What to see in Brazil

Manaus

Tourist attractions Manaus

The gateway to the Amazon, Manaus is a surprising city, both in its enormous size and unique location. This urban metropolis is surrounded by rainforests on three sides and sits on the banks of the opaque waters of the River Negro in northwestern Brazil. The capital of the state of Amazonas, Manaus is also a major trading port, where raw materials and goods from the Amazon are exported to the rest of the world. You’re most likely to visit Manaus as part of an adventure into the Amazon, although there are a few charms to uncover here before you head off into the rainforest. 

With an urban center of around 400 square kilometers, Manaus is huge, with plenty of sights to discover and opportunities to get to know the local culture. It’s even home to a riverside beach, where you can relax and soak up the views of the river and rainforest beyond.

Manaus was founded in the 17th-century as a riverside fort, later becoming a city in the 19th-century. Today, Manaus is known for its free port, its centers of Amazon research and its eclectic architecture. In fact, if you take a trip to Manaus you’ll notice an array of European-style buildings, the result of migration here by wealthy European families and rubber barons during the height of the Amazon’s rubber boom in the late 1800s.

Whether you’re making a short stopover in the city or are visiting for a little longer, Manaus is sure to strike you as one of Brazil’s most unique cities. 

Things to see in Manaus

If you’re visiting Manaus, you’re probably excited to get out and explore the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, but there are a few unmissable sights within the city itself to tick off first! The Amazonas Theatre is one of the best things to see in Manaus and a relic of the city’s rubber trading years. Whilst its facade nods to traditional European architecture, it stands out thanks to its brightly painted pink facade and intricately decorated dome. Once frequented by the wealthiest barons and fashionistas of Manaus, today it still functions as a performance venue, with a full calendar of free performances. If you travel to Manaus, don’t miss out on the chance to watch a show or an opera performance in this unique venue. 

Another highlight leftover from the rubber boom is the Palacio Rio Negro. This 19th-century mansion was constructed by a German rubber baron before later being used as the residence of the state governor. Today, this yellow brick palace houses a cultural center and public museum. Inside are an array of period furniture and art exhibits, whilst the well-manicured gardens are worth strolling through.

For the chance to experience everyday life in this rainforest city, be sure to visit Ponta Negra Beach, one of the best things to do in Manaus. Situated in the west of the city, this is where the locals come to unwind in the late afternoon and evening. This stretch of sand is dotted with umbrellas, restaurants and snack bars, where you can while away the evening watching the spectacular sunset over the Negro River.

When it comes to natural attractions, Manaus is most famous for its ‘Meeting of Waters’. On the eastern side of the city, this unique natural phenomenon is the focal point of many boat tours and day trips from the city. Here, the muddy waters of the Rio Solimoes meet the warm, dark Rio Negro. Due to their differences, the waters do not mix, and instead, flow next to each other for several kilometers, creating a strange sight and a phenomenon seen in few other places on earth. 

Finally, to discover the rich biodiversity of the Amazon without leaving the city, be sure to visit the Jardim Botanico Adolpho Ducke, the largest urban forest in the world. Here, five guided walking trails and a 42-meter high observation tower allow you to immerse yourself in the natural world. 

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