Cities to visit in Maranhão: Northeast Brazil is full of places that leave any destination abroad in the dust

Whether for a few days of leisure, rest or lots of fun, the maranhão is the destination full of options for all types of travellers. Extreme sports, historic cities, beaches, canyons, waterfalls and much more: the State is one of the proofs that it is not necessary to travel outside Brazil to discover impressive and unforgettable places.

São Luís

Cities to visit in Maranhão

Cities to visit in Maranhão. Photo: Sec Turismo Maranhão

capital of Maranhao, São Luís Besides being a very beautiful city, it has peculiar characteristics and an authentic architecture that mixes the old with the modern. In this way, there is no better way to start the trip through this interesting state than making a stop – more than mandatory – in this region.

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As the only Brazilian city founded by the French, you can already imagine all the charm of the local architecture. A stroll through the Historic Center is essential to make a true journey back in time and appreciate the old mansions and townhouses, the stone streets and its cultural collection, such as Casa de Maranhão (a folkloric museum with an impressive collection of objects, ranging from instruments to pieces of clothing, typical of the Bumba-Meu-Boi party, a traditional event in Maranhão) and the Casa de Nhozinho Museum (installed in a mansion whose facade is covered with beautiful tiles, the space brings together pieces by Antônio Bruno Pinto Nogueira , the renowned artisan “Nhozinho”, among other regional elements, such as ceramic utensils, indigenous pieces, popular dolls, etc).

But anyone who thinks that in the Historic Center there are only buildings from that period to visit is wrong. At night, tourists have the opportunity to discover the same place, but in a completely different way: just pass by the bars that line the street to enjoy traditional music, of course, all accompanied by a refreshing drink.

Since the subject is tradition, the Festa Junina de São Luís, or rather, the Festa Bumba-Meu-Boi. When visiting the capital of Maranhão in the month of June, there is no shortage of celebrations and stingrays with presentations and also delicious local delicacies that are a separate attraction (corn porridge, sun-dried tapioca and tapioca cake should be on the list of delicacies that cannot be missed during the trip).

One thing that the traveler can't forget when packing his bags to get to know Ilha do Amor – as the city is known – is that it is an island, so there is no shortage of beaches. Praia do Calhau is the perfect choice for all types of audiences (whether traveling as a family, alone, with friends or as a couple), as its excellent infrastructure makes it possible to take a bath in the sea, relax enjoying the sun from the northeast and trying some snacks by the sea. Another beach that is popular with tourists is São Marcos, also known for Avenida Litorânea, a place full of bars and kiosks; but it is the strong winds in the region that make the beach very popular, especially for those who like extreme sports, such as kitesurfing.


Photo: via discoverysaoluis

Located just 28 km away from the capital of Maranhão, Raposa is a city that attracts many visitors because of its natural landscapes and dunes – which are known as “Fronhas Maranhenses”, after all, they are a smaller, but no less attractive, version of the famous Lençóis Maranhenses. With so many beauties, one thing is certain: those who know the region do not regret it and come back again and again.

To visit the postcard you have to go to Porto do Braga, where the boats leave. Prepare your camera to capture the stunning scenery along the way and don't forget your sunscreen. Upon arriving at Curupu Island, precisely at Praia Carimã, tourists have the opportunity to enjoy all that is best in this northeast paradise: take a bath in the calm waters stream or venture into the sea with strong waves. If you feel hungry, there is a floating restaurant that offers fresh oysters, but there is also the possibility to take your food to prepare on the boats (which are equipped with a stove or barbecue).

Nothing better than a beach to enjoy the Maranhão sun, right? So, don't forget your bathing suits, because in Raposa, Itaputiua Beach, with its warm waters and emerald greens, cannot be left out of the itinerary. As it is located on a fisherman's island, to access the place you have to go there by boat or venture through the trails in the middle of the mangrove. A tour, certainly, unforgettable!

Fox is also well-known for bobbin lace, a tradition passed down from mothers to daughters who draw attention. On Rua da Lavanderia, or rather, in the Corredor das Rendeiras, you can find several craft stores and see the work of these women up close.


Cities to visit in Maranhão

Cities to visit in Maranhão. Photo: Sec Turismo Maranhão

Located just 250 km from the capital of Maranhão, barriers is well known – and sought after by tourists from all over the world – for being the gateway to the Maranhão sheets. With so many beauties, it is not difficult to understand why the destination is always at the top of the list of those who dream of visiting the Brazilian Northeast.

One of the main tourist attractions from the city is the Preguiças River, whose waters surround the entire region; the residents like to enjoy the afternoons on the sand strips that form freshwater beaches on the site. Due to the several restaurants that work in its surroundings, visitors enjoy a complete infrastructure that makes the tour even better.

Imagine stunning scenery that changes throughout the year? This is the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, a place with a unique landscape with more than 150 thousand hectares of dunes, lagoons, mangroves and rivers. The Blue Lagoon, one of the most beautiful natural attractions in the entire complex, has crystal clear waters where tourists can bathe and, at the end of the tour, watch an unforgettable sunset. For travelers who want to know other lagoons, there are circuits with several stops that are certainly worth it.

