When many people think of Brazil holidays, their minds go straight to Rio- the iconic beaches, beautiful women, Sugarloaf Mountain and the looming favelas. Considering Rio’s status as the preeminent Brazilian city, it is surprising to many to find out that Rio is neither Brazil’s capital nor even its biggest city!
There isn’t much you can do in Rio that you can’t do in Sao Paulo- aside from famous landmarks such as Ipanema and Sugarloaf Mountain, Sao Paulo offers many of the same opportunities for spending time at the beach, taking in culture, and shopping. In fact, shopping in Sao Paulo is a major pastime, and many South Americans travel to Sao Paulo for shopping breaks much like Americans and Europeans travel to New York and Paris. If you’re looking for some beach time on your Brazil holidays, the island of Ilhabela has some of the cleanest and safest beaches in all of Brazil, not to mention a relatively small year-round population and a national park which takes up over 83% of the island!
Culturally speaking, if you’re interested in museums, Sao Paulo has more than enough to keep you occupied, including the Museu de Arte Brasileira (FAAP), the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea, the Museo Afro Brasil, and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP). For lovers of film, Sao Paulo also runs a film festival annually from October to November which has consistently been growing and expanding to become a major player in the worldwide film festival circuit. For those interested in history and architecture, Sao Paulo boats numerous colonial cathedrals and churches to explore such as The Mosteiro de São Bento complex and the original Basilica from 1598. Also currently going on in the world of architecture, though nearly over, is the Bienal de Arquitectura, featuring exhibits of fascinating structures throughout the city.
For those who would prefer not to experience their Brazil holidays as a typical tourist, Sao Paulo is a great place to take some time to walk in the shoes of a Brazilian. As the largest city not only in Brazil, but in all of South America as well as the entire Southern hemisphere, it’s easy to get lost and become immersed in the day to day life of Sao Paulo. Many seasoned travellers enjoy spending their time abroad simply living as though they were a native of their chosen destination. Even the more “touristy” bits of Sao Paulo are often less touristy than those in Rio, making it a perfect destination for those who like to travel but prefer to avoid large groups at major landmarks.
In terms of travelling to Sao Paulo, it’s actually not out of the way, despite the sheer size of Brazil. Many flights to Rio from the US and the UK stop in Sao Paulo anyway, so getting a direct or at least a very convenient international flight to Sao Paulo is not at all difficult. Travelling from Rio itself involves a relatively short flight- normally between 50 minutes and just under an hour and a half- so there’s really no excuse not to include Sao Paulo in any holiday in Brazil!
Jessica Feehan works for Real Brazil Holidays and is very much looking forward to spending time in Sao Paulo with her Paulista friends in the coming year!