Ilheus

The best-known town in Brazil
Lively city beaches
The Catedral de São Sebastião

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Ilheus

Among the pages of Jorge Amado’s book

In literary terms Ilhéus, 70km south of Itacaré at the mouth of the Rio Cachoeira, is the best-known town in Brazil, as the setting for Jorge Amado’s most famous novel, Gabriela, Cravo e Canela, and it’s just waiting to be discovered on an MSC South America cruise excursion.


If you haven’t heard of the book before visiting Ilhéus, you soon will; it seems like every other bar, hotel and restaurant is either named after the novel or one of its characters. Traditionally Ilhéus has also been popular for its lively city beaches, though given the options now available to the south and north, these need not detain you long.

When you step ashore from your MSC cruise you can’t miss the city’s landmark: the Catedral de São Sebastião on Praça Don Eduardo. It looks like a Romanesque wedding cake, with a 48m-high dome, but was actually started in 1931 and only dedicated in 1967. It replaced an older chapel deemed too small for the city and demolished.

Dating back to a structure completed in the 1570s, the Igreja Matriz de São Jorge is the oldest church in the city (though most of what you see today is seventeenth century), containing an old and venerated image of Saint George (São Jorge). The sacristy serves as a small Museu de Arte Sacra, with the usual church silverware, various religious sculptures and antique furniture on display.

Housed in an ornate mansion commissioned by Amado’s father in 1926, the Museu Casa de Cultura Jorge Amado was once the home of the city’s most famous son and now contains exhibits on the region’s chocolate industry and Amado himself. Apart from the centre, you’ll find the main concentration of bars in Ilhéus along the fine beach promenade of the Avenida Soares Lopes to the east.

Must see places in Ilheus

  • Batuba Beach

    Batuba Beach

  • San Sebastian Cathedral

    San Sebastian Cathedral

  • Coca farm

    Coca farm

Discover our excursions

8 results found

  • HISTORIC ILHÉUS

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    BRILE01A

    Would you like to see a little bit of everything that Ilhéus has to offer in a comfortable and nice way but is not interested in beach? In this bus sightseeing you will be visiting first the Historical Centre of Ilhéus, the Saint Sebastian Church (inside), an outside visit to the Municipal Theatre, House of Jorge Amado (optional), House of Artists, Saint Jorge Church and photo stops at the most famous places in Ilhéus after the novel “Gabriela” wrote by the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, the Cabaret Bataclã and the Vesuvius Bar before making a stop for souvenirs at a handcraft shop. Remarks: The entrance ticket to Jorge Amado house is not included in the value of the excursion. Bataclã and Vesuvio bars charge a cover fee for consumption and it is not included in the excursion.
    • Long route by bus

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$35.00Price per person

    • Children$35.00Price per person

  • ILHÉUS HISTORIC & TIJUIPE WATERFALLS

    NATURAL WONDERS

    BRILE02

    Also a combination tour to see two different sides of Ilhéus, history & nature. Visiting first the Historical Centre of Ilhéus, the Saint Sebastian Church (inside), outside visits to the Municipal Theatre, House of Jorge Amado (optional), House of Artists, Saint Jorge Church and photo stops at the most famous places in Ilhéus due to novel “Gabriela” wrote by the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, the Cabaret Bataclã and the Vesuvio Bar before making a stop for souvenirs at a handcraft shop. The second part of the tour will be a scenic drive for 45 minutes along the ecological park road heading to the beautiful Tíjuípe Waterfalls (located 25kms from Itacaré) for 60 minutes of free time for swimming in the crystal clear waters of the falls. Restaurant is available at the waterfalls. On the way back to Ilhéus a stop at the chocolate factory “Chocolate Caseiro” for an option to buy a real souvenir from Ilhéus. Remarks: Restaurant service in the Waterfalls takes a while to process orders, we advise guests wishing to lunch at the Waterfalls to submit their orders upon arrival. This excursion will not be cancelled due to weather conditions (rain).
    • Long route by bus

