São Paulo, Brazil
To say São Paulo is a sprawling megalopolis is a serious understatement; it’s as difficult to master at first glance as Moby Dick. Founded by Jesuit missionaries in the 16th century, it dwarfs other Brazilian cities in all aspects. Sampa, as locals call it, might not have the famous modernist architecture of Brasilia, the lure of sultry beaches of Bahia, or the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer to watch over, yet its certain effervescence elevates traveling souls.
The largest metropolitan area south of the Equator, not just in Brazil, overwhelms the senses with cutting-edge art galleries, vibrant street art (Pichação), finest restaurants, and jovial nightlife. A cosmopolitan chaos of mashed cultures, it emanates a vibe of New York in South America. The city is a part tropical paradise as harmless showers drizzle the fast-paced (but warm-heated) Paulistanos who are haunted by the thoughts of commuting in their urban pursuits.
Sao Paulo Tourist Map
Like the Duomo in Florence, which towers above the Renaissance, the Neo-Gothic Sao Paulo Cathedral lurks above the shadows of palm trees. Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo exhibits wide collection of 19th-century Brazilian artworks and São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) holds arguably the most significant collection of artworks in South America. Sao Paulo Aquarium (Aquário de São Paulo) – the largest aquarium in Latin America – houses more than 3,000 animals from nearly 300 species. Latin America Memorial, Mosteiro de São Bento (São Bento Monastery), Pátio do Colégio, Catavento, and São Paulo Zoo are other major tourist attractions in São Paulo.
Located in Ipiranga district, Museu Paulista overlooks a green expanse like the fountains and gardens of Versailles. The complex is a national symbol of Brazil’s independence from Portugal. São Paulo’s main thoroughfare, Avenida Paulista, is a canyon of skyscrapers. Parque da Independencia (in south-central) and Parque da Cantareira (in northeast) are other popular recreational and cultural areas in the city.
As glorious as London’s Hyde Park, Ibirapuera Park (Parque do Ibirapuera) is a refreshing oasis. Its monuments, beside pleasant lagoons, offer a touch of solemnity. A brainchild of Oscar Niemeyer, major highlights of the park are an amphitheater, planetarium, and Obelisk of Ibirapuera – the biggest monument in the city. Head to Theatro Municipal or Sala São Paulo for musical spectacles and 1135-meter-high Pico do Jaraguá – highest peak of the city – for an amazing view of the city and Brazilian Highlands.
Most of the elitists and the “cool cats” in Brazil drop by in the city at least once a year to shop for anything that money can buy. The Jardins district is the epicenter of dining and social scene whereas Rua 13 de Maio in Bela Vista offers round-the-clock entertainment with nightclubs and boutiques. Every Saturday, vendors gather at an outdoor market in Benedito Calixto Square and on Sundays, open-air market at Praça Don Orione. The Sunday street fair at Praca da Republica sells antiques, woodcarvings, paintings, vinyls, and leather goods.