Despite being one the world’s most famous cities, São Paulo is unknown territory for most of the people. Fast-growing? If you like it, you better take a picture because the chance is it won’t be there for too long. Dangerous? No more than any other global city. Multicultural? You can bet on it, however you are, it is easy fit in. That’s why Brazilian passports are one of the most sought after passports in the black market.
SP is a city of opportunities, full of contrasts where a lot happens but it happens fast. There is shifting of gears, jolts and sharp bends but no break in power. You are never late in SP. That may sound inspiring but SP is like a roller coaster the more vertiginous the experience, the most fascinating you find it.
Before we plunge into exploring the city, here is some basic information about Brazil:
- Form of government: Federative Republic.
- Capital city: Brasilia
- Other names: Pindorama
- Population: 207, 350, 000
- Official Language: Portuguese
- Currency: Brazilian real
- Location: South America
Oi! Let’s explore: São Paulo.
♦ 6 places to eat & take a snack
Comedoria Gonzales (MercadoMunicipal de Pinheiros)- a Peruvian eatery with a bold and breezy attitude. A great place to have a meal with friends or on your own and enjoy freshly made ceviche and empanadas.
Mocotó ( Vila Medeiros)- This restaurant is name after the famous northeastern dish, cow’s feet stew with beans and vegetables. Somewhat away from the city center, it’s totally worth the trip. Simple but utterly delicious. The Dedinhos de tapioca ( Tapioca dices) are a must. FYI, Mocotó is featured on Latin America’s 50 best restaurants).
Frangó ( Freguesia do Ó)- Two words: beer and coxinha ( brazilian equivalent to French croquettes). I’ll say it again: BEER & COXINHAS. I’m sure you already know about “beer” but you may not know about coxinhas, this popular snacks is probably reason enough to jump on the first plane to Brazil and leave everything behind, and no one does it better than Frangó.
Julice Boulangere (Pinheiros)- Breads, cakes, scramble eggs… A pleasant French place to indulge all of your darkest wishes. It opens from 8 am to 8 pm so it’s very popular for breakfast & brunches. However, service may be a little bit slow so better not to be in a rush.
Hocca Bar (Mercado Municipal)- Pure instagram’s material. Popular spot with an eclectic decoration, full of souvenirs, bottles and unidentified objects. You cannot go to SP and not have the infamous mortadella sandwich, basically a sandwich with a lot of layers of mortadella, an Italian sausage. Personally, I didn’t like it but I can’t deny it’s the kind of thing you have to experience at least once in your life.
♦ 3 random places
Alto da Harmonia– a rooftop club with spectacular views of the entire city. Without a doubt, one of the best way to enjoy SP´s nigh-time charm.
Beco do Barman (Batman Alley)– a trendy area located in the Vila Madalena neighborhood where you can spot the best street art in the city. A random painting of batman made by an unknown artists turned this alleyway into an open-air gallery where national and international artists leave their mark.
Coffee Lab– a little piece of paradise on earth. Quirky, lab-inspired and absolutely delicious, weather you are a caffeine addict or a newbie Coffee Lab is the place for you. Delivering unparalleled quality coffee– and taking into account that Brazil is one of the world’s largest coffee producers this is not an easy task. Also, you can take some courses to really know your stuff. If it is your first time, go for one of the rituals: tasting menu or experimenting different blends.
♦ 3 places to party
Lion’s Nightclub– Upscale nightclub with an awesome dance floor. What’s the big deal? Oh… Nothing, it’s just surrounded by wall lights that change colors.
D edge- Electronic music. If you like to dance all night & party hard, this is the place to go (and to be).
Casa 92– Surrealistic, colorful and enjoyable. Welcome to the 50’s. Definitely, one of my favorite spots to relax and unwind. Why would you go to a dark and crowded club when you can enjoy yourself in a 50’s décor style inspired manor?
♦ 4 things to do in SP
Mosteiro de São Bento (São Bento Monastery)– Believers or not, Sunday Mass is a sight worth of admiration, if only for the choirs singing Gregorian chants or for the shop ( padaria do mosteiro) selling sweets, liquors and cakes made by the monks. Tip: If you like pistachio as much as I do, then you should go for the Gaudeamus- so delicious!. If you are more into bread, the São Bento made of mandioquinha– a carrot/celery root vegetable- is the one for you.
Drive-In– Fun and funky cinema located at Caixa Belas Artes, with a New York old-cinema decoration and colorful car seats. As if that were not enough, at the back of the room there is bar with an excellent offer of alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails.
Shopping at Rua Oscar Freire– Every big city needs one. It is said to be one of the most luxurious streets in the world. If it exists and it is expensive, you will find it in Oscar Freire. And don’t bother parking your car, most of the shops have their own parking ballet.
Estádio Morumbi– Home stadium of São Paulo Futebol Clube. Brazilians live by and for football so watching a game it is a classic. Not as famous as Rio´s Maracanã but it is still symbolic.
♦ 3 must-see places
Pinacoteca do Estado de SP– An art gallery located downtown, if it was a book the title would be: “Brazilian art in a nutshell”. The Pinacoteca has an archive with more than 5,000 masterpieces. The exhibitions change regularly so it is always an option when you are back in town. On the third floor, there is a small permanent collection.
Theatro Municipal– One of the most beautiful theaters in South America. It is relatively small but the design guarantees acoustic clarity.
Avenida Paulista– how would I describe Avenida Paulista? It is a mix between the 5th Avenue and Wall Street. The curious thing is that from Monday to Friday this avenue is where you do business but over the weekend it becomes a central pedestrian avenue where many families go to walk, youngsters ride skateboards and street bands play. (Tip: opposite to The Museum of Art of SP, there is one of the city’s hidden gems: the Parque Trianon, encircled by buildings this small and leafy public park is an obligatory stop).