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Santos: Beach, history, and soccer meet here

WinterA has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, but in the Southern Hemisphere summer is just getting started and with it, thousands of tourists and locals will flock to Brazilian beaches for the country’s national pastime: enjoying fun in the sun. While this phenomenon can be observed all along Brazil’s 7,367 kilometers of coast, Santos, in the state of Sao Paulo, is one of the preferred destinations for the authentic Brazilian mix of beach, soccer, surfing, paragliding, and beachgoers in skimpy swimsuits.
The fact that this booming and vibrant seaside town is connected to Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, by a modern four-lane highway that cuts through the mountain range of Serra do Mar by means of a vast network of tunnels, makes it easily accessible even if you happen to only have a day off during a business trip to Sao Paulo.
As you stroll along the world’s largest beachfront garden, you will undoubtedly observe many soccer matches underway close to the surf, where the sand is harder and a perfect terrain for a beach soccer match. A visit to Brazil cannot be complete without experiencing the local soccer culture, so don’t be shy and just ask to join one of the many matches. The teams are formed on the go, and new players are always welcomed.
If soccer is not your cup of tea, or “not your beach,“ as the locals say, try taking a few surfing lessons at Brazil’s first surf school, located at Santos’ Josis Menino beach, which also happens to be the birthplace of surfing in Brazil. You can also observe the locals practicing their moves from a unique four-kilometer observation deck that cuts into the Atlantic Ocean.
The most thrilling experience, however, can be found just a few minutes up the hill that sits at the edge of Josis Menino beach. Take a chairlift to the top, enjoy the view, and return to the beach by dodging the city’s skyscrapers on a paraglide or hang-glider tandem flight.
After so many adventures on the beach, you might want to head downtown and experience this city’s 466 years of history. Restored streetcars from the early 20thA century retrace one of the original routes and take passengers on a trip back in time as they swerve down the narrow cobblestone streets in between the historic buildings. One such building is the Museum of Coffee, situated where the “coffee stock exchange“ once operated. Santos is home to Brazil’s largest and most important seaport, and coffee was the main commodity in early 20th-century Brazil.
Whether you chose to take part in a beach soccer match or not, most locals will tell you that you cannot leave without stopping by the city’s soccer stadium. Founded in 1912, Santos FC was the team where Pelis played and its museum highlights all of the team’s accomplishments. The guided tour of the pitch and locker rooms where Pelis’s locker is preserved is a must.
There are many reasons to visit this enchanting town and while playing soccer on the beaches of Santos will not turn you into the next Pelis, it will certainly earn you bragging points on your next weekend pickup game.
Photo by: Thiago Silva

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