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A Complete Travel Guide for Visiting Natal in Brazil

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Have you ever heard of Natal in Brazil? Well, while the south steals a lot of the spotlight for the best places to visit in Brazil, there are so many incredible places to explore in the north, especially in Rio Grande do Norte.

I first visited Natal in 2017 to visit one of my friends that I made working on cruise ships, and after my first visit I fell in love. Ever since, I have visited a couple of more times, exploring new things each trip!

In this article we're going to share all of the best things to do in Natal, Brazil, how to get around, and everything else you need to know to have an epic trip. Let's dive right in!

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Where is Natal in Brazil?

Natal is the capital city of Rio Grande do Norte. It is located along the coast of Brazil, all the way in the north west corner of the country.

where is Natal in Brazil

Natal is located in the north east corner of Brazil.

How to Get to Natal in Brazil

Natal in Brazil has its own airport, which is around 30 km west of the city, and around a 45 minute drive. We always fly direct to Natal, but there are also a few other options that you can look at if the flights for your dates seem too expensive.

Joao Pessoa is the next closest airport, lying 175 km south of Natal. The other two further options are Fortaleza and Recife. While they require a long bus ride or a rental car, often these airports have more flight options than Natal or Joao Pessoa.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Brazil". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the area to fly to. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for each destination!

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How to Get to Natal from Joao Pessoa

The airport of Joao Pessoa is 175 km south of Natal, and there are three options for getting from the Joao Pessoa airport to the city of Natal. You can either bus from Joao Pessoa to Natal, rent a car at the Joao Pessoa Airport, or take a direct shuttle from Joao Pessoa Airport to Natal.

Take a Bus from Joao Pessoa to Natal

The bus from Joao Pessoa to Natal takes around 3 hours, and leaves from Rodoviaria de Joao Pessoa. This station is located closer to the city center, which is about 25-30 minutes east of the airport. So if you get bus tickets, you'll have to get a taxi to the station first.

Rent a Car from Joao Pessoa

If you are flying back out through Joao Pessoa, then renting a car will be better because it will give you more flexibility and save you time, but if you plan on leaving from Natal or continue traveling up the coast of Brazil, then taking a bus will probably be the better option.

Get a Shuttle from Joao Pessoa to Natal

If you don't want the hassle of renting a car, or having to take a taxi to the bus terminal, you can also book a direct shuttle from Joao Pessoa Airport to Natal.

How to Get to Natal from Recife

The ride to Natal from Recife is between 5 and 7 hours, depending on the time of day and the traffic situation. There are a variety of buses from Recife to Natal, from early in the morning, or an 11:55 pm overnight bus that arrives to Natal at 5:20 in the morning. If you are planning on traveling back to Recife after, then a good option could also be to rent a car from Recife airport.

How to Get to Natal from Fortaleza

The last time that we were in Natal, we wanted to visit Jericoacoara, so we took an overnight bus to Fortaleza. The seats reclined all the way back, and the ride was very spacious and comfortable. Not only that, but it saved us money by not having to pay for an extra night at a hotel!

Fortaleza has a lot more flight options than Natal does, so flying to Fortaleza and then taking an overnight bus to Natal may end up being a much more budget-friendly option. Overnight buses from Natal can be booked right in the station, or you can get bus tickets online in advance to make sure you don't risk the buses becoming fully booked.

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Entry Requirements for Brazil

Whenever traveling to a new place, it's important to know the requirements for visiting the country. Here are a few of the things you need to know for visiting Natal, Brazil.

Visa Entry Requirements for Brazil

US citizens used to need a visa to visit Brazil, but now it is no longer necessary, and all you need to visit is your passport. 

Other countries that are exempt from needing a tourist visa in Brazil include AndorraArgentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Canada, ChileColombiaCosta RicaDenmarkEcuador, Finland, France, GermanyGreece, Japan, Iceland, IrelandItaly, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, The Netherlands, Norway, ParaguayPeru, Philippines, Portugal, San Marino, South Africa, SpainSuriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United KingdomUruguay, and Venezuela.

People that are a part of the Mercosur region don't need to bring their passport in order to visit Brazil, and they just need to bring their ID card. The countries that are included in the Mercosur region are ArgentinaUruguay, and Paraguay.

Covid Entry Requirements for Brazil

Brazil is one of the few countries in the Americas that still require you to either be vaccinated or to bring a negative Covid-19 test result. Masks aren't required in many places, except for passing through security in the airport. Make sure to carry a mask with you (even if it's just for a few minutes that you'll need to wear it), because if not you'll have to purchase one.

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Local Adjustments for Natal in Brazil

Whenever traveling to a new destination there are certain things you may need to adapt to such as the language, electrical outlets, or the tipping culture. Here are some of the local adjustments to keep in mind when traveling to Natal, Brazil.

What Language is Spoken in Natal, Brazil?

The official language in Natal, as well as the rest of the country, is Portuguese. 

Currency Used in Brazil

The currency used in Brazil is the Brazilian Real. Currently (April 2024) the exchange rate is 5.18 Brazilian Real to every 1 USD or Euro.

Most places in Natal accept credit cards for payment, so you won't have to carry too much cash on you. We do suggest having a bit of cash for people selling things on the beach, or for activities such as boat rides.

Electrical Outlets in Natal, Brazil

Brazil uses the same electrical outlets as Europe, which are for plug types C and N. The country operates on a 127/220V supply voltage and 60Hz.

Does Natal in Brazil Have Potable Water?

Overall the water in Brazil really isn't suitable to drink from the tap. We suggest buying big bottles of water and then refilling your own water bottle.

