Natal; known as the City of the Sun is the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte. It is a major tourist destination, known for its fabulous sandy beaches, nature areas, historical sites, and friendly people, among other things. Natal is famous for its natural beauty and tourists flock from all around the county and the world to see its beautiful beaches. Because of the city’s coastal setting, visitors can enjoy a wide array of water activities and sports such as; swimming scuba diving and snorkeling. Natal is one of Brazil’s 12 host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2014. Because of its proximity to the European continent, Natal is a popular destination among foreign tourists. The city has a tiny Muslim population, and therefore Muslim tourists will find it quite difficult to locate Halal friendly facilities, including; Halal food and mosques in Natal.
Natal has several popular attractions that tourists from all around the country, as well as the world, come to see. One such attraction is the Maior Cajueiro do Mundo, which is an unusual natural attraction in Natal. It is the largest cashew tree in the world that is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. If lucky enough to visit during the fruiting season, visitors are allowed to freely pick the cashews from the tree that is said to hold over 80,000 cashew nuts.
Parque das Dunas or Dunas Park is said to be the second largest urban park in Brazil, occupying an area of 1,172 hectares. The park is a legally protected environment where visitors can learn more about Brazil’s forest wildlife as well as the geological formation of dunes. Parque das Dunas is home to a wide variety of native flora and fauna and is the ideal place to go on treks and to get to know the area. Visitors can take guided treks around the dunes; these treks are of varying lengths and therefore perfect for everyone. The park is also considered a paradise for researchers, and in fact a few new species were discovered at the park. A visit to Parque das Dunas will prove to be a fun day out for the entire family.
Another easy and great way to see the sights of Natal would be to take a cruise along the Rio Potengi. Genipabu is a world renowned protected area, which is home to a lagoon and a complex of dunes on which several activities such as esquibunda and buggy rides take place.
The Natal Aquarium is a popular attraction among families. It is Brazil's largest aquarium that is home to 60 species of marine life, most of which are local. Piranhas, lobsters, stingrays, sea horses and sandpaper sharks can all be found here. The Natal Aquarium also houses a small zoo that has a variety of animals, including; monkeys, turtles, as well as a group of penguins and reptiles.
The nearest airport to Natal is Augusto Severo International Airport, which is located approximately 18 kilometres from the city, in the adjoining municipality of Parnamirim. The airport has domestic as well as international flights and has facilities to serve quite a large number of passengers.
There are no known Halal restaurants in Natal. Muslim visitors will have to dine on vegetarian or seafood dishes from local non-Halal restaurants after ensuring that the dishes do not consist of any non-Halal items. Because Natal has a small Muslim population, Muslim tourists may be able to obtain more information on the availability of Halal food in the area, at the local mosque. Muslim visitors must also be aware that most restaurants in Natal do serve alcohol.
There is one known mosque in Natal, namely the Islamic Center of Natal. This mosque serves the small community of Muslims living in Natal and is frequented by tourists. Because it is not easy to locate mosques in the city, Muslim tourists are advised to pray in their hotel room before setting out on any excursion, if possible.