With its massive buildings, sprawling urban landscape and a population always on the run, São Paulo can sometimes feel overwhelming. Luckily, not far from the hustle and bustle, just north of the Tietê river lies a pleasant reprieve full of hike and bike-worthy activities for even the most stressed of city dwellers.
Declared the world’s largest virgin urban forest by paulistano authorities, the Parque Estadual da Cantareira is a huge four-part complex that is home to several parks and almost 8,000 hectares of land. Once a main stop for tropeiros (travelling salesmen in the 16th and 17th centuries), the park now offers a green retreat from an intense urban experience.
Águas Claras park has easy trails through the forest, and a lake full of carp; the trails connect it to another park, Pedra Branca. There are three main trails there, and a half-hour walk takes you to a viewing point, where on a cloudless day you can even see as far as the serra do mar mountains on the edge of the plateau before it drops down to the coast.
The most popular park, the Horto Florestal, is smaller than Parque do Ibirapuera, but just as beautiful, housing an innumerable amount of tree species as well as a museum with an impressive collection of woodcrafts.
Parque Estadual da Cantareira is at Rua do Horto 1799 (2203 0115). Read more on Parque Estadual da Cantareira