“São Paulo is an underrated city” is the one sentence I kept reading when researching about the city before my trip.
And it’s true to some extend. São Paulo might not have beautiful beaches like Rio, but it’s more than just a concrete jungle.
São Paulo has beautiful parks, first class restaurants and stunning architecture. It’s also a city full of art– you can find amazing street art, influenced by Brazilian culture, everywhere in the city. Of course there are also great art galleries and museums to visit.
I spent around 5 days in São Paulo, staying with my boyfriends dad and I got a good look into some parts of what life in São Paulo is like.
If you’re going to visit São Paulo and you are not sure what there is to do or see then keep reading, because you’re about to learn some things about one of the most versatile cities in the world.
This post includes:
Liberdade Street Market
Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo
Agua Branca “Chicken Park”
Sao Paulo Churrascarias
Sao Paulo Padarias
Best Markets in Sao Paulo?
Liberdade Street Market
Fun fact: Brazil has the highest Japanese population outside of Japan. Even while living in Japan, I never heard knew about this but it’s true!
It is said that the first Japanese immigrants were deployed in the Liberdade neigborhood in the 1900, where they stayed and formed the first colony.
Liberdade Street Market is the biggest Asian/ Japanese food market in Brazil, so you know, I just had to visit it!
The streets are lined with beautiful, red suzuran-to streetlights and if you crave some authentic Japanese cuisine this is the place to go! Obviously I was more keen on trying Brazilian food during my trip but I did eat some Takoyaki which didn’t disappoint.
There are stalls that sell traditional Brazilian snacks as well, if you want to visit Liberdade street market, but are not too keen on Asian cuisine.
Otherwise I recommend the Gyoza (dumplings with various different fillings), Nikuman (pork buns) or to try one of the many bubble teas that are sold in the little bubble tea stores.
The market is open on weekends and is always quite busy. Beside food stalls you can find Japanese temples and gardens around the area and sometimes even sumo competitions!
What awed me the most were the buildings around the market- Some streets look so Japanese that you can almost forget that you are in São Paulo.
Where? Liberdade Street Market, Av. Liberdade, 365 – Liberdade, São Paulo
When? The big street market happens every Saturday and Sunday from 8 AM to 7 PM.
Mercado Municipal de São Paulo
I really wanted to visit Mercado Municipal de São Paulo because I read a lot of good things about it and it’s usually on the top of every “What to do in Sao Paulo“- list. It’s mostly known for the huge variety of fruits you can buy there. But you can also find fresh meats, spices, herbs and different kind of typical Brazilian snacks there, which are sold in little stalls.
The market is located in the old part of town, which does look a bit rundown and might not feel as safe as other parts of São Paulo. We did walk around in that area for a long time though and had no problems at all.
To be honest though, I didn’t think the market was all that great. While the vendors will give you fruits to try and it is interesting seeing some of the more uncommon fruits/veggies, the prices are just way too steep. You can generally buy fruits and spices for far less in supermarkets or at smaller street markets in the city.
We also ate at a food stall there. While it wasn’t the best food we had, the prices were okay and the portions were pretty huge.
Where? R. Cantareira, 306 – Centro, São Paulo
When? Monday- Saturday 6am- 6pm, Sunday 6am- 4pm
Parks worth visiting in Sao Paulo
Agua Branca park- the “chicken park”
Talk about underrated places. This park was one of the highlights for me in São Paulo. Granted I absolutely love birds, with chickens being some of my favorites, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that the park is full of free roaming, happy chickens.
But it’s not just the chickens that make it to such a paradise between skyscrapers. There are stables with horses and horse riding is available on certain days. Beside other animals like, peacocks, turkeys and turtles, the parks also features several beautiful Portuguese style buildings, tropical trees, plants and ponds with Koi carps. There are various playgrounds and small museums as well as a reading room for kids.
Early in the morning, there are Tai Chi classes, which everyone can join for free and twice a week there is an organic food market.
You can easily spend a couple hours there if you want to escape the hectic city or if you are an animal lover and just want to get up close to them.
The best time to visit is during the week when it’s less hectic.
Where? Pargue da Agua Branca, Avenida Francisco Matarazzo, 455, Barra Funda
When? Daily, 6am – 10pm
How much? Free entry
Ibirapuera means “rotted tree” but a rotten tree is the last thing you will see there. Often compared to the Central Park in New York (which it was designed after), it is one of the biggest city parks in Brazil.
Ibirapuera Park is a popular park with the local teens as it offers great spaces for skateboarding and rollerskating. A music hall and several museums are scattered around the park, such as the Museum of Modern Art or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Both museums feature art or cultural exhibitions that you can visit for free.
There are also several little lakes, food stalls and lots of jogging and walking paths. It’s a great place for pictures, too. Apart from colorful flowers there are various photo walls that offer a beautiful background for your holiday snapshots.
From various places in the park you can also see the Obelisk of São Paulo, symbol of Brazil’s Constitutional Revolution.
Where? Ibirapuera Park, Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral | Vila Mariana, Sao Paulo
When? Open every day, 24h
How much? Free entry to the park
Where to eat in Sao Paulo?
The food in São Paulo is great. Beside the aforementioned markets there is no shortage of amazing restaurants.
Most restaurants I visited are chains and can be found in quite a lot of places in Brazil. An absolute must, when visiting Brazil is to go to a churrascaria and enjoy an authentic Brazilian all-you-can-eat buffet paired with the best meats you’ll ever eat!
We went to Bovino’s Churrascaria which is the go to churrascaria chain for my boyfriends family.
The restaurant itself looked unexpectedly fancy and the buffet was giant!
The special thing about a churrascaria is that servers come to your table with skewers with different cuts of meat. Every table has a yes or no sign, which indicates if you want more meat brought to your table or not. There is usually a wide variety of different meats and even chicken hearts are commonly served there. Combined with an all-you-can-eat buffet this place is a must visit.
The buffet in the restaurant we went to, contained a variety of salads (there was also every kind of salad dressing imaginable!). There was fish, carpaccio, sushi and different kinds of cheese– just to mention a few of the things to choose from. There was even a nice little dessert buffet with varying cakes, fruits and puddings.
If you like a good cut of meat and enjoy a buffet then I really recommend this place.
There are churrascarias in all sorts of price ranges. The one we went to wasn’t the cheapest but for what we got it was absolutely worth the price!
Less common but also quite popular are sushi or pizza churrascarias.
Where? Bovinus, Av. Ermano Marchetti, 1058 – Lapa, São Paulo – SP, but can be found in various locations
How much? Around 25£ to eat as much meat as you can. Drinks are not included in the price.
Padarias were pretty much my favourite place to go to in Brazil. That’s mostly because I love cakes and Brazil is good at making them!
A Padaria is a mix between a bakery and a deli, with fresh cakes, cheese and meats. But they also often sell burgers and other hot baked snacks, like misto quente (ham and cheese sandwich), pão de queijo (cheese balls), or Pastels
The most important thing to try is probably the breads- Pão francês, or French bread (which isn’t much like French bread though). It’s especially good when it’s freshly made.
Every Padadia is different, some have a better selection that others but I found that the bigger the city, the better the Padarias. So if you see one in São Paulo make sure to visit it and give the local cuisine a try! 🙂