Belém is a city in Northern Brazil, capital of the state of Pará. Belém offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- Gateway to the Amazon River (Tours to the Amazon, Manaus and Iquitos)
- Ver-o-peso market
- Docks Station
- Strong Crib museum
- Clock Square
- Our Lady of Grace Cathedral
Belém has some great value hotels, you’ll find something for your budget here.
Belém is Portuguese (and Spanish) for Bethlehem, so you are in fact visiting Bethlehem, Brazil when you visit Belém, Brazil. Belém is an important travel hub in Brazil because from here boats leave for the Amazon. I’ll be taking a boat to Macapá on the equator which takes 24 hours. You can also take boats to Manaus in the center of the Amazon, you could even take a boat and make it to Iquitos, Peru and to the west coast. This would make a very beautiful and interesting overland trip, maybe one I’ll take in the future.
The reason I’m traveling to Macapá from Belém is because I will travel further north to the 3 least heard of countries of South America, French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. There are no roads further north from Belém which is why the port of Belém is so important. I can take a boat around the Ilha de Marajo to the Amazon river and the city of Macapá on the equator before traveling further north by bus to these 3 countries.
Belém is a walkable city, you’ll see lots of beautiful Portuguese colonial buildings whilst walking around the city (above), you’ll also see lots of modern Brazilian buildings and shopping malls. The Our Lady of Grace Cathedral you’ll find in the center is another stunning Portuguese colonial building. Clock Square is a beautiful square surrounded by colorful houses, making for perfect city photographs. I took advantage of the modern shopping malls by enjoying some western fast food, this is a great cure for home sickness and missing your local food.
You must visit the Ver-o-peso market, if not to see the huge market, to see the famous blue Portuguese colonial building it is located around.
There are quite a few bars located in and around the Docks Station (close to where you take the boat to the Amazon). I would recommend going easy on the alcohol because a boat is no fun when you have a hangover.
The boat from Belém to the Amazon river and Macapá leaves from the Port of Belém. The boat leaves to Macapá twice a week, I’d recommend going to the port and buying your ticket a day or a couple of days before the boat leaves to ensure you can find a ticket. You have the choice of buying a hammock and taking it on, or staying in a shared double birth (bunk bed), it’s significantly cheaper to take on a hammock as well as more airy and relaxing (below).
I took a Sao Francisco de Paula boat service to Macapa, this is 225 BRL for a shared berth in a room or about 60 BRL to hang your hammock outside (above). The journey time is 24 hours, the boat was delayed 6 hours when I took the trip so it was a long trip in the end, arriving in Macapá on the equator late the following evening.