World Cup 2014 City Guide: Natal takes a look at the north-eastern city as the South American nation prepare to host World Cup 2014
Population: 803,739
Stadium: Arena das Dunas
Big Clubs: America

Welcome to Natal for World Cup 2014

On the north-east coast, Natal happens to be the nearest Brazilian city to Europe. It also happens to be the smallest municipal to be hosting games at the 2014 World Cup.

In Three Words

Beach, dancing and Caju

Local History

Originally found by Portuguese travellers at the tail end of the 16th century, the city of Natal developed very slowly, mainly due to the sandy soil being inadequate to grow sugar cane (one of Brazil's main exports at the time).

With Natal playing a small role in Brazil's export trade, the area was a lot less colonised compared to other regions in the South American nation which had several positive impacts on the city. Slavery was abolished in Natal nearly 10 years before the rest of the country, while the first woman take office as mayor was from just outside the city.

Where To Party

To eat - Manary Gastronomia & Arte (below): Located with a view of the ocean, this restaurant serves as the eatery of the Manary Praia Hotel. Famed for its fresh seafood, the Gastronomia & Arte prides itself on its high quality lobster and shrimp caught locally, while also offering the perfect ambient atmosphere to allow diners to kick back and relax.

To drink - Real Botequim: Retro-looking in appearance, the Botequim is a real hit with the residents of Natal. Located in the Cidade Jardim shopping centre, the bar is popular for serving its ice cold beers with some of the city's best ice cream.

To dance - Whiskritorio: As given away by its name, Whiskritorio is the place to visit in Natal if you're looking for whisky. Not only do they have a fine selection of whiskies from around the world, the pub is one of the best night spots in the city, staying open till 3:30am!

Famous Players

Not particularly well known for its footballers from the city, Natal did produce at least one Brazil international in Marinho Chagas. The former left-back earned 36 caps for the Selecao, scoring four goals in the process. Chagas represented Brazil at the 1974 World Cup in Germany, playing every game as the South American giants finished in fourth place.

Famous Attractions

Ponta Negra: Natal is home to one of the most famous beaches in Brazil, the Ponta Negra. The beach is completely urbanised with several shops, restaurants and bars along the coastline. Ponta Negra also hosts the Morro do Careca, a large sand dune which is one of the most famous landmarks of Natal.

Lake Jacuma (right): One of the biggest tourist attractions in Natal is the 'Aera Bunda' at Lake Jacuma where thrill-seekers can zip wire over the water. If you're feeling a little less adventurous you could always a hire a boat on the lake.

Zas Tras Folkloric Shows: If you're looking to experience the real Natal, be sure to check out one of the city's famous folkloric shows at the Zas Tras entertainment venue. The show exhibits the spectacular music and dancing which has become synonymous with the region.

Did You Know?

According to the Institute of Applied Economic Research of Brazil (IPEA), Natal is considered to be the safest capital city in Brazil.

Famous Citizen

Natal has produced one of the most famous models in the world in Fernanda Tavares. Emerging on the modelling scene at the tender age of 17 in 1998, the leggy brunette has gone on to establish herself as one of the most in-demand models in the catwalk, working for designers such as Chanel, Prada, Versace and Valentino.