A large city on the northern Brazilian coast, Fortaleza is the state capital of Ceará. Home to around 2.5 million people, Fortaleza is a vibrant sort of place which combines the rustic with the modern, having its own Carnaval and one of the country’s most splendid beaches. Its coastal location coupled with its shimmering city centre makes Fortaleza a popular destination for European visitors. Among the things the city is famous for include its role in the abolition of slavery in Brazil, its reputation as being a major breeding ground for celebrated authors and examples of colonial architecture from the time of occupation by the Portuguese. Today, the city enjoys a reputation for its vast array of restaurants serving expertly-cooked local cuisine and its bars.
For negotiating some of the rougher road surfaces in the city centre and suburbs, a family saloon car is essential for driving in and around Fortaleza.
Driving in Fortaleza
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Crime levels in parts of Fortaleza are known for being high. It’s important to keep your windows up on an evening when driving.
The safest part of the city to drive in is along the Beira Mar on the coast. Here, police patrol the roads around the clock.
Some of the main routes in and out of the city can be prone to traffic at the best of times, Plan your journey accordingly to take this into account.
Highlights & Hotspots
The city’s most impressive landmark is the Theatro José de Alencar, named after Fortaleza’s most famous son. Built in 1912, not only is it architecturally impressive, but it also hosts performances almost every night such as operas, ballet and plays.
Museu do Ceará is one of the most prominent museums in the city. It tells the story of the state as well as its capital from when it was first inhabited right through to the present day in a way which is easy to understand.
Formerly a meat market transported piece by piece from Europe, the Mercado dos Pinhões is now an arts and crafts fair located in the city centre. If you want to pick up a souvenir made by hand by one of the locals, it’s the best place in Fortaleza to shop.
The beaches in Fortaleza are definitely worth exploring. The best ones for all-round fun are Praia de Iracema and Meireles near the Avenida Beira Mar. Both are safe at all times of day and are good for sunbathing during the daytime.
Pinto Martins ‚Äì Fortaleza International Airport (Aeroporto Internacional Pinto Martins ‚Äì Fortaleza) is just over a mile south of the city centre. It‚Äôs one of the busiest airports in Brazil, providing passenger flights to destinations throughout the Americas and Europe.
The airport is near the 116 highway, which will take your straight north towards the centre of Fortaleza at a large roundabout.