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Sao Paulo tours and excursions

Sao Paulo tours

Helicopter tours

As the largest city in the southern hemisphere, São Paulo can be difficult to navigate alone. High Class Helicopter Tours offers 30-minute panoramic tours of the city. It's a little pricey, but there's no better way to see the city in its entirety.

Tel: +55 11 3863 2061
Website: http://www.passeiosdehelicoptero.com.br/pgs/pacotesaereos.html

Discover São Paulo on a free walking tour

The clue is in the name, but the São Paulo Free Walking Tour gives visitors two chances to see different parts of this overwhelming metropolis. If you're interested in history, the tour visits the Old Downtown area on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, taking in sights such as the Monastery of São Bento and Sé Cathedral. For modern aficionados, itching to see Trianon Park and the TV Gazeta Building, head to Paulista Avenue on Sundays and Thursdays. There's no need to book; just show up at the meeting point and tours last four and three hours respectively. All tours are in English and guides only ask for tips, so pay what you think they are worth.

Website: http://www.saopaulofreewalkingtour.com

Sao Paulo excursions

Campos do Jordão

While the locals aren't exactly wandering around in lederhosen, Campos do Jordão's slightly kitsch slice of Swiss-style timbered houses and Germanic bakeries offer a slightly different experience in Brazil. The Mantiquera Mountains provide a cooler upland climate for local activities including horse riding and a scenic train ride to Santo Antônio do Pinhal. It becomes very busy during the annual Campos do Jordão International Winter Festival each July. Regular buses depart Tietê bus station in São Paulo for the 184km (114 miles) excursion.

Tel: +55 12 3663 7483
Website: http://www.camposdojordao.com.br

Santos and other beaches

Those seeking some sunshine can get their beach fix at Santos just 72km (45 miles) from São Paulo. Santos city, which developed at the turn of the 20th century as a port dealing in coffee exports, has traces of Rio's influence. Glorious white sand beaches - the best of which include José Menino and Gonzaga – are backed by the world's longest beachfront garden. The historic centre can be seen by streetcar while the city hosts Santos football club made famous by Pelé. Santos is an easy bus journey around one-hour from Jabaquara Station via frequent services.

Other beautiful beaches within easy reach of the city include Ilhabela island, São Sebastiã, Ubatuba, Bertioga and Guaruja.

Website: http://www.santos.sp.gov.br

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Featured Hotels

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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.

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.

Emiliano

Film stars and glitterati frequent this exclusive São Paulo hotel. This small hotel is only 38 rooms and infused with a cool minimalism. Hidden behind its mirror glass façade are huge rooms, just three per floor, with soothing cream décor. The deluxe spa includes a complimentary spa-massage for guests and superb views over the neighbourhood. A champagne and caviar bar sits alongside a fine contemporary Italian restaurant on the ground floor. There is a helipad on the rooftop with an airport shuttle service available.