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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Brazil > Sao Paulo

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29°C

Local time Sao Paulo

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Things to do in Sao Paulo

Hike through the city's rainforest

Wild toucans and howler monkeys within metropolitan São Paulo may sound like a fantasy, but just 10km (6 miles) north is one of world's largest urban rainforests: Serra Cantareira State Park. These 7,916 hectares (19,560 acres) of tropical reserve have well-marked hiking trails plus stunning views back toward São Paulo's concrete jungle.

Put some wind in your sails

Put some wind in your sails at the refreshingly pure Guarapiranga Reservoir - it's easy to see why this is a popular weekend destination for Paulistanos. Watersport schools, such as Pera Náutica (+55 11 5524 3553; www.peranautica.com.br), rent equipment and run classes in sailing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.

Put your foot down at Autódromo José Carlos Pace

Satisfy a craving for speed and follow in the hallowed tyre treads of Brazilian legend Ayrton Senna. Autodromo Jose Carols Pace (+55 11 5666 8822; www.autodromointerlagos.com), almost commonly referred to as Interlagos, is one of the world's most famous motor sport circuit tracks. 1 circuit At a cost, lessons and drives with professional tuition can be arranged in sports cars, power bikes, and karts at the refurbished track.

Saddle up and see São Paulo

If cycling in São Paulo sounds like an accident waiting to happen, never fear. The city is making positive strides to open cycle routes. Two-wheel adventurers should get onboard with Sampa Bikers cycling association (+55 11 5517 7733; www.sampabikers.com.br). Besides renting bicycles, it also organises city and park tour rides plus excursions outside São Paulo.

Test your swing on São Paulo's fairways

São Paulo has several top-draw golf courses just a little ways outside the city. Golfers don't have to travel too far to find well-manicured greens and fairways; tee off at at São Paulo Golf Club (+55 11 5525 9255; www.spgc.com.br) just south of the city centre.

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L'Hotel Porto Bay São Paulo

Popular with business clientele yet conveniently enough located off Avenida Paulista to crack the leisure market. The 76 rooms of this Portuguese chain offer ample comfort for those on the move with iPod docking stations and Wi-Fi. With a beautiful falling staircase and striking artworks on the wall, this hotel oozes grandeur, yet comes at a reasonable price.

Grand Hyatt

Only in the moderately priced bracket if booked in advance because this is a luxurious residence bearing the hallmarks of quality expected from a Grand Hyatt. Located in the Pinheiros financial district it has all the amenities you could wish for including high speed internet a choice of bars and restaurants 466 rooms and suites and an exemplary spa. The Wine Library bar offers guests a giddying choice of 2 500 bottles. Breakfast included.

Hotel Excelsior

This 198-room hotel in São Paulo with its mammoth convention centre flatters beyond its 4-star billing. The rooms behind Excelsior's art-deco frontage are plain and businesslike yet excellent value. Wi-Fi is free rooms come with LCD TVs and there is a bar and fitness centre onsite. The location is also close by downtown Praça da República with nearby cultural icons such as Teatro Municipal and Edificio Copan. Staff speak English and can help book tickets and tours. Breakfast included.

Hotel Unique

Like a stranded copper-green Noah's ark, renowned architect Ruy Ohtake's fantasy creation is the pinnacle of imaginative design. Every inch of this boutique São Paulo hotel near Ibarepuera Park is surreal. Rooms with arched wooden floors reflect the hotel's curvature, and furnishings are sci-fi chic. A blood-red swimming pool on the rooftop tops off this extraordinary architectural adventure.

Fasano

This hotel's ethos is opulent familiarity, hence why new arrivals are greeted by an inviting sunken lounge bar of plump leather sofas, with reception concealed within a Babylonian brickwork interior. The theme of easy decadence flows into the rooms with lots of wood and timeless leather furnishing. The Italian cuisine within the sparklingly lit Fasano Restaurant, under chef Salvatore Loi's direction, is one of São Paulo's finest. Naomi Campbell and Yoko Ono are among illustrious past clients.

Staybridge Suites

This modern skyscraper offers good rates for travellers in the thriving commercial district of Itaim Bibi with fabulous vistas towards Moema district from the corporate top floor rooms. The Staybridge is also conveniently incorporated into an open mall with a cinema gym and restaurants so there's no need to risk life and limb crossing busy surrounding roads to go out.