The northeastern Brazilian state of Alagoas is known for its Caribbean-type beauty and year-round great weather.
Locked between the scenic beaches of Maragogi and the estuary of the São Francisco River, this is the most beautiful part of the Brazilian coastline.
Maceió (the capital of the state) is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Latin America.
Over the last few years, the city has gained the popularity of being the most recommended place to spend your beach vacation in Brazil.
Known for its natural beauty, spectacular white beaches, turquoise shallow waters and full of life coral reefs, it attracts a large number of visitors, especially from the most densely populated cities such as São Paulo.
Let’s take a look the ultimate list of the best things to do in Maceió:
1. Start your journey from Praia de Ponta Verde
Praia de Ponta Verde is the most iconic place in Maceió, so it’s a good idea to start your adventure in the city right here.
The beach is one of the busiest in the state of Alagoas. There are many bars, restaurants and cafes in the area. It stretches to the north of the peninsula of the same name.
It is well-known for its white sands and crystal clear shallow waters.
With its irresistible turquoise color, the beach attracts many visitors. It is considered one of the most beautiful in Brazil.
2. Try local Acarajé
While walking along the coast of Ponta Verde, don’t miss to try one of the most traditional foods here – Acarajé.
This is a type of street food with African roots from the area of present-day Nigeria.
Of course, over the years Acarajé has changed significantly under the influence of Portuguese culinary traditions, turning into something unique for this part of Brazil.
Acarajé is a type of bean balls, which are deep fried in red palm oil.
They are usually served split in half, seasoning with garlic and other hot spices. It is especially popular to serve Acarajé stuffed with shrimp.
3. Go to Catedral Metropolitana de Maceió
Built in the mid-19th century, the Catedral Metropolitana de Maceió is the city cathedral of the capital and the most important church in the state of Alagoas.
The building is among the architectural treasures of the city and captivates with its exquisite facade.
It is located in the central part of the city. The two completely identical bell towers make it easily recognizable from afar.
In front of the snow-white structure of the historical building, you will find a small and very elegant square.
With its benches located under the pleasant shade of the trees, it is a tempting place to escape the scorching heat.
4. Go to Nossa Senhora do Livramento Church
After visiting the Catedral Metropolitana de Maceió, don’t miss to go to the less popular but also very beautiful church Nossa Senhora do Livramento.
As they are located on neighbouring streets in the central area of the city, it takes less than 5 minutes to get there.
The elegant building was completed in the 19th century.
The structure is mostly white, with an impressive bell tower above the main entrance.
5. Explore Praia de Paripueira
Praia de Paripueira is one of the popular beaches in the vicinity of Maceió.
It is located approximately 30 kilometers northeast of the state’s capital, and the journey takes no more than 40 minutes.
What makes this place so popular is the huge and white stretch of sand as well as the shallow and transparent turquoise waters.
Because of the great underwater visibility and rich biodiversity, the lagoon is a great place for snorkeling.
Coral reefs break the waves so the surface along the coast is always smooth and mirrored.
The other advantage is that the place is quiet and secluded so you can always find some privacy.
6. Go to the north and visit Praia de Tabuba
While in the area of Praia de Paripueira, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Praia de Tabuba too.
The beach is located in a bay, right next to the north, and offers nearly 3 km of white sand.
Praia de Tabuba is more popular with tourists because in the area are located some luxury hotels and tourist villas.
However, the place is still quiet and you will never see this place overcrowded or polluted.
In the central part of the beach there is a vast green area, covered by lush tropical vegetation.
The place is dominated by the mouth of a deepwater river.
The area of the estuary is a tempting place to relax while enjoying a refreshing drink under the thick shade of a straw umbrella.
7. Explore the area with a buggy
The area of Praia de Tabuba is one of the hot spots in Brazil when it comes to buggy/ATV driving.
The combination of vast rarely populated territories and an incredible natural beauty is the base of the sport.
