Sao Paulo Destination Guide
Sao Paulo Holidays
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s biggest and most bustling city. If you don’t mind the hustle, this fast-paced metropolis – the country’s financial and fashion centre – is known for its nightlife, its opulent gastronomic scene and its cosmopolitan outlook. Shoppers, party people and culture vultures, read on…
Sampa (the city’s nickname) is a culture hub with almost 100 museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) and the Museu Paulista, major attractions and respected institutions in the city. All are worth exploring, but if you can choose only one it should be the renowned Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP). The museum is one of Brazil’s largest art libraries and has a diverse collection of the world’s finest pieces from Monet to Picasso. If you visit MASP on a weekend you can also check out the antiques fair held underneath the building.
There are some fantastic weekend stalls and outdoor markets in Sampa such as the Praca da Republica and the Benedito Calixto, which sells colourful handicrafts and vintage pieces, ideal souvenirs. If you’re after a green retreat in this concrete jungle, Ibirapuera Park is the perfect place to unwind while taking in some striking architecture, including monuments designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Sao Paulo is a city that never sleeps. It has nightspots that operate both above and underground and are open 24 hours straight. Party people will find the city’s best nightlife in the Jardins district. On Saturday nights you’ll hear live samba music playing in many of the city’s bars that will have you grooving all night long.
Sao Paulo is a foodie paradise with a multitude of gourmet restaurants, such as the world-famous D.O.M., operating in the city. This multicultural haven has the largest Japanese and Italian populations outside their native homelands as well as a major diaspora of other nationalities.
The culmination of these ethnicities has created a cuisine of many fusions and flavours. For example, a traditional street-food snack in Sao Paulo is a savoury pastry called an esfiha that is stuffed with endive and tofu. Sao Paulo lays claim to more pizzerias than all of Italy and has adopted pizza as its own.
The locals are proud of Brazilian coffee and drink lots of it. Order a cafezinho (espresso) from one of the city’s many cafes or bakeries, called padarias.
Where to Stay
Sao Paulo has accommodation to suit every taste and budget. Visitors would do well to stay in the Jardins or Centro districts as most tourist attractions, shops and restaurants are within walking distance, meaning you won’t get caught in the city’s chaotic daily traffic jams.
Sao Paulo is on par with Paris and Milan in the fashion stakes, with the industry’s international elite flocking to the city for Sao Paulo Fashion Week. The city has the largest shopping mall in Latin America – the Centro Comercial Aricanduva – which has 500 stores.
However, Sao Paulo’s mega-rich and famous look no further than the exclusive boutiques of the Jardins district, particularly the Rua Oscar Freire strip. Downtown, Rua 25 de Marco is a discount shopping street with stores and stalls offering shoes, bags, toys, manchester and jewellery. Keep an eye on your valuables here.
Sao Paulo like a Local
With traffic as treacherous as it is in Sao Paulo, Paulistanos (Sao Paulo natives) often prefer to cycle. Though this can be daunting mid-week, on Sunday mornings it is a much calmer and more pleasant experience enjoyed by many locals. The city’s main bike path is known as the Ciclofaixa. Hire a public bike from the Ibirapuera Park and let the Paulistanos lead the way.