Fortaleza:

four days of culture, good food, and incredible beaches

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We spent four days testing a LATAM Travel itinerary with the best activities in the state

 

Anyone arriving in Ceará quickly learns that there’s something called “cearensity”: an indefinable thing, a spontaneity that becomes evident in a gathering of friends who burst into their own dialect, “Cearensês.” The capital Fortaleza exists in an endless summer, averaging 300 sunny days per year, and celebrates the customs of its past while swimming in the waves at Praia do Futuro. Easy to be happy this way.

 

Day 1 • Sand and art

9 a.m. Artistic epicenter

Look up: graffiti art, a mural of mosaics, and the geodetics of the Planetarium call your attention to the Centro Cultural Dragão do Mar. The complex is home to such spaces as the Museu da Cultura Cearense, the Cinema do Dragão, and the Museu de Arte Contemporânea, all connected by iron structures.

Centro Cultural Dragão do Mar: Rua Dragão do Mar, 81

 

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12 p.m. Dive into tradition

Mercado Central is the place to find typical souvenirs: they sell cordel literature, hammocks, miniature accordion players, roll cakes, and nuts. Stop by the fruit shop Frutas & da Fruta and order some fresh seriguela or umbu-cajá juice. Nearby is the Theatro José de Alencar with its curious façade that combines metal and colorful stained glass. The theater hosts classical music concerts and plays for children.

Mercado Central: Avenida Alberto Nepomuceno, 199

Theatro José de Alencar: Rua Liberato Barroso, 525

 

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3 p.m. Vacation in the city

Praia do Futuro is Fortaleza's favorite spot for swimming. It's customary to enjoy the sun from a base at one of the beachside shacks, like Chico do Caranguejo, which specializes in crab, and Órbita Blue, which has a deck over the sand and electronic music.

Chico do Caranguejo: Avenida Clóvis Arrais Maia, 4930

Órbita Blue: Avenida Clóvis Arrais Maia, 3879

 

8 p.m. Round of applause

What is the Ceará boo? And who was the warrior known as Jovita Feitosa? No spoilers: the musical Ceará Show sings the history and folklore of Ceará in an enchanting spectacle.

 

Day 2 • Food and cool water

8 a.m. Whose donkey is this?

Located 68 miles [110 km] from Fortaleza, Praia de Lagoinha is the starting point for a pau-de-arara tour (on a flatbed truck adapted to carry groups of passengers) to Lagoa dos Jegues, where the animals run among the dunes.

 

2 p.m. Export grade

With more than 30 affiliates around the country (and one in Miami), Coco Bambu is one of the most famous Ceará restaurants in Brazil. The huge menu offers copious portions, like the Fisherman's net: lobster, squid, mussels, and other seafood in the same pot.

Coco Bambu: Avenida Beira Mar, 3698

 

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5 p.m. Get your feet wet

There are two options for a late afternoon on Avenida Beira Mar. The first is to post up at one of the breakwaters with some tapioca ice cream from 50 Sabores. Or head for Mercado dos Peixes, where you can sample some extremely fresh lobster, oysters, clams, and shrimp.

50 Sabores: Avenida Beira Mar, 3958

Mercado dos Peixes: Avenida Beira Mar, 3479

 

8 p.m. A toast

Sometimes size does matter. This is the case at Moleskine, a combination gastrobar, wine cellar, cigar shop, and jazz venue. The same street is home to the Cort meat house, an old family butcher shop, where customers get to choose the cut to be subsequently grilled on the veranda.

Moleskine: Rua Professor Dias da Rocha, 578

Cort: Rua Professor Dias da Rocha, 247

 

Day 3 • Good weather and wind

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11 a.m. Good morning, Cumbuco

The wind at Praia de Cumbuco, less than 18.5 miles [30 km] from Fortaleza, kicks up grains of sand from the dunes. Depending on customer preference, the buggies can perform radical maneuvers. There are also options for thrills on zip lines, downhill sledding, and kitesurfing, which dot the horizon with multicolored kites controlled by beginners, instructors, and pros.

 

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Angelo Dal Bó

3 p.m. Mirror, mirror

Back in the city, the destination is Lagoa do Colosso, whose calm waters reflect a sky framed by enormous water lilies. Grab a seat outdoors at the restaurant ZOI and try the sushi or Mediterranean dishes prepared by chef Lilian Braz, who cooks the octopus just right, serving it with roasted potatoes and yogurt.

ZOI: Rua Hermenegildo Sá Cavalcante

 

6 p.m. Last shot

Water, hops, yeast, barley, and the actual beer itself. The five-pronged recipe explains the name of the first artisanal brewery in Ceará, 5Elementos. They offer guided visits to the casks and the bar is located in a container on the premises.

5Elementos: Avenida Coronel José Philomeno Gomes, 1152

 

Day 4 • Old and new

11 a.m. Inventing fashion

A day to explore the traditional art of Ceará's lacemakers. In Aquiraz, around 22 miles [35 km] from the center of Fortaleza, Dona Nilza Ferreira, 82, weaves threads in between the prickles of the typical backland cactus known as mandacaru. She and other women, who string along small talk without lifting their eyes from the delicate webs, comprise the Centro Rendeiras da Prainha, where such items as hammocks and towels are sold. Back in Fortaleza, the same kind of work with fabrics also inspires contemporary brands, like Ateliê da Sil, located on historic Rua dos Tabajaras.

Centro Rendeiras da Prainha: Rua Damião Taváres de Souza, Aquiraz

Ateliê da Sil: Rua dos Tabajaras, 660

 

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7 p.m. Farewell dinner

Every detail of the menu at O Mar Menino has a touch of Ceará: the caipirinha is made with the popular cachaça Rapariga, the piabinhas (fried fish) are served with a curious popcorn sauce, and the dishes exude flavors of land and sea. The dessert is a given: cheesecake made with coalho cheese and guava paste. Your taste buds and soul will be left begging for more.

O Mar Menino: Avenida Barão de Studart, 1043

 

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Publicity

Edmilson Filho

Actor and comedian from Ceará

“What people in Ceará most have is ‘cearensity’: their knack for joking about everything, for being hospitable, for putting their chairs on the sidewalk.”

 

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Daniel Pereira

Instructor and professional kitesurfer

“Cumbuco is the Hawaii of kitesurfing. The wind is strong and steady and blows inland from the sea. As such, the practice is safer because there's no risk of a kite being carried far out.”

 

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Jesus Sindeaux

Poet and seller of cordel books at Mercado Central

“I composed my first cordel in 1970 about the drought that year. A rhyme is like a prayer: if there's no beginning and end, it's no good.”

 

Buy a complete package with accommodations and tours in the destination with LATAM Travel or at latam.com

LATAM has flights to Fortaleza from São Paulo, Brasília, Rio de Janeiro, and three other destinations.

 

Special thanks: SETUR, Nettour, Hotel Gran Marquise.