15 Day trips from Sao Paulo for the best adventure in Brazil
If you are in Sao Paulo and are looking to explore more of the surrounding area or are looking for an authentic adventure in Brazil, take one of these amazing day trips from Sao Paulo. You will be surprised by the variety of options from sipping wine, seeing the rural areas, visiting mountains or even chill and relax at one of the incredible beaches, just a short day trip from Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo is the largest city and one of the highlights of Brazil, and if offers incredible things to do for all the tastes, budget, and travel styles.
But if you have more time to explore Sao Paulo, or if you are visiting the city for business and have an extra day or so, I strongly recommend you to get out of the big city, and take at least one day trip from Sao Paulo. You will have the chance to get to know more about the state and explore some real-life and authentic adventures in Brazil.
There are many options for a side trip from Sao Paulo, that most travelers do not even know about. But not you, because I am sharing with you some amazing day trips within just a short driving distance from Sao Paulo.
I was born and raised just outside Sao Paulo, and I love it when I have the chance to share how amazing and diverse Brazil is.
I have carefully selected these amazing 15-day trips destinations just outside Sao Paulo that you can do on a day trip, that will make you fall in love and will make you want to go back more times to explore more of the highlights of Brazil.
Sao Paulo Day Trips - PIN IT FOR LATER!
Day Trips from Sao Paulo: Essential tips before you go
I have selected locations that are driving distance from Sao Paulo, for a day trip and here is a list of handy information to help you to make the most of your side trip from Sao Paulo:
- Brazil Trip Planning: Start with this step-by-step guide with all you need to know before you go to Brazil.
- Public Transportation: Different than other countries, Brazil doesn’t offer great options for public transportation.
- Driving in Brazil: It may sound intimidating to drive overseas, but driving in Brazil is relatively easy and safe, and the easiest way to travel around.
- Rent a Car: For the side trips from Sao Paulo listed here, the best way to explore them is to rent a car. It is cheap, easy, and safe if you use a reliable source like this.
- GPS is a must: If you decide to drive in Brazil, make sure to have a GPS with you, or use Google Maps. The signs are in Portuguese and you don’t want to miss that turn.
- Group Tour: If you prefer not to drive in Brazil, the next best option is to go on group tours. I will be listing along with this guide some great recommendations to help you with the best options.
- Carry money with you: You will need it for the tolls as they do not accept credit cards.
- Have Travel Insurance: I always say that it is a must for any trip you are going on. I use and recommend World Nomads.
- Accommodations: If you are staying in Sao Paulo, or decide to spend the night in any of the places you are visiting, make sure you book in advance from a reliable source. I use Booking.com for any country I visit, and it works great in Brazil.
Paula’s Tip: I recommend you to rent a car or to use Group Tour. Even if you take a public bus to the destination, you will need to rely on Uber or Taxis while you are exploring any of the places, and it will take more time and will cost you more.
Day trips from São Paulo - 15 Highlights of Brazil
Table of Contents
1- Jundiai - A short day trip from Sao Paulo for an authentic experience
Jundiai is my hometown and I love to introduce this amazing place to anyone visiting Sao Paulo. If you are looking for a destination very near São Paulo, Jundiai is just a short and easy drive which takes less than one-hour.
Jundiai is in 11th place as the most developed city in Brazil, and you can start your visit strolling around the old city center and take some great pictures of the old historic buildings including the City Cathedral. Then you can visit some parks such as the Botanic Garden and Parque da Cidade (City Park).
Another option is taking a tour on the Grape Route to try some of the local wines and to enjoy some of the local gastronomy. The night life in Jundiai offers great options for bars and restaurants.
2- Sao Roque - The best Sao Paulo day trip to sip some wine
Sao Roque is a perfect day trip from Sao Paulo if you are a wine or a local food lover. You can explore the Estrada do Vinho (Wine Route), with more than 30 wineries in 10 km, where you can do wine tasting, try some of the amazing local cuisines, and enjoy the beautiful landscapes. It is a great side trip from Sao Paulo for couples or families.
You can start your day at the Adega Terra do Vinho, which is located at the very beginning of the route, do some wine tasting, and visit the local store for some souvenirs. Then you head to Vila don Patto, with traditions dating back more than 100 years, you can enjoy the local coffee and have lunch at the Italian or Portuguese restaurant. The next stop is the Destilaria Stoliskoff, where you will find things other than wine, such as tequila, vodka, and the famous cachaça (Brazilian rum).
Another great place for a stop during your visit is Vinicola Goes, one of the largest wine producers in Brazil.
