The city of São Luís, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site, is the capital city in the State of Maranhão. Situated on an island known as the “Island of Love,” this beautiful place is also home to incredible natural beauty, fascinating historic centers, and delicious local cuisine.
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997, São Luís, the capital of Maranhão State, is located on an island. Its historic center comprises around 3,500 buildings of great historical and artistic value, such as churches, tiled mansions, fountains, monuments, squares, and urban staircases. The city is also home to Matriz da Sé Church, one of the treasures of sacred art in Brazil, and the Rock Fountain (Fonte das Pedras), built by the Dutch in the 17th century.
Street decorated for the São João festivities in São Luís
The Cultural expressions that are typical of São Luís are present in popular celebrations such as Bumba Meu Boi, which occupies its proud space on the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage List, and Tambor de Crioula, an expression that attracts large crowds in the month of June. Culture is also very present in local handicrafts, which include beautiful lace, ceramics, sculptures, decorative items, and garments that are inspired by local elements. The Maranhão Handicraft Commercial Center (Ceprama), where beautiful handicraft items can be purchased, is definitely worth a visit.
The local cuisine in the capital of Maranhão is one more reflection of its unique colonization. Cuxá rice, made with dried shrimp, cassava flour, and sour seasoning, is one of the flavors everyone needs to try. Moquecas and peixadas, types of local fish stew, and seafood dishes must also be part of the experience, always accompanied by local fruit juices, such as cashew, sapodilla, bacuri, cajá, and mangaba.
In addition to the cultural attractions in the city, you can visit Jansen Lagoon Ecological Park and enjoy the beautiful view of the beaches and watch the crowds on the waterfront. The beaches that are the most popular with tourists are Ponta d’Areia, São Marcos (preferred by young people and surfers), Calhau beach, and Olho D’Água beach, which are located along the 30-km-long coastline in the metropolitan region of São Luís.
São Luís is the gateway to Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, located 250 km from the capital. Covering 155,000 hectares, it is famous for its blue lagoons amidst the endless fine white sand dunes. In order to visit Lençóis Maranhenses, you must plan your trip dates carefully, since the lagoons are only full between the months of April and August, forming one of the most unique landscapes in the world. It is, without a doubt, an unforgettable experience.
São Luís has attractions that you will definitely not want to miss out on. The more you get to know the city, the more you will be convinced that your visit was worth it.
There are several bus routes that cover the whole city. For more information on the routes, click here.
Walking is a great way to visit the historic city center and its wonderful attractions.
Personal Vehicles and Rentals
A great way to get around the city or to visit nearby destinations in the state of Maranhão is to rent a car.
Taxis and Ridesharing Companies
Taxis and ridesharing companies are a comfortable way to get around the city.
+55 98 3214 8682
Tourist Assistance – Praia Grande:
+55 98 3231 4696
Tourist Assistance – Bus Station:
+55 98 3249 4500
Tourist Assistance – Airport:
+55 98 3244 4500
Military Police: 190
Fire Department: 193
The best period to visit São Luís is between the months of June and August. The city has hot weather all year round, so light clothes and sunblock are recommended.