Sao Paulo: Brazil's Answer to New York

What To Do

Take a walk in the park in Sao Paulo. The Ibirapuera Park is the city's largest urban park and is frequented by joggers and sightseers who come to look at the exhibitions in the pavilions and museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Sao Paulo Museum of Art is an absolute must. Located on the Avenida Paulista, this striking museum, designed by the renowned Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, is a wonderful place from which to view the city. It's built on stilts so visitors can take in a breathtaking view of downtown Sao Paulo. The museum is a pioneering center for post-war Brazilian art.

There is also the Pinacoteca art museum, located near the Luz railway station downtown. This turn-of-the-century building was converted from a railway terminal and now exhibits an impressive collection of Brazilian art.

Nearby is the municipal market, a haven for food lovers. Everything can be found here, from imported delicacies such as Italian salamis with truffles to tropical delights such as cashew fruit. Try some Cupuacu from the Amazon, a nutritionally potent fruit which has a creamy citrus flavour and makes great juice.

Soccer -- or Futebol in Portugese -- is the country's unofficial religion and Sao Paulo is home to such teams as the Corinthians and the Sao Paulo FC. But a word of warning: the crowd can get rough. Rio, for all its splendor, is also a city with widespread poverty. There are great places to go, but there are also slums and street crime.

Despite that, Sao Paulo's nightlife cannot be beaten anywhere else in the country, as even the most ardent lover of Rio regretfully admits. Whether it's theatre or live shows or simply hanging out, Sao Paulo's diversity and cosmopolitan vibe means there is something for everyone. For clubs and hangout joints, Rua Augusta and Rua da Consolacao have plenty of clubs and bars to while away the night.

For a relaxed evening, head to Vila Madalena, a neighborhood that has galleries, bars and some of the most beautiful restaurants in town.

You may follow the candlelit path into Santa Gula, a romantic haven housed in an old villa. Or try Grazie a Dio, a beautiful bar and restaurant which has live music in the evenings and a delicious cocktail menu.

If you want a slice of history, then head to the Brahma Bar on Avenida Sao Joao. It's a traditional Brazilian pub which serves some of the best beer to be found in the city. It is in the middle of the bustling downtown area, with plenty of tables outside for people-watching. It was also THE place for writers, poets and intellectuals to congregate over a choppe -- the famous Brazilian ice cold beer -- on many an evening. For the full Sao Paulo experience, go on a Thursday or Sunday, when a samba band plays live.

As Marlene Dietrich once said, "Rio is a beauty but Sao Paulo… Sao Paulo is a city."

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