3- Monte Verde - The best Sao Paulo day trip to see the mountains
Monte Verde is located in the Serra da Mantiqueira, (Mantiqueira mountain range). The altitudes range from 1800 to 2090 meters where you can see on one side the state of São Paulo and on the other Minas Gerais. It is one of the favorite destinations for tourists who like to relax, but at the same time are fans of outdoor activities and good food.
If you appreciate great gastronomy, Monte Verde is the right place to visit. There are several options in the city, the most traditional is contemporary cuisine, Italian, and local from Minas Gerais. Oh, and you have to try the amazing fresh trout at Paulo das Trutas, it is to die for. Visit one of the incredible local breweries and learn about the production of handmade chocolates.
4- Campos do Jordão - The best day trip to enjoy a mountain town and local beer
Campos do Jordão is one of the Brazil highlights in the winter, and the preferred destination for the locals looking for an European feel destination, without leaving the country. With a population of 50,000, it still manages to maintain the charm of a small town.
Some great options to explore in Campos do Jordao is to take a tour to many local breweries, take a train ride, go hiking, eat a lot, and even enjoy a walk along the charming main street of the city. The best part of town is that you can find activities for all ages and tastes, and you can explore the region during the day and at night go out to dinner or, who knows, enjoy a party during the high season.
If you decide to spend a few days in Campos do Jordao, there are many options for inns and cozy hotels located in the middle of the mountains.
5- Socorro - Best side trip for adventure seekers
Socorro is located in the region of Serra da Mantiqueira (Mantiqueira Mountain range). The city is one of the best destinations near Sao Paulo for adventurers, with a lot of ecotourism options with such as tree climbing, rafting along the Peixe River, a long zip line, among many others.
The Angel’s Cave is also another great attraction, where you can enter the cave by a little pedal boat and enjoy the crystal clear waters. You also have the option to rappel inside the cave. This was my first time, and it was really amazing. Socorro also has great options for hiking and trails, such as the Pedra da Boa Vista, which is 1,300 meters high, and attracts practitioners of trekking, rappel, and flight with a paraglider.
Another highlight in Socorro is the opportunity to taste the traditional country cuisine by tasting dishes that use ingredients produced on local farms.
6- Brotas - The capital of river adventures in the State of Sao Paulo
If you love adventure, Brotas is one of the highlights of Brazil for water sport! Brotas offers incredible white water rafting, going down waterfalls by rappel, crossing valleys in zip lines that seem to have no end.
But Brotas does not live only on water, the city can be enjoyed either from the sky, on giant zip lines or in ultralight flights. Or with adventures on the ground, on quads, horseback riding, or hiking (which can be combined with tree climbing).
Another great place to visit is the Centro de Estudos do Universo (Universe Center of Studies), to observe the stars in one of the giant telescopes. Or visit the Bairro do Patrimônio, with great options of waterfalls and natural pools, where you can relax and swim.
7- Embu das Artes - Best day trip from Sao Paulo for shopping
A little over 30 kilometers from São Paulo, Embu das Artes attracts many tourists because of its handicrafts and street art market, which bring together almost 800 exhibitors with paintings, handicraft pieces, furniture, leather, and fabric products, among many other items. The street market takes place every weekend and holidays, from 9 am to 6 pm.
Visit the historical city center, which offers restaurants, bars, workshops, rustic furniture stores, and art galleries. Check also the Francisco Rizzo Lake Park, if you like nature, the Jesuit Museum of Sacred Art, for a more historical tour, or the City of Bees, a great place to entertain children.
8- Boituva - A perfect day trip for extreme sports
Boituva is a great option for a side trip from Sao Paulo, with less than two hours driving, and it is a destination for those seeking extreme sports. Boituva is known as the capital of parachuting in Brazil, and it has a center for the practice of the sport with complete infrastructure and highly qualified instructors, with a total of sixteen schools that offer the tour.
If you are looking for an activity to do with a family, you can go fishing at the Hotel Boitupesca. If you are a Cachaça (Brazilian rum) lover, you will want to visit the Fazenda do Pinhal, where the local famous Três Coronéis cachaça is produced.
9- Guaruja - One of the best Sao Paulo beaches
Guaruja has great options for restaurants, bars, hotels, and shopping centers. It is considered one of the best Sao Paulo beach towns, with 23 stunning beaches for swimming, tanning, or surfing. The best beaches are Pitangueiras, Asturias, Enseada and Pernambuco beaches.
But if the idea is to escape from the crowds, go to beaches like Camburi, Branca, and Iporanga. The access is controlled by the condominiums at km 17.5 of the road to Bertioga.
Guarujá also offers ecotourism activities, such as trekking, cycling, rappelling, and paragliding. For the ones who prefer to walk and see gorgeous views, there are trails of several levels that take you to enchanting observatories and beaches. You can also practice climbing, surfing, and hiking.