    • Possibility of swimming

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      5 h

    • Adults$65.00Price per person

    • Children$65.00Price per person

  • ILHÉUS HISTORIC & BEACH

    SCENIC ROUTE

    BRILE01

    In this combination tour you will see the best that Ilhéus has to offer, history & beach. Visiting first the Historical Centre of Ilhéus, the Saint Sebastian Church (inside), an outside visit to the Municipal Theatre, House of Jorge Amado (optional), House of Artists, Saint Jorge Church and photo stops at the most famous places in Ilhéus due to novel “Gabriela” wrote by the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado, the Cabaret Bataclã and the Vesuvius Bar before making a stop for souvenirs at a handcraft shop. From Ilheus we head to “Cabana Palmito” at Milionarios Beach; an option of beach structure with bar and restaurant, usually used by the local people, located only 20 minutes of Historical Center. You will be greeted with a welcome drink (non-alcoholic) and you will be able to enjoy the splendid sun and warm waves of the Cacao Coast Remarks: The entrance ticket to Jorge Amado house is not included in the value of the excursion. We advise guests not to swim beyond the wave brakes due to strong drift. Free time at the beach will be approximately 3 hours depending on traffic. During summer the Cabana Beach may be crowded and the service from the bar & restaurant may be slow, we advise guests to order from the Bar/Restaurant upon arrival. The Cabana Palmito charges service tax for the bar and restaurant service and artistic covert (values not included in the price of the excursion). Limited capacity and we advise guests to book in advance. This excursion will not be cancelled due to weather conditions (rain).
    • Long route by bus

    • Drink included

    • Possibility of swimming

    • Tasting included

    • Best seller

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      5 h

    • Adults$39.00Price per person

    • Children$39.00Price per person

  • CABANA PALMITO & BEACH

    SEA & SUN

    BRILE15

    From Ilheus Port we head to “Cabana Palmito” at Milionarios Beach; an option of beach structure with bar and restaurant, usually used by the local people, located only 20 minutes of Historical Center. You will be greeted with a welcome drink (non-alcoholic). You can enjoy the splendid sun and warm waves of the Cacao Coast.. In return your bus pass will make an overview of the historic center of Ilheus before returning to the ship. Remarks: We advise guests not to swim beyond the wave brakes due to strong drift. Free time at the beach will be approximately 3 hours depending on traffic. During summer the Cabana Beach may be crowded and the service from the bar & restaurant may be slow, we advise guests to order from the Bar/Restaurant upon arrival. The Cabana Palmito charges service tax for the couvert artistic, bar and restaurant services (values not included in the price of the excursion). The capacity of this excursion is reduced in period of vacation and carnival. We advise guests to book early to avoid disappointments as this tour offer limited seats. This excursion will not be cancelled due to weather conditions (rain).
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      5 h

    • Adults$32.00Price per person

    • Children$32.00Price per person

  • PÉ DE SERRA BEACH

    SEA & SUN

    BRILE14

    Don´t miss the opportunity to visit an explored beach! Located only 15 minutes from Itacarezinho, the pe de serra beach is the new destination for the nature lovers in the south coast of Bahia. You will travel about 40 minutes for the first road park in Latin America until the beautiful beach “Pé de Serra”. Already on arrival, you will see why this beach is on every postcard of the Cacao Coast. There is a rustic, but comfortable bar, with special cuisine because all the dishes begin to be freshly prepared to order and fresh ingredients. The beach is beautiful where the MSC guests can enjoy the experience of a beach almost uninhabited and untouched; a beach with large sand strip where you can hike or just enjoy the emerald sea. For those who enjoy walking, we can follow a trail to the Observatory of “Pé de Serra” to enjoy the beautiful landscape and print your experience in a photo with the sky and the sea in the background. Return to port with a stop at the Chocolate Factory/Store. Remarks: From Ilheus to Pe de Serra can take up to 60 minutes. We advise guests to book early to avoid disappointments as this tour offer limited seats. Lunch is optional. The stop at chocolate shop will depend on traffic conditions. This excursion will not be cancelled due to weather conditions (rain).
    • Long route by bus

