All eyes have been on Rio, but visitors shouldn't overlook the vibrant São Paulo. Brazil’s financial capital is one of the most populous cities in the world (it currently holds the title as the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere) and its large, diverse population has made it a dynamic destination and a center for creative culture.
What to do on your first trip to São Paulo? You’ll have to dine at Chef Alex Atala’s world-famous restaurant, D.O.M. He’s known for featuring indigenous ingredients like river fish and Pitanga fruit. If the super-fancy restaurant isn’t your scene, opt instead for Dalva e Dito, the more casual sister restaurant. Regional fare here still isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s far more accessible. Order the porco na lata: pork confit cooked in a tin can.
For ultra inexpensive (and delicious) fare, order Brazilian pastels—crispy codfish turnovers—at the Praça Benedito Calixto market. Chicken-stuffed coxinha are also highlights of São Paulo’s street food scene.
Admiring the city’s art scene is one of the most fun things to do in São Paulo. The national gallery, Pinacoteca do Estado, houses Brazilian artworks from the 19th century to the modern day inside a light-filled brick building. Visitors can also walk in and out of the many contemporary galleries—like Raquel Arnaud—who represent local artists.
For a more urban art experience, check out the graffiti at Beco de Batman (literally, Batman Alley). After a single Batman piece appeared in the 1980s, street artists took over this entire neighborhood, transforming the sidewalks and building walls into masterpieces.
Before you leave São Paulo, be sure to pick up completely unique souvenirs (for yourself too, of course) at the shop Passado Composto Século XX. Lucky shoppers may find rare household objects crafted from jacaranda de Brasil rosewood.
And if you have a full day to spend lounging on a golden crescent of sand, drive two hours outside of São Paulo to Cambury Beach. It’s the perfect, quintessentially Brazilian spot to sunbathe, swim, and eat seafood—only no other tourists know about it.