There are very few places around the world where you can find endless beaches, a sandy desert and a tropical rainforest right next to each other.
8. Go to Floriano Peixoto and Praia de Ipioca
Floriano Peixoto is a lovely tourist village which lies on the scenic coast, about 15 km north of Maceió.
It is quite popular with tourists because of Praia de Ipioca – one of the most beautiful beaches of Alagoas.
White sands and shallow azure waters attract visitors from January till December.
Here you will find a number of great restaurants and bars to visit for a glass of refreshing drink or a portion of grilled fish.
9. Go to Praia da Sereia – the beach with the sculpture
Praia da Sereia, also known as the beach with the sculpture, is located on the northern outskirts of Maceió.
Compared with the beaches in the central part of the city, this place is relatively quiet.
On the other side, it attracts more people in comparison with the remote stretches of sand to the north.
What makes this place so popular is the snow-white sculpture of a mermaid, which stands on a rock, right off the sandy shore.
10. Visit Museu de História Natural
Museu de História Natural is an interesting and intriguing place.
It is one of the most recommended tourist attractions to visit in Maceió.
The museum is housed in a beautiful and old historical building from the 19th century.
Over the years, it has changed its purpose many times.
You can easily find it in the central part of the city, at a walking distance from the famous Catedral Metropolitana de Maceió.
11. Go to Barra de Santo Antônio and Praia da Ilha da Croa
Barra de Santo Antônio is a small town, located near the estuary of Rio Jirituba, approximately 30 km north of Maceió.
The town is mostly famous for its fantastic golden sandy beach, called Praia da Ilha da Croa. If you need some privacy, the beach is almost deserted to the north.
It is an attractive place to visit all year round.
12. Go to Museu do Comércio de Alagoas
The Museu do Comércio de Alagoas is located in the port area of Maceió.
You will find it in an extremely beautiful building, probably one of the most elegant looking in the city.
The museum is a fascinating and interesting place with a unique collection of machines and equipment.
Although many of the exhibits date from the late 19th century, the collection presents the period between 1866 to 1980.
13. Catamaran walk
Since local reefs are shallow and visible from over the surface, a short catamaran cruise along the coast is one of the top experiences in the area.
You will have the opportunity to decide between a boat trip along the coast of Maceio or in the region of Maragogi. Prices are comparable and both experiences have their pros.
Although prices are sometimes a bit high, the number of people on board is always limited, so you will be able to enjoy a few quiet hours.
Usually catamarans float easily even in very shallow waters and reach incredible snorkeling locations where regular yachts are not able to get to.
14. Explore the town of Maragogi
Located approximately 92 km north of the state’s capital, Maragogi is a charming tourist town with a population of about 27,000 inhabitants.
Along the coast are some of the best restaurants to the north of Maceió.
Here you will find both traditional local cuisine and amazing sea specialities.
Fantastic bars are available for you after a long day on the shore. The beaches themselves are really worth a visit.
15. Don’t miss the popular sandbar of Maragogi
One of the most magnificent spots along the coast of Alagoas is located right off the shore of Maragogi.
This is a 800-meters-long sandbar, which almost never disappears completely under the sea surface.
The white color of the sand reminds about the Bahamas, and the turquoise water is shallow and clear.
This is one of the top spots to swim and snorkel in Brazil. This is also a preferable spot for beach parties.
16. Visit the “Galés”
The “Galés” is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the state of Alagoas.
It is located on the Coral Coast (Costa dos Corais), in the area of Maragogi. It lies about 90 km north of the center of Maceió.
The “Galés” by themselves are a kind of natural pools, formed between the sandy shore and the natural barrier of the coral reef.
During the low tide hours, you can see the reef over the ocean surface.
The water in these natural pools is crystal clear. Its irresistible turquoise color attracts visitors from around the world, especially lovers of snorkeling.
The underwater visibility is one of the best in Brazil and reaches up to 40 – 50 meters on sunny and quiet days
17. Expedition to the mouth of Rio São Francisco
The mouth of the São Francisco River marks the southern border of the state of Alagoas.
