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Ah, São Paulo.
Often an underrated city in Brazil, but with lots of exciting attractions and eating venues.
But if São Paulo is underrated, can you imagine the surrounding cities and towns in the state?
There are tons of day trips from São Paulo that most tourists don’t know about. Well, not you.
I’ve put together a list with the best São Paulo day trips so you can learn a little more about the state and region. I’ve also included a general description of how to get to those places.
Day trips from São Paulo, Brazil
As someone who was born and raised in São Paulo, I’m on a mission to show more of my state to my husband, who isn’t Brazilian.
So expect to see this list of cities you can visit in a day expanding as we’re planning to go on many day trips from São Paulo.
After living in Brazil for nearly my whole life, I still get impressed with the architecture and history of the new places I discover.
So believe me when I say you’ll see and experience a lot on your trip to Brazil!
Pssst: Looking for accommodation in São Paulo? Then check out my guide on the best neighborhoods to stay in the city.
Table of contents
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Handy tips for your day trips from São Paulo
- Rent a car: to reach most of the towns mentioned below, you’re better off renting a car. Public transportation isn’t available or isn’t handy in many of these cases.
- Driving in Brazil: it might sound intimidating, but I will write a complete post with lots of tips soon so you can nail it.
- Use a GPS: if you miss an exit, the return might not be clearly marked. Also, most of the street signs are in Portuguese, so you might need a little help to find your way around the country.
- Purchase travel insurance: it’s essential for any trip—by car or bus. Travel hassle-free and without worrying about everything. I use WorldNomads and happily recommend them to my friends. Also, they offer collision damage waiver in one of their plans.
- Most roads have tolls: always have cash with you to pay the fees.
São Paulo day trips, Brazil
I could make a list with 50 day trips from São Paulo. Easy. But for the sake of keeping this list readable, I’ll talk about a few cities near São Paulo you can visit in a day.
Ideally, you could spend a weekend in a few of these places, which are farther away. But that’s up to you.
Without further ado, let’s get to the best day trips from São Paulo.
Pedra Bela, one of the best day trips from São Paulo for adventure lovers
In the small town of Pedra Bela, you can glide down Brazil’s longest zip line.
Climb the hill with the same name to lose your breath. Not because of the steps, but because of the stunning landscape in front of you.
Then, for a few seconds, you will feel the fresh air on your face while everything seems to be untouchable and perfect.
You glide over green-hued fields along a 6,234-ft (1.900-m) long steel cable at 66 mph (107 kph). (Only available on weekends.)
This village is only a 2-hour drive away from the city, which makes it a perfect day trip from São Paulo.
Moreover, the town offers more adventures, including jeep-quadricycle tours, waterfalls, tree climbing, and the Buddhist temple Taikanji, only a 20-minute drive away from the town center.
How to get to Pedra Bela
Take the Presidente Dutra Road and, after a few minutes, take the exit toward Fernão Dias Road (BR-381).
After an hour of driving, take exit 22 toward Bragança Paulista/Socorro (BR-146) and slide right onto SPA 109/008 road to Pedra Bela.
Read next: What to do in Brazil
Zu Lai Temple, the best São Paulo day trip for those looking for a peaceful day
A visit to South America’s largest Buddhist temple comes as a nice change from the bustling São Paulo.
Spend some time learning about Buddhism or taking part in a ritual, go wander through this beautiful São Paulo temple or its well-maintained gardens.
This little piece of China in Brazil holds most ceremonies in Mandarin, while some are in Portuguese, but they’re nonetheless a peaceful activity that most visitors love.
At this site, you’ll also find the Buddhist Art Museum, a souvenir shop (ideal to purchase lucky charms), and an excellent vegetarian restaurant that opens on weekends only.
Note that the temple administration doesn’t allow tripods or drones even in the gardens. Also, taking photos inside enclosed places is not permitted, just outside at the gardens.
Besides the Chinese New Year and Vesak, they also celebrate June’s Party, which includes lots of Brazilian vegetarian food, typical games from these celebrations, and lots of fun.
On Sunday mornings, there is a free Tai Chi practice with no reservation required and other activities.
How to get to Zu Lai Temple
There are three ways to get there:
- Uber: (Click here to get $5 off your first ride)
- It costs around R$60, one way with UberX.
