Home to Brazil’s biggest metropolis, this southern state also has beach resorts, coffee plantations, hill towns and scenic forest reserves.
Boasting tropical beaches, rain forests, mountains and urban centers, São Paulo state is every bit a quintessential Brazilian destination. This is the country’s richest and most populated state. With some 44 million inhabitants, São Paulo has cities that are diverse, exciting and frenzied. Escape the chaos at the inland hill towns or go beach-hopping along a 400-mile (644-kilometer) long coastline, which rivals that of Bahía and Rio de Janeiro.
Dominating the state is its capital São Paulo, a megacity that spreads from a modern center high up into the encompassing hills. Its ethnic make-up includes huge communities of Italian, Japanese, Lebanese and Spanish migrants. Find this cultural diversity showcased in the cities revered gastronomy scene. Visit major attractions such as the Bela Vista and Libedade neighborhoods, Ibirapuera Park, Paulista Avenue and the São Paulo Museum of Art.
A 90-minute drive south from São Paulo is Santos, a Portuguese-built port town and the gateway to the state’s coastal towns. Each of these towns possesses unspoiled strips of white sand and piercing-blue water ideal for water sports. Nearby are Guarujá and Praia Grande. Travel east to Maresias, Caraguatatuba and Ilhabela. Go scuba diving, ride rolling waves and relax at elegant posadas at the beaches of Ubatuba.
West of Santos, Mongaguá and Peruíbe are among several resorts worth visiting. Wander the streets of Cananéia, which is one of Brazil’s earliest European settlements. Cananéia is the starting point for dolphin-spotting boat tours in the waters around Parque Estadual da Ilha do Cardoso.
Be sure to explore the mountainous and forested countryside of the state’s interior. Enjoy a welcome break from the heat at the alpine retreat of Campos do Jordão. Admire a series of Victorian-style landmarks at Paranapiacaba. Visit coffee plantations, zip line through a rainforest and join rafting trips at Brotas.
São Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport is the state’s main transport hub, with domestic connections to all parts of Brazil. Get around via intercity buses or rent a car to explore the coastal region. Continue your beach-hopping adventure to Rio de Janeiro’s Costa Verde.