A São Paulo Weekend
This flexible itinerary offers highlights of São Paulo, with the rest of the time dedicated to enjoying the countryside and taking ample time out to relax. The journey below is designed to be done by car. Distances are short, roads are well-maintained, and driving allows you to visit attractions off the beaten track, such as remote beaches and coffee plantations.
You can also easily do this journey by bus, but you may need to cut out some stops along the way to accommodate increased travel time.
Since most international flights land in São Paulo, “Sampa” is a good place to begin this itinerary (although for an initial impression of Brazil, nothing beats Rio de Janeiro). After checking into your hotel, head for lunch in Centro or Jardins.
Spend the afternoon poking around Centro’s mishmash of architecture and monuments. Stroll around Jardins, checking out boutiques as the light fades. Jardins is a fine place for cocktails in a fashionable bar, such as Skye, with its fabulous city views, followed by dinner at D.O.M. for fantastic contemporary Brazilian cuisine.
Take a half day to visit either Museu de Arte de São Paulo and Avenida Paulista; the Museu Afro Brasil and/or Museu de Arte Moderna at Parque do Ibirapuera; or the Pinacoteca do Estado and/or Museu da Língua Portuguesa at the Estação da Luz.
If you really like museums, combine the two separate destinations and make a full day of it. Otherwise, take time to go browsing through hip Vila Madalena, which, along with neighboring Pinheiros, is a fun place to dine, drink, and hear live music.
Pick up a rental car in the morning and drive from São Paulo to Bananal. On the way, stop for breakfast and walk around the pretty little colonial town of São José do Barreiro. Arrive in Bananal in time for a late lunch, then spend the afternoon leisurely exploring the town.
Spend the night in town or at a pousada in a converted coffee plantation manor nearby. The next morning, visit a coffee plantation, such as Fazenda dos Coqueiros, before heading to the Recanto da Cachoeira, where you can while the rest of the day away being doused by cascades.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition