its many bars and restaurants, the riverfront Estadao das Docas is a good place to start a night out. Popular bars count, African Bar, hosting Samba nights and classes, Casa do Gilson, the best spot for live music, and Mormaco, an open-air club on the waterfront.

Hotels in Belem

Budget Hotels Belem

Hotel Amazonia - Cheap rooms in two old town houses. Tel (55) 91 3222 8456.
Hotel Grao Para - Comfortable rooms on one of the cities busiest streets. Tel (55) 91 3321 2121.
 
Midrange Hotels Belem
Crowne Plaza Belem - Decent chain hotel with good restaurant. Tel (55) 91 3202 2000.
Hotel Regente - Slick businesslike hotel on the outskirts town. Tel (55) 91 3181 5000.
Ibis Hotel - Large midrange hotel close to the airport. Tel (55) 91 3344 5650.
             
Luxury Hotels Belem
Hilton Belem - All the luxury Hilton trimmings overlooking Republic Square. Tel (55) 91 4006 7000.
Beira Rio Hotel - Peaceful resort style hotel on the banks of the GuamaRiver. Tel (55) 91 4008 9000.

Belem Weather

Belem Travel Resources

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This page was last modified on 14 Jan 2011 by TravelGurl