When the vibrations of samba beats start to oscillate through The Cloud, I head straight for São Paulo, one of the coolest cities I know. I can always count on trendy restaurants, lovely art and of course, all night partying!
With a pulse that plays to a Latin beat, São Paulo is the largest and most populated city in Brazil. With over 1.6 Million residents of Japanese descent, it is also the largest Japanese city outside of Japan.
Ibirapuera is the “Central Park” of São Paulo
About 25 km outside of the city centre, Governador Andrè Franco Montoro International Airport (GRU, known as “Guarulhos”) is the main international hub of São Paulo. Domestic connections are in the more convenient Congonhas-São Paulo Airport (CGH) close to downtown. There are several bus, taxi and metro options to travel between the airports and downtown. Exploring the city is best done on foot, bike or by metro which is clean and easy to use. After sundown, I would recommend licensed taxis or ride-shares for safe and efficient travel.
Here’s a Pro-Tip: When traveling through the city, take note of the traffic signals. Some of them light up with a symbol depicting a nearby landmark, almost like a clue!
Here are some of the most remarkable São Paulo places to which the clues point:
Grasp the meaning of ‘masterpiece’ at MASP
Here’s another Pro-Tip: If you fancy a snack after exploring MASP, you can enjoy a delicious burger in the museum’s gardens from The Fifties, a high-end burger chain in São Paulo. I love the “Pic Burger”!
Ibirapuera Park – A lovely green space within the city providing many activities. It is the “Central Park” of São Paulo and beautifully laid out. Here are my recommendations of what to do in Parque do Ibirapuera:
- Outdoor Activities – Within the park, you can rent bikes, run on the track, play a game of football on the field or even have a quick session at the open-air gym!
- Museums – There are six museums in the park including The Contemporary Art Museum, Modern Art Museum and the Ibirapuera Auditorium.
- Explore Nature – Within the park, there are nearly 500 different vegetation species and almost 200 different types of animals!
No black nail polish required even though it is Neogothic!
Theatro Municipal – Completed in 1911, this architecturally significant theatre and city landmark is home to the Coral Lírico, the City Ballet and the São Paulo Municipal Symphonic Orchestra. When there aren’t any shows playing, enjoy a walk about the theatre.
Shopping Centres – São Paulo has some of the best and most stylish shopping malls in the world including Iguatemi, Jardim, Higienopolis and Vila Olimpia. Brazilian local designers exhibit innovative designs at very reasonable prices!
Here’s a Final Pro-Tip: São Paulo is home to some of the best street artists in the world. As you explore the city, keep an eye out for some of the amazing works that line the streets, especially along the infamous alleyway Beco do Batman.
Brazil is well known for its cuisine and can definitely be considered a foodie’s destination. Being such a large city with so many worldly influences, expect to find almost any taste imaginable, including exotic fruits and vegetables from the famous Mercado Municipal. São Paulo is known as the gastronomic capital of Brazil. Here are some of my favourites:
- Fogo de Chão – Nothing says “Brazilian Cuisine” like a traditional Churrascaria where the meat keeps coming to your table until you hold up a red card! Fogo de Chão in Jardim is my top choice for this experience!
- Figueira – This iconic restaurant is built around an enormous fig tree and is traditionally voted as one of the very best in São Paulo.
- Nakombi – This excellent Japanese restaurant features a VW Combi van which has been cut in half and turned into a stylish sushi bar. It is an excellent value for some of the best sushi anywhere!
- Arabia – This is my favourite Lebanese food in São Paulo. Fresh produce from the surrounding countryside served in a beautiful décor makes this a treat every time.
The only time in Brazil when a red card leaves you satisfied!
São Paulo nightlife is known all throughout South America as being some of the most invigorating on the continent. The neighbourhoods of Vila Madalena, Itam Bibi, Vila Olimpia and Pinheiros enjoy hip bar hotspots, and are perfect for trying a caipirinha, a traditional Brazilian drink made with Cachaca, limes and sugar. Whatsoever your idea of a perfect night may be, whether its electrifying nightclubs that never sleep or posh yet cosy wine bars, there are plenty of options for everyone!
Caipirinha means ‘little girl’ in Portuguese
- D-Edge – A diverse and popular electronic nightclub for all-night dancing. Famous DJ’s, an incredible sound system and an unforgettable time are a sure thing!
- Ó do Borogodó – Samba beats, dancing feet and cold Brazilian beer make for a night of fun at this local favourite. A fabulous way to experience authentic São Paulo
- Astor Pub – Perhaps after a day of exploring the big city your feet are too tired to show off your moves. Astor Pub is a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere with an excellent cocktail menu, or you can create your own drink with the bartenders!
São Paulo is a bustling and multicultural city that is full of beautiful places to stay. Here are my top-rated picks:
- Unique Hotel – Shaped like a ship, this quirky boutique hotel has extensive spa services, custom furniture and is conveniently located nearby Ibirapuera Park. The rooftop Skye bar is a citywide favourite. Check out the rooftop pool which has a see-through floor that can be viewed from the lobby, eight floors below!
- L’Hotel Porto Bay – Elegant, comfortable and well located for those ready to explore the city.
- Pousada Dona Ziláh – Located on a quieter residential street, this relaxing B&B is something of an oasis within the active capital city.
Although it is one of the largest cities in the world, São Paulo is one of the most exciting metropolitan areas in the world. A translation of the Brazilian saying about Rio and São Paulo states, “Cariocas are good during the day but Paulistanos are great at night!”