Manaus On a Budget
SightsPerhaps the most iconic landmark within Manaus is its opera house, Teatro Amazonas, built during the heyday of the rubber trade with materials from all over the world.¬† Today, visitors can take guided tours of the building or even see a free performance. Also impressive is the Rio Negro Palace, built by German farmers in the "golden age," and now a cultural center and theater. Other attractions within the city include the main market Mercado Municipal modeled after the Les Halles market in Paris, and the Natural Science Museum which was created by a Japanese entomologist and specializes in the local wildlife.
The rest of the area attractions are largely outdoors. The Meeting of the Waters is an especially popular location where the black waters of the Rio Negro meet the brown waters of the Rio Solim√Ķes to form the Amazon River.¬† Many admire how the two rivers flow side by side without mixing for about 9 kilometers (or 6 miles). Along the riverside there are also a number of beaches for swimming and recreation, such as Ponta Negra Beach just west of the city which also has several bars and restaurants. The Rio Negro even features a waterfall, known as the Paricatuba Waterfall, formed by sedimentary rock and surrounded by lush vegetation.
From here visitors look outwards to exploring the surrounding wonders of the Amazon Rainforest, the largest forest on the planet.¬† Part of this vast expanse of forest includes the National Park of Ja√ļ, northwest of Manaus.¬† The park is one of the largest in Brazil and in Latin America, featuring a rich ecosystem of flora and fauna.¬† One especially sought out creature is the pirarucu-the largest fish from the Amazon.
NeighborhoodsThe oldest neighborhood or "bairro" of Manaus is Educandos, from which the surrounding bairros grew. Adrian√≥polis is the wealthiest and is located in the central-south area of the city, while the southern area of the city is occupied by Downtown Manaus right along the banks of the Rio Negro. Also called Centro, Downtown Manaus is additionally the historical center where most of the hotels and attractions are located.¬† Today the center is largely commercial as it is located on a major port of the river. The rest of the city sprawls outward from the downtown, from the central Metropolitan region that hugs the Rio Negro to outlying rural areas.
ActivitiesMost visitors to Manaus are interested in experiencing the greater Amazon environment. There are a number of businesses operating jungle adventure tours for experiencing the nature and wildlife of the world-renowned rainforest, as well as boating expeditions that specialize in the sights of the famous Amazon River. Tours range from day trips and overnight excursions to weeklong adventures in the rainforest or on the river. There are even trips that specialize in forest tree-climbing. Some of the more dangerous native wildlife include the anaconda, cougar, jaguar, and black caiman.
Food and DiningCuisine of Brazil varies greatly by region, usually a mix of indigenous, European, and African influences.¬† Northern Brazil's cuisine, including that of the state of Amazonas where Manaus is located, is heavily influenced by indigenous cooking. As a result, local cuisine of Manaus is rich and varied.¬† Tapioquinha, for example, is a glutinous pancake made from manioc starch, usually buttered and filled with tucum√£ palm fruit and farmer's cheese.¬† Other delicacies include an Amazon local soup called tacac√°, fish dishes like tambaqui and pirarucu, pamonha made from green corn and coconut milk boiled in corn husks, a glutinous cake made from manioc known as bolo de macaxeira, sugar cane juice, and exotic fruits like cupua√ß√ļ and a√ßa√≠. There are plenty of street stalls and restaurants serving these items and more within the city.
TransportationThe nearest airport, Eduardo Gomes International Airport, is located about 14 kilometers north of downtown Manaus. American Airlines operates one daily flight to and from Miami, Air Portugal flies to and from Europe, and many lines operate flights domestically to and from other Brazilian cities. From the airport, visitors can take taxis or buses to the city center.
Manaus is also a major destination for boats along the Amazon River, connecting it to cities like Belem, Porto Velho, Tabatinga on the border with Colombia, and Iquitos in Peru.