If anything first, when booking your ticket try a window seat.
The plane view when getting to Belém is one of the most beautiful I have seen.
I went to Belém do Pará in time for the Círio de Nazaré, the largest catholic processions in the world, and the most important of the North of Brazil.
The profane and the sacred celebrate the Virgin of Nazaré, the Amazon mother for days: faith, church services, festivals, concerts, and food.
A lot of food.
In six days I got to get to know the city pretty well, and fall in love with. If you’re short on time, you can see quite a lot in three days.
This time I did not make it to Alter do Chão and Tapajós Island, two amazing amazing places of Pará. If you have the time, you should check on it.
CASA DAS 11 JANELAS
Cultural space by the river which houses a museum of modern art and also place some cool little parties, plus a view and a delicious breeze.
:: Praça Frei Caetano Brandão
Ver-o-Peso Market is the largest tourist spot of Belém. You have to stop by, but as for a market place, the Municipal Market is the one that got my heart. We will get to it.
Ver-o-Peso is quite chaotic, but you can find everything there. It is the first destination of seeds and fishes brought in by boats that are docked next to the market.
There you can buy local souvenirs as óleo de bôta, the famous aphrodisiac. But if you want to buy an amazing roots, vegetal butters and medicinal plants and herbs make no mistake, it is not here!
For me, the most beautiful thing of the Ver-o-Peso, the moment that it was worth it, was really early in the morning, around 4h00 am, with all the boats with the fresh fish. Just stay there, watching life before your eyes, with all that food chaos, people and colors.
Be careful with your stuff, jewelry and safety in general. It’s not the safest place, doesn’t matter the time.
Other than that, have fun.
:: Boulevard Castilhos França, 1040
MERCADO MUNICIPAL DE CARNE
The Municipal Meat Market was built with Scottish iron is 1867 and has lovely architecture. I got there by accident, looking for this old guy that sells vinyl records. You must arrive before 10:00am if you want to see the market on its rush hours. After that it’s more for the food stands.
Choose the Dona Cira box!
This is one of the places that enchanted me the most.
If you like vinyls, another great place to find them is the Banca do Max, at the Praça das Merçês.
:: Boulevard Castilhos França, s/n
HERBS, PLANTS E VEGETAL BUTTERS
Yes, in Ver-o-Peso you can find a lot herbs and everything a tourist needs, but if you are really interested in natural medicine, medicinal plants and herbs, teas and vegetal butters, the place to buy them is in the street next to the Meat Market. There are a few shops, one next to the other with everything you need to cure your little body.
Be sure to buy cupuaçu butter and cocoa butter, an amazing treat for your skin, 100% natural. I bought everything I wanted at Casa das Ervas Medicinais da Amazônia (House of the Amazon Medicinal Herbs).
:: Travessa 1˚ de Marco, 233
MANGAL DAS GARÇAS
Try to go on a weekday if possible, since it is one of the busiest attractions in Belém. Within this small herons’ sanctuary, there is the Belém Lighthouse (Farol de Belém), which gives you a 360˚ view of the city from the top of its 27 meters high. Going up will cost you around $3, well spent ones.
In the river gazeebo, a delightful view of the boats that cross back and forth with riverside population.
:: Passagem Carneiro da Rocha, s/n
ESPAÇO SÃO JOSÉ DO LIBERTO
Built in 1749, was once a convent, a hospital, a powder magazine and at last, a maximum security prison, that after many revolts for its overcrowding was closed in 1998. The Liberty Garden – the only gemological garden in the country – gives a small sample the vast mineral wealth of the Amazon. Today it houses the Gems Museum, which tells the whole gemological story of Pará with its collection of over 4,000 pieces.
Designed by the renowned landscape architect Rosa Kliass, the Liberty Garden is shaped like a mandala, bringing together some of the main elements of nature: water that purifies, plans to renew the air, crystals, three huge quartz, amethysts and citrus.
::Praça Amazonas, s/n – Jurunas
ESTAÇÃO DAS DOCAS
Worth the walk along the border to admire the river and the sunset. Inside in only worth for the icecream shop Cairu. Let go of eating in restaurants with its floating stage.
:: Av. Castilho Franca, s/n
FORTE DO PRESÉPIO
It is one of the landmarks of the city’s foundation. Inside there is a permanent exhibition room with small amulets and indigenous objects. A beautiful view of the river and the Ver-o-Peso Market.
:: Praça Frei Caetano Brandão, 117
The mango scent that dominates the town is cut all the time by other delicious scents: nuts, foods, fruits – the most different ones.
Belém is one of those cities that has to be explored especially for its spices, perfumes and textures.
Explore street food and local flavors. There is no place in Brazil with more lovely ingredients.
Box da Cira
how much: $2.50 for a Prato Feito, also called as PF that is kind of the brazilian lunch combo: the choice of shrimp, meat or chicken with a giant and delicious portion of salad, rice, beans, vegetables or fries (and pasta if you like so).
where: In the Municipal Meat Market
One of the most delicious food ever! And Cira, the owner is a sweetheart! Is you best choice around!
how much: $3 for a PF (elected Best PF in Brazil in 2014)
Where: Travessa Padre Prudencio, 166
Maniçoba is an indigenous origin dish, typical of Pará. It is made with cassava leaves, which if not cooked for at least 7 days, can kill with its poison. To it is added a variety of pork meats. Pará usually make a reference to a feijoada when explaining the dish.
Godiva, which is an Indian restaurant, has the vegetarian version of the Maniçoba, winning an award for best PF of Brazil. Even eating meat, be sure to try it.
Bar do Rubão
how much: $5 a portion of shredded crab
where: Lane Gurupá, 312
Rubão has become a familiar figure of Belém, almost a celebrity. In his little and really simple bar, the crab meat is their flagship, but what won me over was the shrimp. I guarantee that the beer is ice-cold.
Bar do Careca
how much: $4.50 for a PF, and $15 for one whole pirarucu on the plate
where: Av Alcindo Cacela (Bernardo Sayão and TV Apinages.).
Great option, cold beer, everything is delicious!
quanto: $10 or so for a plate.
onde:Travessa Dr. Moraes, 581,
Lunch on a buffet service with all delights of Pará’s cuisine. Eat as many nails crab (unha de caranguejo) as you can.