Also known as the 'Venice of Brazil', Recife – the capital of the state of Pernambuco on Brazil's northeastern coast – lives up to its nickname. The waterfront city is peppered with bridges spanning its many canals and inlets. Named for the offshore reefs that protect its shores, Recife is a mix of colourful heritage buildings and glassy skyscrapers – a booming centre for commerce and tourism.
It's impossible to ignore the allure of Recife's sun-drenched beaches. Thanks to an average year-round temperature of around 26 degrees Celsius, it's always beach season here. The sands of Boa Viagem are especially picturesque, not to mention spacious, and surrounded by upscale shops, restaurants and clubs.
Like many great cities in Brazil, Recife comes alive during carnival when colourful parades take over the streets. For a slightly different experience, skip the main spring celebration for the off-season Recifolia carnival held every October.
Take a stroll through Recife Antigo for a taste of history and local culture. Recife's historic centre is home to impressive examples of architecture, from the 19th-century Santa Isabel Theatre to the Co-Cathedral of Recife. At the Mercado de São José, covered stands sell seafood, spices and handicrafts. More local souvenirs can be found at the Casa da Cultura, a former prison turned cultural centre where you can shop, sample regional cuisine and learn about Brazilian music and dance.