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Rio Grande do Norte

Pure air, sun, fine beaches and sand dunes symbolize this small state in Brazil's northeast corner, which has long been a popular destination for southerners looking to get away from the cold.

Rio Grande do Norte has one of the country's most spectacular coastlines, some 310 miles (500km) of beautiful beach after beautiful beach, many of them fronted by reefs with natural pools and backed by tall dunes or cliffs.

Its capital Natal boasts perhaps the best big-city beach in the Northeast, Ponta Negra, the streets around which are lined with quality restaurants and hopping bars and discos. The coastline to the north is lightly developed with a number of charming small towns fronting big wide stretches of sand. To the south, Praia da Pipa is one of Brazil's premier beach destinations with dramatic landscapes and top wildlife watching.

The locals, known as potiguares, are generally very friendly and welcoming.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Rio Grande do Norte.