Port of Santos (Sao Paulo)
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In the mid- 19th century, coffee production exploded in the countryside around Santos and Sao Paolo, buoyed at first by millions of slaves and then by the end of the century by European immigrant workers. For 150 years, Brazil has been the world's largest coffee producer (arabica and robusta are the dominant varieties) growing about a third of the world's crop.
Santos is the busiest port in Latin America, shipping 25 percent of the country's exports. Home to 400,000 residents, Santos welcomes more than four million visitors per year, with 1.3 million of those arriving by cruise ship.
Visitors find wide, tree-lined boulevards and the longest beach garden in the world. Santos is also synonymous with soccer great Pele, and the stadium where he played is one of the city's noteworthy attractions. Santos also holds a world record for the tallest cemetery.
The city enjoys a tropical rain forest climate with warm temperatures throughout the year, though the summer months (December to March) draw the most visitors.
Top Santos (Sao Paulo) Itineraries
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Where You're Docked
The port of Santos covers 8.7 miles, though the cruise operations are concentrated in the Concais Terminal. In the high season, there can be a half-dozen or more ships in port, and generally it is necessary to take a shuttle bus from shipside to the cruise terminal.
The full-service terminal offers several cafes and snack bars, stores, tour desks, currency exchange, Internet access and ATM's.A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, elected by the harbor workers as their patron saint, sits at the entrance to the port. While the "Old Town" of Santos is within walking distance of the port and has been "revitalized," visitors should still exercise caution.
Good to Know
Don't wear flashy jewelry. Pickpockets in the area have been known to rip necklaces, bracelets and rings off tourists.
By Shuttle: Many of the cruise lines offer shuttle buses into town, stopping at a central location like the Praiamar Shopping Center.
By Taxi: Taxis line up outside the cruise terminal. They are metered and can take you on the 10-minute drive into the center of town or further afield. If you're interested in taking a taxi to Sao Paolo, be sure to negotiate a price first; about $200 roundtrip is the going rate.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The local currency is the Brazilian real. Many shopkeepers and taxi drivers take U.S. dollars. There is a currency exchange in the main cruise terminal as well as several ATM's near gate L. Check xe.com and oanda.com for current exchange rates.
Portuguese is the national language of Brazil and is spoken in Santos. Some locals, who work directly with tourists, speak English.
Food and Drink
Santos restaurants offer seafood galore, and because this is Brazil, barbecued meat is a popular staple.
Tasca do Porto in Old Town and within walking distance of the Coffee Museum, serves up Portuguese-influenced Brazilian specialties in an authentic atmosphere. Try the arroz de mariscos, rice with shrimp, squid and shellfish. Expect live music and servers in traditional dress. (Rua XV de Novembro 112)
For Brazilian barbecue, head to Churrascaria Tertulia, a high-end choice with excellent service. This is where the locals go for special celebrations. Don't leave Brazil without tasting their incredible grilled meats. (Av. Bartolomeu de Gusmao, 187 -- Ponta da Praia)
For the soccer lovers in your life, the Santos Football Club Gift Shop at the Vila Belmiro Stadium offers unforgettable gifts. Take home a bit of the spirit of Pele with items from his home club: Choose from a Santos Football Club pin, a small soccer ball in the team colors or a team jersey.
Drink the caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail, in the region where it originated. Made with cachaca (hard liquor made from sugar cane), sugar and lime, the cocktail is said to have been invented in 1918 as a popular remedy for victims of the Spanish flu, which was spreading across the world that year. Nearly every bar and restaurant in Santos serves the sweet drink.