Other tourist spot of Barreirinhas that cannot be missed by visitors is the Farol de Mandacaru (also known as Farol de Preguiças); located in the village of Mandacaru, which is a fishing village in the region, it is enough to go up 160 steps to have a privileged view of the entire city: from there it is possible to see the entire village and even the meeting of the Preguiças river with the sea. Taking advantage of the visit, the tourist also has the opportunity to buy some handcrafted items made by the residents (such as jewelry, balls, sandals, hammocks, curtains, among other things), all made with buriti fibers, an abundant palm tree in the place.

After discovering Lençóis Maranhenses, there's nothing better than enjoying a beach, right? Praia de Caburé, with its calm waters and white sand, is a great option, because despite being located in a very rustic region, it has a great infrastructure (with stalls, bars and restaurants) to serve travelers.


cities to visit in Maranhão

Cities to visit in Maranhão. Photo: Cepkol / Wikimedia Commons

With its sandy streets, lagoons, dunes and beaches, Atins it's a paradise. Despite not being a very well-known city, it attracts more and more people from all over Brazil and the world, as it is a very preserved region where it is possible to enjoy the holidays in the best way: with a lot of tranquility, contact with nature and taking with you back home also a lot of experience.

Between the main attractions places are Lagoa da Capivara and Lagoa Tropical (both are part of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park), two gems with transparent waters that are about an hour’s walk away – just be willing to take the ride. Because they are much emptier when compared to the lakes near Barreirinhas, it is possible to enjoy the tour even better, whether with friends, family or even alone.

Taking advantage of the program, the next stop – mandatory – is at Canto de Atins, the main beach in the region and the perfect place for those who want to practice Kitesurfing, as the intensity and constancy of the wind are favorable for the sport. Now, if the idea is to cool off in a swim in the sea, the ideal place is Praia do Atins, where the waters are so calm, clean and crystalline that you can even see fish jumping. By the way, one of the local delicacies is the grilled shrimp – the snack is a great representative of the flavors of the city.

The best part of the Atins sunset is the show starring the flock of guarás in the Preguiças River. To watch the show, just buy a boat or speedboat ride and be enchanted by the sight of the red birds covering the region's mangroves. It is certainly something unforgettable in the life of any traveler.

Santo Amaro

Cities to visit in Maranhão. Photo: Sec Turismo Maranhão

Known for housing the most beautiful lakes in the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Santo Amaro is the kind of place that visitors fall in love with at first sight. Who wants to take a few days to simply disconnect from all the hustle and bustle of modern life, have no doubt: the city is the ideal place to recover all your energy and spend unforgettable days.

With about 800 square meters, the Lagoa das Andorinhas is one of the great attractions. In addition to a breathtaking view and the opportunity to take a dip in its waters, there is also the possibility of taking kayak trips to enjoy the day there.


Photo: Otávio Nogueira

Known as “Paraíso das Águas”, Carolina is a city with unique natural beauties. Their attractions they are extremely dazzling scenarios that, for sure, make those who visit the place come back whenever a gap in the schedule allows.

It's impossible to start talking about the tourist attractions in the region if not for the Chapada das Mesas National Park, a complex of curious rock formations whose area of 160 thousand hectares of cerrado is the perfect place for adventures and lots of leisure. Full of waterfalls, trails, viewpoints and wells, its main attractions are the São Romão waterfall, Portal da Chapada and Morro do Chapéu.

How about a, shall we say, “sacred” experience? The Sanctuary Waterfall is actually one of Carolina's greatest treasures. Its waterfall drops 50 meters into a pool about 1.5 meters deep and forms a cloud so dense in the air that it is impossible to take a picture, in this way, only those who visit have the opportunity to check this out. true spectacle of nature.

The bravest travelers need to know the Tourist Complex of Pedra Caida. The place is a kind of amusement park with waterfalls, trails, cable cars, abseiling and zip lines – this one is about 1400 meters long, that is, a challenge for few.


Cities in Maranhão

Cities to visit in Maranhão. Photo: Sec Turismo Maranhão

Old mansions, ruins and beaches: Alcântara is a calm city, with unique natural beauties and, simply, charming. In a few days it is possible to enjoy – without haste – all that the region has to offer.

Known as “the city that stopped in time”, the best way to explore the place is on foot. The ruins of the Church of São Matias (whose construction began in the 17th century) is a mandatory stop for anyone visiting the city.

Another postcard is Ilha do Livramento, an uninhabited place with a deserted beach and trails. A great place to get away from the hustle and bustle and just enjoy a few days relaxing. On weekends, there is a bar that works there, so, even if it's for a quick stop, it's worth a visit.

» 24 tours in São Luís to discover the essence of Maranhão
» Best time to visit Lençóis Maranhenses
» 38 photographs that prove all the beauty of the Route of Emotions
» São Luís and Lençóis Maranhenses: 5 days itinerary

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