(Relaxnews) – For one month, Brazil will be putting its best cleated foot forward as the world turns its attention to the bustling, colorful country for the duration of the FIFA World Cup. For the uninitiated, it’s also a prime opportunity to become acquainted with the richly diverse economic powerhouse.
On Saturday, June 21, Germany and Ghana will face off in Fortaleza. Here’s a primer on the state capital of Ceara in Northeastern Brazil.
Location: Northeast coast of Brazil
Name: Fortaleza means ‘fort’ in Portuguese
Average annual temperature: 27C
Population: 2.4 million
Interesting fact: Fortaleza is home to Brazil’s largest water park, with water slides distributed across 35,000-square kilometers
What to see and do:
The coastal city has long been a popular beach destination for locals and visitors from Europe, given its proximity to the continent, particularly for visitors from Portugal.
Along the 34 km of coastal beaches, visitors can soak in the Brazilian sun and tuck into fresh seafood dishes from the many barracas — kiosk-type restaurants built in the sand — and tip back a caipirinha at Iracema, the beach known for its bars and nightlife scene.
Mucuripe Beach is described as the more bucolic destination, with fishermen who venture out in handmade wooden boats for their catches, and Beira Mar is popular for its arts and crafts fair and dancing, notably the forro, a rhythm dance typical of the northeast.
One of the largest water parks in Latin America and the biggest in Brazil, Beach Park has 16 attractions including water slides as long as 40 meters. The resort area also offers hundreds of suites and apartments for overnight stays.
Centro Dragao do Mar de Arte e Cultura (Sea Dragon Art and Culture Center)
The cultural center houses a contemporary art museum, planetarium, cultural center, library, theater and cinema, as well as bars and restaurants.
Fortaleza Central Market
To get a sense of the local culture, visit the central market where you’ll find authentic eats, and arts and crafts such as weavings.