Cruise ships dock in the somewhat run-down commercial port of Fortaleza. There are only a few taxis allowed into the port by the ship, but 200 meters further at the entrance to the port there are plenty taxis. They are metered and very reasonably priced. Take a taxi and tell them you want to go to Mercado Central. (This is the main local shopping market and is a fun experience) Shuttles are running as well.
There's really nothing within walking distance of the dock.
With 3.3 million people in its metropolitan area, it’s one of Brazil’s biggest cities and an economic magnet for people from all of Ceará and beyond. It’s also a magnet for tourists from Brazil and overseas, who come for the beaches and the party atmosphere.
Printable map to take along on your cruise.
Fortaleza, the capital city of the State of Ceará, has been for decades one of the most popular destinations of Brazilian tourists. In recent years, the fame of Fortaleza has been gaining the world, and the number of Europeans, North and South Americans travelers coming to Cearás has grown fast.
What attracts so many Brazilian and foreigners to Fortaleza? Rather than pointing out one single reason, it is safer to say that visitors are attracted by a combination of the sunny beaches, the busy and safe nightlife, the delicious culinary, the rich Brazilian culture, the very peaceful and friendly people. On top of that, it's worthy mentioning that Brazil is free from natural disasters, and is a country with low cost of living.
Day-trips to beaches along the coast to the east and west are very popular from Fortaleza. Dozens of travel agencies will arrange these for you, and minivan and dune-buggy operators line up near the Meireles tourist office.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here
If you want to swim, avoid the somewhat polluted beach areas in the hotel sector of Meireles, and take a taxi to Praia do Futuro (not a long ride from the port; opposite direction from town). Try to find a name of a popular "barraca" (pronounced ba-ha-ka, meaning tent, hut, shack, open-air restaurant or bar) so you don't end up in an empty area or some eatery run by the taxi driver's cousin.
Do not walk into the neighborhoods inland from the beach area (not safe).
You will find anything you are looking for in the Mercado Central's five stories. Indigenous artwork, pottery, basketry, bamboo, jewelry, beach items and clothes, cashews etc. A great place! The area is known for lace products. There are elevators and ramps, and restrooms at each end of each level.
Cafes which offer free WiFi for customers are sparse.
Basic hours for most stores and businesses are from 9am to 6pm, with an extended lunch hour from around noon to 2pm.
Many museums are closed on Monday.
Fortaleza’s lively out-of-season Carnaval, is held during the last week of July. The Iemanjá festival, which celebrates the sea goddess, is held on August 15 at Praia do Futuro.
The Regata de Jangadas, a sailing regatta with traditional northeastern jangadas (triangular-sailed fishing boats), takes place between Praia do Meireles and Praia Mucuripe during the second half of July.
Holidays in Brazil
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