- Take the Rodovia Raposo Tavares (SP-270), then take the exit toward Estrada Fernando Nobre around km 28. It will lead you to the temple.
- Private bus:
- The bus leaves punctually at 8h30 AM on Sundays from Rua Dr. Rodrigo Silva, next to the Ikesaki store just outside the Japan-Liberdade metro station, and returns around 4 PM. No reservation is required, and it costs about R$15 for a return ticket.
São Roque, the best São Paulo day trip to sip wine
Perfect for those traveling with friends, partner, or family, the wine route has over 30 wineries, distilleries, restaurants, and hostels spread across a road called Estrada do Vinho (English: Wine Road).
That’s a road where you stop by each one of those establishments, or only at the ones you want, of course, to eat well and enjoy some wine tasting.
Start your self-guided tour at Bella Aurora Winery just before the beginning of the route. There, have a cup of coffee while you take in the fantastic view of São Roque.
Then head to Stoliskoff Distillery to find exclusive local products, such as a white chocolate vodka.
Oh, and they also serve a Sakerita Stoliskoff, which is their own version of the Brazilian cocktail called caipirinha.
This drink is made of lime, sugar, and local rum served on the rocks, but at Sakerita, they serve it with sake instead of rum.
Then continue to Canguera, an intimate store where you can buy some wine, liquor, salami, cheese, and handicrafts.
The next stop is at Góes winery, the largest one in this route and one of the largest in Brazil too.
Here, apart from tasting some wine, you will also find a liquor store and an Italian restaurant, perfect for a well-deserved meal.
I would finish with a stop at Palmeiras Winery, a much smaller place when compared to Góes, but very cozy and intimate.
There are two interesting statues outside of the God and Goddess of Wine. Oh, and be sure to stop at their chocolate shop. It’s to die for.
Embu das Artes, the best day trip from São Paulo for shopping
As the name says, this town has a unique art fair with lots of crafts, arts, handmade bijoux, and rustic furniture.
Embu das Artes is a charming, colorful town filled with small restaurants and friendly craft vendors in the town center.
This fair happens since 1969, and it’s a great place to eat local food and do some shopping, including souvenirs, paintings, folk arts, ceramics, home decorations, wood carvings, religious goods, and more. The selection is outstanding and reasonably priced.
Try to arrive early in the morning at this weekend fair so it’s not crowded and you can enjoy the place better. Or even quickly find a parking spot.
How to get to Embu das Artes
Take the Professor Francisco Morato Ave and exit at the Rodoanel Mario Covas toward BR-116 Regis Bittencourt. Exit at BR-116 and continue on this road until exit right after km 28.1
From there, you’re a couple of minutes from the city. Be sure to use GPS or Google Maps. IT takes about 40 minutes by car.
Alternatively, you can go on an affordable private tour with a local guide and driver. The driver picks you up in São Paulo City and takes you on a half-day trip around the town with the guide. It’s good value for money! Click here to check it on Viator.
An Uber there would cost about R$63 one-way, or you can take a metro + bus.
For that, go to São Paulo-Morumbi metro station (yellow line), and take the bus 033 toward Embu das Artes at the bus terminal. The bus stops next to the city center, but pay attention because there are no signs in English. It takes a little over an hour to arrive there.
Boituva, the perfect day trip for adventure junkies
Let your adventurer-self arise at Boituva.
This town is the skydive capital, as it’s a famous spot for tandem parachute jumps. Lots of my friends skydove in Boituva, and they all loved it.
Good to know: Local summer and fall are the best seasons to jump.
But that’s not all you can find in this town. For the soft-adventure lovers, the hot air balloon ride is a, let’s say, calmer way to enjoy the views.
In addition to air sports, this tourist city also has several natural attractions and historical attractions, including the Drover Museum and an ecological park with lots of wild birds.
How to get to Boituva
Take the Marginal Tietê Ave to SP-21/Rodoanel and continue on the BR-374 Presidente Castello Branco Ave until Boituva. It takes about 1h20 minutes by car.
Guarujá, the best day trip from São Paulo for beach lovers
Pearl of the Atlantic, that’s the nickname of Guarujá, a town with beautiful beaches.
In total, the coastline is around 13.7 mi (22 km) long and boasts 27 beaches.
