Petrolina Travel Guide

Read on to discover the best places to visit, things to do, where to stay, and more in Petrolina, Brazil.

Introduction to Petrolina

Petrolina is a charming city located in the southern region of the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. The city is situated in the São Francisco Valley, known for its breathtaking landscapes, unique fauna, and flora. Petrolina boasts an outstanding cultural heritage and offers an array of activities and attractions of all kinds. This travel guide will introduce you to some of the most prominent tourist destinations, must-try dishes, top-rated accommodations, and much more.

List of Places to Visit in Petrolina

Petrolina is a hub of both natural and cultural tourist attractions. Here are some of the must-visit places:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Museum of Sertão: This museum boasts an extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits that aim to show the history and culture of the Sertão region.
  • Dom Malan Square: The place is in the heart of downtown Petrolina and is surrounded by historical sites, cafes, and shops.
  • Cathedral of Sertão: This church’s architecture is a mix of Gothic, Byzantine, and Romanesque styles and is a great stop for religious and artistic tourists.
  • Irineu Evangelista de Souza Historical Museum: This museum is a comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the founder of the São Francisco Valley.

Natural Attractions of Petrolina: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Pangaio Hills: This mountain range offers a fantastic view of the region’s natural beauty, including the São Francisco river, vineyards, and Caatinga dry forest. There is also a spring nearby where visitors can take a dip in the fresh waters.
  • São Francisco River: One of the most important bodies of water in South America, São Francisco river runs along Petrolina’s border and is a source of much of the area’s natural wonders.
  • Bodódromo: This park provides visitors with the opportunity to try dozens of different regional flavors, from traditional savory dishes to the famed sugarcane juice that the state is known for.
  • Reserva Biológica de Serra da Capivara: The Serra da Capivara Biological Reserve is home to an emblematic ecosystem, of animals and plants and features over two hundred water springs, numerous crystalline caves, waterfalls of up to 50 meters, mountains, archaeological sites, and rock formations.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Petrolina

Petrolina is an excellent place to get some cardio and outdoor exercises. Here are some of the best hiking and biking routes to hit when visiting the area:

  • Ilha do Rodeador Trail: This trail offers a good warm-up for more extended treks and offers impressive views of various sites in the region, including the São Francisco River.
  • Pangaio Hill Trail: This hike is for those seeking a harder-than-average challenge and takes visitors up the incredible Pangaio Hills.
  • Solar Panel Park Trail: This route features beautiful and relatively flat paths through the local river landscape on Petrolina’s edge.

Best Things to Do in Petrolina: Activities and Tours

When visiting Petrolina, Brazil, there are plenty of things to do. Here are some of the best activities and tours:

  • Take a boat tour on the São Francisco River
  • Enjoy a range of outdoor games and sports at the Ayrton Senna Complex
  • Sample delicious wine and sparkling wine at popular wineries, such as Rio Sol and Terranova.
  • Take a hot-air balloon ride to enjoy a breathtaking view of the region from high up in the air.

Week-Long Itinerary for Petrolina

Here’s an example of an exciting one-week itinerary for your visit to Petrolina:

Day Activity
1 Visit the Cathedral of Sertão and Museum of Sertão
2 Take a boat tour on the São Francisco River and visit the Reserva Biológica de Serra da Capivara
3 Go on the Solar Panel Park Trail and enjoy an afternoon at the Ayrton Senna Complex
4 Enjoy some local wine and sparkling wine at Terranova and Rio Sol
5 Visit the historical city center, including Dom Malan Square and the Irineu Evangelista de Souza Historical Museum
6 Take a hot-air balloon ride over the scenic landscape of Petrolina
7 Spend the day relaxing at the beautiful Pangaio Hills, where visitors can enjoy crystal-clear water and go hiking.

Food and Drink Scene of Petrolina

Petrolina boasts a vibrant gastronomic scene that visitors should experience. Here’s what to try:

Must-Try Dishes

  • carne de sol (sun-dried beef)
  • acarajé (bean cake)
  • paçoca (sweet ground peanut dessert)

Local Beverages

  • Sugarcane juice
  • Vodka made from sugarcane

Where to Stay in Petrolina: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Petrolina offers several accommodation options for tourists, ranging from budget-friendly to five-star hotels. Here are some recommendations:

  • Ibis Petrolina: A comfortable hotel located in the central region of Petrolina.
  • Nobile Inn: A more upscale option with comfortable rooms and modern amenities.
  • Abaré Hotel: A family-friendly budget hotel within walking distance to popular cultural attractions.

What to Buy in Petrolina: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Consider bringing back some unique and authentic souvenirs as a memory of your time in Petrolina:

  • Brazilian sweets and treats
  • Handcrafted items, including ceramic and leather-made goods
  • Artisanal watercolor paintings

Local Culture and Customs of Petrolina

Petrolina’s rich culture is a mix of indigenous, African, and Portuguese influences, mixed in with local traditions. Visitors should note that the culture in Brazil is diverse and sometimes strict about politeness and respect.

Best Time to Visit Petrolina

The best time to visit Petrolina is during the dry season, which runs from July to October. The weather is pleasant, and the attractions are less crowded during this time of year.

Do’s and Don’ts of Petrolina

Here are some things to keep in mind as you visit Petrolina:


  • Take advantage of picturesque scenery and bring your camera.
  • Learn some Portuguese and a few key phrases to better communicate with the locals.
  • Try various local food and drinks.


  • Wear flashy jewelry or carry large sums of money around.
  • Take photographs of people without their permission.
  • Get drunk in public.

Safety and Health

Petrolina has a reputation for being a relatively safe destination for tourists. However, visitors should take steps to safeguard their health and safety.

Safety in Petrolina

  • Keep valuables in a secure, safe place.
  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially in darker or more isolated areas.
  • Be vigilant when in crowded areas, and watch your pockets or purse.

Health in Petrolina

  • Drink bottle water, it is not safe to drink tap water.
  • Wear sunscreen and cover up whenever possible when outside.
  • Bring medication if you have health conditions that require them

Getting to Petrolina: Transportation Options and Logistics

Petrolina is well-connected to other cities throughout Brazil. Here are several ways to get there:

Airports Near Petrolina

  • Senador Nilo Coelho International Airport (PNZ)

Bus Stations Near Petrolina

  • Petrolina Bus Station

Other Options

  • Taxis and Uber
  • Rental cars including international rental car company or local rental companies.

How to Get Around in Petrolina

There are several transportation options to get around Petrolina, including taxis, buses, or car and motorbike rentals.

Where to Go Next from Petrolina: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Petrolina is close to some excellent places that make for great side trips from Petrolina:

  • Juazeiro, a charming city just across the Sao Francisco river.
  • the Sítio Histórico Ilha do Rodeadouro, an important historical plantation that was once inhabited by indigenous groups.
  • Pernambuco’s capital city, Recife, one of Brazil’s most famous colonial-era cities with plenty to see and do


Petrolina, Brazil, is a charming city that offers a mix of natural and cultural attractions that are perfect for all types of travelers. From learning about the region’s history and traditions to exploring the stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone in Petrolina. Visitors should take the time to enjoy the local cuisine, relax in comfortable accommodations, and check out nearby destinations while adding a visit to Petrolina to their travel itinerary.