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How to spend a couple days in Sao Paulo

Got 48 hours to explore the vast, vibrant metropolis that is not only Brazil's commercial center, but its artistic and gastronomic heart?
/ Source: Reuters

Got 48 hours to explore the vast, vibrant metropolis that is not only Brazil's commercial center, but its artistic and gastronomic heart?

Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a visit to Sao Paulo, the city where trees are an integral part of the architecture and surround its museums, restaurants and shops.


6 p.m. - Check into your hotel, which can range from a simple guest house such as the Pousada Dona Zilah on Alameda Franca or the more luxurious Slaviero on Alameda Campinas in the chic Jardim Paulista neighborhood.

8 p.m. - It's hard to go hungry in Sao Paulo and it's possible to eat well without breaking the bank. For a light snack or sandwich, try one of the bakeries like Padaria Caconde on Rua Caconde or the 24-hour A Bela Paulista on Rua Haddock Lobo.

Vila Madalena is a neighbor filled with bars and restaurants. The streets that cross Rua Aspicuelta - Rua Fidalga, Rua Fradique Coutinho and Rua Mourato Coelho - are the busiest. Filial on Rua Fidalga is a watering hole popular with journalists. If you're a football fan - and everyone in Brazil is - try Sao Cristovao on Rua Aspicuelta.

11 p.m. - Feel like music? Head to Baretto, a small jazz bar in the fashionable Hotel Fasano where musicians play until nearly dawn.


9 a.m. - Time to visit the Mercado Municipal, the central market, which is housed in a cavernous, Belle Epoch building filled with foods, fruits and fish from around the world. Grab a quick coffee and munch on some pasteis - small pastries filled with meat, cheese or fish and then fried.

10 a.m. - Head north through Centro to the Pinacoteca do Estado, the Sao Paulo State art museum. Along the way, slip into the Estacao da Luz, a commuter rail station that looks as if it had been lifted whole from a European city and plunked down across the street from Luz Park.

The park is almost as much an art gallery as it is a verdant refuge. Sculptures by some of Brazil's most noted artists - Maria Martins, Liuba Wolf and Sonia von Brusky - are planted amidst the banyan trees and fountains.

The Pinacoteca houses a collection of sculpture, mixed media and paintings. It also has a cafe.

1 p.m. - Head to the chic Jardim Paulista neighborhood for lunch at Sinh'Ana on Alameda Joaquim Eugenio de Lima where you can enjoy some feijoada, a stew of black beans and pork.

3 p.m. - Stroll along Rua Oscar Freire, Sao Paulo's answer to Beverly Hill's Rodeo Drive. Or if you prefer shopping malls, try Iguatemi.

6 p.m. - If you have the stamina, head over to the uber-hip Hotel Unique and its rooftop bar, Skye. Get there at sunset and watch the city's panorama come alive.

9 p.m. - Dinner awaits. Check out a churrascaria rodizio - the all-you-can-eat steak houses serving an endless supply of grilled meats and an array of vegetables, salads, and in the case of Barbacoa Grill on Rua Dr. Renato Paes de Barros, caviar and smoked seafood. Don't forget to leave room for dessert - creme de papaya perhaps?

Midnight - Head to Clube Vegas, a duplex disco in the midst of Rua Augusta, a seedy strip filled with all kinds of clubs. The music at Vegas tends to be techno and the crowd tends to be an eclectic mix of gays, straights, young, old, natives and a few tourists. Dancing continues at least until 4 a.m. Don't forget to check out the downstairs.


9 a.m. - Breakfast. Most hotels serve an array of fruits, as well as an assortment of cheeses, breads, charcuterie, jams, juices, cereals and yogurts. Try goiabada (guava paste) on queijo minas, a soft white cheese, or pao de queijo, warmed cheese-filled breads.

11 a.m. - MASP - Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo boasts an incredible collection of works by Renoir, Manet, Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Matisse. One current exhibit, the Art of Myth, gives a glimpse of the collection's breadth, showing how the world of the ancient Greeks has influenced such 20th Century artists as Picasso.

2 p.m. - Lunch. Looking for something other than meat? Then take the subway and head to the Liberdade station in the middle of Sao Paulo's Asian neighborhood. The city boasts the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. On Sundays, there's a fair on the Praca da Liberdade with food stalls and handicrafts. Looking for something a bit more upscale, try Sushi-Yassu on Rua Tomas Gonzaga.

4 p.m. - If you still have a few hours left and you'd like to stretch your legs, grab a taxi for a short ride to Parque do Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo's answer to London's Hampstead Heath or New York's Central Park. In addition to the museums and planetarium, its lake and monuments are enveloped in subtropical trees and flowers.