So after a busy couple of weeks in Brazil I’m finally sitting down to write a blog post on our first stop – the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest city – São Paulo.
My favourite thing about São Paulo, aside from the people, is the massive culture of drinking and eating, my two favourite things! Rio is considered to be Brazil’s party city, but I think São Paulo gives it a good run for its money. Busy areas have a boteca (local bar) on every corner; seats spill out onto the street at night and Brazilian music pumps out of every speaker while people share food, drink and dance. It’s impossible to explain the atmosphere of these bars that line the streets, they’re just so fun and open to everyone, every night of the week. We even spent one Saturday night watching a Brazilian Elvis…
The drink of choice in Brazil are caipirinhas…the strongest cocktails EVER. They’re just pure alcohol (cahaca), sugar and lime. It’s easy to forget how lethal these are to us gringos, and I absolutely overdid it on my first night in São Paulo, resulting in me projectile vomiting in the men’s toilets (I was desperate). Thanks to the lovely man who barged his way to the front of the queue for me and came to my table later to check I was okay! I almost ruined caipirinhas for myself, but got over it when I realised you can get them for about £1 most places. This is crazy cheap for Brazil!
The most backpacker-friendly area to stay in São Paulo is Vila Madalena, and I just loved the atmosphere here. It’s a really cool, creative neighbourhood with lots of bars, restaurants and amazing street art absolutely everywhere. It’s also where you’ll find the famous ‘Beco de Batman’, a series of little streets and alleys completely covered in beautiful graffiti. It’s the most colourful place ever and an absolute Instagram dream! I could live in Vila Madalena for sure.
Our hostel in Vila Madalena was called O De Casa, and I have to shout them out for being not only the best hostel in Sao Paulo but the best I have EVER stayed in. They have a busy bar that’s open to locals and guests, a roof terrace with a giant hammock, and the most kind, helpful staff. I’ll be going back to São Paulo soon to catch a flight to Bogota and will 100% be trying to stay here again!
Apart from making yourself sick on caipirinhas, there’s lots of things to do in São Paulo. A nice penny saving option is the free walking tour, which takes place a few times a week in different areas of the city. We went along to the downtown tour, which was good but SO LONG. It takes about four hours, and I think Jordan lost the will to live by the end. Anyways it’s free, and we got taken to the oldest bakery in São Paulo to eat cakes and pastries, so no complaints from me.
Also on the subject of food, it’s well worth visiting the Mercado Municipal (municipal market), where you’ll get to taste lots of unusual tropical fruits – but more importantly, the most famous sandwich in São Paulo – the mortadella. This sandwich is actually outrageous, I gasped when I saw the size of it. It’s literally about 20 layers of meat and cheese that just drips oil and grease everywhere. Possibly the best and worst thing I’ve ever eaten… and believe them when they say one to share is enough!
One of my favourite afternoons in SP was spent walking around Ibirapuera Park, a massive green space in the middle of the city. It’s so pretty, and the perfect spot to people watch by the lake as roller skaters, dog walkers and musicians go by. I could have happily spent a whole day here by myself, it’s so peaceful.
It’s best to plan your route here by bus; we went by Metro and it ended up being about 40 minutes walk from the nearest station, resulting in us getting lost on the way home and walking around confused for HOURS. Luckily a kind jogger took pity on us in our distressed state and ended his run to literally walk us back to the station. Brazilians are so nice 😂.
Another cool place to explore is Liberdade, the Japanese district. It’s home to the largest Japanese community in the world outside of Japan, which is apparent in its shops, restaurants and architecture. If you love sushi, ramen and Japanese culture then you must visit here!
One more place worth mentioning to those that are interested is the Football Museum. Football is obviously a very big deal in Brazil, as it is to Jordan, so he was excited to go here. The museum is located in São Paulo’s public stadium, which you get to have a little look around and take photos. There’s lots of cool football memorabilia from over the years here, including this shirt that was worn by someone called Pele in some World Cup final once…*shrugs*.
São Paulo was our first taste of what Brazil and South America might be like, and I had a fair few preconceptions before I left England, particularly regarding crime and safety as a in such a huge city. After about 2 days in São Paulo though I can honestly say I felt totally at ease, in a beautiful, modern city full of lovely people. Obviously I can’t speak for every traveller’s experience, and it’s always best to keep your wits about you in any new place, but for me São Paulo felt just as safe as London, or any other big city I’ve been to.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below☺️