The Top 4 Things To Do In Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil

The Top 4 Things To Do In Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil

Published June 19, 2020

If you’re thinking about visiting the Greater Vitória metro region in Espírito Santo, I have one piece of advice: go! Although the city of Vitória is smaller than São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, there are a lot of unique attractions in the area. Plus, it’s not an international tourist hotspot, so I would argue that it’s the perfect place to see a side of Brazil that most tourists don’t!

A quick look at a map of the area reveals that there are two main cities on the central coast of Espírito Santo: the state capital of Vitória, and Vila Velha to the south of the Santa Maria da Vitória River. Although the two are connected by a couple bridges, the one you’re likely to cross is Terceira Ponte (which literally means “The Third Bridge”).

Terceira Ponte as seen from the northern (Vitória) side looking towards Vila Velha

Luckily, the four most popular attractions in Vila Velha are all near Terceira Ponte in the northeast corner of the city. You can technically see all four items on the list in one day, but I recommend scheduling two per day for a more leisurely pace. To skip down to any of the four attractions, click or tap on the corresponding link below!

  1. Convento da Penha (Penha Convent)
  2. Farol de Santa Luzia (Santa Luzia Lighthouse)
  3. Praia da Costa (Costa Beach)
  4. Morro do Moreno (Moreno Hill)

1. Convento da Penha

This convent on top of a hill is probably the most iconic symbol of Vila Velha. You can see it from various parts of Vitória towering above the skyline, so it’s really impossible to miss.

The entrance is located here, and the easiest way to get there is to take an Uber (unless you happen to be staying within walking distance). After arriving, you can either hike up for free or pay a small fee for a van ride. The hike is short: only about fifteen or twenty minutes, so I did that.

The entrance to Convento da Penha

Once you get to the top, you’ll be able to check out the church building as well as the amazing panoramic views. From one side, you can look north to see Vitória across the river. From the other, you’ll be treated to a view of Vila Velha and the Atlantic Ocean.

View of Vitória and Terceira Ponte from Convento da Penha
The Vila Velha skyline

A number of locals recommended doing this short hike in the morning. In fact, due to COVID-19, the trail closed (in January 2021) at 4:00 p.m., a couple of hours earlier than it normally would.

2. Farol de Santa Luzia

The second attraction I recommend is a lighthouse. Like the convent, it’s also free to visit and is pretty self-explanatory. You can call an Uber to go directly to the front entrance, which doesn’t require a walk or hike.

A visit to Farol de Santa Luzia only takes about half an hour. As far as I could tell, visitors are not permitted to go up to the top. I would guess this is because the lighthouse is active and not just a historical relic.

3. Praia da Costa

If you’re going to visit Farol de Santa Luzia, it’s a short walk and an even shorter Uber ride to Praia da Costa, the main beach in Vila Velha. Technically, there’s a little portion on the northern end called Praia Curva da Sereia, but Praia da Costa extends for miles and miles southward. It actually curves around, which is why it’s such a beautiful beach.

Praia Curva da Sereia

You definitely don’t need to walk its entire length, and there are plenty of amazing views in the beach’s northernmost section. While you’re there, be sure to check out Pedra da Sereia, a massive rock formation in the water that you can walk out to via a sandbar during low tide.

Pedra da Sereia

4. Morro do Moreno

The last thing you should do in Vila Velha is another hike. It’s a bit longer and steeper than the walk up to the convent, but the views are worth it! Just make sure you wear sneakers.

There seem to be a couple different pathways up this hill, but the entrance to the main one is located here. From the top, you’ll be able to see Vitória again. The only difference is that Morro do Moreno is to the east of Terceira Ponte, while Convento da Penha is to the west.

Look in the other direction (to the southeast) to see a panoramic view of Praia Curva da Sereia as well as the peninsula where Farol de Santa Luzia is located. This is also an amazing spot for pictures!

There is a small snack and beverage stand at the top, which is a good place to stock up on water. In terms of safety, people from Vitória mentioned that Morro do Moreno is a great place to watch the sunset, but that hiking back down after dark isn’t the best idea. I went on a weekend afternoon to ensure that the path wasn’t devoid of people, which I’d recommend for those who can.

