A major city in the Rio Grande do Norte state of Brazil, Natal lies on the mouth of the Potengi River, opening up to the Atlantic coast. Natal has become a major tourist destination over the past few decades, owing to its beach and improving road connections to the rest of the country, while it will be one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Natal might not have as much history as neighbouring cities such as Salvador or Fortaleza, but it has plenty to keep the modern tourist happy, with plenty of new cultural venues and shopping malls in the centre. Further away, there are plenty of natural attractions, many of which located along the river and the island which separates the north and south parts of Natal.
The roads in Natal tend to be quite wide, so a hatchback would be handy for getting around the city as well as some of the nearby countryside and motorways.
Driving in Natal
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Natal’s roads are mainly laid out in a grid as with many American cities. This will make driving here a little easier.
As public transport is sparse in Natal, locals are more reliant on cars, thereby exacerbating traffic levels.
There tends to be a lot of traffic on Ponte Newton Navarro, the city’s main bridge connecting the two halves of Natal.
Highlights & Hotspots
Parque das Dunas is the nature reserve which almost splits the city in two. Getting its name from its sandy dunes, the reserve also has Bosque dos Namorados, a visitor attraction which has plenty of things to help enhance your enjoyment such as exhibits and guides.
The most popular beach in Natal is Ponta Negra, which sits in the shadow of the city’s iconic bridge. The water is clean while the sand is fine too, plus there are many places near the beach to grab something to eat, not to mention Morro do Careca, the city’s tallest sand dune.
Built as an opulent palace in 1907, Solar Bela Vista is now a major cultural centre in the city. Formerly a hotel for the rich and famous in Natal, its architecture is unique to this part of the world, while the centre has plenty of interesting exhibitions.
Close to Ponta Negra beach, Praia Shopping is the newest and most luxurious indoor shopping mall in Natal. It has over 100 shops but isn’t the biggest. That honour goes to Shopping de Artesanto Potiguar, which has 164 shops and sells locally-made handicrafts.
Augusto Severo International Airport (Aeroporto Internacional Augusto Severo) is close to six miles south of Natal‚Äôs city centre. It‚Äôs one of the busiest airports in Brazil, serving destinations in South America and parts of Europe.
The airport has a link road which goes north onto the 101 state highway. This road goes towards the centre of Natal and further north.