There are a number of attractions within a short distance of Natal.
Fort of the Three Kings
Forte dos Reis MagosOn the Praia do Forte, 4km/2.5mi north of the city center, is the Forte dos Reis Magos (Fort of the Three Kings), planned by the Spanish Jesuit Gaspar de Santeres and built between January 6th (hence its name) and June 24th 1598. Standing some 750m/820yds above the mouth of the Rio Potengi, it was designed to serve as a base against the French. A settlement grew up about 1.5km/1mi from the fort, but because of the materials used - taipa (clay tempered by plant fibers) and sand - the buildings could not stand out against the assault of the waves.The fort was given its final form from 1614 onwards, when it was rebuilt by the well-known Portuguese military architect Francisco Frias, who was also responsible for a series of fortifications from Maranhão to Cabo Frio and also for religious buildings such as the Convento de São Bento in Rio de Janeiro.The Forte dos Reis Magos is generally regarded as Francisco Frias's master work in Brazil. Built on a star-shaped plan, it has a perimeter of 250m/275yds, with five bastions, so that fire could be directed against an enemy attacking the fort from at least two corners at the same time. In the center of the inner courtyard is a tall building which once housed a powder magazine and a chapel.
Beaches to South of NatalOn the stretch of coast between Natal and the border of Paraíba state are some of the most attractive beaches in the state. 14km/8.7mi south of Natal is the Praia da Ponta Negra. At Nísia Floresta are the beaches of Cotovelo (20km/12.4mi), Pirangi do Norte (24km/15mi), with a huge cashew-tree, and Pirangi do Sul (30km/19mi), with basins of crystal-clear water. The beaches of Búzios, Tabatinga and Timbaú do Sul are respectively 35km/22mi, 40km/25mi and 73km/45mi from Natal.From the boat to Cotovelo beach there are fine views of this stretch of coast.
Barreira do Inferno, Parnamirim, Brazil
Barreira do Inferno20km/12.5mi south of Natal, in Parnamirim, is the Barreira do Inferno rocket-launching base and space research center. The name ("Barrier of Hell") refers to the reddish coloring of the dunes in this area. To visit the center a permit must be obtained in advance.
Farol Mãe Luisa
Farol Mãe LuisaThe Mãe Luisa lighthouse, on the Praia de Areia Preta to the east of the Petrópolis district of the city, crowns the hill of the same name 5km/3mi outside the city.
Touros83km/52mi north of Natal, beyond Pititinga and Rio de Fogo, is the fishing village of Touros, from which fishing boats take visitors to the Parracho, a seawater basin (area 5000sq.m/6000sq.yds) formed by banks of coral.
Beaches to the east of cityTo the east of Natal are the beaches of Meio and Artistas (3km/2mi), Areia Preta and Pinto (5km/3mi) and Barreira d'Agua (12km/7.5mi).