São Paulo, a most dynamic metropolis in Brazil

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São Paulo boasts excellent gastronomy, plentiful skyscrapers, noteworthy museums, around 70 shopping malls, and a myriad of cultural events throughout the year. As Brazil’s biggest financial center and the 10th largest city in the world by GDP, the dynamic city of São Paulo is one of the most exciting destinations for your travel to Brazil.

Octavo Frias Bridge Sao Paulo

The Octavio Frias Bridge frames a view of the luminous São Paulo skyline in the financial district of Brooklin.

A high percentage of São Paulo’s 10 million residents are of immigrant heritage, making this Brazil’s most ethnically diverse area. São Paulo received thousands of Italian, German, and Portuguese immigrants beginning in the late 1800s, followed by Japanese, Syrians, and Lebanese in the early 1900s, as well as internal migrants from Brazil’s northeast. The most recent wave of immigrants consists of Chinese, Koreans, and Bolivians. These migration trends have produced neighborhoods (bairros) such as Liberdade, home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan. Today, travelers on a Brazil vacation in São Paulo can participate in festivals celebrating paulistanos’ immigrant heritage and visit excellent ethnically-inspired restaurants, top among them: Almanara, Due Cuochi Cucina, and Shintori.

Immigration, coupled with economic investment and industrialization, produced great prosperity for São Paulo in the early and mid-20th century, prosperity which is evident in iconic constructions such as the Martinelli Building, the first skyscraper in São Paulo and the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Edificio Copan, famous for its sinuous form. In the 21st century, as the economy has shifted to the service sector, the numerous multinational corporations attracted by business opportunities in the city have set up headquarters in the equally numerous skyscrapers that crowd the São Paulo skyline.

Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo

This panoramic shot shows Avenida Paulista, the busy street which is the commercial and cultural heart of the city and a must see on a São Paulo tour.

Avenida Paulista is 1.7 miles (2.8 km) long and 8 lanes wide, and is undoubtedly the most important street in São Paulo, marking one boundary of the exclusive Jardim Paulista neighborhood. Cultural and financial institutions line either side of this avenue, which is eternally busy with commuters. The landmark Museo de Arte São Paulo (MASP) is also on this boulevard, housed in a building which is itself a symbol of post-World War II Brazilian architecture. Inside the museum’s walls is one of the best collections of Western art in Latin America, including works by Van Gogh, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Dalí, as well as works by Brazilian painters such as Tarsilia do Amaral and Candido Portinar. A few blocks away are Rua Oscar Freire, voted the 8th most luxurious street in the world, and Ibirapuera Park, known as the Central Park of Brazil.

Sao Paulo Cathedral

Construction of the monumental Catedral da Sé (São Paulo See Metropolitan Cathedral) began in 1913 and was not completely finished 1967. It is the largest church in São Paulo and has a capacity for 8,000 people.

São Paulo hosts several important events, such as the São Paulo Art Biennial, the second oldest in the world after the Venice Biennial; São Paulo Fashion Week, the most important fashion event in South America; the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade; the Carnival of São Paulo; the Brazilian Grand Prix and several more events. No matter what your interests, you are sure to find something that catches your fancy during your São Paulo tour.

If tropical beaches are more your taste, Guarujá, is about an hour away from the city and is considered one of the top beach resorts near São Paulo.  Ilhabela and Ubatuba, on the coast just north of São Paulo, are a bit more secluded. All of these destinations enjoy calm blue waters with white sand beaches bordered by Atlantic forest.

For further reasons to visit São Paulo, browse our Brazil For Less website or contact one of our expert travel advisors at Brazil For Less to start planning your fully customized Brazil vacation.

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About Author

Anabel has been exploring the length and width of South America since 2010. Ditching preconceptions, settling into the local pace, and embracing the unexpected are the tenets of her philosophy of travel - and life.

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