Some of these beaches are quite urbanized as Enseada and Pitangueiras, while others are wild, only accessible by hiking trails or boat.
Throughout the coastline, you’ll find a few lookout points, including Caixa D’Água Hill and Maluf Hill. Both offer jaw-dropping views of the region.
Apart from the historic sites, such as the fortress of Santo Amaro da Barra Grande, the city has plenty of eating venues, too.
Some of them are basic seafront bars and kiosks, as well as the restaurants on Miguel Stéfano Avenue. (Great seafood.)
How to get to Guarujá
Take the Ricardo Jafet/Rodovia dos Imigrantes (SP-160) and exit toward Cubatão/Guarujá/Bertioga.
Continue onto Rodovia Cônego Domênico Rangoni (BR-101) and straight ahead onto Rodovia Piaçaguera-Guarujá (SP-248) until you read the town.
Alternatively, you can go on group tours that combine a visit to a few beaches and attractions in Santos, São Vicente, and Guarujá. The guide picks you up in your hotel in São Paulo City and shows a few interesting places in the towns I mentioned, and you still have time to enjoy the beach. Click here to see it on Viator.
If you’re traveling on a budget, know that there are buses from the Jabaquara bus terminal (at the blue metro line) leaving go to Guarujá. A one-way trip costs about R$37 and takes around 1h20.
Santos, a cultural day trip to the coast
Near Guarujá, you can also enjoy a day at Santos. The city has the most extensive and busiest harbor in Brazil and is where Pelé and Neymar, Brazilian soccer players, started their careers.
You can visit Santos on a weekend trip from São Paulo, but a day trip will be enjoyable, too.
Go on a schooner tour of Santos Bay or sunbathe on the beach. Gonzaga, Embaré, Aparecida, José Menino, and Boqueirão are the most popular beaches in Santos.
Hop on a 40-minute ride in an old tram through the historic center or go museum hopping, if you prefer.
A must-visit is the Pelé Museum, a four-story modern building that tells the story of the Brazilian soccer legend.
Also, don’t miss the Coffee Museum located at the former coffee exchange building.
This construction dates back to the 1920s, and the predominantly baroque and neoclassic architecture, together with its marble floors, impresses every visitor.
Most panels are both in Portuguese and in English, but the guided tours are only in Portuguese.
Oh, and don’t go home before sipping Brazilian coffee or buying some to take back home. Brazilian coffee is, without doubt, a unique souvenir.
How to get to Santos
Take the Ricardo Jafet/Rodovia dos Imigrantes (SP-160) and exit toward São Vicente (Marechal Cândido Mariano da Silva Ave).
Continue onto Quintino Bocaiuva Ave, Ayrton Senna Ave, and Presidente Wilson Ave.
It will lead you to the coast at Santos Bay.
Alternatively, you can take the group tour I mentioned above. Together with a guide, you’ll visit a few beaches and attractions in Santos, São Vicente, and Guarujá. The guide picks you up in your hotel in São Paulo City and shows a few interesting places in these towns, and you still have time to enjoy the beach. Click here to see it on Viator.
By public transport, take on of the buses leaving from Jabaquara bus terminal (at the blue metro line) to Santos. A one-way trip costs about R$29 and takes around 1h30.
Holambra, the best day trip for couples
After the ww2, many Dutch (and Europeans) immigrated to the American continent.
In Brazil, the Dutch settlement was the city of Holambra, which has this name because it’s the junction of two words. Well, two half-words, actually.
Holanda (English: The Netherlands) and Brazil together are Holambra. Cute.
Anyway, the national capital of the flowers is a romantic day trip from São Paulo because the town has a sweet town center, as well as a few elements that are clearly influenced by the Dutch culture.
For example, there is a windmill open to visitation as well as the Historic Immigration Museum, and flower fields. All of which you can visit on a guided tour through the town.
And the weather is usually pleasant, too. The best of the two countries together in a short ride from São Paulo.
How to get to Holambra
Take the Rodovia dos Bandeirantes, continue onto Rodovia SP-340 toward Mogi Mirim. It’s a 2-hour drive.
Campos do Jordão, the best day trip to enjoy cold days
This town is a Swiss-inspired place, which is a perfect destination for enjoying the mountain climate in the state of São Paulo.
