World Cup 2014

Top things to do in Fortaleza

Everything you must see and visit, from outdoor activities and postcards views to restaurants and museums

Theatro José de Alencar: historic snapshot / Photo: Alex Uchoa

Theatro José de Alencar: historic snapshot / Photo: Alex Uchoa

22.mai.2014 12:18:14 | por Redação VEJA Cidades
There is a local saying that even a rainy day brings sun to Fortaleza. This is good news for the tourists who visit the capital of Ceará state to see the beautiful green waters. The Praia do Futuro beach is the favorite of visitors who find hotels with good infrastructure in the Meireles and Praia de Iracema districts. The nearby Varjota area is the city´s gastronomic center where tourists can sample fresh fish and seafood in typical local recipes such as the peixada cearense fish dish. Avenida Beira-Mar presents a bit of everything: fish market, handicraft fair and beautiful post card views. Besides the local attractions, Fortaleza is also the starting point for other good tourist spots in the vicinity. These include Beach Park, the biggest water complex in Latin America, located 16 kilometers from the center. The Arena Castelão stadium is closer and only 10 kilometers from the center. It has capacity for 64,000 people and will be the stage for six World Cup matches.
 
 
Matches schedule
June 14 (Saturday) - 16:00 - Uruguay vs Costa Rica
June 17 (Tuesday) - 16:00 - Brazil vs Mexico
June 21 (Saturday) -16:00 - Greece vs Ivory Coast
June 29 (Sunday) - 13:00 - Last 16
July 4 (Friday) - 17:00 - Quarter Finals
 
HOW TO GET AROUND: A bus ticket to get around the city costs R$ 2.20. A taxi starts at R$ 4.00 and the cost per kilometer is R$ 2.00 (meter 1) or R$ 3.00 (meter 2). Free transport will be available on days to the Arena Castelão stadium (Av. Alberto Craveiro, 2901, Castelão) when games are held. The main bus routes will go from the hotel zone, the airport and the Shopping Via Sul.
 
A tour of the center
Visits start from the Catedral Metropolitana (Pça. da Sé, s/nº, 85-3231-4196), with its gothic style towers that are 75 meters high and beautiful stained glass windows. A long established store called Raimundo dos Queijos (nº 44, 85-3226-9351) in the nearby Travessa Crato sells regional items such as curdled cheese and paçoca sweet. Around the Praça dos Leões is the Igreja do Rosário (Rua do Rosário, 229, 85-3226-4327), the oldest church in the city. It was built by slaves and is now part of the city´s historic heritage. Another stop is Praça do Ferreira where political events and popular celebrations are held. In the Passeio Público, you can have lunch in the shade of century-old trees in the Café Passeio (Rua Doutor João Moreira, s/nº, 85-3063-8782) which serves feijoada to the sound of chorinho music at weekends. Outside this circuit but still in the center, the tour can end at the Theatro José de Alencar (Pça. José de Alencar, s/nº, 85-3101-2583) which presents one of Fortaleza´s most famous sights.
 
Raimundo's cheese and regional items store / Photo: Romero Cruz
 
VIP treatment in the sand
On the busy Praia do Futuro beach the huge covered complexes with bars and relaxation areas, known as megabarracas, operate almost like luxury resorts. The services at the Crocobeach complex (Av. Zezé Diogo, 3125, 85-3521-9600) include a swimming pool, sauna, beauty parlor and even a 24-hour Bank ATM. The Guarderia Brasil (Av. Zezé Diogo, 4451, 85-3265-1327) attracts young people who lounge in the sunbeds in a contemporary tent. Terra do Sol (Av. Zezé Diogo, 5295, 85-3265-4223) is more family oriented and is the meeting place for those who prefer shade and cold beer. These three covered complexes will show the games when Brazil is playing on big television screens set up on the beach.
 

