With a whopping 11 million population, São Paulo is the largest and most populated city in Brazil. Regardless of its size, the city is usually overshadowed by the natural beauty and iconic history of the neighboring state of Rio.
Although the city can’t offer the breathtaking beaches and natural landmarks as Rio, culturally and energetically it can give Rio a run for its money. The city is filled with museums, architecture, attractions and incredibly peculiar lifestyle. Residents are definitely not your stereotypical Brazilians, but they can party like few other fellows in the country.
We have selected some of the best attractions in the city, so you can immerse yourself in this humongous city and be part of this culture mix that only a megalopolis could offer.
Get Acquainted with SP
One of the main aspects that seem to shy tourists away from the city is the lack of tourism practicality. Attractions and accommodations are usually spread out throughout the city and with the addition of some no go parts, it is a challenging experience to find your way around.
Make sure to arrange sightseeing activities thoughtfully , and do not worry too much as residents have relatively good English. Although you may expect an evident language barrier in most non touristic establishments. Relax! Getting lost has its perks, as hidden gems can be found in every corner.
Eat like a local
A very local option is to eat the famous Bologna Sandwich and/or codfish pastel in the Mercado Municipal. At the market you can also find a wide selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, chocolate, local dishes and much more.
Wine and dine at Terraco Italia for a scenic 360° view of the city, the building is the second tallest in the city and offers one of the most complete wine carts in the city.
For an exquisite dinner visit one of the many restaurants in Bairro do Bexiga, one of the most traditional neighborhoods in the city.
Lastly, do not forget the very famous São Paulo pizzarias. They are considered the best in the country, you will not regret asking locals for their favorite picks. Just make sure not to make a face when you see some locals drenching their pizza on ketchup.
Dance like a local
Apart from soccer, dancing is one of the biggest passion of “Paulistas”. You can find dancing locals in most bars, where they fuel their best samba steps with lots of food, Caipirinhas and ice cold beer in order to unwind from their busy workweek. One of the best places to experience the dance and the iconic feijoada (the traditional Brazilian feast of beans, rice, dried meat, kale, farofa, and oranges) is Bar Samba in Vila Madalena.
Vila Madalena or Rua Augusta are the best alternative places in the city for a night out, from its picturesque botecos to lively nightclubs, they are havens for bohemian locals and tourists.
Explore like a local
The city has numerous museums to be explored, you can see the full list of museums here. Museums we highly recommend are Museu Afro-Brasil and MASP ( Museu de Arte de São Paulo ).
Shop in the picturesque neighborhoods of 25 de Marco, Bras and Bom Retiro, where you can find anything you can imagine, from souvenirs to clothing. These neighborhoods are dream locations for shoppers on a budget!
Listen to Chorinho ( Samba-influenced music) and buy arts and crafts at the Calixto market on Saturdays.
Visit the street market at Praca da Republica on Sundays for some of the best Northeastern Brazilian food.
If you have more São Paulo tips, please share them on the comments below.