The purpose of this post is to attempt to explain how Fortaleza functions, as it can be somewhat persnickety with regard to what happens on which days of the week, local cultural activities, what time of day certain activities happen, etc. People often have the impression that there’s nowhere to go or nothing to do because the place isn’t well documented in English, or because, it may seem that everything is closed. This usually isn’t true, but you must know where to go and what to look for. This is an attempt to clarify the place a bit!
SOME THINGS TO BE AWARE OF:
- Mondays are usually slow and not a lot happens around the city. The barracas (beach hut restaurants) , coffee shops, and malls are usually reliably open every day of the week, starting at 10am.
- More places are open starting on Tuesdays, and it is a good day to check out local blues and jazz music that might be happening around town.
- Wednesdays are pretty neutral. Most things are open and exploring things will be fairly easy.
- Thursdays are considered the beginning of the weekend in Fortaleza. It will be easy to find lively restaurants, pubs, outdoor gatherings, live music, etc. beginning on Thursday night. Thursdays are also considered traditional CRAB NIGHT (CARANGUEJADA). Some of the beach restaurants and restaurants around town will have regional musicians playing live music, and the locals will descend on places around the city to consume crab for a low price.
- Fridays and Saturdays are very lively and it is fairly easy to find things to get into.
- Sundays are the days when traditional FEIJOADA is served at some places around town. Feijoada consists of black beans and pork, usually served with rice. It is usually served for lunch and is often accompanied by live music and lots of families!
- Buses can be confusing so it is best to stick with UBER and TAXIS for getting around town!
- This list should not be seen as comprehensive. Rather, it is an attempt to orient people to how to navigate the place during the week!
SUGGESTIONS ACCORDING TO THE DAYS OF THE WEEK:
ANY DAY OF THE WEEK :
- Praia de Iracema/Beira Mar/ Mucuripe Beach (these are one long stretch of beach and they are all connected to one another).
- Fish Market (Mercado Dos Peixes) – great place where local fishermen provide seafood to the market. Customers can go to a kiosk, order what they want, choose a table, and specify how they would like the food to be prepared, based on a menu provided by one of the food prep kiosks.
- Free Walking Tour (contact the organizers through Instagram. Usually starts at Mercado Central at 9am/10am)
- Parque do Coco (Includes people friendly kitties, walking trails, and river boat rides that must be scheduled by participants)
- Ceara Museum (closed for reform as of this writing. Supposed to reopen in the first semester of 2020. Check the link to confirm)
- Moleskine Gastrobar Nice, high-end bohemian/urban cocktail bar. Seperated into 4 distinct areas and usually very lively and upbeat, with pretty people to observe. Happy hour usually starts at 5pm.
- Joao Batista Cemetery (7am – 5pm every day) – Gorgeous cemetery and an interesting peak into Fortaleza’s past.
- Artesanal Art Center – CEART (Central de Artesanato do Ceará – Monday – Saturday 8am – 7pm) I love this place, as it features some of the best regional arts and crafts in the city! It isn’t so huge and overwhelming like Mercado Central, and, in my opinion, offers some of the highest quality handicrafts in the city. This is my favorite place to go for gifts and unique pieces for my home. Check out their IG here as well.
- Photography Museum (Museu Fotografia – Tuesday – Sunday 12pm – 5pm) – This is really more of a photography art gallery and is one of my favorite places to return to about every 3-4 months to see what’s new. It’s also in one my y favorite neighborhoods – VARJOTA – which has cute restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to check out once the museum visit is done. Ana Bilhar Street (Rua Ana Bilhar) and Frederico Borges Street (Rua Frederica Borges) in the Varjota neighborhood in particular are lined with little coffee houses and cozy restaurants to dip into after a visit to the museum.
- Castelao Arena and Restaurant ( open Monday – Sunday 1130am – 3pm for lunch). This is a really cool way to go hang out at the arena, have a good lunch, and chill for a while in the middle of the day. I don’t like the crowds that come with soccer games, but I definitely love going to the arena when it’s empty from time to time. Friends that visit me always enjoy going there as well!
- UNIFOR (University of Fortaleza) Cultural Space – This space can be found in the University of Fortaleza, which is a beautiful place to visit in and of itself. It has a permanent art exhibit on the second and third floor featuring Brazilian artists, and temporary exhibits on the first floor. It also has a cute little cafe area (Cafe das Artes) right outside. Since the campus is pretty big, the cafe is a good reference point for finding the Cultural space.
- Feira Beira Mar (every day from 5pm -12am) Cool fair / bazaar on Beira Mar beach that happens every night. It has great regional fashion, food, arts and crafts, etc. Nice place to incorporate into a night walk on Beira Mar.
- Pirata Bar Fun spot for tourists and locals on a Monday night.
- Barraca Da Boa Beira Mar – This is one of my “go to” beach hut restaurants. The food and drinks are good, the service is decent, and it provides a good base for accessing the water while having a place for shade, food, and beer during your time at the beach. Usually opens as early as 10 am.
