11 Reasons You Should Visit Olinda at Least Once in Your Lifetime

Olinda street | © Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock
Olinda street | © Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock
Photo of Harry Stewart
15 February 2018

A vibrant mishmash of technicolored houses and quaint churches on a hill affording tropical ocean views, the immaculately preserved colonial town of Olinda is a must for anyone venturing into the north of Brazil. Don’t believe us? Here are 11 reasons why this gem is not to be missed.

An epic carnival

Featuring nonstop street parades that begin several months before the main event, the Olinda/Recife carnival is a hit among Brazilians and a worthy rival of the festivities in Rio.

Olinda carnival | © Prefeitura de Olinda / Flickr

Those photogenic streets

Everywhere you look in Olinda is an Instragrammable affair thanks to its cobblestone alleys lined with cutesy pastel-colored homes.

Olinda street | © Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock

Incredible colonial history

Olinda was the original capital of the Pernambuco province, a former hub of commerce and artistic flair that was fundamental in shaping 16th-century Brazil.

Colonial town | © Galina Savina / Shutterstock

UNESCO recognition

Such is its importance to the nation that the entire historical center of Olinda was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.

Olinda | © nicolasdecorte / Shutterstock

A thriving arts scene

Popular with Brazillian bohemians, Olinda is chock full of contemporary museums, vibrant galleries, and eclectic outdoor art installations.

Olinda artwork | © Marcus Zorbis / Flickr

An abundance of pretty churches

Given its colonial history, it should come as no surprise that there is seemingly a house of worship on every corner.

Olinda Church | © Prefeitura de Olinda / Flickr

Incredible ocean and jungle vistas

As it occupies an enviable position on a hill perched over the sea, you don’t need to walk far in Olinda to stumble across breathtaking views.

Olinda | © Valdiney Pimenta / Flickr

A happening social scene

Packed full of bohemian restaurants, bars, and cafés, Olinda has no shortage of hip places to eat and drink with its youthful local clientele.

Olinda | © The Visual Explorer / Shutterstock

It’s off the beaten track

Most travelers stick to the sights of southern Brazil, rarely giving the north the time of day. Venture off the well-trodden gringo trail to discover this magical part of the country away from the tourist crowds.

Olinda | © Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

A chilled vibe

The atmosphere in sunny Olinda is ever so laid-back, tempting many an enamored traveler to linger for longer than planned.

Olinda | © ostill / Shutterstock

Recife is just down the road

Keen to explore a more modern Brazillian city? Then the metropolis of Recife, Brazil’s fourth-largest town, is only a short taxi ride away.

Recife and Olinda | © Paulo Williams / Shutterstock

Check out this region-by-region guide to Brazil’s diverse cultures.