"Not Just a Big City" Estado de São Paulo by glabah
Estado de São Paulo Travel Guide: 1,304 reviews and 3,131 photos
Naturally, São Paulo is famous for being a big city, but there is the city, and there is also the state of São Paulo, which contains that city.
The city sits on a high plateau, approximately 3,000 feet / 900 meters above sea level, though it is still very close to the ocean. If you travel south of the city towards the ocean, you will come to a spectacular plunge downward into the coastal communities. Places closer to the city of São Paulo, such as Guaruja and Praia Grande tend to be very full on warm summer weekends, but are in reality small coastal communities and you will find that they are far less crowded, though somewhat chilly, in the depths of winter.
Santos is near these towns, but is a major port city and mostly industrial.
The little community of Bertioga, on the road from Santos going north to Rio de Janeiro, is a coastal community that is the home of one of the oldest surviving fortresses in Brasil, and from here they launched exploration and colonization teams to many different areas of the country.
Further inland, there is also a major highway between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. It runs along a valley that skirts the mountain range to the north of it, and into the mountain range you will find a few resort communities that give a respite from the hot summer weather. Such places as Campos de Jordão are set high in the mountains and have reasonably comfortable weather in summer.
Campinas is a significant suburb of São Paulo, though it is farily distant (about 1 1/2 hours by express bus on the major highway). There is a fairly large university campus there, plus a small but very active tourist railway.
Many other small towns dot the countryside, and while Brazilians may not consider any of them to be of any significance they are all a little interesting when it comes to being a different culture than the one a visitor to Brazil has experienced. You will find the smaller cities tend to be far more pleasant to visit in terms of the hospitality of the people, as opposed to what you find in the city of São Paulo itself.
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