Leaving Maceió, we went towards the banks of the São Francisco river, which we’ve met once before. We chose the small town of Penedo for a break in this very special region.
Penedo, 160km from the capital of Alagoas, is a charming colonial city with a long history. It was conquered by both the Dutch and Portuguese, who left a wonderful legacy of baroque mansions in the historic centre, churches with altars in gold detail, and more.
The town is tiny but full of surprises.
We arrived at dusk and went straight to search for lodging. Online, we’d found some hotels in the historic centre, and the newer part of town. As we didn’t know the city much yet, we went for a cheaper option, despite being a bit farther from the historic centre. We stayed in the Inn “Valle do San Francisco” (tel +55 (82) 3551-2000). They charge R$ 80 / € 20 a night. It’s basic, but clean, and breakfast included. As we only spent a day there, it was a quick drive to the centre, but if we were to spend more time I think it’s worth staying in the historic part and do everything on foot.
At night we went out for dinner at the restaurant Oratório, at the riverbank. It seems to be one of the best restaurants in town, but it is not a bit expensive as we expected it to be. R$ 66.50 / € 16 for a dinner for two. A tip: in the northeast, portions are very generous, often a dish that is said to be for one person, will fill two, with some to spare. The important thing is to always ask if the portions are separate, e.g. a dish of beans, another dish of rice … If yes, you can be sure it’s double what you need.
After dinner, we went to see a bit of the city and fell in love with all those beautiful and colourful houses. The city is very well cared for, with a church on every corner and many steep cobblestone hills. Reminds you a bit of Olinda. We’ve heard that Carnaval in Penedo is worth a visit, the city is filled with tourists for the week and many local music acts on the street.
The next morning we went back to the historical part, to see the city in daytime, with views of the São Francisco. There are several lookouts that have a beautiful view of the river. Well worth walking those hills, visit the church and have lunch on the riverbank watching the colourful boats making the crossing.
Bound for Sergipe, a crossing of the river by ferry is R$ 25 / €6 per car. The crossing is quick, but the view is worth it!