Considering its isolation on the Brazilian map, Fortaleza is a surprisingly large and sprawling place. It’s one of Brazil’s biggest cities and an economic magnet for people from Ceará and beyond. It’s also a magnet for tourists from Brazil and overseas, who come for the beaches, the party atmosphere and the spectacular smaller beach spots, rolling dunes and fishing villages places they can get to from here. Some city beaches are reasonably attractive and the nightlife is definitely a lot of fun.
The city stretches 20km along the coast and up to 10km inland. Centro is the oldest part of town and is a lively area to wander round by day, with many busy streets full of small stores, though it lacks any specific attractions of note. The bus station is 4km south of Centro and the airport is 2km further south. The main areas of interest are east of Centro. First is Praia de Iracema, a tightly packed nightlife, restaurant and accommodation zone, with no beach worth mentioning. Then there’s Meireles, the middle-class beach suburb with many upscale places to stay, 2km to 4km east of Centro. South of Meireles, another middle-class suburb, Varjota, is home to many of Fortaleza's best restaurants.
Fortaleza has been for decades one of the most popular destinations of Brazilian tourists. In recent years, the fame of Fortaleza has been gaining the world, and the number of Europeans, North and South Americans travellers coming to Ceará has grown fast.
What attracts so many Brazilian and foreigners to Fortaleza? Rather than pointing out one single reason, it is safer to say that visitors are attracted by a combination of the sunny beaches, the busy and safe nightlife, the delicious culinary, the rich Brazilian culture, the very peaceful and friendly people. On top of that, it's worthy mentioning that Brazil is free from natural disasters, and is a country with low cost of living.