The capital of Brazil easily dwarfs New York City both in population and sheer size—it covers nearly 3,000 square miles. When you visit São Paulo, you’ll find a huge range of experiences, from cutting-edge art galleries to fabulous shopping and some of the best dining and nightlife in the world. It’s also pretty unusual, when you travel to São Paulo, not to come across some major public event. This is a carnival city through and through, with events ranging from the world’s largest Gay Pride Parade to the Festival of Economic Art and a March for Jesus, by way of a Pancake Cook-off that attracts chefs from all over the city.
What to do in São Paulo for 24h to 48h?
Places of Interest
Museu de Arte de São Paulo
Sampa’s pride, this museum possesses Latin America’s most comprehensive collection of Western art. The collection, though, is unimpeachable, and ranges from Goya to El Greco to Manet. The impressionist collection is particularly noteworthy. There are also a few great Brazilian paintings, including three fine works by Cândido Portinari.
Mosteiro São Bento
Among the city’s oldest and most important churches, São Bento dates to 1598, though its neo-Gothic facade dates only to the early 20th century. Step inside the church to view its impressive stained glass.
For one of Sampa’s best panoramas, head to the top of this 161m-high skyscraper, Brazil’s version of the Empire State Building, completed in 1939. Ride free to the observation deck on the top floor for views of the city.
São Paulo’s most splendid construction, this theater was begun in 1903 in the style of Paris’ Palais Garnier. Its heavily ornamented facade seems to combine every architectural style imaginable, from baroque to art nouveau, and its interior is clad in gold and marble. Free English tours run twice daily Tuesday to Friday at 11am and 5pm, and Saturday at noon.
Pinacoteca do Estado
This elegant neoclassical museum houses an excellent collection of Brazilian – and especially Paulista – art from the 19th century to the present, including works by big names such as Portinari and Di Cavalcanti. There is a lovely cafe that faces adjacent Parque da Luz.
Where to Eat?
Paulistas love two things: soccer and to go out for dinner. This sushi spot from chef Koji Yokomizo joins these two passions. Located in the stadium of the São Paulo Futebol Clube (one of the most loved local teams), the restaurant serves yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and sushi. Thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, diners have a full view of the field below. Don’t miss the usuzukuri or buri sashimi.
Lunch at Brace Bar e Griglia
São Paulo’s Eataly is the first and only branch of the high-end food market in the world to boast a formal restaurant. Found on the third floor, Brace focuses on dishes that are slow cooked on a charcoal grill — the meaning of brace in Italian.
Puff Pastry Sfiha at Brasserie Victória
The city’s long legacy of Syrian and Lebanese cuisine is best exemplified by traditional spots like Brasserie Victoria. For more than 50 years this family restaurant has served pitch-perfect puff pastry sfihas, a pizza-like dish very popular in Lebanon and Syria.
An Empanada at La Guapa
Chef Paola Carosella joined a bookstore chain in order to create her version of a cafe: besides good coffee and cold beverages, she serves empanadas based on recipes rescued from her childhood in Argentina.
A Caffeine Fix at Coffee Lab At this spot from barista Isabela Raposeiras, indigenous Brazilian coffee is elevated to a sensory experience. Raposeiras, who sources from producers and roasters from across the country, aims to serve the best coffee drinks using various methods — from Clever to espresso.
Night Life in Sao Paulo !
The DJs at this intimate space play electronic, disco, and hip-hop, often interacting with the crowd on the dance floor and accepting requests. The bar closes occasionally for private events, so call ahead to be sure it’s open.
Because this venue is a restaurant, a bar, and a nightclub, you can go early for dinner and stay late for dancing. Actors, dancers, and musicians give performances that add to the entertainment, and the walls are decorated with local artists’ works.
A mixed gay, lesbian, and straight crowd often dances until dawn at A Lôca to everything from pop and rock to disco and techno.
Crowded from happy hour on, All Black is an Irish pub with style—and a great variety of international beer brands. Irish soccer paraphernalia decorates the place, and a New Zealand flag betrays the roots of one of the owners. There’s usually a live band (with a cover charged) later in the night.