    • Possibility of swimming

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      6 h

    • Adults$42.00Price per person

    • Children$42.00Price per person

  • HISTORIC ILHÉUS & COCOA FARM

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    BRILE03

    Learn all about Ilhéus past and future in one single excursion. This tour will take you back to the golden era of the cocoa production as Ilhéus was the most important cocoa production center on the 1930´s. You will learn all about the legend “witch broom” that almost destroyed the entire local industry and what the region is doing to recover from it. A panoramic 30 minutes’ drive through the historical center to reach the cocoa farm, located at the road Ilhéus – Itabuna for 90 minutes visit including the farm plantation, production area and tasting of cocoa juice (included), free time for photos. On the way back to Ilhéus a stop at the chocolate factory´s store “Chocolate Caseiro” for a souvenir from Ilhéus. Remarks: The Cocoa factory is not wheelchair accessible. This tour includes a light walking over uneven and not cemented ground. The shopping stop will be at the chocolate store and not in a factory.
    • Long route by bus

    • Tasting included

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$49.00Price per person

    • Children$49.00Price per person

  • VAN WITH DRIVER ONLY (10 SEATS)

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    BRILE09

    Disembark in the port and have a vehicle with a professional driver waiting for you, your family and friends. Create your own tour and enjoy your day with a vehicle at your disposal. Note: Vehicle, driver and gasoline included up to 150kms, it does not include tickets to any touristy attraction or lunch. The advertised price for this service is per vehicle, not per passenger. This service is available with or without a tour guide, depending on availability. The driver speaks only Portuguese and the tour guide (if requested) speaks English or Portuguese. The service without tour guide is not available for Grand Voyages. The departure of service can be requested for any time during the time call. Service not available to Itacaré.
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      4 h

    • Adults$432.00Price per person

    • Children$432.00Price per person

  • VAN WITH DRIVER ONLY (10 SEATS)

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    BRILE10

    Disembark in the port and have a vehicle with a professional driver waiting for you, your family and friends. Create your own tour and enjoy your day with a vehicle at your disposal. Note: Vehicle, driver and gasoline included up to 150kms, it does not include tickets to any touristy attraction or lunch. The advertised price for this service is per vehicle, not per passenger. This service is available with or without a tour guide, depending on availability. The driver speaks only Portuguese and the tour guide (if requested) speaks English or Portuguese. The service without tour guide is not available for Grand Voyages. The departure of service can be requested for any time during the time call. Service not available to Itacaré.Calls where the length of stay in the port is less than 8 hours but over 4 hours, the service can be available for the length of the call with the 8 hours price.
    • No guide available

    • Limited seats

    • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

      Difficulty Level
      Easy

    • Duration
      8 h

    • Adults$559.00Price per person

    • Children$559.00Price per person

The excursions in the program above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this program is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

 

Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

North Brazil

Nature reserves and colonial atmospheres
Nature reserves and colonial atmospheres

Brazil’s north-east has definitely benefited from the nation’s economic boom and is now a region on the rise.

Despite having the most dazzling coastline in South America, a buzzing beach scene and an exuberant culture that blends samba, reggae and African influences, the area, divided politically into eight separate states, has not been spoilt by tourism. 

A cruise to Brazil’s north-east will show you the major cities along the coast: some, such as Recife, Olinda, São Luís and Fortaleza, have a deep colonial heritage; others, such as Maceió and Natal, have developed mostly in recent decades. All of these cities have their own city beaches plus more idyllic and deserted resorts hidden up and down the coast. The Ilha de Fernando de Noronha, hundreds of kilometres offshore, is one of the finest oceanic wildlife reserves in the world, an expensive destination but perfect for ecotourism.

The smallest Brazilian states and long ignored by travellers, Alagoas and Sergipe have developed rapidly in recent years. Though lacking the romance of Rio and Salvador, the two state capitals of Maceió and Aracaju offer fine beaches and a smattering of history, while some genuinely well-preserved colonial towns are a short bus ride away.

 
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