Joao Pessoa

Joao Pessoa is the Capital of the Paraiba State, and is on the easternmost tip of South America. It has a population of just under 600,000 and is renowned for being the greenest and most beautiful of Brazil's cities. Although it is very close to Brazil's desert, the 'sertao', it's coastal location and tropical climate make Joao Pessao verdant and attractive, a huge contrast to the arid internal 'sertao'. Its main industry is created by the tourists that flock to the popular beaches, although the area still produces sugar and other crops, and has a textile industry. Visitors to NE Brazil, content with Recife and the Rio Grande often overlook Joao Pessoa, but in doing so forfeit a visit to beautiful coastal city. The city is gradually attracting the attention of property investors, particularly from the US and Northern Europe, which means that English is an increasingly common language in the city centre.


Sao Francisco Church is said to be one of Brazil's finest examples of Baroque architecture. Located in the historic heart of the city, the church has a museum attached to it, which contains a large collection of religious artefacts, paintings and sculptures.

The city has the second highest amount of urban green areas per head of population in the world (according to the Brazilian Embassy), second only to Paris. There are hundreds of small gardens, areas of natural forest and larger parks. In total there is over 7 square kilometres of forested area in the city. This makes for a forgiving and picturesque urban environment rarely seen in South America or indeed most parts of the world.

Joao Pessoa has nearly 40km of coastline, much of which is attractive beaches. The two most popular beaches in the state, Tambau and Manaira are on this stretch of coast. These beaches are the main attraction for tourists in Joao Pessoa, and boast a lively nightlife. The beaches are interspersed with areas of preserved forest, including coconut and fruit trees, which have earned the city its reputation as one of the most beautiful in Brazil. At various points along this coastline there are formations of corals which trap outgoing water, and at low tide form a series of beautiful shallow pools. These quite often contain many species of colourful fish and other wildlife. Picãozinho on Tambau beach is the best example of this, and walks around these pools are very popular with tourists. You can also find these pools on the many small and attractive natural islands a short distance from the Joao Pessoa coast.


There are many large shopping centres such as the 'Manaira' mall. These are similar to a British or US style of shopping centre, with chain stores, restaurants and cinemas. For souvenirs, you will find small craft shops at the beaches, although occasionally they will stock mass-produced crafts instead of the local wares. For these you should visit the city's craft market, 'Mercado de Artesanato Paraibano' where family run stalls compete to sell you their creations, which are traditionally made from oakum and clay.

Nightlife and Eating Out

There are many fine restaurants in the city, many of which are very competitively priced. Churrascarias restaurants come particularly recommended. They operate in a similar way to 'all you can eat' buffets in the UK. You pay one price upon entering the restaurant, and everything you eat afterwards is paid for by that amount. However, the fact that you are served at the table rather than serving yourself at the buffet means the dining experience is more relaxing and like a traditional restaurant. The type of food served is traditionally rustic, barbecued steak and seafood, but you may well find other types of meat, including goat, wild pig, chicken and lamb. These come with salads and various types of cheeses and pastries.

Sorveterias are similar to the Italian style Gelaterias. They serve a wide variety of high quality ice cream and provide a delicious refreshment after a day on the beach. Much of the area's nightlife takes place on the beaches, and in particular Tambau. There is a variety of restaurants, clubs and bars with entertainments lasting well into the night. These are popular with both tourists and the locals.

Tourist Information

Joao Pessoa tourist office


Joao Pessoa has recently opened an international airport, but flights to European destinations are limited and often expensive. It is more common to fly to Sao Paulo or Rio Di Janeiro and then catch an internal flight to Joao Pessoa, which are more common and cheaper. You could also take a three day bus journey to cover the 2440 km from Sao Paulo.

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