Natal Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing

(Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil)

The sheer magnetism of the beaches of Natal draws huge numbers of tourists here each year, and many of the attractions certainly relate to the city's enviable coastal setting. Scuba diving and snorkelling are both possible in this area, while others come to Natal for its exciting beach buggy rides up and down its enormous sand dunes.

Cruises along the Rio Potengi (Potengi River) provide an easy and highly enjoyable way to sightsee. For tourists and families, the fishy attractions at the Natal Aquarium often appeal, as do the indigenous creatures at the Parque das Dunas (Dunas State Ecological Park) and the stylish Oscar Niemeyer-designed Parque da Cidade Dom Nivaldo Monte (City Park).

Cariri Ecotours / Aventura Turismo

Address: Avenida Prudente de Morais 3601, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
Tel: +55 084 3206 4949
The pairing of Cariri Ecotours and Aventura Turismo means that tourists can enjoy a series of well-organised and appealing excursions. Highly regarded and recommended, Cariri Ecotours handles a variety of inland tours and trips, while Aventura Turismo tends to specialise mainly in coastal routes, taking sightseers as far afield as Recife, and on occasion, Jericoacoara.
Open hours: daily - hours vary
Admission: charge

Centro de Lancamento da Barreira do Inferno - CLBI (Barreira do Inferno Launch Centre)

Address: Parnamirim, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
Tel: +55 084 3216 1400
Located in the neighbouring suburb city of Parnamirim, situated just 17 km / 11 miles to the south of central Natal, the Centro de Lancamento da Barreira do Inferno is one attraction with a difference. Created in the mid-1960s, the Launch Centre was actually the first base in Brazil to launch rockets into outer space. Whilst tourists are always welcome to visit the centre and learn more about its rockets, this must be arranged in advance.
Open hours: by arrangement only
Admission: charge

Parque das Dunas (Dunas State Ecological Park)

Address: Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
Ranking as the second-biggest urban park in the country, the Parque das Dunas covers close to 2,965 acres / 1,200 hectares, being rich in Brazilian flora and fauna. Those wishing to learn more about the park and its wildlife attractions are able to join a tour, led by experienced guides, although most simply come here for recreational purposes or to jog along its extensive network of pathways.
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday - dawn to dusk
Admission: free

Natal Aquarium

Address: Avenida Litoranea 1099, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
A popular family attraction, the Natal Aquarium was created by a group of local biologists and environmentalists, and tourists will find this venue conveniently located close to the beachfront. The aquarium has grown to house more than 60 species of marine life, the majority of which are native, with around 30 aquariums in total. Amongst the creatures are sea horses, piranhas, lobsters and stingrays, although it is the unusual sandpaper sharks that hold the most appeal. The Natal Aquarium also functions as something of a small zoo, being home to reptiles, turtles, monkeys and even a small group of penguins. Guided tours are available in English and last just under an hour.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children

Maior Cajueiro do Mundo (World's Largest Cashew Tree)

Address: Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
An unusual natural attraction, the 'Maior Cajueiro do Mundo' literally translates as the largest cashew tree in the world. This record-breaker is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, with the tree's sprawling branches covering an area larger than an actual football pitch, since most of the branches grow outwards in direction, rather than upwards, due to a genetic anomaly. During the fruiting season, it is believed that the tree produces in excess of 80,000 cashew nuts, and visitors are allowed to pick the cashews freely. The tree was planted in 1888 and its vast canopy continues to steadily expand each year.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Buggy Rides / Dune Buggies

Address: Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
Buggy rides and dune excursions have become one of the most popular and exciting attractions on offer in Natal, provided by a number of experienced buggy drivers and companies, the most reputable of which are accredited by the Associacao de Bugeiros. Before you depart, your driver will ask how daring you are, and those prepared for an adrenaline rush will be treated to obstacles aptly named as the 'Vertical Descent' and the 'Wall of Death'. Buggy trips can be easily arranged by guest houses and travel agencies, with most buggies being able to comfortably take up to four passengers. It is quite possible to head along the coastline in either direction, and if you don't mind ocean breezes and sand, then do consider a beach buggy trip all the way to Fortaleza, some 750 km / 466 miles away. The journey to the city of Fortaleza will take up to five days, passing more than 90 different beaches along the route.
Open hours: daily - hours vary
Admission: charge

Teatro Alberto Maranhao (Alberto Maranhao Theatre)

Address: Praca Augusto Severo, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
Tel: +55 084 3222 3669
A famous theatre standing on the Praca Augusto Severo, within the Ribeira neighbourhood, the Teatro Alberto Maranhao is certainly architecturally pleasing, whilst hosting a variety of performances, concerts and live entertainment events. Now more than 100 years old, the theatre dates back to 1904 and celebrated its centenary in 2004 with a significant renovation and regeneration project, which included the fitting of air conditioning, the expansion of the inner courtyard, and the opening of a new shop and cafe.
Open hours: daily - hours vary according to performance
Admission: charge

Parque da Cidade Dom Nivaldo Monte (Natal City Park)

Address: Avenida Omar O' Grady, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
The City Park (Parque da Cidade) is a large and recently created public parkland, designed by one of Brazil's most famous and cherished architects, Oscar Niemeyer. Located between the neighbourhoods of Candelária, Cidade Satélite and Nova Cidade (New Town), the park opened in July 2008 and covers almost 160 acres / 65 hectares. The park met many conservational needs and actively works to sustain its important areas of groundwater, which in turn help to supply the city's water needs. A notable attraction in the Parque da Cidade Dom Nivaldo Monte is the tower, which comes with its own restaurant and museum, and provides excellent aerial views of the parkland's layout.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling

Address: Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, BR
Offering outstanding scuba diving conditions located less than an hours' drive to the north of Natal, the Parrachos de Maracajaú coral reefs draw large numbers of divers each year, both experienced and beginners. These coral reefs are sited some 7 km / 4 miles offshore, with speedboats travelling to multiple floating platforms. Expect to find many natural pools, where the water remains crystal clear, filled with underwater creatures and highly suitable for both diving and snorkelling. After your dive, the sandy beachfront is the perfect place to relax, while the Ma-Noa Water Park at Maracajaú may beckon if you have children.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free, charge for equipment hire and lessons


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