Natal is known as the capital of 'Rio Grande do Norte', a Brazilian state, which enjoys hot year round weather and is fast becoming a popular place for tourists. It claims to be the safest city in Brazil because of the large police presence, however Natal doesn't have the same appeal as other Brazilian resorts due to its lack of landmarks and culture. Natal city hasn't grown quite as much as other popular holiday resorts and has a village atmosphere – although some might think this only adds to the appeal.
The currency in Natal is Brazilian Reals (R$), currently around $0.49 / €0.37 / £0.25.
Who Comes To Natal?
Mainly US tourists followed by Brazilians and Scandinavians but this is fast becoming a resort for the British – you can book yourself into the main hotel resorts directly or through purchasing a package holiday, but this doesn't grant you access to better beaches – Natal certainly isn't famed for it's calm waters and beautiful scenery but either way this is a popular resort! Natal also attracts Portuguese holidaymakers and also Italians like to spend their holidays here.
When does the Season Begin in Natal?
In winter temperatures can lower to 20º but in the summer months the temperature can rise to a marvellous 33º. The hottest time to visit is between November and April and rain falls most during March and July.
Natal airport – August Severo International Airport – is located in Parnamirim and is a fairly new airport with only a few amenities. Transfers by taxi can be expensive – around $15 / €11 / £7.50 to $20 / €14.50 / £10 for up to 25kms / 15.5m (depending on where your hotel is) but you can try to bargain down that price with the driver before getting in with your luggage.
Ponta Negra is the busiest area and is aimed at tourists and locals alike. Here you will find a selection of bars and a few clubs and other haunts playing anything from local live music (try 'Chaplin', dress code: smart) to samba.
Be fully aware of your surroundings though and don't leave a bar or club on your own, or go off the beaten track. When out drinking and partying, be careful and don't show off your valuables.
Alcoholic mixers called 'Caipirinha' are popular in Brazil, however you can find imported beer, spirits an liqueurs everywhere you go but beware the price – it's much cheaper to buy a bottle as drinks can be expensive for just one glass. A bottle of Caipirinha can be as cheap as $16 / €12 / £8. The popular Brazilian beers are Skol or Brahma.
There are lots of places to eat seafood in Natal and I hear that the shrimp is good at 'Camaroes' restaurant and will cost around $30 / €22 / £15 for a meal with drinks. For more of a selection of food, you can try cheap pizza at 'Cipo Brasil' or Brazilian dishes at Tabua de Carne where meals for one can be up to $16 / €12 / £8.
Service and tips are always included in your bill but if you wish to tip, give the money to the person you want to tip – don't leave it on the table. Another point to make is that touching food on your plate with your hands is frowned upon, as is belching!
Couples and mixed small groups travel to Natal so I wouldn't recommend this as a place to find a brief holiday romance.
The beaches here aren't beautiful but Ponta Negra beach is the most popular and where lots of the tourists in Natal come to during the day and night. Ponta Negra is clean, there are sun beds and umbrellas for hire and it does get crowded though there are plenty of people selling beers and soft drinks on the beach.
Redinha is another to mention, though it's next to the river a which can get dirty.