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Belém, Brazil

Gateway to the Amazon


Belém, in Pará state, is one of Brazil's busiest ports - and it's about 60 miles upriver from the Atlantic ocean! The river is the Pará, part of the greater Amazon river system, separated from the larger part of the Amazon delta by Ilha de Marajó. Belém is built on a number of small islands intersected by channels and other rivers. See the map.

Founded in 1616, Belém was the first European colony on the Amazon but didn't become part of the Brazilian nation until 1775. As the gateway to the Amazon, the port and city grew tremendously in size and importance during the nineteenth century rubber boom, and is now a large city with millions of inhabitants. The newer part of the city has modern buildings and skyscrapers. The colonial portion retains the charm of tree filled squares, churches and traditional blue tiles. On the outskirts of the city, the river supports a group of people called cablocas, who live their lives almost untouched by the busy activities of the city.

Getting There

  • Belém is a port of call not only for commercial shipping but also for cruise liners and those who use the port as entrance to Amazonia. River boats provide the bulk of transportation along the rivers.
  • There are domestic flights from Rio de Janeiro, Manaus and other Brazilian cities.plus international flights from French Guiana, Suriname, and the US via Miami. All arrive and depart from Aeropuerto Internacional Val de Cans north of the city. Check flights from your area. You can also browse for hotels and car rentals.

    There is bus service and taxis into the city.

  • Regular bus service connects Belém to Fortaleza, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo.

When to Go

  • Belém is a rainy city and hot. Humidity is very high. The climate is equatorial which means little variance from day to day. The wettest months are between January to May, but whenever you travel, be prepared for daily rain and high temperatures.
  • Check today's weather.
  • To time your visit for a special event, go to Belém for the Círio de Nazaré on the second Sunday in October. Hymns, bells and fireworks mark the festival to the Virgin of Nazareth, Brazil's largest religious festival.
Shopping Tips

During the height of the nineteenth century rubber boom, the Ver O Peso market. (photo,) was designed and built in England and assembled in Belém. In addition to the fresh fruit, plants and fish brought to market by dugout canoe, you'll find items for macumba ceremonies, medicinal herbs and potions, alligator and crocodile body parts and anaconda snakes. The market is on the docks, and is one of the largest in Brazil.

Places to Eat and Stay

Belém's culinary heritage is predominantly Indian, and demonstrate both the richness and the tastiness of local favorites.

Browse this list of hotels for rates, availability, amenities, locations and particular information.

Please read the next page for things to do and see.

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