Perched on the banks of the dramatic Negro River, Manaus is a launchpad into the Amazon though also an intriguing destination in its own right.
Located in northern Brazil at the very heart of the rainforest, Manaus is the capital of the State of the Amazonas and home to just under two million people, though it has a somewhat different nature to many of Brazil’s more energetic cities. A busy port, peppered with pretty colonial architecture, particularly in the historic centre, it is very much a working city, despite its relatively remote position. Popular with travellers heading to the Amazon, it is perfectly placed as a gateway to one of the world’s most iconic destinations.
A city that was made incredibly rich from the rubber industry over 100 years ago, Manaus still has beautiful reminders of a bygone age with its famous opera house Teatro Amazonas being the city’s architectural centrepiece. Other former residences of rubber barons, quaint terraced housing and cobbled streets add further to the overall charm of the central part of town. What’s more, in recent years Manaus has enjoyed something of a resurgence, benefitting from investment in preparation for the Football World Cup in 2014, so today you will find, golden riverside beaches, cycling paths and verdant parks as you explore the city.
For a real insight into local life, head down to the bustling port where you can watch fishermen bring in their haul, before pottering around the nearby fish market and sampling their catch. The Negro River is responsible for much of the fishermen’s bounty, and also part of a natural phenomenon that occurs just outside the city. Here, the dark river meets the creamy waters of the Solimoes - the result of which causes a dramatic collision of the two colours, not to mention some unique photo opportunities.
Boat ride on the Negro River
If you are in Manaus, it’s more than likely that you’ll be making the onward journey to the Amazon to discover its many treasures. A day trip along the Negro River will take you to the very start of the Amazon River, and if you are lucky you may even spot some Pink River Dolphins along the way!
Go shopping at the Mercado Municipal Adolpho Lisboa
Taking design cues from Les Halles in Paris, the Mercado Municipal Adolpho Lisboa was built in the late 1800’s during the prosperous rubber production era. Its grand external façade is testament to the economic upturn the city enjoyed during this period. Inside, it is teeming with activity, as locally crafted goods, herbs, spices and delicious examples of regional cuisine can all be bought under the market’s enormous roof.
Hit the beach in Ponta Negra
This affluent part of town boasts slick, modern architecture, gorgeous riverside views and a well-kept manmade beach. A wide promenade, pretty nearby gardens with fountains and a large amphitheatre that often hosts musical events all add to the relaxed vibe that this part of Manaus exudes.