But know that this town is pleasant all year long, no matter the season.
Campos do Jordão has European features, lush nature, and a complete gastronomic circuit to please all tastes, especially those who seek to spend romantic moments.
Some of the highlights of the area are the Mirante Belvedere/Vista Chinesa from where you can look over the mountains in the region (location).
Also, the Xylography Museum (the only one in the country), as well as the open-air Felícia Leirner Museum (bronze, granite, and cement artworks from the Polish artist), are excellent places to visit in the town.
Go for a cup of coffee at the Boa Vista Palace (winter residence of São Paulo’s governor), palace inspired in Polish castles from the 20th-century.
Last but not least, stroll around the town center at Vila Capivari to spot cute European-styled houses, cozy cafes, and plenty of interesting shops.
How to get to Campos do Jordão
Take Marginal Tietê toward Ayrton Senna (SP-070). Continue until you reach Campos de Jordão via Rodovia Floriano Rodrigues Pinheiro (SP-383). It’s a 2h20-hour drive.
Alternatively, go on a guided tour with a local guide who besides picking you up in most hotels in the capital, will also show the town of Campos do Jordão to you, including the places I mentioned above. Click here to see it on Viator.
Itu, one of the best day trips from São Paulo to enjoy the countryside
In Brazil, when something is big, out of the ordinary, we joke that it comes from Itu, the city of exaggeration.
We say that because a comedian from this town joked about the massive size of the “cassavas” from Itu. His sexual humor went viral, and people started calling it the city where everything is big.
Fun fact: farmers send abnormally big vegetables to the city so it can be broadcasted on tv.
More than being the town of exaggeration, Itu is also a town full of historical sites, beautiful architecture, and cultural heritage buildings.
All of which are memories of a wealthy past, as Itu was once considered one of the most prosperous towns in the state.
Matriz and Exageros Squares have some big statues that make reference to the city’s nickname.
At Matriz Square, you’ll find the 18th-century Matriz Church, which has a statue donated by the Portuguese Royal Family.
Stop by the Republican Museum to see a few objects, paintings, and photos of the first stages of the republican regime in Brazil.
Then go to Espaço Fábrica São Luis, a former steam fabric turned into a cultural space with excellent photo ops as the building is old.
Before leaving town, go for a light hike at the Varvito Geological Park, one of the largest in South America.
How to get to Itu
Take the Rodovia Presidente Castello Branco (BR-374). Then take the Rodovia Dep. Archimedes Lammoglia (BR-075), and exit at Itu-Carvalho. It’s a 1h30 drive.
Petar, the best day trip for hike lovers
Petar stands for Alto da Ribeira Turistic State Park, which one of the best places to go in Brazil.
The park has plenty of caves, waterfalls, hiking trails, traditional and quilombola communities, as well as archaeological and paleontological sites.
In other words, Petar is a real paradise hidden between valleys and mountains.
Because it has unique features, visitors come here looking for adventures, such as cascading, climbing, and exploring caves.
Also, the park has the most significant portion of preserved Atlantic Forest, meaning you’ll find lots of wildlife here.
Some activities include environmental education, photography, and wildlife watching.
For adventure and nature lovers, a visit to this state park is a must.
How to get to Petar
Take the Rodovia Presidente Castello Branco (BR-374), the Rodoanel Mario Covas (SP-021). Exit to R. Bittencourt (BR-116), and take exit 475 toward Jacupiranga/Eldorado/Apiaí.
There, cross the little village to continue on Adhemar de Barros Ave (SP-193). In Eldorado, take the Rodovia Benedito Pascoal de França (SP-165), and it will lead you to Petar. It’s a 5-hour drive.
Read next: 10 Reasons to travel to Brazil
Brotas, the best day trip from São Paulo for adventure lovers
Part of Chapada do Guarani, Brotas is a famous ecotourism and adventure destination in São Paulo.
The town is filled with natural sceneries and spots to engage in some adrenaline-pumping activities.
Pay Saltos Park a visit and enjoy the small waterfalls along the park. Or better yet, spend a few hours at Cassorova Ecopark.
This green park is packed with waterfalls of all heights as well as spots to go rafting, kayaking, trekking, tree climbing, zip-lining, and even canyoning.
