The best area to stay in São Luís

The best areas to stay in São LuísSee the offers

Are you going to the northeast of Brazil and the capital of Maranhão? Here’s where to stay in São Luís!

Located on the Ilha de São Luís (Saint Louis’ Island), in the Baía de São Marcos (Saint Mark’s Bay), between Belém and Fortaleza, the city of São Luís is the capital of the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil. With more than 1,6 inhabitants spread throughout the metropolitan area, ranking it as the 15th largest in Brazil, São Luís is the only state capital of Brazil that was not founded by the Portuguese, but by the French in 1612, under the name of Saint-Louis-de-Maragnan, a French colony of Equinoctial France. The Portuguese colonial architecture of the city center – listed as a World Heritage Site since 1997 – dates back to the end of the 17th century and is in an excellent state of conservation: its streets are reminiscent of some neighborhoods in Lisbon. Moreover, music fans should note that São Luís has been nicknamed the “Brazilian Jamaica” because of its cultural heritage and its widespread love for reggae music.

Finding a place to stay in São Luís can be complicated and expensive if you’re visiting the city while popular cultural events are being held, such as the annual Bumba-meu-boi festival. Lovers of history, architecture, and art will undoubtedly be seduced by São Luís. Discover our selection of the best neighborhoods to stay in São Luís.

The historic center

Wrapped around the confluence of the Rio Anil and Rio Bacanga rivers, São Luís’ historical center is where the French founded the city at the beginning of the 17th century before the town fell under Dutch and then Portuguese rule. The streets have been admirably well preserved, to such an extent that the district is said to be one of the best illustrations of Portuguese colonization in South America. The old town, which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a fascinating place to stay in São Luís. Be sure to visit the Maranhao Historical and Artistic Museum, the Museum of Visual Arts, the Arthur Azevedo Theatre, the Casa do Maranhao, the Casa de Nhozinho, the Casa das Tulhas or the Popular Culture Center.

Many churches dot the narrow streets of the historic center, such as the Catedral de São Luís (“Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory”), located in Plaza Pedro II. Walk along the pedestrian cobblestone streets and admire the colorful buildings, many of which are intricately decorated with earthenware. You will surely enjoy the neighborhood’s festive and relaxed atmosphere all year round. Most of the historic center’s bars, restaurants and hotels are located near Praça João Lisboa.

Find a hotel in the historic center
Find an Airbnb in the historic center

Ponta do Farol, near the new city

While the old town exudes a quiet ambiance during the day, the streets of the modern city, built on the other side of the bay, are as lively as can be. This is the business center of São Luís, where skyscrapers kiss the clouds. If you want to stay on the beachside, take a bus to Praia Ponte d’Areia, on the northern shores of Ponta do Farol, to enjoy a relaxed and festive atmosphere.

Find a hotel in Ponta do Farol
Find an Airbnb in Ponta do Farol

The peripheral neighborhoods

You’ll find many hotel complexes and affordable accommodation options will be available in the suburbs of São Luís, particularly around Jardim Renascenca, and around Lake Jansen. Stay in São Luís in the eastern neighborhoods, and enjoy an ideal location to discover the rest of the region: the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, a 155,000 ha park which includes 70 km of coastline, and an interior composed of rolling sand dunes that become dotted with freshwater lagoons in the rainy season. Another exciting visit: the village of Alcantara.

Find a hotel in the peripheral neighborhoods
Find an Airbnb in the peripheral neighborhoods

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