where is alcantara

Sailing to Alcantara, a day trip from São Luís

Sometimes when you are traveling around a country and you arrive to a big city, after a few days there you need “a break”. After being in São Luís for a couple of days, I needed to scape the city: I choose Alcântara, a small and quiet town an hour and a half away by sailing boat from São Luís. Alcântara is next to the coast, has narrow stoney streets, exuberant green cliffs, amazing views and a lot of historical ruins to discover, it’s like traveling back in time…

How to get there

The best way to go to Alcântara is by boat from the small port in Sâo Luís “Terminal hidroviaria- Praia Grande” (next to the historical center). There are daily boats that leave early in the morning (between 7 and 9am, depending on the tide) and return in the afternoon, before low tide (30 R$ round trip). It’s also possible to take the boat in the morning, and come back the next day in the afternoon. For any case,  you should book your ticket one day in advance, to be sure @ what time the boat leaves because it changes almost daily.

sailing to alcantara

Getting around Alcântara

Alcântara is really small, so after a few hours strolling around you might have already seen most of it. When you arrive to the town, in front of the small harbour you will see a couple of narrow streets heading up hill, follow them and after 10 minutes walking you will arrive to the main square “Praça da Matriz”. Here you will find the ruins of the church “Igreja de São Matias” as well as the best preserved pillory of Brazil. Next to the square is the historic museum of Alcântara “Museu Casa Histórica de Alcântara” (2 R$ entry with guided tour in Portuguese) which used to be a family house built in the XIX century. The museum is worth a visit to be able to see the house and how they used to live. The views from the upper levels are very nice. Keep on walking through “Rua da Miritua” and you will be crossing the center of the town heading to another church “Igreja do Pretos”. On  your way from the harbour to the town every few meters you might see ruins of colonial houses form the XIX century which are now abandoned.

the rests of old alcantara

Across the “Igreja do Pretos” church is the small and really unexpected museum of the aerospacial center of Alcântara “Casa da Cultura Aeroespacial” (free entry) which offers miniatures of the rockets and the history of the place. The museum is really tiny, but it’s interesting to see whats going on there!!! … I really didn’t know about it and enjoyed it very much.

placa y museo

Pousadas & Restaurants

Alcântara is really a small village, so I only spend a few hours strolling around. It’s also possible to spend the night there because it has a few pousadas. Just upon arrival (you can see them from the boat), there are 2 small ones. On the other side of town you might find the Pousada dos Guarás which offers bungalows, and in town is Pousada da Josefa (Rua Direita).

In town you might find a few bars with reggae music as well as street stalls where you can buy something to eat or fresh coconut water. Next to the harbour there are 2 small basic restaurants that offer food and drinks as well as ice creams, with nice views to the sea, and a good choice, while waiting for the boat to go back to São Luís.

alcantara streets

Useful Information

Brazilian Real exchange rate today (16/08/2015):

3,48 R$ = 1 USD
3,87 R$ = 1 EUR



The map of the town



  1. Hi Mery.
    What do you think is better. To spend 3 days in Sao Louis or 2 and one in Alcantara?
    Thank you for your great tips.

  2. Hi Gloria, I really recommend you to spend 1 day in Alcantara and 2 days in Sao Luis. You will love that small town!! And to get there, you will have to go sailing… you can’t say NO to a Brazilian sailing experience! believe me! 🙂

  3. Leaving from Alcantara harbour, we sail in the area between Belem Tower and Alfama, the amazing old town, so you can appreciate the picturesque and colourful Lisbon and its wonderful monuments.

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  20. no sorry, I’m independent traveler and like organising the trips myself, so don’t have much info regarding travel agents, though is very easy to get there and book accommodation there: just need to take a boat from Sao Luis, and you will find in booking.com many accommodations possibilities. Good luck!

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