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Sao Paulo Destination Guide
Sao Paulo Holidays
One of the largest metropolis in the world, Sao Paulo Brazil is also one of the most underrated tourist destinations. This vibrant, dynamic city will make you feel alive with animated conversation and passionate dancing. Don't plan on having any quiet nights in while you are in the incredibly social Sao Paulo or 'Sampa' as the locals call it. A little rough and dirty on the surface, Sampa is like an unpolished gem with a deeply rich centre. A strong influence on the international market, the Brazilian city is a hub for finance and fashion and is a veritable melting pot of cultures. The open-plan modern architecture is a testament to the warm weather and al fresco lifestyle.
A special place for locals and tourists alike is Ibirapuera Park – a sprawling urban greenspace with winding jogging trails, a vast lake and home to the Museu de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Museum). Soccer is a big part of Brazilian culture with 4 teams in Sao Paulo alone – embrace the Sampa way of life and roar with the crowd at a local game. Sometimes called the 'New York of South America', Sao Paulo's small city streets are crowded with looming skyscrapers and echo with choirs of taxi horns. When looking for things to do in Sao Paulo, try to include a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities as Sao Paulo weather can be as unpredictable as the traffic.
Locals will proudly claim that Sao Paulo's bars and restaurants are some of the best in South America. Try the staple 'pao na chapa' for breakfast (fresh bread fried in butter) at the popular little French cafes. To drink? Coffee, coffee and more coffee – found on every street corner at any time of the day. Sao Paulo restaurants can be expensive, but an incredibly diverse cafe culture means prices vary too. For a classic taste of Brazil, order the national cocktail Caipirinha – made with sugar cane rum, sugar and lime. Some areas of Sao Paulo can still have a gritty edge of an evening – tag along with friends or local guides if you are venturing into unknown territory.
Where to Stay
Sao Paulo is a large and hugely populous destination – it's helpful to familiarise yourself with the neighbourhoods. If you are after trendy hotels in Sao Paulo, look at Vila Madalena or Ibirapuera. Accommodation in these areas usually comes with all of the necessaries – room service, laundry facilities and buffet-style breakfasts. If you are in Sampa for business, staying in Morumbi (central to the larger corporations) or in Guarulhos (close to the airport) are good options. Most of Sampa is reasonably safe these days, but areas to avoid are the Downtown 'old centre' and Santo Amaro in South Central.
If you are keen for a spot of shopping in Sao Paulo, visit a feira (outdoor market) to taste and feel local fruits and vegetables. The bustling Rua 25 de Marco street market is a great place to find a Brazilian-made bargain – the Sao Paulo Municipal Market is an equally impressive indoor option. The Jardins precinct is lined with gourmet cafes and exists in a permanent cloud of coffee aromas. The shops cater to Sampa's upper-class with top-end designers and elegant architecture. Street retailers generally open from 10am to 6pm on weekdays and close on Sundays. While embarking on your expeditions around Sampa, it's advised not to expose your Smartphones and keep an eye on your valuables.
Sao Paulo like a Local
The 'Paulistanos' are genuinely friendly, easygoing and always up for a chat over a cold beer ('chopp') – pack your Portuguese phrase book! Locals aren't afraid to show their emotions and you might spy public displays of affection on your travels. Sampa residents live by a 'work hard and play harder' mentality – this is not the place for wallflowers or introverts. If you are feeling lethargic and craving an energetic escape, book your flights to Sao Paulo and recharge your batteries. When planning your Sao Paulo holidays, reserve enough time to fully explore the various neighbourhoods and appreciate your surrounds – with a little time you will fall in love with Sao Paulo's irresistible energy.