- Crocobeach – This is a massive beach restaurant located in Praia do Futuro. It’s a great way to see the other popular beach in the city, and more of the popular beach restaurants are located on this beach. Locals also prefer Praia do Futuro over Beira Mar beach.
- Toca Do Placido (great from TUESDAY – SUNDAY 6pm -4am!): Features live music every night that it is open, and very alternative / bohemian vibe. Crowded downstairs, quieter upstairs. Usually starts to get loud and lively around 9pm/10pm.
- Abaete (great from TUESDAY – SATURDAY 6pm -3am!) Cool little “hole in the wall” restaurant NEXT DOOR to Toca do Placido (featured above!). Known for it’s cold beer, yummy crepes, and acaraje’ (one of my favorite Brazilian dishes).
- Floresta Bar/ Gastrobar This is a great place for live music and good food every night of the week. My favorite night to go here is Tuesday nights, which are typically reserved for the Jazz and Blues type musicians around town. The place is usually much quieter on Tuesdays (but if you like a huge crowd, definitely check it out Thursday – Saturday!)
- Moleskine Sotao – Awesome high-end jazz lounge on the upper level of Moleskine Gastrobar. This place can be lively every day of the week and difficult to gain entrance to on weekends! I really love go there on Tuesdays and Wednesday nights to the jazz lounge upstairs. It is more expensive than other places, but definitely a nice and sensual place to enjoy a bottle of wine or some cocktails with some great live music in an intimate atmosphere.
- Imprensa Food Square ( great every day from 5pm – 12pm) This is a food truck square that features Brazilian, Arabic, Argentinian, Asian, and American food. I really like this place, as it is a very lively child/animal/family friendly environment that is usually very energetic and fun! It’s a great place to check out on one of the slower days of the week.
- Teatro Jose de Alencar – Awesome old theatre that still has shows and that you can hang out at during the daytime, as there are 2 coffee shops inside. This is definitely one of my favorite places to just hang out at or go to for local theatre and musical events! The architecture is still beautiful and the crowd is usually young and bohemian.
- Cine-Teatro Sao Luiz – Another cool old theatre space that still features live music, live theatre, and free movie showings most weeks. If you don’t have time to check out a show, it also has a little coffee shop inside to help you enjoy the space!
- Praca Do Ferreira / Centro – In addition to Cine-Teatro Sao Luiz, Praca do Ferreira is a great starting point for walking around and exploring the City Centre / Centro area. It is advised to be mindful not to carry cameras around the neck, walk with your cell phone out, or wear expensive jewelry in this area, as pick pockets may target you. With these basic safety rules in mind, however, this is a great square to explore and a great starting point for taking a walk around the city centre.
THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY:
- Benfica Neighborhood near Gentilandia Square – VERY local area that features the college, bohemian, alternative, artistic local crowd. For lunch, check out CULINARIA DA VAN , which features regional cuisine in a cool environment. Vegetarians should check out MANDIR . After lunch or later in the day, go around the corner to MERCADO DO CAFE for coffee and sweets. At night, go bar hopping in the Gentilandia Square area.
- Dragao Do Mar Culture Center – This complex is huge and features several things like: the Planetarium (features are in Portuguese but still enjoyable to non-speakers), Cafes, art galleries, Arthouse films, Free music concerts, Dance performances, and Restaurants. My personal favorite places to end up for the night are the cafes and Bixiga Restaurant (pronounced bi-SHEE-gah), as it always has an upbeat vibe and live music. Across the street from this massive complex is Orbita, which features live music shows.
- Varjota Neighborhood – Features cool Restaurants and pubs such as Floresta Brasil, Cervejaria Turatti (Turatti Artesanal Beer Garden), Coco Bambu Meireles Seafood , Benevolo Cafe – Rua Ana Bilhar, and for your sweet tooth you can check out Cookie Mania or Emporio Brownie Meireles. This area features many other cute places to try , but these are just a few to get you started in the area.
- For Thursday Caranguejadas (Crab Nights): Some local places that participate in this tradition are: Marcao Das Ostras – this is a VERY local spot that usually features a live band playing local music; Chico de Caranguejo Praia – This chain has several locations, but the most popular for crab night is the one on Praia Do Futuro; Floresta Brasil – this is one of my favorite places to chill in general because the space is big (check it out here ) and is in Varjota, one of my favorite neighborhoods.
- All of the places mentioned from Monday – Thursday are ALSO great to visit on the weekends, as the places are even more lively and entertaining.
SUNDAY (Feijoada Day):
- Sundays are days for trying the local feijoada (black bean with pork and rice) and hanging out with a nice crowd and live music. My favorite places include:
- Teresa e Jorge– (2pm – 8pm) – lively, upbeat crowd! This feels like a Sunday block party. Be sure to arrive early or else there will be no seats left for you!
- Passeio Publico / Martyr’s Square – (feijoada and self service – 12pm – 5pm) – This is a great place to visit any day of the week, as it is a historical place. My favorite day to visit is Sundays.
- Restaurante da Zena – Cute place in the old section of the Fortaleza Centro area. It’s been around for 50 years and is a cultural hotspot – particularly on Sundays!