A destination for leisure and history, the capital of Maranhão has one of the most impressive sets of colonial mansions in the country, and serves as the gateway to the fascinating Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.

The only city in Brazil founded by the French has several peculiarities: São Luís, the capital of maranhão, has the largest collection of Portuguese tiles in Latin America and despite being part of the northeast, it has a foot inside the Amazon. Its more than 3,000 townhouses and mansions spread through the streets and squares of the Historic Center consecrated the city with the title of Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1977.

In addition to history, the city also preserves traditions and cultures. Bumba-Meu-Boi, a folkloric performance that combines music, dance and theater, attracts people from all over the world in the months of June and July when the state's traditional June festivities take place. In addition, it has the Tambor de Crioula, the Cacuriá and the street carnival, where revelers follow the blocks with traditional bands.

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Always hot and humid the climate of São Luís it's tropical. The temperature is always between 23 and 31 degrees, making a stay on the island ideal for enjoying the beaches of São Marcos, Ponta d'Areia and Calhau, the most famous in the city. Another factor that increases the popularity of the city is that São Luís is a key point for anyone visiting the historic city of Alcantara, the waterfalls of Chapada das Mesas and the wonderful and exotic Lencois Maranhenses National Park.

There are beautiful beaches in the capital of Maranhão, such as Praia de São Marcos (located 5 km from the city center and where the São Marcos fort is located – a small fortress situated on a hill); Praia do Calhau (9 km from the center, very popular). Handicrafts not only in the capital, but throughout the maranhão, is quite rich and creative: lace towels, hammocks, woodwork, tiles, straw, babassu, ceramics, embroidery and other handmade items.

Another strong feature of the city is reggae. Music is always present on radios, clubs and bars, which has given São Luís the title of "Brazilian Jamaica“.

What to see in Sao Luis:

Photo: Secretary of Tourism São Luís


One of the main attractions of the capital of Maranhão is its 32 km of beach. The island is surrounded by beautiful and incomparable beaches, with the presence of hills and cliffs. Its strong winds, from July to December, make it ideal for sailing sports.

At the beginning of Avenida Litorânea, 7km from the city center, São Marcos beach is ideal for surfing. Preferred among young people in the region, São Marcos beach has a unique landscape with dunes covered with plants and an extensive coastline with stronger currents in this region.

Located on the extension of Avenida Litorânea, Praia do Calhau has beautiful dunes covered by undergrowth. It is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the city. On its shore, there are several leisure options, vacation homes and hotels.

Historic Center (Reviver)

Listed by UNESCO, the historic center of São Luís gathers about 3 thousand colonial buildings. Exploring this region that occupies almost the entire Praia Grande neighborhood on foot is a great way to fall in love with the stone estuaries, alleys, slopes, squares and squares of the place.

Palace of the Lions

The Palácio dos Leões is the current political and institutional seat of the Government of the State of Maranhão, it is the noblest address on the island. When it was built by the French, in 1612, the building was named Fortaleza de São Luís and one of the areas is open to visitors.

Arthur Azevedo Theater

The second oldest theater in Brazil was opened in 1817 and draws attention with its neoclassical architecture and baroque details, the theater has undergone restorations that have kept it very well preserved.

Ribeirão Fountain

The best-preserved fountain in São Luis was inaugurated in 1796. It brings five jets of water that come out of the mouth of frowns and sculptures of fish and gods.

Nhozinho's House

The Casa do Nhozinho museum is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in the Historic Center. There are four floors honoring the artisan from Maranhão with collections of pieces, objects and artifacts from the artist's daily life.

Gonçalves Dias Square

Praça Gonçalves Dias, located at the top of Remédios, offers a beautiful view of the bay of São Marcos. It is famous for being a meeting point for several couples from São Luís, which gave it the title of Largo dos Amores.

Cathedral Church

Built by the Jesuits in 1699, the Igreja da Sé has a neoclassical façade all covered in gold. The church pays tribute to Nossa Senhora da Vitória, protector of the Portuguese in battles against the French army.

Convent of Mercês

Built in 1657 under the supervision of Father Antonio Vieira, the architectural relic housed the Order of Mercedaries until 1905, when it came under the control of the state government. Today the convent houses a cultural space where the José Sarney Memorial is located, with objects related to the former president; and also the Museum of Republican Memory. In July, it hosts Vale Festejar, an out-of-season São João.

Other tourist attractions in São Luís

  • Historical and Artistic Museum of Maranhão
  • Popular Culture Center (House of the Festival)
  • Church of Carmo
  • Cafua das Mercês
  • Ceprama (Maranhão Handicraft Production Center)
  • Church of Desterro
  • Reggae Museum
  • Vale Maranhao Cultural Center
  • Panaquatira Beach
  • Mangue Seco beach
  • Ponta Verde beach
  • Sao Jose de Ribamar
  • Fox

How to get to Sao Luis:

Photo: Secretary of Tourism São Luís

By airplane

São Luís Cunha Machado International Airport receives daily flights from the main capitals of Brazil.

By car

Access via BR-135.
There are 796km between São Luís and Belém (Pará) or 963km from Fortaleza (Ceará) to São Luís.

By bus

The city receives daily buses from several Brazilian capitals. For up-to-date information on which companies operate to São Luís, it is worth calling the bus station in the capital.
Sao Luis bus station
Tel: (98) 3243-2847

Best time to visit Sao Luis

Photo: Secretary of Tourism São Luís

Despite always carrying high temperatures, the first half of the year is marked by heavy rains in the state. To enjoy the state's beaches and the beauties of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, best time to visit Sao Luis are the months from June to December, when the months are hot and dry.

June and July are the busiest months in the destination thanks to the traditional São João celebrations in the state, with performances of bumba-meu-boi, theater, music and dance.

Where to stay in Sao Luis

Photo: Secretary of Tourism São Luís

The vast majority of modern hotels and renowned chains are located close to the city's coastal coast and around Lagoa da Jansen, an area that concentrates great restaurants, bars and nightclubs. THE Hotel Luzeiros Sao Luis, The Blue Tree Towers it's the Calhau Praia Hotel are excellent options for those who want to stay close to the beach.

If you are looking for a location closer to the city's commerce, Lagoa da Janses and the Renascença neighborhood may be ideal for your needs. In this region, we Sailboats Sea Hotel, it's the Ibis Sao Luis.

Another neighborhood much sought after by tourists is the historic center of the city, also known as Reviver. There are some options for charming inns, with emphasis on the Pousada Portas da Amazônia and the Lavinia House, and even more modern structures, such as the Grand Sao Luis Hotel.

Find accommodation in Sao Luis

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