Deck of the big Guarderia Brasil covered complex: VIP treatment attracts young people / Photo: Ligia Skowronski
 
Culture and beer
The Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura (Rua Dragão do Mar, 81, Praia de Iracema, 85-3488-8600) has museums and cinemas and ensures pleasant hours of leisure away from the beach. If your program extends the whole night long, the tip is to choose one of the bars around the center. They operate in old dock warehouses, the frontages of which are still preserved, such as the Buoni Amici’s Sport Bar (nº 80, 85-3219-5454) the place to meet the opposite sex, and the O Chopp do Bixiga (nº 108, 85-3219-7690). During the World Cup, the two bars will show the games in big television screens set up on the sidewalk.
 
A perfect day...
 
MORNING: Rise early and try out the tapioca made with sun-dried meat and curdled cheese in the Centro das Tapioqueiras. Afterwards, go to the Praia do Futuro beach (see accompanying text), the most visited in the city. The best suggestion for lunch in any of these huge covered complexes by the shoreline is the traditional baked pargo fish, served with baião de dois, a dish with rice and black-eyed peas, paçoca and fried manioc.
 
Praia do Futuro beach / Photo: Leo Caldas
 
AFTERNOON: Walk along the Praia de Iracema beach to the symbolic Ponte dos Ingleses bridge from where you can see a splendid sunset. It's now time to bargain for handicraft items and other typical products in the stands at the Feira Noturna da Beira-Mar market (Av. Beira-Mar between Des. Moreira and Oswaldo Cruz streets). The wide sidewalk is transformed into a pulsating center of tourists and local people at the end of the day.
 
NIGHT: Shrimp and lobster are on the menu for dinner that can be casual in the Mercado dos Peixes do Mucuripe or more formal at Vojnilô (Rua Frederico Borges, 409, Varjota, 85-3267-3081), five times champion in the fish and seafood categories in the VEJA COMER & BEBER (EAT & DRINK) guide. If you still have energy, the tip is to enjoy the night in one of the bars in the Centro Dragão do Mar.
 
From the interior to the coast
To really get to know the local cuisine you should try a hearty mixture of rice and beans and the challenging caranguejada crab dish.
 
Baião de dois
 
The robust combination of beans and rice / Photo: Romero Cruz
 
The two most popular ingredients of the Brazilian cuisine – rice and beans - are the main ingredients of this dish. The beans and the rice are cooked together in a pan to which can be added curdled cheese, bottled butter, dried meat and cream.

Cantinho do Frango: Rua Torres Câmara, 71, Aldeota, (85) 3224-6112.

Colher de Pau: Rua Ana Bilhar, 1178, Varjota, (85) 3267-6176/6680.

Lá na Roça: Rua Capitão Antônio de Aguiar, 41, Aldeota, (85) 3224-6061.

 
Crab
 
Dish of cooked crabs served at Chico do Caranguejo / Photo: Romero Cruz
 
Crab is usually served cooked in a coconut milk sauce. However, before appreciating the crab meat, you have to master the technique of breaking the shell with a small hammer. This ritual has even gained a specific day: on Thursdays evenings, bars and restaurants offer the famous caranguejadas dish.

Chico do Caranguejo: Av. Zezé Diogo, 4930, Praia do Futuro, (85) 3262-0108.

Beach Park: Rua Porto das Dunas, 2734, Porto das Dunas, (85) 4012-3000.

Marcão das Ostras: Rua Prof. Carvalho, 2901, Joaquim Távora, (85) 3257-9660.

 
Peixada cearense
 
Coco Bambu's peixada / Photo: Tadeu Brunelli
 
This meal was originally created to help the fishermen regain their strength to go back to sea. It combines big chunks of fish (sirigado or pargo) cooked in coconut milk sauce with vegetables and whole eggs. It is accompanied by rice and pirão jelly.

Alfredo, o Rei da Peixada: Av. Beira-Mar, 4616, Mucuripe, (85) 3263-1188.

