São Paulo is a city for city people, where street art, street noise and street food cede, but only occasionally, to high design, high rollers and high-end restaurants. Thriving throughout are cultural institutions like the reopened Museu de Ipiranga, a history museum that questions history. Brazil’s biggest city has long attracted migrants and dreamers, making it a great place to explore the country’s kaleidoscopic variety of regional cuisines and musical genres. If crowded buses, clogged streets and 12 million people living in horizon-obliterating highrises is too mega a megacity for your taste, at least stay a few days, breathe in the culture, spit out the exhaust fumes and be on your way with stories to tell.
- Ibirapuera Park is the city’s sprawling central park, perfect for people-watching.
- Museu Afro Brasil focuses on Afro-Brazilian history and culture.
- Dpot, which displays sleek Brazilian furniture, is as much a gallery as it is a store.
- Dpot Objeto sells designerly household items like lamps and pillows.
- Doces Santa Teresinha is one place to stock up on Brazilian candy.
- Templo-Bar de Fé offers live music like sertanejo, a Brazilian take on country music.
- Zestzing puts a Brazilian spin on French pastries, perfect for breakfast on the run.
- Casa Tucupi specializes in Amazonian food, including flavorful tacacá soup.
- Jun Sakamoto excels in sushi – in a city with the biggest urban Japanese population outside of Japan.
- Casa Fluida, known for its drag shows, draws a L.G.B.T.Q. and straight crowd.
- Taraz offers pan-Latin food in an elegant setting both inside and outside.
- Rosewood São Paulo, which recently opened in the heart of the city, is filled with Indigenous art, historic photos and other Brazil-centric objects (rates start around 3,000 reais, or about $562).
- At the sleek Renaissance São Paulo, in the trendy Jardins neighborhood just off Paulista Avenue, prices range widely by date, but recently started at around 1,300 reais.
- Vila Galé Paulista, also off Paulista, is a moderately priced option, with comfortable, modern rooms from about 570 reais a night.
- Vacation rentals are popular in São Paulo; look for spots in trendy Pinheiros or homey Vila Mariana for as little as $30 a night.