What to do in São Paulo

São Paulo has some unusual cultural attractions. It is easy to eat well in this city and take advantage of anything that comes around the corner.

São Paulo has some unusual cultural attractions. It is easy to eat well in this city and take advantage of anything that comes around the corner. We start the day early with bread and coffee at Padoca do Mani to give us energy for the day. A visit to the Museum of Image and Sound will sharpen our senses. It’s useful for finding that unique Brazilian design piece at Loja Diária, that long-forgotten sign at Retrô 63 or some Bossa Nova vinyl at the Praça Benedito Calixto street market, places that help to make Pinheiros and Vila Madalena some of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city.

For lunch, why not taste organic Brazilian ingredients at Banana Verde? The restaurant has a fresh and inventive approach, with a laid-back atmosphere.

Then a tour of the República district, with a visit to SESC on Rua 24 de Maio to appreciate the architectural turnaround this cultural centre has undergone in recent years, after a wander through the iconic Copan building designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosários dos Homens Pretos.

We return to the centre of the old capital to look at the Japan House, from where Niemeyer looks down at us immortalised in a mural by street artist Kobra. This place is the epitome of Japanese cultural heritage in São Paulo. Here we find the largest community of Japanese emigrants in the world, which becomes obvious when walking through the Liberdade district with its Japanese streetlamps. We end the day with dinner in Ohka, one of the city’s most highly-rated Japanese restaurants. Toro tuna or fusions with foie gras are some of the most popular dishes. The cosmopolitan atmosphere and touch of luxury set us up perfectly for the next day.

Any street bar will sell freshly made orange and passion fruit juice. It is essential to let São Paulo take us through the flavours of the region. The Casa do Brasil Museum, set apart from the surrounding skyscrapers and office workers, is an oasis of cultural heritage from the past. The city was built on the backs of emigrant communities who arrived here over the last few centuries. The Salvattore restaurant offers authentic Italian cuisine, made by the hands of an expert. The pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage will leave you begging for more. Having a meal at the Parque do Povo, practically next door, gives us even more of a feeling that the city is not only made of concrete and glass, but that its green lungs are present and well cared for.
In another park, the Ibirapuera, well-known outside Brazil, there are pavilions given over to exhibitions that are often among the best we find in the city: the Biennial Pavilion, the Oca, the Museum of Modern Art and the Afro Brasil Museum contrast with the crowds exercising on their skateboards, skates or feet. Thanks to its size, the city has many different environments. The Santander Lighthouse, a cultural icon with temporary exhibitions of the best that Brazil can produce, is also a must-visit. From the top we can observe the city stretching out below us, and appreciate the nearby buildings with their incredible historical and visual value. A meal at Mica, serving Asian and Brazilian fusion, where the menu changes constantly and any shared dishes delight diners, followed by a beer next door at Pitico, seal a visit to the essentials of São Paulo.

Get inspired by my travels here: instagram.com/eltravelar

By António Avelar, TAP Cabin Crew member since 2014


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