The must see and do attractions in one of Brazil’s most dynamic cities.
Sao Paulo is a city loaded with museums — almost 100 to be exact — but there’s nothing quite like the Beco do Batman (‘Batman’s Alley’), a knot of backstreets plastered in cutting-edge street art as far as the eye can see. If traditional art is more your scene, head to the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo on Avenida Paulista in the centre of the city to marvel at works by Picasso, Rembrandt and Rubens — but arguably the finest artwork is the building itself, a 74m glass box supporting by two red metal beams, hovering above the ground to preserve the view from the lush Parque Trianon across the road, which is also worth checking out.
If you love football, you don’t need much convincing to visit the Museu do Futebol. If you don’t, it’s a compelling glimpse into Brazil’s national obsession. Opened in 2008 in the main stand of the art deco 1950 World Cup venue Pacaembu Stadium, a hologram of the world’s greatest ever player Pele greets you at the door before you walk through the history of the country’s relationship with the roundball game. If you’re in town when one of Sampa’s big three clubs are playing — Corinthians, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo — then grab a ticket to experience the foundation-rattling atmosphere that makes Premier League games seem like a morgue by comparison.
Head to the Mercadão — which literally translates as ‘Big Market’ — to sample Sao Paulo’s freshest juices and crispiest ‘pasteis’, deep fried pastries stuffed with a variety of fillings, or pull up a table and chair on Avenida Sao Paulo, the bustling 3km heart of the city where restaurants spill out onto the footpath beneath the hundreds of high rises. A big Italian community means Sao Paulo also boasts some of the best pizza in the world — the renowned Braz Pizzeria has six locations around the city — while you can also find great Japanese food in Liberdade, the epicentre of the largest Japanese diaspora outside of Japan (there are 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians).
Make a beeline to Vila Madalena — the neighbourhood you visited to see the graffiti in Beco do Batman — to sip on a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail made of sugar-cane liquor cachaça plus lime and sugar. Bar Samba — a crowded club with murals and photos hanging off every spare inch of wall space — is the best place to see live samba, as well as taste traditional Brazilian food like Feijoada, a dried meat stew served with beans and rice.