Vila Velha, meaning old village, is a city in the metropolitan region of Vitória. It was the original capital of Espiritu Santo State, founded in 1535 by Vasco Fernandes Coutinho. Then due to clashes between colonists, slaves, and Indians, the colonists largely resettled in Vitoria across the bay leading to the transfer of capital status to the latter. Vila Velha today though can boast the highest population in the Vitoria-Vila Velha area, albeit a lot of it is rather unremarkable housing blocks to the tourist.
Vitória Airport (VIX) - also known as Eurico Salles Airport - in the capital city of Vitória, is the closest airport to Vila Velha. It receives daily flights from most state capitals in the country. Among the main airlines serving the airport are LATAM and Gol. A number of smaller carriers also serve the airport, including Azul, TEAM, and TRIP.
To get to the airport, catch bus line 507 direction Terminal Laranjeiras. From the airport, catch the same bus line 507, but with direction Terminal Ibes.
Most urban buses pass by Terminal Vila Velha in the city center, including quite a few that cross to Vitória.
- 1 Convento da Penha, R. Vasco Coutinho, ☏ . 06:00-16:00 M-F, 07:00-16:00 Sa-Su. An old convent perched atop the hill near the bridge to Vitória.
- 2 Vale Museum (Museu Vale), Rua Vila Isabel (along the Baia de Vitoria, just east of the Segunda Ponte (Second Bridge)), ☏ . Recounts the historical importance of the Vitoria-Vilha Velha area through collections of photos, books, and relics, particularly as it pertains to the rail and port system here that enabled vast quantities of commodities like gold from Minas Garais to be transported. It is housed in the former Pedro Nolasco Railway Station with its eye-pleasing facade incorporating ionic columns and arches. Also on site is the Locomotive Makato 185, a train model, and the occasional art exhibit. But the best part might be the views of central Vitoria across Vitoria Bay.
- 3 Lighthouse Santa Luzia, R. Santa Luzia, 2, ☏ . A lighthouse built of iron in 1870 is a nice landmark and the location also affords interesting views of the entrance to Vitoria Bay.
- 4 Casa da Memória de Vila Velha, Av. Luciano das Neves, 17, ☏ . Really small regional museum that captures the history of the area from the time Vasco Fernandes Coutinho first founded Vila Velha and then Vitoria as the seat of Espiritu Santo State through the slaveholding period and up to the industrial phases of today. Includes a small replica of Coutinho's 1535 Sant Maria ship that he commanded, along with a trolley outside. And don't miss the Museu Atelier Homero Massena (Homero Massena Workshop Museum) just a couple of houses to the west that relives the life of this painter from Vila Velha.
- 1 Morro do Moreno (trailhead is along Rua Xavantes). A 30 minute hike up this coastal hill will reward you with some truly wonderful views of the coastal area, including the Third Bridge (Terceira Ponte) to the east and Praia da Costa to the south. You can also ride a zip-line or abseil here. Take care because the trail can be a bit precarious in spots.
Vila Velha is a good place to be if you like beaches:
- 2 Praia da Costa, R. Lúcio Bacelar. Like your classic sandy beach with palms and corniche lining the side.
- 3 Praia de Itapoã. Continuation of the long sandy beach of Praia da Costa marked with restaurants playing live music and palms, benches, umbrellas. Tends to be less affected by the Vale mining runoff and sewage pollution than beaches further north.
- 4 Praia Curva da Sereia (Praia da Costa), R. Gastão Roubach, 360. Soothing albeit sometimes crowded beach that ends in a succulent-adorned rocky point called Pedra de Sereia to the south.
- 5 Praia do Bananal. Beach marked with a lot of rock and stone slabs.
- 6 Praia do Ribeiro, Av. Antônio Gil Veloso, 2580. Tiny pocket beach alongside cottage fishing industry that is serenely set below Morro do Moreno but unfortunately quite polluted.
- 7 Praia Barra do Jucu (way off to the south). Xerotic picturesque beach. Behind it is the Jacarenema Ecological Reserve featuring mangroves and some old Jesuit ruins.
- 1 Cantinho Gaúcho, Av. Antônio Gil Veloso, 100, ☏ . Little hole in the wall place to get some grub across the street from the Praia da Costa. Churrasco-style beef, fish, shrimp, chips, ice cream, etc.
- 1 A Casa Morro do Moreno, R. Joao Joaquim da Mota, 330, ☏ . Economical and pleasant homestay, right out on a peninsula. R$135.
- 2 Quality Suites Vila Velha, Av. Antônio Gil Veloso, 856, ☏ . Another chain hotel tower whose rooftop pool is way up there; whew, hopefully you're not agoraphobic, though the views fronting the sea are pretty terrific from there. Hotel also features a free breakfast with lots of cake and fruit and other items. R$183.
Vila Velha had a bout of rather ugly uprising when the police went on strike in the area in 2017, with carjackings and homicides making people fearful for their lives. It has tamed down since then, but be conscientious of your safety here as in other Brazilian cities.
The telephone area code for Vila Velha is 27 (as well as in central and northern parts of Espírito Santo).
- Vitória - The capital of the state of Espírito Santo, famous for its bay, beaches and nightlife. (just across the beautiful Terceira Ponte - Third Bridge)
- Guarapari - A popular beach resort town. Famous for its lively ambiance, with many clubs and beach parties, especially during the summer months.
- Domingos Martins - To get a taste of a town colonized by German immigrants, and the famous Pedra Azul (Blue Rock).
- Santa Teresa - To get a taste of a town colonized by Italian immigrants.
- Itaúnas - Famous for its dunes and forró, a Northeastern Brazilian dance.
- Rio de Janeiro - World-known city famous for its breathtaking landscape and annual carnival.