Fortaleza (meaning 'fortress') is the capital of the Brazilian state of Ceará. The fortress was built by the Dutch who called it Fort Schoonenborch. The wonderful climate, the beautiful sandy beaches and the Atlantic Ocean's warm water draw swarms of tourists. Fortaleza's nightlife is also famous. Praia do Futuro (Beach of the Future) is one of the most popular beaches, while Praia de Iracema is currently known as a prostitute hotspot.
Fortaleza is one of Brazil's largest cities with approximately 2.5 million inhabitants (1 million more including the suburbs).
The city is located in the northeast of Brazil on the Atlantic Ocean. The state of Ceará is largely flat with some hills, but there are also mountain ranges. The highest point of the state is Pico Alto (1114 meters) near Guaramiranga, about 110 kilometers southeast of Fortaleza.
Retail trade and tourism form important sources of income. Shoes and clothes are also produced in Fortaleza. More and more often the city is chosen for exhibitions and conferences for which the Conference Center was built.
Fortaleza Airport, Pinto Martins International Airport, is situated over 10 kilometers southeast of the city center. It's easily reachable by rental car via the Av. Aguanambi and then the BR-116. The way and exit to the airport are clearly signposted.
Like many other large cities in Brazil, Fortaleza has good public bus transport. During the day, most buses run every ten minutes. Night buses run every hour. For years, people have been bickering about the construction of a subway system. Sometimes part is constructed enthusiastically, but then work is stopped for lack of money. It's completely unclear as to when the subway will be operational.
Traffic in Fortaleza has become busier in recent years and traffic jams are a normal phenomenon during morning and evening rush hour. Many streets in the city are also in bad condition. Therefore drive carefully. Free parking places in the street are scarce in the city center; it's better (because safer) to park your rental car in one of the parking garages. Parking places are usually available near the beaches in Fortaleza's vicinity.
Being an important seaside resort, Fortaleza has no shortage of accommodation. Most hotels can be found along the beaches Iracema-Meireles-Mucuripe, with most luxurious accommodations being right on the beach. The further away from the beach, the cheaper the hotels and guesthouses. Budget options can be found near Praia do Futuro, but this is fairly far from the entertainment center.
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