When I planned my first trip to Brazil Sao Paulo was not on the agenda but it ended up being a welcome addition to my itinerary. Sao Paulo is more of a business city than Rio and had a completely different vibe. It was more men in suits than women in bikinis. Its cosmopolitan, cool and more people speak English (something that I found difficult in other cities). I got to see four cities during my first trip in Brazil so got a varied experience of the country. That being said Brazil is six times the size of Europe so I definitely did not see it all! Each city is different, its has its own culture and differences in language so you need to see more than one to get a true taste of Brazil.
How to get to Sao Paulo:
I flew to Sao Paulo from Porto Alegre with Azul and was surprised that even though it wasn’t an international flight we still had TVs and free food. I now understand why my boyfriend was so shocked when he first flew Ryanair! (When the trolley came around to him asking him if he would like something to eat or drink, he ordered a glass of wine not expecting there to be a bill!). There are a few different airlines and most recently when i looked flights from Porto Alegre to Sao Paulo were about €80 return.
If you’re looking to fly from Europe there are direct flights. I most recently flew with Air France to Rio de Janeiro from Paris Charles de Gaulle but they also fly to Sao Paulo. Flying time is about 11 hours and prices vary depending on where you fly from (ie if you have a connecting flight) and the time of year.
Where to stay in Sao Paulo:
We were lucky enough to have friends who live in Sao Paulo and so they were able to give us recommendations on which area of the city to stay in. The area was stayed in, Jardins Paulista, was perfect, it felt so safe. Its important to research the area you are staying in as the safety levels vary hugely even from one street to the next. I would definitely recommend our hotel – Royal Jardins. Although be warned that in Brazil if you using booking.com the price might not include tax. I was in for a huge surprise when I arrived to check in and was welcomed by a considerable addition to the bill! My ‘affordable’ hotel, became less ‘affordable’. After this though things went smoothly.
What to do in Sao Paulo:
One of the best things we did in Sao Paulo was visit the Ibirapuera Park. One of our friends from Erasmus brought us here and it was one of my favourite days in Sao Paulo. We rented bikes and cycled around the park, stopping for some coconut juice…out of a real coconut! on our way. Getting the bikes was a brilliant idea, the park has lots of cycle paths and is pretty big so more fun to get around on bike than on foot.
We walked to the park from our hotel, it wasn’t too far so we thought we would try it. We passed through posh neighbourhoods which all had security guards patrolling the streets. So we felt super safe and just admired the houses. I learned a few days later that walking around the city isn’t always a great idea but fortunately we took a good route. Our friend brought us back to our hotel by car, not just any car a vintage car that got so many waves and admiration’s it turned out to be a cool experience.
On another day we visited MASP the Sao Paulo museum of art, I would definitely recommend checking it out. We were in for a huge surprise because it turned out there was a Cezanne exhibition on at the time we visited. This was huge for us as I lived in the city where Cezanne was born and painted some of his most famous works, Aix en Provence. In my time in Aix I didn’t see any paintings, yet when I went halfway across the world there was an entire exhibition of his paintings!
I don’t speak Portuguese although I can understand it and read it pretty well. This claim was put to the test when we visited the Museum of the Portuguese language, a museum dedicated to…you guessed it! Portuguese. It was interesting but of course absolutely nothing was in English so a bit difficult to navigate. Unfortunately the museum went on fire on 2015 and is now permanently closed.
What to drink:
If you haven’t tried caipirinhas you are seriously missing out. This cocktail made of sugar, lemon and cahaca (a brazilian spirit) is delicious…dangerously so. I had heard about a rooftop bar that was supposed to do great cocktails that was close to our hotel. It was our last night and we decided we would try it out. The bar is called The View Bar and its on the 30th floor of the Alameda Santo. Its webiste says it “offers the best panoramic view of the best part of São Paulo” which is true, its pretty spectacular. All this does come at a price though, there is a cover charge because there’s live music but its not anything crazy and the music really adds to the atmosphere. A word of warning if you are used to normal, watered down, cocktail be prepared because Brazilian cocktails are strong. If you’re Irish they are nothing like what you are used to.
Also don’t leave this bar until your last night when you have a plane to catch the next morning, I learned the hard way (we’ll save that story for another time!)
What to eat?
Our hotel had an amazing breakfast with pretty much anything you could want so we always started our day here. Hotel breakfasts are my favourite part of hotels so I always make sure to take advantage.
The area we stayed in has lots of offices and so lots of choice for lunch and dinner spots. We went to one Mexican near our hotel and it was fab, I cant remember the name of it at all though.
My next post in this Brazil series will be all about the food so watch out for that. Brazilian food is amazing and deserves its own post, a paragraph here wouldn’t do it justice!
I am currently back in Brazil at the time of publishing this post so should have more to add to the Brazil travel series soon!