By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Situated on the Mantiqueira Mountain Range, in the South of Minas Gerais, São Lourenço preserves that cozy countryside’s atmosphere that one can hardly find these days. Its slower pace life, lovely squares, mouth watering food and therapeutic waters attract many Carioca families, specially during the winter.
One cannot talk about São Lourenço without mentioning Parque das Águas (Waters Park), the city’s most important touristic attraction.
Spread on a 400,000 square-meter green area with beautiful fauna and flora, the park is famous for its nine mineral water sources that present healing properties.
Discovered in the nineteenth century, the region’s mineral waters played a central role in São Lourenço’s economic development. Today, São Lourenço is part of Minas Gerais’ “Waters Circuit”, which gathers eleven different cities that also have therapeutic mineral water sources.
If you want to enjoy Parque das Águas in style, its spa offers relaxing massages, therapeutic baths, sauna sessions or ayurvedic treatments for fair prices. After the spa, make sure to check the park’s souvenir shop and have a sweet at its cafe.
Parque das Águas also offers great lanes for riding a bike or a pleasant walk. Fun is guaranteed for children at the park’s lake, where they can ride a pedal boat.
Even though Parque das Águas plays a big role in São Lourenço’s tourism, there is much more to see in the city. The balloon ride is a nice option if you are looking for adventure without physical effort.
From 500 meters above the ground, you will have the opportunity to see the most beautiful sunrise. The approximately one hour-long balloon ride costs around R$400, and one needs to make reservations in advance.
A cheaper and more chilled attraction to see São Lourenço from the top is taking the city’s cable car.
Inaugurated in 1993, it takes tourists to Morro do Mirante, a 150 hundred meter-high hill that offers a really nice view of São Lourenço, especially on clear days.
Another great option for families is “Maria Fumaça”, a wooden train from the begining of the 1900s that goes from São Lourenço to Soledade (a small village nearby) on the weekends. In this thirty minute trip, you will be able to appreciate the most genuine landscapes from the South of Minas Gerais.
São Lourenço is also the right place for foodies, specially for its cafes, homemade sweets and traditional culinary. Situated next to Parque das Águas, Casarão is a great restaurant for trying the local cuisine, with most dishes prepared in clay pots.
If you want a more complete food experience, you must try Quinta do Cedro, a beautiful farm that serves delicious breakfast and lunch from Wednesday to Monday. Amazing homemade sweets, cheeses and sausages can be found at the farm’s shop.
To get to São Lourenço from Rio de Janeiro, take the Presidente Dutra highway until the BR-354 road (a little after Itatitaia). Afterwards, take the BR-460 road and keep on going to São Lourenço.
Those coming from São Paulo must also take the Presidente Dutra highway until the 34th kilometer. Follow the Hamilton Mendes road until Dr. Avelino Junior road (which, after the border between Minas and São Paulo, is called MG-156). In Itanhandu, take the BR-354 until the entrance of BR-460, which leads to São Lourenço.