On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in São Vicente.
As a Brazilian living in the UK for more than 30 years, we usually go to Brazil almost every year to visit relatives and friends, but regrettably because of the pandemic, we hadn’t been there for three years. So, at the end of 2022 we booked a family holiday, and I took six weeks off to spend there.
We are based in São Vicente, a town in São Paulo state about 1 hour from São Paulo, the capital.
We have our own flat that we also rent out for holidays when we are not using it. It is a fabulous flat in a building in front of Gonzaguinha Beach with wonderful views of the beach.
You can check the flat out (Apartamento Seaviews) at this LINK if you want to rent a flat for your visit to São Vicente.
I arrived there at the end of November with my Mum, and my husband and daughter joined us in the middle of December, so that we could all spend Christmas together with relatives in Brazil.
After Christmas we travelled to another state called Paraná to visit my brother and spent a few days there before returning to São Vicente and to the UK at the beginning of January.
It was really nice to see everybody, and we had a lovely time there even though, at that time of the year, it is the rain season in the area. We’ve got a lot of rain!
I will start this post by telling you about São Vicente and then I will write about Santos and Praia Grande in other posts. These are the main towns that form “The Baixada Santista”.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SÃO VICENTE
São Vicente was the first town founded in Brazil by the Portuguese.
It was founded on the 22 of January 1532 by Martim Afonso de Souza by orders of the King of Portugal, Dom João III. However, São Vicente appears on maps from Brazil since 1502, two years after the discovery of Brazil.
It is a very important town due to the history connected to the place. The town of São Vicente is in the Island of São Vicente and shares its territory with Santos, another important town in Brazil. It is the most densely populated island in Brazil.
Nowadays, São Vicente is a busy seaside resort welcoming visitors from all over Brazil and the world, but mainly from São Paulo capital due to the close distance.
VISITING SÃO VICENTE
Besides the beaches, Gonzaguinha and Itararé, there are a few monuments and attractions worth visiting when in São Vicente. Attractions such as: “Biquinha”, “Marco Padrão”, “Casa do Barão”, “Ilha Porchat and the “Monument of 500 years of Brazil”, “Ponte Pênsil” and the “Teleférico” (Cable car).
“Biquinha” is a historical spring water fountain. It received this name because the Priest “Anchieta” used to catechise the natives (called Indians in Portuguese) next to this fountain.
Near the fountain you will find many stalls selling delicious cakes as well as stalls selling drinks and food.
This is located next to Praça 22 de Janeiro at the start of Gonzaguinha beach and where you can also see the Marco Padrão of São Vicente.
“Marco Padrão” is a monument that honours 100 years of the towns foundation and was constructed on top of a small island made of rocks in front of the square where Biquinha is.
The “Casa do Barão” (Baron’s House) is a listed building that was built in 1925 and was the residence of Barão Kurt Von Pritzelwitz.
Since 1946 it houses the São Vicente Institute, today named Historic and Geografic Institute of São Vicente.
This is a museum open to the public for visitation for a small fee. It is a beautiful house with an ecological reserve of 6500 square metres as its garden.
Ilha Porchat is an island between Milionários Beach and Itararé Beach.
The island houses block of flats, big houses, restaurants, and night clubs. This is also where the “Monument of 500 years” is located.
There are beautiful views of the whole area from the top and particularly from a restaurant called “Terraço”.
The “Monument of 500 years of Brazil” was designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1960 and faces north in an imaginary line to the National Congress in Brasilia. The monument is next to the “Terraço” restaurant.
“Ponte Pênsil” is a suspension bridge that links São Vicente to Praia Grande, a town located in the mainland.
It was first proposed to support the sewage pipes from Santos and São Vicente going to the Atlantic Ocean in Praia Grande, but later was the main link between the two towns.
Materials were imported from Germany and the bridge was inaugurated in 1914. It is 6.4 metres wide and 180 metres long. It was the first suspension bridge in Brazil.
It is a beautiful bridge, and the construction can be admired from both sides, in São Vicente and Praia Grande.
The ”Teleférico” (Cable car) is a more modern addition to the attractions in São Vicente, being inaugurated in 2002.
The cable car takes tourists from Itararé Beach to the Votoruá Montain where you can have outstanding views of São Vicente, Santos and all the beach fronts.
You can watch a video at The Travelling Surveyor Instagram taken from the cable car while going up the mountain below to see how nice the views are.
The Beach of Gonzaguinha is a small beach forming the São Vicente Bay. It can get very busy at the high season, however, is a very nice beach with calm waters, ideal for families with small children.
São Vicente is one of the most accessible beach resorts, as well as Santos, if you are based in São Paulo and wants to spend a few days at the beach.
We rented a car when we arrived in Brazil at the airport and before booking we used Rentalcars.com to research the best deals.
We also used Airalo as soon as we arrived to avoid excessive roaming charges while in Brazil. Check it out at the link above.
HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in São Vicente. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO SEE IN SÃO VICENTE
1 – Gonzaguinha Beach – ***
2 – Itararé Beach – ***
3 – Biquinha – ***
4 – Marco Padrão – ***
5 – Ilha Porchat – ***
6 – Monument of 500 Years of Brazil – ***
7 – Ponte Pênsil – ***
8 – Teleférico – ***
9 – Casa do Barão – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN SÃO VICENTE
1 – Apartamento Seaviews – 4* – *** – ££
2 – Flat Palladium – 3* – ££
3 – Hotel Monte Rey – ££
WHERE TO EAT IN SÃO VICENTE
1 – Restaurant Gaudio – *** – ££
2 – Any restaurants in the Shopping Centre Brisamar – *** – £
3 – Restaurant “O Chuletão” – ££
If you tried any of my recommendations above, please send me a message and tell me about your experience good or bad, so I can update the list accordingly. Thanks!
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