mbg Beauty Director
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she’s held beauty roles at Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com.
Image by JohnnyGreig / iStock
October 18, 2022
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Brazil inspires visions of lively beaches to bathe on; dense, natural landscapes to explore; and a colorful nightlife to enjoy. And with all that action, certainly you’ll need some rest right alongside it. So when you’re visiting Brazil, it’s all about finding your balance of adventure and rejuvenation.
And the bustling metropolis of São Paulo will offer ample opportunities to do both. It’s the most populous city in the country and serves as its financial center. It’s a hot spot thanks to the young, diverse communities that call the city home: The art, entertainment, and wellness scenes are all thriving there.
And after getting your fill in the vibrant urban setting, be sure to sneak away to the breathtaking surroundings—whether that’s to retreat to a wellness spa and hotel on the city’s outskirts, hiking through the Atlantic coast rain forest, lounging at a nearby beach town, or making your way to an archipelago island.
São Paulo has plenty of opulent options to pick from. We also included a wellness oasis and coastal getaway that are both a short drive away. And for good measure, we added Rio’s most breathtaking hot spots.
The hotel describes itself as an “urban oasis in the heart of São Paulo,” which is really the only way to describe this palatial estate located in the middle of Parque Burle Marx. The must-do during your stay is to book a table at the restaurant, helmed by multi-Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It’s his first restaurant in South America and infuses his signature style with Brazilian ingredients.
Sofitel Guarujá Jequitimar
If you head one to two hours east, you’ll find yourself at Guarujá, a beach town outside of São Paulo (right alongside the other seaside escapes of Santos and Praia Grande). Here, you’ll get to experience the white sandy beaches that make the Brazilian coastline famous. And the top hotel to stay in the area is this 5-star seafront hideaway by Sofitel. While in the area, be sure to check out the many beaches—including the local favorite, Eden’s Beach.
Fasano Boa Vista
For some serious R&R, this is the trendiest wellness spa outside São Paulo at the moment. Located in the countryside just west of the city, this escape provides all the relaxing amenities (and views) you might need after your stay in the city. It’s particularly fitting for any equestrian lover: It has a horse stable and small working ranch on the estate that guests have access to. “Fasano Boa Vista was designed by Isay Weinfeld in the best “Fasano” fashion: stunning architecture that is seamlessly integrated with its natural environment, with distinctive, subdued elegance, and very welcoming at the same time,” notes Jessica Esteves, Fasano Marketing Director.
- Price point: $$$
- Area: Outside of São Paulo
- Amenities: Pool, cafe, fitness center, deluxe spa, fireplace, gardens on the estate, farm-to-table foods, hiking trails, golf, equestrian center, access to a small working ranch
- Book now: https://www.fasano.com.br/hoteis/fasano-boa-vista
Rio de Janeiro is a plane ride away, but certainly worth making during your trip to Brazil if you can: The ritzy coast-side city is arguably the country’s most famous. For the best places to stay while there, check out another Fasano hotel: Fasano Rio de Janeiro combines the city’s old-school glamour with modern touches—oh, and some pretty spectacular views. But for a true classic, look no further than the Belmond Copacabana Palace.
São Paulo is a bustling cosmopolitan city, full of life and culture. But while there, be sure to venture out to the surrounding natural wonders:
Stroll through Ibirapuera Park.
A sprawling urban park, Ibirapuera is a must-visit while in the city—especially if you’re craving some greenery amid the skyscrapers. It’s home to sculptures, museums, fountains, trails, and more. A few of our favorite highlights: The Ibirapuera Auditorium (designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer), the Oca do Ibirapuera (an art museum also designed by Niemeyer), and the Afro-Brazil Museum.
“São Paulo has a thriving artistic and cultural scene that is not to be missed. A visit to the elegant galleries in Jardins or the Niemeyer museums in Ibirapuera Park, a stunning natural destination in itself, is a must,” says Esteves. “Music lovers should be sure to catch a performance by the OSESP (Symphonic Orchestra of Sao Paulo) at Sala São Paulo, which is set inside Estação Julio Prestes, a historic 1920s building that used to be the city’s main railway station.”
Visit Serra do Mar State Park.
For ecotourists, it’d be a shame to visit Brazil without getting a sense of the country’s biodiversity. To experience the lush, expansive nature of Brazil, this state park will make for an awe-inspiring day trip out of the city. It is home to the Serra do Mar mountain range, stretches of beaches, and the Atlantic Forest (in fact, it counts itself as the largest remaining continuous region of the rain forest). It’s a very large state park, so for those coming in from the city, there are several visitor centers to start your adventure. We recommend finding guided tours and hiking groups.
