7 Best Things To Do in Manaus

Are you heading to Manaus and are unsure what to do? I've covered my recommended things to do in Manaus in this article

Manaus is one of the most unique places to visit in Brazil. Expecting something much smaller, Manaus surprised me. I had wrongly had a vision of an underdeveloped South American city. Instead, this was a cosmopolitan city with a busy port, colonial houses and an opulent pink opera house – a sign of its once prosperous era.

Having spent 3 weeks in Manaus, I share my favourite things to see and do in this Amazonian capital.

Contemplating a panoramic city view is one of the best things to do in Manaus, Brazil.

About Manaus

Manaus is the capital city of the Amazonas in Brazil. With a population of 2.5 million inhabitants, this city is a major port for the Amazon and is located on the Rio Negro.   

The Amazon rainforest is the largest in the world. Although half of this famous tropical rainforest is located in Brazil, it also extends to Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, as well as the smaller countries of British Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Manaus was a major producer of natural rubber, resulting in the creation of the port. Unfortunately, its rubber boom was short-lived, and the city faced a decline in the 1920s. Nowadays, Manaus is a major port and also an attraction for tourists (like me!) who want to experience life along the Amazon River.

Things To Do in Manaus

Things To Do in Manaus

1. Watch an Opera at The Opera House

Wearing my heels in the Amazon did seem like a strange concept, but I couldn’t miss the chance to watch an opera in Brazil. The ticket cost $2 (so cheap!), and we got to sit in the God seats and have our own private booth.

Although I didn’t understand Portuguese, I did understand the musical theme and listened to the sounds of famous computer games such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario being played by a classical orchestra.

It was a completely different experience to that of the Opera I had watched in the Sydney Opera House, but this was the Amazon! Even just sitting within the opulent interior of the building was an experience in itself. We queued and bought our tickets from the ticket booth before the performance on the night.

A green and pink hammock in the Amazon Jungle.

2. Book Amazon Trips!

Around the square are travel agents all selling the same tours, promising sightings of pink Amazon dolphins, indigenous tribes and piranhas. I booked a tour through Amazon Jungle Tours, one of the un-touristy companies and spent 5 days on an Amazon survival trip, sleeping in a hammock, eating bugs and drinking saps from trees (as well as eating noodles and wild boar), and learning about medicinal plants.

There are also shorter tours where you can fish for piranhas and sleep in a guest house along the Amazon instead if you don’t fancy roughing it. Read about my Amazon adventure here. 

A photo of Brazilian foods on a table.

3. Try The Local Delicacies

Being next to the Amazon means that fish is plentiful. Restaurants selling the local fish were full of what seemed to be locals and tourists, especially in the vicinity of the Opera House. If you love fish then you’ll love trying the scary Amazonian fish that Manaus serves up. Try the tambaqui, the fruit-eating fish from the Amazon.

Don’t forget to try the Brazilian cocktail either called the caipirinha (if you like mojitos then this one’s for you). There’s also a great juice bar where you can get any fruit and sit at the bar and drink the Amazon goodness. Try the acai, a purple smoothie which is fab!

A photo of the Amazon River, Manaus, Brazil.

4. See the Amazon River

One of the most popular activities in Manaus is taking a boat trip on the Amazon. If you don’t have much time or just prefer to see the mighty Amazon River, you can just take an Amazon River tour for the day to see the river. The Meeting of the Waters is the point where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon River, slicing the water between a tan brown and black.

Each river has its own density and speed, and the colour difference is worth seeing. Plus you get to ride on the Amazon and you may even see one of the Victoria Amazonica water lilies, the giant lilies that are found here. 

The Adolpho Lisboa Municipal Market, known as Manaus Market.

5. Browse The Market

As well as a good place to avoid that awkward dining-alone experience (you can just sit at a table, order some quick food, then go), the Adolpho Lisboa Municipal Market is a good place to find handmade crafts. The open market nearby is just as good, selling everything that you expect to find in a market including a floppy Amazon hat.

Things to do in Manaus

6. Look at Giant Insects

Although it is 20 minutes out of the city by bus, the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazonia (known as INPA) is worth the bus ride especially if you don’t get to venture into the Amazon. Inside this museum, the Amazon is recreated for you with giant insects and other Amazonian creatures.

This institute helps orphaned animals, and you’ll be able to see turtles and manatees within its rainforest habitat. You can also buy handmade crafts made by the natives. It isn’t open every day so check the timetable before you take the bus there.

Manaus Botanical Garden.

7. Manaus Botanical Garden

Another alternative to actually venturing into the Amazon jungle for yourself is venturing into the botanical gardens instead. Follow the trails, walk under the tree canopy and climb the tower to see over the forest canopy (which is an extra charge). Take a guided tour to find out more about the native flora and fauna and stories from the Amazon. Find out more…

Walking on the Amazon Jungle.

Where To Stay in Manaus

I initially stayed in a guest house, which was a 15-minute bus ride away, so I would advise staying in the centre if you’re solo. I then moved and stayed at Tajmahal Continental Hotel in Manaus. It is a budget hotel but it was only a 5 minute walk to the beautiful pink Opera House and included an amazing slap-up breakfast. * Check rates and availability: Tajmahal Hotel

I did venture into the Local Hostel Manuas to do some laundry. It’s in a really central location near the tour companies and the opera house and square. It had a large communal area, and the man in reception was really friendly and spoke great English. They have female-only dorms too. * Check rates and availability: Local Hostel Manaus

Conclusion on the best places to visit in Manaus Brazil

If you have more time, there are waterfalls just 2 hours outside of the city at Presidente Figueiredo, which are meant to be beautiful (unfortunately, I didn’t get to visit them). In total, we spent 3 weeks in the Brazilian Amazon using Manaus as our base. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have stayed this long. Most people just pass through Manaus and stay for a week maximum.

Is Manaus good for solos? I was here as a couple. I would say that it is more for the adventurous solo. It does take a bit of working out to get around although the buses are good. If you stay in a hostel, you can meet others but other than that it would be difficult to find company.

Things to do in Manaus

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