Tipping in Natal, Brazil

The tipping culture in Natal is similar to other areas of Brazil, which is on average an extra 10%.

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Things to Do in Natal, Brazil

Now that you know almost everything you need to know about the basics of visiting, here are the best things to do in Natal, Brazil.

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Natal in Brazil pin
Natal in Brazil pin

Hit the Beaches

There are no shortage of beaches in Rio Grande do Norte, and Natal is home to many of them! Long stretches of golden sand, turquoise waters, and palm trees line the coast, making Natal in Brazil a great beach destination.

There are a ton of beaches, many of which you can find tables and chairs with umbrellas for shade, as well as fresh coconuts, snacks, and souvenirs being sold by local vendors.

Beach in Natal

Tabatinga Beach

One of our favorite beaches that is outside of Natal is Tabatinga. It has a few beach clubs for relaxing and grabbing a bit to eat, as well as natural pools formed by the rocks in the ocean. This is where our friend has her beach house, and is somewhere you'll find more locals than anything.

Tabatinga beach, the best places to visit for the first time in Brazil
Tabatinga beach, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Tabatinga beach, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Tabatinga beach, things to do in Natal, Brazil

Tabatinga is a great beach that is outside of Natal.

Another thing that we love about Tabatinga is that there is an area of cliffs above the beach where you can have a picnic or enjoy the sunset.

cliffs of Tabatinga, Natal in Brazil
sunset in Tabatinga, Natal, Brazil
cliffs of Tabatinga, Natal in Brazil
cliffs of Tabatinga, Natal in Brazil

Jenipabu Beach

Just north of the city, crossing the bridge out of Natal is the beach town of Jenipabu. It has beautiful turquoise waters, long stretches of sand, and plenty of amenities and tours offered along the beach and the area around it.

Beach in Natal
Jenipabu beach, things to do in Natal, Brazil

Janipabu is a great beach destination just north of Natal.

Morro do Careca

This is one of the closest beaches to the center of Natal that is on our list of favorite beaches in Natal. It is unique because there is a huge sand dune that slides right into the ocean, making it a distinguishable location to check out.

The beach offers a bunch of fun water activities, such as surfing or stand up paddle boarding, making it the perfect place to spend a beach day.

paddle boarding in Natal, things to do in Natal, Brazil

Take a Picture at the Natal Sign

While this isn't normally something at the top of our list, you can't help but take a photo in front of the colorful letters of the Natal sign right next to the beach.

Natal sign, things to do in Natal, Brazil

In addition, there is a set of colorfully painted stairs right across from it!

Colorful stairs in Natal, Brazil
Colorful stairs in Natal, Brazil

Browse the Artisan Market

Want to grab something to bring home to your family and friends? Head to the artisan market where you can find local crafts and souvenirs! It is located right in the heart of Natal's Ponta Negra, and is easy to reach by foot from the beach.

artisan market, Natal in Brazil

Explore the Lagoons

Another wonderful landscape that scatters the area of Natal in Brazil are a number of lagoons. Typically they are found with full beach clubs including hammocks, tables, chairs, umbrellas, food, drinks, and more. They are the perfect place to swim and relax. Here are a few of them to add to your list.

Lagoa de Arituba

This lagoon is located south of Natal, and makes for a perfect place to check out if you are heading to the other beaches south of the city such as Pipa Beach.

Lagoa de Jacuma

Located in the dunes of Jacuma, this lagoon is packed full of fun activities like zip lines, slides, and sand boarding!

Lago de Jacuma, things to do in Natal, Brazil

Lagoa de Jenipabu

This lagoon is located right inside the dunes of Jenipabu. We took a tour here, but you can also easily walk up to it from the beach of Jenipabu. It has a swing at the top, and beautiful views of the lagoon below. It is one of the few lagoons that you only admire from a distance, rather than relaxing or swimming inside.

Jenipabu lagoon, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Jenipabu lagoon, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Jenipabu lagoon, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Jenipabu lagoon, things to do in Natal, Brazil

Lagoa de Jenipabu is one of the lagoons you can only admire from above.

Lagoa Guarairas

This is another great lagoon that is located in Tibau do Sul. Unlike many of the other lagoons, it is huge and has a tons of different areas that you can access. It's a great place to experience the sunset, or to hang out at one of the trendy beach clubs in the evenings.

resort Tibau do Sul
resort Tibau do Sul
resort Tibau do Sul

Lagoa Guarairas has trendy beach clubs along the lake.

Lagoa do Rio Pratagy

This is another great lagoon that includes hammocks, and has plenty of food and drink options near Patangui. It's a popular stop for dune buggy tours, although of course you can also go on your own.

Lagoa das Pedras

Lagoa das Pedras is a great lagoon for those that want to enjoy crystal clear waters, with less crowds. While many of the lagoons are have the majority covered by beach clubs, this lagoon is a bit more natural with a lot of open room to swim and relax.

Lagoa de Alcacruz

This lagoon will make you feel like you've teleported to the Caribbean. With light blue waters and fun beach clubs with hammocks in the water, this was one of our favorite lagoons in Natal.

Lagoa de Alacacruz, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Lagoa de Alacacruz, things to do in Natal, Brazil
Lagoa de Alacacruz, things to do in Natal, Brazil

Lagoa de Pitangui

This lagoon is located inside the town of Pitangui, which is a popular beach town north of Natal. At the lagoon you can find restaurants lined up with hammocks, chairs, tables, and umbrellas. The water is warm and perfect for relaxing and having a few beers.