Natal today is one of the most popular tourist cities in Brazil. Unlike its larger and more established neighbors, Natal has no spectacular carnivals or frenetic nightlife, but it does take pride on its fantastic beaches and easy lifestyle.
Natal is proud to be known as one of Brazil’s safest and calmest cities in the country, with much improved quality of life. Due to this, many foreigners and rich Brazilians have invested properties in this city.
One of the best reasons to visit Natal is to make it a starting point to discover the wonderful places in Rio Grande do Norte. These include beaches like Ponta Negra, Pipa, Genipabu, Barra do Cunhaú and Baía Formosa, and lakes like Coca Cola and Carcara. You can travel there on a shoestring budget as accommodations and dining places are affordably priced.
Transport in Natal: Travel by plane
International flights coming in to Natal are managed by European companies. There are regularly flights from Portugal’s capital city Lisbon. There are also those that fly in passengers from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. TAP Air Portugal, a Portuguese international airline, comes in once a day to Natal from Lisbon.
The northeast region where Natal is located is serviced by Aeroporto Internacional Augusto Severo (Augusto Severo International Airport). It is in nearby Parnamirin, just 20 kilometers from downtown Natal. It handles flights the many direct flights from the major Brazilian capitals like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador, Brasilia, and Belo Horizonte.
The new Greater Natal International Airport being built in the nearby municipality of São Gonçalo do Amarante is claimed to be the largest airport in South America.
Transport in Natal: Get around by bus
The cheapest way to get around in Natal is by bus with fares varying from US $1 (regular rate) to US $1.20 (airport route). While there are convenient magnetic cards and passes available, the easiest way to pay is directly to the bus conductor. These public transports serve the main tourist destinations within Natal. Big and small buses and vans ply the same route, and all charge the same fare.
Natal’s bus station is located approximately 3 kilometers southwest of the downtown area. It is about 5 kilometers of Ponta Negra from the northwest.
Be advised that during rush hour, buses can become so crowded with passengers that they can be cramped inside like sardines in a can. At ordinary days, you can expect standing room in big buses but it wouldn’t be so crowded that passengers will be elbowing each other. Buses arrive at 15 minutes interval and can extend up to an hour.
Transport in Natal: Drive a car
If you prefer a quieter and less public tour of Natal, then you can opt to go around in a car. Car travel around the city offers you the opportunity to explore the less travelled routes and allow you to stop and take a closer look. There are a lot of car rental companies in Natal. You can check out their pricing and book a vehicle online in just a matter of minutes.
Renting a car is a practical option if you intend to make Natal your base city for your day trips in the city’s neighboring areas. Some of the beaches in nearby municipalities like Extremos and Parnamarin are difficult to reach by public conveyance, and so going by car is your best choice. Car rentals usually cost R$110 per day and get lower if you rent it for several days. The vehicle is usually delivered at your hotel.
Transport in Natal: Enjoy a sand buggy ride
Instead of the inner city transport, you can explore Natal’s popular coastal beaches while riding a sand dune buggy. This exciting tour of the towering sand dunes of Natal is possible by hiring a buggy and its bugeiro (driver). Private rides can cost around R$ 320 per buggy. It costs a lot less if you join a group ride.
Choose buggy drivers that are certified by the Tourist Authority. Unlicensed drivers can charge lower but you take the ride at your own risk. Some accidents are known to be caused by inexperienced buggy drivers.
Traveling the dunes and beaches using sand buggies is more practical because regular cars tend to get stuck in the sand. These vehicles are prohibited in some locations like Genipabu where dunes can stretch out for many miles. While Land Rovers and other 4-wheel drive vehicles are a better choice for sand travel, most bugeiros claim that dune buggies offer more safety and flexibility.
Transport in Natal: Get there by taxi
Taxi transport offer you a more private ride without the hassle of driving around the city yourself. The standard white taxi with red plate abound in Natal. Fares which are regulated by the government remain uniform whether the taxi is new or old. If you prefer to use a cab, expect a flag-down rate of US$2 and US$1 per kilometer. Different pricing is expected for special taxicabs at the airport.