The vast country of Brazil contains over half of the entire Amazon rainforest. So if you love adventure, Brazil’s Amazon city, Manaus – the capital of the Brazilian State of Amazonas – is the place to start. Nicknamed the “Paris of the Tropics” thanks to its rich heritage of European immigration and influence during the rubber boom, you can experience captivating culture with its colonial houses, jungle landscapes and the picturesque harbor, right in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Despite its remote location, Manaus is a relatively easy city to get to, and there are multiple means by which to get there as its the primary gateway for any tour of the Amazon. So how do you get to Manaus? Let’s find out…
If you are coming from overseas, the quickest way to get to Manaus is to fly. The Manaus Eduardo Gomes International Airport is located 15 km from the city center, however, there are limited direct flights into Manaus, and they are usually via Miami, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. When you arrive at the international airport you can take the public bus number 306 downtown, which runs to and from the airport every 30 minutes. You can also take a taxi or rent a car from the airport if you prefer (Taxi fare is a fixed rate of about $20).
Brazil is huge so it’s also much quicker to fly to Manaus if you are already in the country, as it can take days/weeks to travel across the country by car or bus. You can fly from any major airport, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and both take about five hours. You can use most popular airlines in Brazil, including LATAM, GOL and Azul, however, many of these flights may have a stopover in Brasilia, so if you prefer to fly direct make sure you check this before you travel. Domestic flights arrive at the same international airport, so you should still factor in your commute into the city when you arrive. If you plan to take a number of flights in Brazil, GOL and Azul offer a fairly cheap Air Pass, which starts at around $500 for four flights within the country. Near the Manaus airport, there are a number of nice hotels to choose from.
You can fly directly from Miami to Manaus with GOL or LATAM seasonally, or similarly from Orlando with GOL at certain times of the year. If you are flying from elsewhere in North America, you will either have to connect in the aforementioned cities and onward to Manaus, or fly directly into Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro and change for a domestic flight to Manaus. North American airlines that fly directly to Sao Paulo and Rio include American Airlines, Air Canada, Continental, Delta and United Airlines and fly from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, LA, Miami, Newark, New York, Orlando, Washington, and Toronto. Non-stop flights from Panama City are available with Copa Airlines.
Unfortunately, there are no direct services from Europe. British Airways fly directly into Brazil from the UK – but you will have to catch a domestic flight to get to Manaus from their direct destinations of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. Plenty of other European airlines, including Air France through Paris, Iberia through Madrid and Lufthansa through Frankfurt, also fly to Rio or Sao Paulo direct.
If you are coming from Japan, Australia or other parts of Asia, Japan Airlines and Korean Air fly into Brazil, but only fly directly to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Alternatively, you can fly directly to Miami and change for a LATAM flight to Manaus from there. While it can be cheaper to fly to either Rio or Sao Paulo and change there, Sao Paulo’s airport can be a nightmare, the big airport is usually full with horrendous queues, so avoid changing there if you can. If you are flying from Australia to Manaus, you can try Argentinian airline Aerolineas Argentinas, which fly directly to Buenos Aires, where you can connect to Manaus, although you may struggle to find a direct flight.
Manaus is a bustling port and harbor, so traveling by boat is an extremely popular way to get in and out of the city. The boat will leave you at the Hidroviaria, which is just 1.5 km from the city centre. You can travel from Belém to Manaus via a ferry, which takes about five days, boats like the Amazon Star ferry operated by AR Transportes will take you between the places, and you have a choice of a bed or a hammock (although make sure you bring your own hammock). You can also travel from Tabatinga to Manaus via ferry (or slow boat) or cargo boat, but the experience is far from glamorous, so be prepared to be a little cramped and make sure you bring plenty of bottled water for the trip.
Long haul bus journeys are possible if you are staying in Brazil already, however, there aren’t as many choices as if you choose to travel by air. There is a bus station around 8 km outside of Manaus, and while this method of transport is cheap when you arrive in Manaus you will have to ensure you know how to get into the city. A local bus, either the 306 (that goes to the airport) or the 813, should pass the bus station and take you into the centre. Alternatively, you can get a taxi into the center relatively cheaply.
Once you’ve made it to Manaus, the following tips may be useful if you were unsure on how to get around the city.
Despite being a large city, Manaus is quite easy to get around for travelers. Manaus is an easy-to-follow grid pattern, with most activity happening near the waterfront on the Rio Negro. Everything revolves around the river here. The port and mercado municipal face the river, with the main attractions for visitors concentrated in a 20-block radius around the port and easily accessible by foot. Directly in front of the port you’ll find the bus terminal and Praca da Matriz (a main square). Praca da Matriz is home to the Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Cathedral, and Matriz Church, two notable sights in the city.
To the east of the square is the downtown shopping district, formed by several parallel streets (centered on Rua Guilherme Moreira). At the end of these streets where they hit Avenida Sete de Setembro, you’ll find the Palacete Provincial, a collection of 5 museums in a former police building. To the west of the square, you’ll find the picturesque Palacio Rio Branco and Museu Paco da Liberdade. The busy Avenida Sete de Setembro signals the end of the oldest section of downtown, and there is little of interest for visitors beyond here, save for the Teatro Amazonas (a grand opera house right in the rainforest, just 4 blocks North on Rua Barroso).
Beyond that the city sprawls inland and along the river, with several upscale neighborhoods residing a significant distance from the port. One, Ponta Negra beach, is about 18km (11 miles) from downtown and is known for its popular nightlife and entertainment area along the beachfront. Although a good part of the beach disappears in the wet season (Jan-Apr), the food stands and entertainment remain in place all year round. During the dry season, this beach is a popular place to swim and suntan along the river.
Luckily, all of downtown Manaus is walkable from the port and easy to get around. Just make sure to watch your purse or wallet in crowds, and stick to busy areas in the evening. Also, keep in mind that it is a bit hilly, so wear comfortable shoes if you plan to sightsee on foot.
For those wishing to visit Ponta Negra from downtown, you’ll want to take a bus or taxi as the trip will take about 35-40 minutes. Local buses leaves from Praca da Matriz, and taxis can be hailed on the street or reserved ahead by your hotel.
For those heading to the Iberostar Amazon cruise, luckily the port is right at the center of downtown. If you won’t be staying in the city at all, it is possible to take a taxi or bus directly from the airport to the Port (Porto de Manaus). Similarly, for those staying in Ponta Negra, you can also take a bus or taxi into downtown, directly to the port. For those already staying in downtown, you may be able to walk to the Port, but you’ll likely want to grab a taxi for your luggage. The address for the port is: Taqueirinha #25, Centro
The Lo Peix Amazon cruise leaves from a smaller port named the Marina do Davi, located on Estr. da Ponta Negra, around 5 minutes drive from the Ponta Negra beach. Similarly the Desafio Amazon cruise leaves from another small dock called Marina Aguas Claras, located on Av. Aldeota 4, Tarumã, around 10 minutes away.
All other Brazil Amazon River cruises embarking in Manaus leave from the pier next to the Tropical Executive Hotel, located on Av. Coronel Teixeira just next to Ponta Negra beach.
Traveling to Manaus, particularly via plane, is extremely easy, especially from North America, and if you are already in Brazil it’s possible to take a boat, bus or domestic flight and arrive in the heart of the Amazon and get about the city. Contact us if you have any further queries about how to get to Manaus, or would like to enquire about booking an Amazon river cruise in Brazil.
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