The area is a colorful mixture of sandy dunes, green wetlands and marshlands and emerald ocean waters.
The area is famous for its biodiversity, which includes a number of rare species of waterfowls.
The estuary area looks like a desert oasis because of the combination of sands and palm trees.
But be careful! If you decide to have a picnic by the river, do not be tempted to enter the water!
The estuary area is not safe for swimming because of the strong currents, deep waters and whirlpools.
18. Day trip to the canyons of the São Francisco River
If you have at least a week in Maceió, be sure to enjoy one of the organized day trips to the canyon of the São Francisco River.
The place is located about 220 kilometers west of the capital of the state of Alagoas.
Indeed, the journey takes more than 4 hours in one direction, but the experience is really worth it.
The canyon is filled with river waters and acts as a border between the states of Alagoas and Bahia.
It is located between the Paulo Afonso Hydroelectric Complex to the west and the Xingó Dam in the east.
Usually, all organized trips include time to rest, to have lunch and swim in the appropriate places.
Tourist groups reach the canyon by buses, but the most important part of the adventure is the boat trip in the canyon.
19. Enjoy Praia de Pajuçara
Praia de Pajuçara offers numerous advantages and is definitely one of the main attractions of the capital of Alagoas.
It stretches south of Ponta Verde and is well-known for its 3.5 kilometers long superb stretch of golden sand.
Praia de Pajuçara offers many attractions along the coast, including many restaurants and bars.
The most important one, however, is undoubtedly the lagoon itself.
With its shallow turquoise waters, it attracts lovers of swimming, snorkeling, diving and underwater photography.
Glass-bottom tourist boats flow slowly over the colorful coral formations, where hundreds of species of fish and other sea creatures live.
20. Don’t miss the Lighthouse of Ponta Verde
When visiting Praia de Pajuçara, don’t miss the popular lighthouse.
Being one of the attractions in the area, Farol da Ponta Verde is located about 400 meters off the sandy beach and warns vessels about the presence of dangerous underwater shallow reefs.
In fact, the coastal water is so shallow that you can reach the lighthouse itself on foot during the hours of low tide.
Of course, you should be equipped with special shoes because the bottom is covered by sharp rocks and corals.
21. Go to Lagoa Manguaba
Lagoa Manguaba is a vast but mostly shallow lagoon, which despite its width of 3 – 4 kilometers, reaches a maximum depth of 3 – 3.5 meters in some parts.
It is located in a beautiful ecologically clean area, 2 and a half hours from downtown Maceió.
Connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the beautiful Lagoa Mandao, it is a popular tourist attraction in the state of Alagoas.
The shore of the lagoon is dotted by a number of small settlements.
22. Stop by Marechal Deodoro town
There are many charming places to stop by along the shores of the Manguaba Lagoon, and one of them is the small town of Marechal Deodoro.
Here you can enjoy delicious Brazilian cuisine in some of the small local restaurants.
Be sure to visit the central square of Marechal Deodoro, known as Praça Comendador Firmo Lopes.
Here you can find some very beautiful buildings, including the church Igreja de Santa Maria Madalena.
23. Enjoy the fantastic tourist town of Barra de São Miguel
Barra de São Miguel is one of the most popular and top rated places to stay in the area of Maceió.
If you have decided to stay in the capital itself, however, be sure to take a day trip to the tourist village.
Located about 35 kilometers southwest of Maceió, Barra de São Miguel combines superb golden sands and azure mirrored waters with some really great bars and restaurants to visit.
Here you can try a wide range of meals from the traditional Brazilian cuisine as well as some amazing local cocktails while admiring the beautiful ocean view under the shade of the coconut palm trees.
With a population of just over 7,000 people, Barra de São Miguel is one of the very few relatively safe places in the country, especially if compared to cities such as São Luís, Maceió or Rio de Janeiro.