Things to do in Sao Luis, Brazil – Sao Luis to Belem

São Luís is a city in Northeastern Brazil.  Things to do in Sao Luis Brazil include;

  • Historic center of Sao Luis – UNESCO world heritage center
  • Beaches of Sao Luis Island (Maranhao Island)
  • Parque Botânico da Vale
  • Igreja da Se Church
  • Visual Arts Museum
  • Maranhão History and Art Museum
  • Ribeirao source
  • Casa do Maranhao
  • Benedito Leite Square

Hotels are good value and plentiful in São Luís.  If you are staying in any hotel in the historic center then you are officially staying in a UNESCO world heritage hotel.

Historic center of Sao Luis – UNESCO world heritage center

Things to do in Sao Luis, Brazil - Historic center of Sao Luis - UNESCO world heritage center

Sao Luis is located on Sao Luis Island which is also known as Maranhao Island.  It’s also the capital of the state of Maranhao.  The historic center of Sao Luis is a UNESCO world heritage site and full of picturesque colonial buildings.  Furthermore, most of the restaurants and bars are found inside the colonial buildings of the historic center.  They are the typical bars and restaurants of Brazil which have tables on the street.  As a result, they are perfect for people watching.

Sao Luis - Ribeirao source

In the historic center you’ll find most of the points of interest of Sao Luís including the Igreja da Se Church, Ribeirao source, Casa do Maranhao, Benedito Leite Square as well as several museums.  The new town of Sao Luis is very close to the historic center.  In the new town you’ll find lots of shops, market stalls as well as fast food restaurants.

Beaches of Sao Luis Island (Maranhao Island)

Things to do in Sao Luis - Beaches of Sao Luis Island (Maranhao Island)

There are several beaches on Maranhao island, all a short driving distance from Sao Luis.  Beaches include Calhau, San Marcos, Aracagy as well as Espigao.  Furthermore, Espigao has a pier which is a good location to watch the sunset.

Colonial Buildings

Things to do in Sao Luis, Brazil - Historic center of Sao Luis - UNESCO world heritage center

Sao Luis is a very easy going town, if it’s on your route I’d recommend staying overnight and taking some time to photograph the points of interest and colonial buildings.  I took pictures at night and felt safe walking around even when the streets were deserted.  There is one part of historic center which has a few bars and live music.  It’s around this area you’ll see quite a few people drinking in the street.  I had a drink in one of the bars which gives me bragging rights to having drank in a UNESCO world heritage bar!

How to get from Sao Luis to Belem

Overnight bus from Sao Luis to Belem, 13 hours, 121 Reais

Overnight bus from Sao Luis to Belem, 13 hours, 121 Reais

The bus service from Sao Luis to Belem is very luxurious.  It’s a 13 hour journey which will fly by as you’ll slept comfortably.  In fact, I can only remember getting on the bus, going to sleep and waking up in Belem.  The Transbrasiliana service is very good, as a result, I recommend you take this service wherever possible in Brazil.  An interesting fact about Belem is that it’s the Portuguese word for Bethlehem.

Belem to Macapa

2019-01-16T20:30:32+00:00October 31st, 2016|Brazil, South America|19 Comments


  1. Hendrik May 14, 2017 at 6:43 am - Reply

    Another great trip you made, James. So many places you have traveled lately and now Brazil. From your description São Luís sounds like a really nice place. Quite empty though during the night, at least from your photos 🙂
    The bus trip sounds amazingly comfortable. 13 hours, to be honest sounds like really a tough job going by bus. But when its like in your case – entering, fall asleep and wake up the destination… what to say, couldn’t be better. Waiting already for your impressions from Belém!

  2. Natasha May 14, 2017 at 7:41 am - Reply

    I am amazed every time by your stories of overland travel. It just shows you how easy it can be done when you tell the tales of these epic trips. San Luis looks lovely

  3. Zinara May 14, 2017 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Wow! 13 hours by bus really sounds tedious but how amazing it is to fall asleep comfy and wake up once the destination arives. Sao Luis looks like an amazing place to visit. Sounds fab to stay in a UNESCO heritage hotel, too 🙂

  4. Kevan May 14, 2017 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    When I think of Brazil, it think of bright colors and your photos have done a very good job of bringing those out. Sounds like a great trip. I have always enjoyed history and I have to say that I am jealous because I have never had a drink in an UNESCO bar!

  5. Sara Essop May 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    I love visiting UNESCO world heritage sites. They are so fascinating and make great photographs. I’ve never heard of São Luís before but it seems pretty cool especially since you can say you’ve stayed at a a UNESCO heritage hotel.

  6. Lynne Sarao May 14, 2017 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I’ve actually never heard of Sao Luis before but it looks beautiful with all it’s old buildings. And how cool is it that you can say you’ve stayed at a UNESCO heritage hotel and had a drink from a UNESCO bar! Did you just stay there overnight for one night on your way to Belem?

  7. Umberta May 15, 2017 at 6:18 am - Reply

    I’ve been in Sao Luis a couple of months ago while traveling in Brazil. So many memories! 🙂 The bar with the tables on the street are a must, and usually there is also live music 🙂 But one must be aware when walking around, even during the day, as some streets of the city centre are totally unsafe.

  8. Courtney Jones May 15, 2017 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Sao Luis sounds like a special spot. I really like the sound of the relaxed vibe and people socializing in the street. – so welcoming and fun! Staying at a UNESCO heritage site also sounds really cool!

    Also, good to know that there are better places to check out the beach than Sao Luis Island.

  9. Carmi Joice May 16, 2017 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Makes me want to go Sao Luis! Hope you can provide your complete itinerary and budget. Would love to visit this place myself someday!

  10. Jennifer May 17, 2017 at 2:28 am - Reply

    I would love to visit Brazil! That bus you featured sure does look nice! I’d probably rest very well on a luxury bus like you did. The colonial buildings are beautiful, too. I love visiting historic builidings and sites.

  11. NAti May 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    I’ve been to Nord East Brazil for my honey moon, we went by road from Maceiô to Recife and from Recife to Natal round. I never visited the south or the far North. I’d love to vosot the Amazon river area once!

  12. Courtney Andrews May 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Such beautiful photos! I’m jealous of all your travels. I’ve only been out of the US two times so hopefully I’ll get to travel more in my lifetime.

  13. Candy Rachelle May 17, 2017 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    My family and I visited Brazil during the 2017 Holidays. We said we would go back next year to visit more areas. The UNESCO site of São Luís looks stunning.

  14. saidat May 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    I was so jealous when a friend travelled to Brazil for the World Cup. São Luís seem like a beautiful place.

  15. Laura Feasey May 17, 2017 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    South America has been on my wish list for a long time now, especially Brazil! I bet it was divine! 🙂

  16. Elizabeth May 18, 2017 at 4:37 am - Reply

    I’d love to visit there one day, so many interesting things to see and do, not to mention the amazing food! Thanks for the info!

  17. katherine May 18, 2017 at 5:00 am - Reply

    13 hours! Amazing! I What a nice experience! I wonder how it is in terms of budget and itinerary.

  18. Tiara Wilson May 19, 2017 at 12:38 am - Reply

    I always enjoy your blog posts. You have so many amazing adventures that you get to go on and you’re always showing these beautiful images. I wish I could enjoy traveling like this!

  19. Jonathon January 23, 2019 at 5:26 am - Reply

    Just what I needed, thanks for including original pictures!

Leave A Comment