South America and Brazil, in particular, maintain a strong attraction for visitors from around the globe. From its exotic and varied geography, fabulous cultural festivals, party atmosphere and broad exotic appeal, São Paolo is just one prime city destination.
As well as being Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo is the most populous city in South America. The paulistanos (São Paulo’s inhabitants) love the fast-paced, non-stop cosmopolitan lifestyle, and you can tap into that energy when you visit. By the way, the locals call the city Sampa!
The city is a megalopolis brimming with culture and fantastic food, as well as being the economic engine of the country. The ethnic diversity also means the city boasts an eclectic cultural mix who enjoy great restaurants and endless exciting nightlife.
One of the milestone calendar events is the hosting of the Formula One Grand Prix at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, better known as Interlagos. The world-famous motorsport circuit located in São Paulo has hosted the Brazilian Grand Prix since 1973.
Here’s how we would spend 48 hours exploring the vibrant city of Sao Paulo!
Day 1: Morning
Start off the day by grabbing a bite on the run of a quick cafezinho (traditional coffee drink commonly served all around Brazil) from any nearby café. Brazil is famous for the quality of its coffee and cacao. It’s worth noting that a "cappuccino" in Brazil, is generally made with milk and chocolate.
The main boulevard of São Paulo is the vibrant Avenida Paulista located in the northeastern section of Jardins, known as Cerqueira César. Nestled with looming skyscrapers, an array of shops, churches, restaurants, cafés, museums and hotels, the Jardins is one of the wealthiest areas of the city. If you are seeking some of the most sought after fashion boutiques - they can be found on Rua Oscar Freire.
It’s definitely worth visiting the nearby MASP (São Paulo Museum of Art) which has a range of art representing various eras. The building is a modernist showpiece (designed by Brazilian-Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi) that provides visitors with stunning street views to watch the bustling world pass you by.
Once you’re ready to wander the city, it’s worth passing by the Pinacoteca, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil or the São Paulo University’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The nearby Ibirapuera Park (akin to New York’s famous Central Park) which is actually surrounded by three well-known museums - including the Museu de Arte Moderna. Another NYC comparison is the Avenida Paulista, often compared to New York’s Times Square.
You can rent a bicycle and ride around Ibirapuera’s two huge lakes and go see the Manuel da Nóbrega Pavillion (designed by modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer).
If you are feeling active, you can also visit the sport synonymous with Brazil and visit The Football Museum which aims to show the importance of football to Brazilian history through interactive displays, films and photographs. The museum is located in the Pacaembú Stadium.
Day 1: Afternoon
São Paulo is famous for its large bakeries (known as padocas) and the selection and quality are generally excellent. From fresh bread, gourmet coffee, fresh juices, and more wholesome meals such as steak or pizza. Some are open 24 hours and are great for dining and wining and of course, a lunch stop to refuel for the day.
After lunch, head on to São Paulo’s hip quarter and Beco de Batman (Batman’s Alley) in the hilly neighbourhood of Vila Madalena for urban and street art. There are many quaint boutiques selling independent fashion designers latest crafts. It’s more of a daytime destination as tourists are wanted to be careful with valuables and avoid this area at nighttime.
For dinner, if you have worked up an appetite, visit one of the Churrascarias, an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse, in which you can gorge on massive cuts of perfectly-barbecued meat skewered on swords. For fine dining sample cuisine from one of the best 50 restaurants in Sap Paolo.
If you are up for more evening entertainment then sample some of São Paulo’s many bars and clubs. These include the world-renowned dance music at D-EDGE, or any of the fine establishments along Rua Augusta, famous for its open-minded and party-going scene.
Alternatively sample an evening of music at Sala de Concerto São Paulo, which features a moveable ceiling designed to adapt to live performances,! This is the home to the well-regarded São Paulo State Symphonic Orchestra.
Some of the best luxury hotels in Sao Paolo
If you are looking to stay at one of the most 5-star luxurious hotels in the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo, consider this fine selection:
- Palácio Tangará - an Oetker Collection Hotel - Located in upper-class Burle Marx Park, the hotel offers 141 spacious guestrooms. Among these are 59 suites which have fantastic views overlooking the park.
- Unique - Offering stunning views of the city and in particular Ibirapuera Parn, Unique is a 5-star hotel with excellent rooms, modern furniture, Acqua di Parma amenities. The Suites, rooftop pool and range of gastronomy make this award-winning hotel an excellent choice.
- Renaissance São Paulo Hotel -ideally situated in the Jardins district, and close to several key attractions such as Paulista Avenue, Museu de Arte de São Paulo – MASP and Conjunto Nacional, the Marriot Hotel offers a five-star stay in Sao Paolo. Take advantage of The Spa at Renaissance and the outdoor heated swimming pool. Several exclusive suites offer skyline views and club lounge access.
Day 2: Morning
If you need to clear your head, grab a coffee on the go and head over to a healthy breakfast spot such as Frutaria São Paulo which serves coconut water and an assortment of fruit shakes. The Municipal Market, or Mercadão, is another option as it’s a foodies delight.
If you want to embrace some morning culture, wander over to a hip concept-building, the Tomie Ohtake Institute which was specially designed to host national and international events of Plastic Arts, design and architecture.
Another option is to take a lazy stroll through Burle Marx Park and experience Brazil’s tropical forests. The Burle Marx Park is a visual delight of creepers, palms and ferns, while the beautiful lake is home to a variety of wildlife such as turtles and swans.
Day 2: Afternoon
If you are seeking some excellent Asian food, head to the Japanese neighbourhood of Liberdade and take in the traditional East Asian stores. There are lots of excellent restaurants and it’s easy to grab sake, or some takoyaki (crispy octopus dumplings.)
A walk around São Paulo’s historic centre includes the Sé Cathedral, the Martinelli Building and the Theatro Municipal. You can venture up to the top of the Edifício Itália for some of the best, most memorable city views of São Paulo.
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, Edifício Itália, is 46 stories tall and one of São Paulo’s tallest buildings. Located in the old city centre. Other historic and cultural highlights should include a visit to The Viaduto do Chá (the tea bridge). This broad and long viaduct is named for the large crops of Indian tea that was cultivated in the Vale do Anhangabaú district of the city. It links the Rua Directa with the contemporary significant Rua Barão de Itapetininga.
While taking in the historic sights, you can afford to not grab a selfie of the oldest building in the city- the São Paulo Igreija de Sao Francisco de Assis, constructed in 1647!
When you want to end your 48 hour trip to the Brazilian city you will be facing a tough voice of what not to eat! The locals believe their pizza is among the best in the world. You can venture past the many bars along the Roosevelt Square and don’t forget to sample the excellent cachaças – Brazil’s famous sugarcane spirit or a chopp (draft beer) and taste the local culture.
For a refined end to the trip, head up to the Skye Bar for a classy club experience on top of the trendy Unique hotel (Avenue Brigadeiro Luiz Antonio, 4700) which offers spectacular views of São Paulo.
Remember to check in with the latest cultural and sporting events such as the annual Sao Paulo Carnival (usually in late February) and the Brazilian Grand Prix which takes place at the back end of the season calendar.
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