Belem is a city in Northern Brazil and capital of the state of Para. Things to do in Belem include;
- 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
There are some great value hotels, as a result, you’ll find something for your budget here.
Belem – Gateway to the Amazon River
Belem is Portuguese (and Spanish) for Bethlehem, so you’re in fact visiting Bethlehem, Brazil when you visit. Belem is an important travel hub in Brazil because from here boats leave for the Amazon river. In fact, I’ll be taking a boat to Macapa on the equator which takes 24 hours. In addition, 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 the west coast. This would make a very beautiful and interesting overland trip, maybe one I’ll take in the future. Did you know there’s also a Belem district in Lisbon, Portugal?
Belem to Macapa to French Guiana
The reason I’m traveling to Macapa 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 of Belem which is why the port is so important. I can take a boat around the Ilha de Marajo to the Amazon river and the city of Macapa on the equator before traveling further north by bus to these 3 countries.
What to see in Belem, Para
Belem is a walkable city, as a result you’ll see lots of beautiful Portuguese colonial buildings whilst walking around the city (above). Furthermore, you’ll 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 homesickness 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). Finally, I would recommend going easy on the alcohol because a 24 hour boat ride is no fun when you have a hangover.
How to get from Belem to Macapa by Boat
The boat from Belem to the Amazon river and Macapa leaves from the Port of Belem. The boat leaves to Macapa 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. Additionally, you’ll have the choice of buying a hammock and taking it on, or staying in a shared room (bunk bed). It’s significantly cheaper to take on a hammock as well as more airy and relaxing.
Shared Room or Hammock?
I took a Sao Francisco de Paula boat service to Macapa, this is 225 BRL for a shared room. Alternatively, it’s about 60 BRL to hang your hammock outside. The journey time is 24 hours. Unfortunately my boat was delayed 6 hours. As a result it was a long trip and I arrived in Macapa late the following evening.