Live and eat like a local, and get off the tourist track with our São Paulo hit list from the producer of SBS travel show, This is Brazil!.
Shelley Hepworth

12 May 2014 - 3:44 PM  UPDATED 13 May 2014 - 5:02 PM

1. Travel with your tongue

São Paulo is the largest city in the southern hemisphere with a population of around 20 million people. This cultural melting pot is home to the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan and more people of Lebanese descent that in Lebanon. There’s no better place to experience the fruits of this fusion than at the Central Market where you’ll find hundreds of tasty treats from the city’s immigrant sub-cultures.


2. Enjoy art, not advertising

Unlike the similar-sized cities of New York or Tokyo, São Paulo is entirely free of advertising thanks to new laws aimed at cleaning up the city. This makes for a giant blank canvas for street artists. You’ll see examples of phenomenal art all over the city, but to really immerse yourself head to ‘Batman Alley’ in the Vila Madalena district, where the entire street is covered in a regularly changing display.


3. Freshen up with the latest fashions

Fashion has become big business in Brazil and São Paulo streets like Avenida Paulista and Rua Oscar Freire are home to all the big international brands. If you’re after local designs, track down Alexandre Herchcovitch for his avant-garde design aesthetic and signature skull motifs; Adrianna Barra for her eye-catching patterned clothes, fabrics and tiles; and the Campana Brothers for imaginative, sustainable furniture pieces.


4. Become a night owl

No one would describe São Paulo as people-friendly, with its mile-long traffic jams, poor transport and lack of greenery, but the city really comes into its own at night. A new movement to reclaim public space has seen a recent surge in outdoor events and the number and variety of indoor options are sure to keep people of all tastes satisfied. Head to Vila Olímpia for standard club fare; Vila Madalena if you’re after a more alternative crowd; newly reclaimed Rua Augusta for the latest venue openings; and Jardins for the up-market restaurant scene.


5. And get a bird's eye view

Don’t leave São Paulo without getting a glimpse of it from above - the sheer size of the city has to be seen to be believed. If you can’t afford a joy ride in one of the city’s numerous helicopter fleets, head to the observation deck of the Banespa Building where you’ll have a magnificent panorama of the skyline.


6. Where to eat

D.O.M. – Chef Alex Atala’s award-winning restaurant championing indigenous Brazilian ingredients (Rua Barão de Capanema 549, Jardins, +55 11 3088 0761)


This is Brazil! airs Fridays at 7.30pm on SBS ONE.