Fun fact: Cassorova Falls was chosen four times as the prettiest falls in Brazil.
But that’s not all. Couples can also enjoy a romantic trip to one of the cozy chalets or hostels in town.
A journey to Brotas is one of the most active São Paulo day trips, but also one of the most memorable ones.
How to get to Brotas
Take the Rodovia dos Bandeirantes, and keep right at the fork to continue on Rod. Adalberto Panzan. Use the right lane to take the ramp to Rio Claro/São Carlos – Rodovia Washington Luiz (SP-310).
Continue onto SP-364 and take exit 206B toward Itirapina/Brotas/Jaú. It’s a 3-hour drive.
Kinkaku-ji Buddhist Temple, the best day trip to wander outdoors
Kinkaku-ji, which is also a cinerarium, is a replica of the 14th-century temple in Kyoto with the same name, which is covered in gold leaf.
Fun fact: Kinkaku-ji means Golden Pavilion.
While the temple is not a place for tourist purposes, but rather a religious site for ceremonies, you can always go inside to burn incense and sit in silence.
Stroll around the garden and lake, and enjoy a beautiful day outdoors. It’s a nice change from the chaotic city center.
Tip from a local: The cherry blossoms are blooming around Jul-Aug.
How to get to Kinkaku-ji
Take the Professor Francisco Morato Ave and exit at the Rodoanel Mario Covas toward BR-116 Regis Bittencourt. Exit at BR-116 and continue on this road until exit 288 Itapecerica da Serra.
From there, you’ll drive for about 15 minutes to the temple. It’s a 1-hour drive.
Louveira and Vinhedo, the best day trip from São Paulo to enjoy a day in the countryside with lots of local foods
Louveira and Vinhedo are part of the Circuit of the Fruits together with other eight towns.
This region has this name because each of these cities is famous for producing different seasonal fruits.
In a collective effort, residents, municipalities, and producers celebrate the abundance of their lands every year. And the highlight of these celebrations couldn’t be anything else than fruits.
You’ll be delighted with the quantity and variety of cakes, jams, puddings, wines, cachaça, juices, and many other delicacies.
These celebrations also have concerts, folkloric parties, beauty and photography contests, and many other attractions in a friendly atmosphere.
Naturally, a stroll around these town centers, regardless of the festival, is always pleasant.
Party’s calendar in each city of the Circuit of the Fruits
- Jundiaí – Grape party and Wine Expo
- Valinhos – Fig party and Guava Expo
- Vinhedo – Grape and wine party
- Itatiba – Persimmon party
- Indaiatuba – Fruits and vegetable party
- Louveira – Grape party and Persimmon Expo
- Atibaia – Strawberry party
- Jarinu – Strawberry party
- Atibaia – Flowers and strawberries party
- Jarinu – Peach party
- Itupeva – Grape Expo
How to get to Louveira
From São Paulo, take the Rodovia dos Bandeirantes, and then take exit 71 toward Louveira. It’s a 1-hour drive, while Vinhedo is a 15-minute drive from Louveira.
Day trip from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Yes, Rio de Janeiro.
If you were wondering if a day trip from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro is possible, know that it’s only possible if you’re willing to fly there. (It’s a 1-hour flight.)
As said, it’s possible, but it will be exhausting.
So if you really want to see Rio, which I highly recommend, start taking some vitamins before your vacation to ensure you’re fit and full of energy.
Also, stay tuned for my one-day guide to Rio de Janeiro and enjoy one of the prettiest cities in Brazil—we don’t call it the Wonderful City for nothing.
While looking for São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro flights, choose Congonhas (CGH) in SP, and Santos Dumont (SDU) in RJ. These airports are the closest to the main attractions in both cities.
São Paulo travel resources
I want your trip to and around São Paulo to be unique. That’s why, besides this guide on the best day trips from São Paulo, I also wrote a few other guides that will be useful to you, such an article on the best guided tours and this taxi guide in SP.
If this will be your first time in Brazil, check out my Brazil Trip Planning guide as well as my guide to avoiding taxi scams in the country.
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Bruna is founder and writer of I Heart Brazil. She was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, and traveled extensively throughout the country. She studied Economy in college and Brazilian Culture at home. Bruna is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, co-founder, and writer at other three websites.