São Paulo travel tips: what to do and to see

My first seconds in São Paulo? I felt exactly like a newborn, who just spent 9 peaceful months pampered in a comfy, warm and protected paradise, and that all of a sudden is taken from the head and thrown into this world, off you go! I knew where I was heading to. I got my way around in New York and London. I thought I was fine. I’m very good at orientating myself in urban spaces and I usually feel cities “in my hands” within a couple of days. Not in São Paulo, my dear readers.

São Paulo is just over the top: it’s enormously gigantic, multilayered, like cities within a city. When it comes to what to do and what to see in São Paulo, and with only a couple of days available, I couldn’t have possibly got to see everything I wanted.

That’s why I decided to go for quality and not quantity. Here is what I loved the most.

The São Paulo Museum of Art is to be visited both outside and inside. It’s a milestone architecture project by Lina Bo Bardi (yes, Italians are everywhere!). Why? Have a look at such a wide freestanding space with no columns or supports and ask yourself how it can possibly stand all alone. The collection showcases also some example of European Art, from Venetian to Impressionists painter, from Van Gogh to Degas, from Renoir to Toulouse Lautrec. What I will treasure about my visit to Masp is to have discovered Di Cavalcanti and the “5 Girls from Guaratinguetá”.

OK, that’s a very personal feeling but can you just imagine how it must be for a Venetian girl to be constantly surrounded by monsters of buildings, populating the city like mushrooms? The most interesting aspect is that behind each and one of these skyscrapers there is always a page of the history of Brazilian Architecture.

My visit to the Mercado Municipal Paulistano was like to end up in a paradise of fruits and culinary products that I didn’t even know existed, new tastes and smells. Not before having found your way through the screaming crowd outside the metro stop at São Bento and all the shops and stands on the street. This is definitely a must for all travelers looking to embrace a new culinary world and who like including local food as an un-renunciative part of the travel experience.

What a green lung on Avenida Paulista! It’s perfect just to relax on a bench or on the playground with the kids when traveling with the family. Unlikely Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo is not as green as I thought but this Park was a great surprise and ideal to rest after a visit to the nearby MASP.

São Paulo is definitely one of the most interesting cities for urban art. São Paulo is an open air art studio for urban artists: it’s just everywhere, whether you are walking along Oscar Freire Street or in an anonymous street. Colorful and inspiring, it’s not limited to graffiti or murals, so get ready to be blown away.

Every Saturday Praça Benedito Calixto turns into a colorful feira with the antiques market, art crafts stands, street food stand and live music. Whether looking for an expensive set of tea cups, rare coins or just grabbing some food with friends while listening to music, in this praça in Pinheiros, you will feel at home like you were in the square of a small village, where you know everybody!

To visit the district of Vila Madalena, was the highlight of my trip to São Paulo. From a deteriorated urban neighborhood to probably one of Pinheiro’s most gentrified areas, Vila Madalena is today the point of reference for artists, young designers, and the most bohemians souls you can think about. It’s where to go party and to spend the night out.

Would I go back to São Paulo? I would, of course. 1001 times.


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