Check out these related blog posts!

If Vila Velha looks interesting to you, be sure to check out my other two blog posts about Vitória! The two cities are a fifteen or twenty-minute drive apart from one another, so you should absolutely explore both if you’re headed this way.

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I wholeheartedly recommend finding accommodation in Vitória, specifically in the Praia do Canto neighborhood. It’s centrally located, there are a lot of great places to eat within walking distance, and it’s safe and upscale. However, you can use the map above to search for listings anywhere by clicking on “Show more.”

What do you think of Vila Velha?

A trip to the Greater Vitória metro area simply isn’t complete without a day or two in Vila Velha. The views of the bay, the mountains, the city skyline, and the open ocean just can’t be beat. Have you been to Vila Velha before? Would you consider it for your next trip to Brazil? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for checking out Caffeinated Excursions!

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This post was published on June 19, 2020

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Danik the Explorer

    Another place I never heard of before and now I have bookmarked this page for my planning a trip to Brazil which will happen. I would defo go for the views and walks along the beach just to get away from the urban life. The beach would really suit my family as they love sandy beaches and the ones here really look sandy and lovely to walk on (wheres me I dont care what sort of beach it is, as long as I can hear the sound of the waves as I stroll along then I am a happy person). Great post and now I know another place in Brazil 😀

  2. Alice Ford

    What a lovely looking place. I think I would hike that hill, stroll by the lighthouse and have a late lunch at the beach. I have yet to visit Brazil but certainly hope to know day.

  3. Candy

    I’ve never heard of this location and it looks like a great place to explore for a few days. It’s so interesting to see beaches with urban views in the near distance. You get a taste of both beach life and city life in one place. I would love to take a stroll on the beach with my pup!

  4. C B

    The Vila Velha skyline looks so pretty! And cool that there are places which combine beach and city. I think the lighthouse looks like I’d enjoy it a lot – it almost looks like a totally different place!

  5. Eat, drink and be Kerry

    You have included some amazing photos in this post but my favourite is the sand art truck. That is so well done.

  6. Josy A

    Oh my goodness I love all the possible views from up high, down to Vitória and Terceira Ponte. It might be a bit of a steep climb to Penha Convent and Moreno hill, but I adore the views from both! Plus the whole area seems so lush, green and relaxing. I can see why you liked it so much.

  7. Ummi Nadrah

    Sometimes it’s nice to visit the less-frequented places to find some hidden gems. I like that there are so many different spots to see Vila Velha from above, and the views all look stunning.

  8. backpackandsnorkel

    The bridge is certainly impressive and I wonder what gigantic ships are passing under it. The beaches are very much to my liking with the endless sand and I guess swimming is probably nice there too. Do you know if there is any good snorkeling?
    I very much like the sand monument with the blue and black painted car. Do you know if they had competition for which it was built?

    1. I don’t think there are many reefs in this area but I’m not sure about snorkeling! As for the sand art, I saw similar pieces in Rio but the ones here were really well done. I don’t think it was a competition but there is a box you’re supposed to leave a tip in if you take a picture.

  9. Melissa

    Vila Velha looks like a lovely place to visit. I would definitely want to visit the Farol De Santa Luzia lighthouse followed by a nice swim at Praia da Costa. Some of those views look amazing and seem like the perfect way to see the area. I love the sand art to, that truck is awesome!

  10. Juliette

    I’ve just spent a week in Vila Velha and your article was super, super useful! It’s super hard to find info on ES, Vitoria and Vila Velha, especially recent experiences. Unlike you I stayed in Vila Velha and I liked it better than Vitoria, but otherwise I ended up in the same places as well.

    Glad I found your blog! I’m adding it to my feed 😉

    1. It’s awesome that you decided to explore Espírito Santo, Juliette! Both Vila Velha and Vitória are such cool cities, aren’t they? I’m glad to hear that my blog was a helpful resource for your trip!

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