Coco Bambu Frutos do Mar: Av. Beira Mar, 3698, Meireles, (85) 3198-6000.

Rei dos Mares: Rua Barão de Aracati, 2706, Joaquim Távora, (85) 3246-9572.

 
 
3 good places for selfies
 
Estátua Iracema Guardiã: This statue was created by Zenon Barreto and is made of iron. It is one of five sculptures spread throughout the city that pay tribute to the heroine of José de Alencar´s famous novel Iracema. Av. Beira-Mar, near nº 1140, Praia de Iracema
 
Jangadas de Mucuripe: These boats with colored sails moored on the right side of the shoreline are one of the city´s most famous sites. Av. Beira-Mar, near nº 4520, Praia de Mucuripe
 
A view of the Avenida Beira-Mar / Photo: Luis Morais
 
Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Assunção: The fort marks the spot where the city was founded in April 1726. Av. Alberto Nepomuceno, s/nº, centro, (85) 3255-1720
 
Lace, nuts and cachaças
You will find an enormous irresistible offer of souvenirs here. Spun cotton, leather, lace and embroidery are used to make hammocks, handbags, shoes, clothes and decorative items. Foodies will find no shortage of regional ingredients such as cachaças, sweets and liqueurs. The following three places are good shopping tips.
 
Centro de Artesanato do Ceará: this is the window display for local luxury handicraft and has products made with clay, wood and fabrics. Av. Santos Dumont, 1589, Aldeota, 85-3101-1644.
 
Centro de Turismo: there are around 100 stands, of which we would highlight those selling big cashew nuts. Rua Sen. Pompeu, 350, centro, 85-3101-5507.
 
Mercado Central: This place brings together around 600 handicraft stands, three restaurants and two snack bars. Av. Alberto Nepomuceno, 199,Centro, 85-3454-8586
 
Delicious Tapioca
This typical snack is the star in the Centro das Tapioqueiras (Av. Washington Soares, 10215, Messejana, 85-8833-6433) where 26 stands prepare more than 30,000 tapioca portions a week. Suggestions include salty or sweet versions. Besides the fixed list of tapiocas, customers can choose their own fillings. The classic tapioca is made with sun-dried meat and curdled cheese and costs R$ 12.00.
 
Taking the plunge
Do you like to get the adrenalin pumping? Then try a 41-meter high slide — equivalent to a 14-storey building. This attraction, appropriately known as Crazy, is one of 18 at the Beach Park (Rua Porto das Dunas, 2734, Porto das Dunas, 85-4012-3000. Entry: R$ 170.00; children up to 12, R$ 160.00). It is the biggest water park in Latin America, and is located 16 kilometers from the center of Fortaleza. It includes four resort complexes and one restaurant on the sea front where you can sample good fish and seafood dishes. Be prepared for long queues at the attractions during the school holidays in July. 
 
Photo: Divulgação
 
For a laugh...
Ceará state has a reputation as a birthplace of Brazilian comedians, such as Chico Anysio and Renato Aragão. If you understand Portuguese and Brazilian culture you might enjoy the special comedy shows. The Beira Mar Grill (Av. Beira-Mar, 3221, Meireles,  85-3242-7413. R$ 30,00) presents shows by three artists every night. In the Lupus Bier (Rua dos Tabajaras, 340, Praia de Iracema, 85-3219-2829. R$ 39,90), the entry fee gives you access to the food buffet.
 
...or dancing cheek to cheek 
Although there is a great variety of music styles in Fortaleza´s dance halls city, the forró shows dominate the scene. The traditional music style, known as pé-de-serra, livens up the Kukukaya on Fridays and Saturdays (Av. Pontes Vieira, 55-A, Dionísio Torres, 85-3227-5661). The Danadim (Av. Godofredo Maciel, 1179, Maraponga, 85-3264-8091) presents an electronic version of the rhythm on Thursdays and Saturdays with three bands each night.