Sao Paulo is Brazil's economic and cultural centre. Power lunch in Itaim Bibi, take a spin in a helicopter over the city's artery, Avenida Paulista, or see the best of Brazilian art at the Pinacoteca do Estado gallery. The continent's biggest city has plenty to fill your days and nights.
A coffee boom in the late 19th century transformed Sao Paulo from a sleepy backwater into an industrial metropolis. You'll find the old city in the Centro, along with traces of Sao Paulo's pre-coffee boom past, especially in places like the Jesuit Ptio do Colgio and Solar da Marquesa manor house. Affluent residents live, work and play in the neighbourhoods south of busy Avenida Paulista, like Jardins, Pinheiros and Itaim Bibi. The best gourmet restaurants and lively nightlife cluster here.
Take a walking tour around the compact Centro to see the Neogothic Cathedral and the Ptio do Colgio, a former Jesuit college dating back to the 16th century. Or book tickets for a classical concert at the grand Municipal Theatre. Head to the Municipal Market, bursting with colour and produce, and enjoy a cafe lunch on its mezzanine floor. Or snack on traditional pies made from bacalhau salted cod. Spend the afternoon in nearby Luz, where you can admire Brazilian art at the Pinacoteca do Estado and colonial-era religious works at the Sacred Art Museum. Finish the day enjoying the best in contemporary Brazilian cuisine in Jardins.
Hop on Sao Paulo's efficient underground system to explore more of the city sights further from the centre. The Immigration Museum is a well-presented tribute to the history of Sao Paulo's immigrant groups, notably Japanese and Italians. See how they live now in Liberdade and Bela Vista, respectively, and enjoy some great local cooking while you're there.
Around 20 million passengers fly annually from Sao Paulo-Guarulhos - Governador Andr Franco Montoro International Airport's two terminals. Often referred to as Cumbica by locals, the airport is 25 km northeast of Sao Paulo, 30-50 minutes by shuttle bus.
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