São Paulo

Things to do in São Paulo

In a city where the skyscrapers seems to stretch on for miles, just exploring the best of the architecture is one of the top things to do in São Paulo —and your hotel concierge can help hook you up with any number of guided tours. There are plenty of cool things to do in São Paulo. The Jardins (especially on Rua Oscar Freire and Alameda Lorena) is where you’ll find the more upscale boutiques, while Centro is where you can browse market stalls of leather, textiles and crafts. A great place to start, near the Mariana metro stop, is the Casa de Vila, which offers Brazilian handicrafts from a beautiful 1929 mansion. São Paulo is a hotbed for contemporary art galleries, such as relative newcomer Raquel Arnaud, focusing on Brazilian artists, or Galeria Vermelho, which tends to show more international talent. To see truly up-and-coming work, walk down the Beco do Batman (Rua Gonçalo Afonso) in the Vila Madalena district— a colorful, graffiti-lined alley that changes continually as street artists add new works.

If you love nightlife, your list of what to do in São Paulo should start with a generous dose of the local coffee. The evening really kicks off at about 10 around here, at lounges such as Suite Savalas (have an amaretto-infused Corleone) or Emporio Sagarana, where you can partake in a refreshing glass of sugar-cane-based cachaça. For a hot dance club after midnight, check out Casa 92, which feels like the home of a very well connected friend.

Guarulhos Airport seriously lacks world-class shopping, something it must rectify before Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup; but for now, this jewelry shop and art gallery is the best bet for coming away with some memorable items.

Tangy olives, linguica sausages, and salt cod (legacies of Portuguese rule) sit cheek by jowl with native tropical fruit and Amazonian chiles at this 1930's market known for its cathedral-worthy stained-glass dioramas.

Brazil’s most recognized jeweler specializes in local gemstones, most notably the bluish tourmaline, a stone commonly found throughout Minas Gerais in Brazil’s interior. It’s also a smart spot to pick up a high-end watch that won’t require a second mortgage.

Years as agent: 12. Other Specialties: Brazil, El Salvador, Amazon River cruises. Consulting fee: $350.

Colorful, boho- chic dresses and tunics are displayed on luggage trolleys at Brazilian designer Adriana Barra’s new flagship store, in Jardins. Barra also creates the vivid prints for the home-furnishings collection on the second floor.

Quality condiments like artisanal tapenades and high-end cachaças, Brazil’s sugar cane–based firewater, as well as sustainable handbags from Mãos Brasil, top the duty-free goods at this Brazil-only shop.

The cozy, tiled Original elevates draft beer to high science. The brew (small-bubbled Brahma) rests in iceberg-cold tanks for at least two days to settle the head.

Before strutting Brazil’s 4,603 miles of soft sands, stop here to load up your iPod with bossa nova, samba, axé, and forró—any Chill: Brazil compilation will do. (Just don’t take anything with an apple on it to theft-prone beaches in Rio or Recife.)