Manaus is located in the Amazon Rainforest in northern Brazil, and is the capital city of the Amazonas state. With a population of 2 million people, it is the largest city by population in the Amazon Rainforest.
Manaus was built originally as a fort on the river in the 1600’s, and by the 1800’s it had grown into a town. The city is somewhat isolated in the Amazon Rainforest, so it has managed to maintain the culture and history of the indigenous people in the area. The city is located some 1400km from the Atlantic Ocean on the Negro River, and has become a popular tourist place due to the boat cruises that pass through. Manaus was part of hosting the 2014 FIFA world cup, and is the only city in the Amazon to have hosted this tournament. There are lots of great things to do in Manaus, such as visit the beautiful Teatro Amazonas and the incredible Encontro das Aguas. Below is our Manaus travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
JARDIM BOTANICO ADOLPHO DUCKE – This is one of the largest urban forests, and here you can appreciate the wildlife and trees. In this park, there are several trails that are great for hiking and walking. Also, here you can find an open-air museum that has exhibits on the flora and fauna of the Amazon Jungle. One of the other places to go is the lookout tower that offers a great view of the park and surrounding area.
TEATRO AMAZONAS – This amazing and beautiful theatre was built by European designers and architectures using raw materials. There are outstanding performances put on throughout the year, and more so during the opera festival during April and May. Guided tours also take you through the theatre and give you a detailed look at the construction of the building.
ECONTRO DAS AGUAS – The Rio Negro and its darker coloured water meet up with the lighter colour of the Rio Solimoes. This is one of the cooler attractions as the water from the two rivers does not meet right away. Instead, they flow side by side for some kilometres down the river. This is due to the differences in temperature, density, and speed of the water flow. It is one of the more interesting places to see, and there are boat tours that come to this part to see the rivers flowing side by side.
MUSEU DO SERINGAL VILA PARAISO – Once the estate of a rubber Baron in the area, this museum has lots to offer. You will be taken on a tour through one of the grand historic townhouses, and see a replica rubber tapper shack and boathouse. You will also be taken down a trail where they show you how rubber trees are tapped.
CENTRO CULTURAL PALACIO RIO NEGRO – This new museum and cultural centre served for many years as the state capital and also the Governor’s residence. It was once the home of the famous German rubber Baron, Waldemar Scholz, and was built in the early 1900’s. It has since been converted into a cultural centre that hosts art exhibits, as well as performances and music in the main hall. There are guided tours offered here but mostly in Portuguese.
CENTRO CULTURAL DOS POVOS DA AMAZONIA – This is a massive cultural complex, and it is known for the Museu do Homem do Norte. Contained here in this museum are artifacts and exhibits on the indigenous people in the Amazonia.
PALACETE PROVINCIAL – Another great cultural complex, this building has an ‘image and sounds’ part, that has a large collection of films. Some of the films included are a century old, and directed by a famous Portuguese filmmaker, Silvino Santos. His films are some of the earliest recording of the indigenous Amazonian people. There is also an art gallery, as well as a police and archaeology area.
RIVER TOURS – There are plenty of opportunities to travel by boat on this part of the Amazon River system. These trips offer a great look at the wilderness of the Amazon. You will have a chance to see many of the indigenous species around this area of the Amazon.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
The Teatro Amazonas in the city is one of the main attractions to see. During the festivities in April and May, it is a great place to see performances and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. Also, the chance to tour the river system is one of the best things to do in Manaus. This is a chance to escape the city and to see the wildlife of the Amazon.
There is local cuisine found here and it tastes amazing! There are a ton of exotic fruits to be tried from the local Amazon. One of the local foods is called Pirarucu. It is the biggest fish found in the Amazon, and one famous way to cook it is filet style and breaded.
One of the best places to try the local fish is Banzeiro Cozinha Regional (Rua Teresina 102) – at this classy restaurant, dishes cost a little more than average, but you’re paying for the fantastic food, the locally-sourced ingredients, and the exotic flavours. Aside from the Amazonian fish, shrimp, chicken, beef, and salads are also on offer. For a typical Brazilian BBQ, head to La Parrilla (Avenida Desembargador Joao Machado 63) – this is a large steakhouse, which offers tasty dishes for good prices.
A must-do on your trip is to go to a “Flutuante” – this is a place on the river with music, food, and drinks. At Abare SUP and Food (R. do Rio - Tarumã Açu), you can enjoy your meal in an outdoor environment, and watch the sunset. There’s even water sports on offer.
In Manaus, you can find a few different spots to hang out during the night. The downtown area provides a few good places to find a drink. Another option is Ponta Negra which has a string of pubs and bars to enjoy.
Bar Frankfurt (Parque Dez de Novembro) is a German-style beer garden, open from 5pm ‘til 2am. There is an enjoyable atmosphere, with live music, and a nice outdoor area. Another laid-back place to try is Salome Bar (Rua Rio Amapa 5) – the drinks and atmosphere are great, and there are lots of cool pictures decorating the walls.
For a rock’n’roll night, head to Porao do Alemao (Estrada da Ponta Negra) – the best rock bands from Manaus play here. Doors open at 9pm, and each night normally features two bands. This is a great place to come with friends and have a few drinks.
In Manaus the average temperature monthly is almost consistent through the entire year at about 26 degrees Celsius. From November – May is the rainy season, and Manaus experiences a lot of rain over these months of the year. August is the driest month of the year.
There is an international airport that offers flights to cities in South and North America, as well as Europe. The airport is called Manaus Eduardo Gomes, and it is 15km out of the city centre. It is best if you can find flights that go direct (although these are limited), otherwise you may have a stop-over in San Paolo or Rio de Janeiro, and then it is about a four-hour flight to Manaus from either of those cities.
The bus terminal is located 8km outside of the city centre. From here, you can take a local bus (306 or 813) to get into the heart of Manaus. By boat is also a possibility – Manaus is a busy port. It takes about five days from Belem, and you’ll be left in a place called Hidroviaria, which is 1.5km outside of the centre of Manaus.
There is a lot of variety and choice as to what type of lodging you are looking for. You can find a few places that offer jungle lodging a bit further from the main part of the city, and more into the surrounding jungle. They provide a more natural experience, being very close to the jungle and its animals. There are also places found in the main part of the city. You can find both low budget and higher end places to stay.
One option is Hostel Manaus (R. Lauro Cavalcante, 231), which has friendly staff, comfy and spacious rooms, and the hostel is well-equipped and good value. Another good choice is Local Hostel (72, Marçal Street) – here you’ll find dorms as well as private rooms, and it’s situated just a couple of blocks from the main square, close to bars and restaurants.
If you want a more exciting stay, go to Amazon EcoPark Jungle Lodge (Canal Panemao) - this hotel is in the middle of the rainforest, and you can only get here by boat. Note that the WiFi may not be perfect, and neither the hot water supply - but you're in the jungle! Be aware that it's expensive, but you're paying for a unique experience.
It is really important to cover up and make sure that you have your injections, because this city is in the jungle and there are a lot of mosquitoes. They can be carrying many different diseases, so make sure to take proper precautions.