Although Brazil's biggest city is not known as an adventure destination due to its presence in the shadow of the country's many attractive coastal locales, you'd be mistaken to dismiss it as just an international landing area or business trip purgatory. About 75 km from the much lauded coast, with enough urban greenery to stretch your legs and a handful of national and state parks just a day trip away, Sao Paulo could be that chance you take that rewards you in spades.
If you're worried about heading too far from the metropolitan area, then not to worry. The Serra da Cantareira is one of the largest urban forests on Earth, which is like a sizeable national park in Sao Paulo's back yard, while the Parque do Ibirapuera is a more central bit of greenery tied in with a lot of the city's cultural landmarks.
On the way from Sao Paulo to the sea you'll cross the Serra do Mar, a low-lying mountain range that includes a number of natural attractions (try Paranapiacaba as a jumping off point for this area; not literally of course, unless you have the proper equipment). Being Brazil, once you get to the Paulista Coast, there is no shortage of sand or water-based activities to escape from the hustle and throw your chi into (im)balance. For example, Ilhabelha is a great chance at rainforest hikes that overlook the ocean, while Ubatuba has more beaches than fast food joints- a rare and gratifying piece of trivia if only we could prove its validity.
For the hikers and woodsfolk amongst us, you have to travel a little further south to participate in the many joys of Alta Ribeira, which is a large tract of rainforest known for its immense number of caves. North of Sao Paulo is Serra da Bocaina, another huge area of Atlantic rainforest, proving that in any direction you go there will be an adventure waiting. For more information on what to expect around Sao Paulo, check out our individual adventure listings and our provided adventure tour operators.