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What to do in Olinda, Pernambuco: tips for your tripVou na Janela

Olinda and Recife make the perfect combination for those visiting the capital of Pernambuco. The colonial city, which spreads out along its famous slopes, enchants all visitors. In this post I bring tips about what to do in olinda for your first trip.

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Famous for its street carnival and well-preserved colonial buildings, Olinda was founded by the Portuguese in 1535 as a center for the sugar cane industry. Today, its steep slopes, baroque churches, convents and colorful houses attract tourists from various corners of Brazil and abroad.

Read more:
Where to stay in Recife
How to get from Recife airport to your accommodation
Boat trip in Recife


How to get to Olinda


The city is glued to Recife, we don’t even realize where one city ends and another begins. I stayed in Recife, at Praia de Boa Viagem (see here where to stay in Recife) and went to Olinda by Uber.

The 25-minute trip cost R$35 and I asked the driver to drop me off next to the Igreja da Sé, in the upper part of Olinda. So, I made my route always going down the slopes, which makes the displacement much easier and the legs thank you.

Speaking of which, for your itinerary with what to do in Olinda, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes, a good pair of sneakers is enough. And being in Olinda, the best way to get around the city is on foot. My itinerary tip is to start at the top and go down, from Igreja da Sé to Igreja do Carmo.

The sea seen from the upper part of the city
Things to do in Olinda
Square in the lower part of the city

Where to stay in Olinda


If you plan to stay in Olinda, the Pousada dos Quatro Cantos is certainly the best place to stay in Olinda. The inn works in a completely restored mansion in the upper part of the city. Pousada dos Quatro Cantos has daily rates from R$200 a couple with breakfast. It is certainly an accommodation not to be missed.

See the discounted rates at Pousada dos Quatro Cantos

Pousada Alto Astral is the perfect option for those who want to save a little without giving up comfort and great location. The inn is close to Quatro Cantos that I mentioned above and also works in an old mansion. The rates at Pousada Alto Astral start at around R$120 (however, I’ve seen the couple for up to R$85).

Check the prices of Pousada Alto Astral with discount

Olinda has several small inns, very well located and that will certainly meet your needs. Like the Pousada Casa da Chica, the Pousada do Amparo which is a real charm and which also works in an old super comfortable mansion.

However, if you prefer to stay in a hotel, I recommend Hotel 7 Colinas with your eyes closed. It is a 3 star hotel with a beautiful green area and fabulous breakfast, as guests say. Daily rates start from R$270 a couple with the famous breakfast included.

See discounted prices here


Things to do in Olinda


In this itinerary with what to do in Olinda I put the attractions in the order in which I got to know them. That is, from the upper part of Olinda to the lower part. Trust me, it will be much better this way.


Igreja da Sé (Church of São Salvador do Mundo)

The Sé de Olinda is one of the main postcards of the city, built in 1537 as a small baroque chapel, the church has been expanded over the years. It was completely destroyed during the Dutch invasion in the 17th century. Fortunately, the Cathedral of Olinda was later rebuilt.

The church is located in Alto da Sé, from where we have one of the most famous views of Recife from Olinda. This definitely needs to be the first point on your itinerary about what to do in Olinda.

Things to do in Olinda
Cathedral of Olinda
Things to do in Olinda
The famous view of Recife from Olinda

São Salvador Regional Crafts Gallery

This gallery is next to the Cathedral of Olinda and often goes unnoticed by visitors. In addition to being beautiful, we can find regional handicrafts there at a very honest price, even though it is located in a very touristy place in Olinda.


Water tank lookout

Also around the Igreja da Sé, there is a viewpoint at the top of the Compesa water tank. When I was in Olinda the viewpoint was closed, but I saw some very beautiful images from up there.


Olinda’s Giant Puppet House

Continuing along Rua Bispo Coutinho, we pass by the Casa dos Bonecos Gigantes de Olinda. And as the name says, it is there that some of the most famous giant puppets of the street carnival in Olinda are located and it is worth a visit.

In old Recife is also the Embaixada dos Bonecos de Olinda, with 63 dolls. Among them we have Alceu Valença, Michael Jackson, Chacrinha, Ayrton Senna, Chico Science, Dominguinhos, Luiz Gonzaga, Rita Lee, Lampião, Tim Maia, Papa Francisco, Cartola, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Ana Maria Braga and the characters of Chaves.

Things to do in Olinda

Slope of Mercy

At the end of Rua Bispo Coutinho, we arrive at Igreja da Misericórdia, another beautiful baroque complex whose origins date back to 1539. However, what makes this part of Olinda very famous is the steep slope that connects the lower part of the city to the high part. The Ladeira da Misericórdia is so steep it is scary.

That’s one of the reasons why I chose to do my itinerary in Olinda from the high part to the low part. Just imagine, going up all that? I was just wondering what it must be like at Carnival!

Things to do in Olinda
Slope of Mercy
Things to do in Olinda
Church of Mercy
Things to do in Olinda
Slope of Mercy

The four corners of Olinda

At the end of Ladeira da Misericórdia are the Quatro Cantos de Olinda, the intersection of Rua Amparo, Rua Prudente de Morais, Rua Bernardo Vieira de Melo and Rua da Misericórdia. It is the center of Olinda, where the carnival blocks meet in a setting surrounded by colorful mansions.

Things to do in Olinda
The four corners of Olinda
Things to do in Olinda
The four corners of Olinda
Things to do in Olinda
Charming streets in the center of Olinda

Alcaeus Valença’s House

Leaving the Quatro Cantos de Olinda, follow Rua São Bento and you will find the house of the most illustrious resident of Olinda, the singer Alceu Valença. Obviously the house cannot be visited, but no one can resist taking a picture sitting on the doorstep of Alceu’s house.

Things to do in Olinda
The white townhouse with blue windows and doors where the illustrious resident lives

monastery of St. benedict

At the end of Rua São Bento we find the imposing São Bento Monastery. A beautiful baroque construction built between 1586 and 1592 stands out in the bucolic landscape of Olinda. However, the building fell into disrepair after the Dutch invasion in 1631 and was completely rebuilt afterwards.

The church is beautiful on the outside, but it is inside that it surprises with its paintings, the altar over 12 meters high and many works in gold. Some say that more than 100 kilos of gold were used in the ornaments of the São Bento Monastery.

Things to do in Olinda
monastery of St. benedict
Things to do in Olinda
monastery of St. benedict
Things to do in Olinda
monastery of St. benedict

Convent of San Francisco

The Convento de São Francisco is one of the most important architectural landmarks in Olinda. Its construction dates back to 1585 and, like most buildings in Olinda, it was destroyed during the Dutch invasion. Fortunately it was also rebuilt years later.

Inside, there are beautiful panels of Portuguese tiles with different scenes from the daily life of the colonial city. Richly carved wooden ceilings, 18th century paintings and a library with rare titles make up the treasure kept within the walls of the Convento de São Francisco.

Things to do in Olinda
Convent of San Francisco

Church of Carmo

Located in a strategic position, on top of a hill and in the lower part of the city, the Igreja do Carmo can be seen and appreciated from different points of the upper part of the city. Its construction began in 1580 when the Carmelite Order settled in the city.

Things to do in Olinda
Church of Carmo

The church was also destroyed by the Dutch, rebuilt years later and fell into disrepair in 1820 when the order was transferred to Recife. Do you think it’s over? In the mid-19th century the side walls of the building collapsed, leaving the church’s rich interior in the hands of vandals and looters.

It was not until 1897 that the Igreja do Carmo was occupied again and reconstruction and restoration work began.

Things to do in Olinda
Church of Carmo

Tours in Recife










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