You simply cannot visit Brazil without experiencing beach life through the eyes of the locals. When in São Paulo, that means making your way to Guarujá, Santos, and Praia Grande. These coastal cities are all right next to one another, and all offer golden beaches to spend your days in the sun. For a real getaway, head to the archipelago island of Ilha de São Sebastião. It’s between the São Paulo and Rio but literally known as “the beautiful island,” so you can imagine why people are tempted to make the pilgrimage.
Experience the beauty in Brazil.
Beauty culture is thriving in Brazil. For many Brazilians, regular salon and spa appointments aren’t thought of as a nicety but a necessity. “Brazilians treat lymphatic drainage massage appointments like Americans treat their nails; you get one every week—sometimes twice a week,” says Josie Rushing, founder of Brazilicious Beauty Spa, noting that she got her first massage at the age of 12 while joining her mother’s appointment. Beauty appointments are seen as a form of important self-care. People also create strong bonds with the pros they see and build community around their beautifying rituals.
Brazilian cuisine is mouthwatering—and these São Paulo standouts add a fresh new flair.
Serving a variety of local favorites in a modern, airy setting, this is a sure bet for a good time. It’s run by a husband and wife duo—the wife runs the kitchen, and the husband serves the front of the house—and they certainly make it feel like home. Don’t miss out on one of their special Caipirinhas (Brazil’s national cocktail that contains the liquor cachaça, along with sugar and lime), which add unique touches to the classic cocktail.
Dimly lit, sprinkled with string lights, adorned with greenery, and oh-so intimate, Chou is worthy of one of your São Paulo evenings. The menu includes several shared plates for a happy group feeling peckish, options cooked on their charcoal firewood grill for those wanting to sample the famous Brazilian steaks (they also have veggies on the grill), hearty dishes from the kitchen, and several mouthwatering desserts.
- Price point: $$
- Dietary consideration options: vegetarian options, dishes can be made vegan by request, lactose-free options, gluten-free options, fortified wines, organic and locally sourced ingredients when available
- Setting: Trendy
- Menu & info: http://chou.com.br/
Largely considered one of the best restaurants in the world, this is a must-do for any foodies visiting the city. The dream of chef Alex Atala, this restaurant uses authentic Brazilian ingredients as the centerpiece of every dish created. The tasting menu is experimental but always serves D.O.M.’s higher purpose of showcasing the rich and bold flavors of the country. The feast is a feat. A word of warning: It takes months to get a table–plan early.
Sample the best chocolate the Brazilian rain forests have to offer. Amma Chocolate is a São Paulo chocolate cafe and store that sells a wide variety of delicacies made from a cocoa harvested in Brazil called theobroma cacao, which means “food of the gods.” (It’s particularly nutrient-dense, with loads of antioxidants and minerals.) The certified organic sweets are velvety and smooth—and some are infused with additional biodynamic and local botanicals, like açai. And once you’re done with your bars, put the wrappers in a compost bin: The material is entirely compostable in 180 days.
Have fun with your attire in Brazil.
- Uses USDA organic ingredients & Ecocert/Cosmo-certified ingredients
- The ingredients are full of antioxidants, which can help provide skin-enhancing benefits
Founded by Francisco Costa as a tribute to his homeland, Costa Brazil is a stunning collection of personal care products worthy of the country’s name. It uses nutrient-dense botanicals from the Amazon (sustainably harvested and packaged, of course) and taps into the signature Brazilian love of glowing skin. This body oil mimics the look of a luminous complexion during magic hour with just a hint of gold shimmer.
- The brand has a wide range of mix-and-match options for versatility
Do not go to Brazil without packing stylish swimwear. This brand is the vision of Marcella Franklin, who is based in Rio and creates comfortable, sustainably minded, and oh-so-chic suits. The brand notes that they adhere to fair-trade practices throughout the supply chain process; the suits themselves are made locally and done so in a way that optimizes the use of fabrics, which reduces textile waste.
- Carefully made with handcrafted & high-tech craftsmanship
- Also makes glasses, in case you find a pair you adore
Get ready to enjoy the sunshine! Bring along your favorite pair of sunglasses, or find a new pair from a Brazilian brand. Lapima was founded in Campinas, in the countryside of São Paulo. The very fabulous sunnie brand has a flare for the dramatic—while still being appropriate for day-to-day wear. We love this gender-neutral option made with a tortoiseshell print that offers 100% UV protection.
- Thanks to the innovative fabric, 57K tons of CO2-equivalent emissions are avoided
- 3 colorways
We assume you’ll be keeping yourself very active while in Brazil (there is much to experience, after all). This incredibly sleek athleisure brand is eco-friendly to its core—it also helps that the styles are equal parts polished and bold. One of the most interesting things to note is that these are made with a fabric called Carvico, which is entirely produced with recycled material from pre- and post-industrial waste (things like fishing nets and other ocean plastic).
There’s much to explore in São Paulo and its surrounding areas. The city itself is bustling with life, but if you venture out to nearby beach towns and the countryside, you’ll be met with tranquility and ease.