Cruise and Beach Destinations
in the Caribbean, Mexico & Beyond
South America

Santos Brazil Tourist Attractions

Monte Serrat tram
Monte Serrat tram. Credit: Paulocarmona, Wikimedia

Founded in 1535, Santos is today a bustling cruise and tourism destination with multiple beaches along its coast. Still, beautiful beaches aren’t the end of the story in Santos. Not only is Santos the gateway to Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city—and the seventh largest metropolitan zone on Earth—but it possesses its own unique attractive spots as well.

Hiking on Monte Serrat

For the more adventurous, you will find the 515 foot Monte Serrat smack in the middle of the town. Hiking is a popular activity here, essentially for the wonderful views of the city as well as the far reaches beyond Santos.

The quickest and easiest ascent is via the funicular, which lumbers up through trees to an old casino converted into a lookout point. The more ambitious can choose to climb the four hundred and fifteen steps going up the slopes.

Along the way, visitors will come across Nossa Senhora do Monte Serrat, a quiet sanctuary named after a patron who sheltered residents from Dutch pirates in 1614.

Beautiful Cathedrals

Dating all the way back to the 16th century, Carmelite Convent Church is the city’s oldest house of worship. Visitors will find gilded wood altars, rococo altars and jacaranda wood pews as early examples of Brazilian baroque. Along with Baroque, they will find some semblance of Gregorian architecture as well.

In the city’s historic center is the Saint Anthony of Volongo Sanctuary. The location is significant due to the fact that slaves condemned to death used to pray before the “Patron Saint of the Hanged” in the courtyard. Inside the Sacristy is the Hanging Bell, a monument that was moved there to commemorate the abolishment of slavery.

For a more historic pilgrimage, see the Saint Anthony Basilica huddled by a few small condos and facing the beach. The basilica is of the neo-gothic style and features intricately carved wood altars and sculptures of angels in illuminated wall panels.

Good Food

Excellent food and drink is a big part of life in Brazil. Brazilians pride themselves in whipping up gourmet dishes and it’s no different on Santos.

Most restaurants in Santos specialize in fresh seafood. As an example, operating for more than 90 years, the popular Café Paulista differentiates itself with its old world atmosphere complete with scenes of animals and coffee farmers, creating a sense of serenity and romance.

Café Paulista’s famous specialty is grilled grouper on a stick (known as Garoupa a Guanabara) accompanied by tomato and palm risotto. It will be of benefit to keep in mind that the idea of a one person dish is Brazil could serve about three people in, say, America. Consider this when ordering food there.

Wander the Local Gardens

Unlike the typical town, Santos features impressive expanses of strikingly beautiful green space. From small botanical gardens to massive coastal parks, Santos is a natural wonder.

As an example, the Chico Mendes Botanical Gardens is a free, natural garden spanning over 22 acres and contains more than 300 species, including several endangered variants. The gardens also feature picnic tables, a playground, sports facilities, and so on.

Attractions for Coffee Lovers

Great South American coffee is synonymous with Santos. For coffee lovers, this is the best coffee that can be had in all of Brazil.

The opulent Coffee Exchange Building houses the Museu do Café or Coffee Museum. Even the building itself is of significance with its marble pillars, patterned marble floors, stained glass doors, windows and ceiling. Old cultivating tools and photos of laborers carting heavy sacks of coffee are also on display.

Still, the café is the main attraction for most people. Visitors can have the normal stuff, including coffee toffee, snacks and hot and cold coffee drinks.

Although widely known for its beaches, the town of Santos prides itself in a variety of attractions that pull in people from all over the world every year.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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