10- Santos - The closest ocean city from Sao Paulo with amazing history
I just love the city of Santos, and it is located very close to Guaruja, making it possible to visit both on the same day. Santos is just a short drive from Sao Paulo, and it is a great getaway from the big city. Enjoy the ocean breeze, go for a swim, or try some fresh fruit juice while you tan and enjoy the views.
Santos is one of the oldest cities in Brazil with a beautiful historic city center. Santos also has the largest port in Latin America. One of the highlights is the largest beach garden in the world, even registered in the Book of Records, with 5,335 meters long, full of flowers and 1,700 trees.
If you go visit Santos, wander the streets of the historic center on foot or by tram. Also get to know the Municipal Aquarium, the Porto Museum, and the Official Coffee Exchange, which gathers in an imposing building, with panels and stained-glass windows by Benedito Calixto, cafeteria and museum. Another must-visit, while you are in Santos, is the Pelé Museum, with a four-story building that tells the history of the Brazilian and of course, the story of the world soccer legend.
11- Holambra - Dutch influences just outside Sao Paulo
Known as the City of Flowers for being among the largest producers in Brazil, Holambra is a super charming destination, a great side trip from Sao Paulo. The city has strong characteristics of regions of Europe, and a great destination for couples and families.
Holambra was officially founded in 1991, with very strong European influences, mainly Dutch and German. The charming city has only 12,000 inhabitants, with one of the highest Human Development Index in Brazil.
One of the most visited tourist points of the city is the United Peoples Mill, to celebrate the 60 years of Dutch immigration in Brazil. There, it is possible to observe the construction closely, visit its 5 floors, and learn how the place was built, with the highest mill in Brazil.
12- Eldorado - Explore the Devil's Cave
Eldorado city developed because of the search for gold in the colonial period and is currently the fourth largest city in the state of São Paulo. Recognized as a tourist resort, Eldorado has natural beauties that were discovered little by little, such as the Caverna do Diabo (Devil’s Cave), one of the highlights in Brazil.
To visit the Devil’s Cave it is mandatory to have a Local Environmental Monitor. Every 12 visitors need 1 monitor which can be hired directly from the local association of monitors.
The Alto Ribeira State Park is considered one of the most important Conservation Units in the world. It shelters the largest portion of preserved Atlantic Forest in Brazil and more than 300 caves. It is considered today a World Heritage Site, recognized by UNESCO.
You can also visit the waterfall of Meu Deus (My God), which is at the peak of a trail, an amazing place to visit especially during a hot day.
13- Atibaia - The best Sao Paulo day trip to enjoy outdoors adventure
Atibaia is a short drive from Sao Paulo and a perfect option if you are looking to enjoy nature and outdoors, such as many options for trails and hiking. Atibaia has many options for adventure sports, especially during the weekend.
The famous Morro da Pedra Grande (Pedra Grande hill) attracts thousands of travelers who want to fly by paraglider, and besides a lot of adrenaline, to also have the opportunity to observe the city and the Itapetininga Mountain Range from above. The rocky formation is 1,418m high, with an area of 200 thousand m². It is possible to reach the top by car, despite the steep, slippery, and very challenging road. If you prefer, you can go on one of the trails, with about 2h30 to reach the top – it is 2km of walk and 800m of climb
In the city center of Atibaia, there is Lake Major where you can find a large variety of options for restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
14- Cabreuva - Great Sao Paulo day trip for peace and meditation
Cabreuva is a charming town and a piece of nature and calm without having to go very far from Sao Paulo., with great options for nature trails.
One of the highlights of the city is the Kadampa Meditation Center Brazil. This temple is a great option for a place to visit if you want to get to know more about the Buddhist culture, or even have a moment of silence in the middle of nature. There are several free activities open to the public – lectures and one-day courses are on the list.
Even if you’re not a Buddhist it’s a great place to visit and also get to know a little bit more about Buddhism.
15 - Cotia - Visit the Zu Lai Temple just a short trip from Sao Paulo
Cotia is a great day trip from São Paulo to enjoy a quiet visit to the Zu Lai Temple. The Zu Lai Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in South America and will make you feel like you are in a film set with all its oriental architecture, Buddhist sculptures, and images, besides all the beauty of the monastery itself.
During your visit, you can enjoy a delicious meal at the vegetarian restaurant and visit the Buddhist Art Museum, a little souvenir shop.
Just below the monastery you can walk to the Japanese garden and take some time to enjoy the nature and tranquility of the place, the garden is all wooded, full of flowers and a lake that completes the magical scenery.
The entrance is free and the place is a religious temple so you should pay attention to your clothing so as not to go dressed inappropriately. Besides the temple doesn’t allow any tripods or drones, and you are not allowed to take any pictures inside the temple.