Sao Paolo is not only Brazil’s largest city, but it’s the fourth most populous city on the globe, home to 30 million people in what is termed a megalopolis, or "super city." There is plenty to see and do, and here are five of the most unique destinations in the area.
Sao Paulo Zoo
The largest zoo in Brazil, this zoo is home to 3,200 animals, including more than 200 species of birds, all in enclosures that mimic the natural surroundings of the different mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. It includes a large farm that grows vegetables for animal feed and produces materials used for animal enclosures. Located south of the city in what was originally the Atlantic Forest, you can easily spend a day here, captivated as much by the habitat as by the animals.
Underground Crypt of the Sao Paulo Cathedral
The Cathedral itself is massive, but underground crypts that feature statuary of the biblical Job and Saint Jerone almost qualify as a separate cathedral. The final resting place of the city’s bishops, archbishops, and other prominent Brazilians, there is also a huge brass tomb that honors Chief Tibiriçá, a 16th-century native who is credited with helping Portuguese Jesuits colonize São Paulo after he converted to Catholicism. Guided tours of the underground space are offered every day during set hours.
Mercado Municipal de São Paulo
Nicknamed the Mercadao, this incredible food market was established in 1933 and is housed in an eclectic industrial building that features distinctive stained glass and a towering dome. Open seven days a week, it offers visitors a true "taste" of everyday life in this city, with an ever-changing variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh and dry meats, poultry, cheese, spices, olive oil, and wine. On the second floor, you’ll find a variety of eateries, many of which offer the traditional Mortadella sandwich. It’s a great place to watch the locals and relax a bit! The vendors can be annoying, and you’ll want to be aware of pickpockets and hustlers, but it’s worth a visit.
Town of Embu Das Artes
Escape the bustle of the city for an afternoon and visit a center of creative arts and galleries just 40 minutes away. It’s a unique adventure, allowing you a chance to shop for souvenirs, stroll picturesque streets, sample Brazilian dishes in small cafes that might also feature live music, visit local artists in their galleries, and enjoy unhurried rural life. It’s a charming detour from the primary tourist destinations.
Enjoy a Day at the Beach
Of course, Brazil’s largest city is inland and has no beaches, but it can be rewarding to take the 50-mile trip to the coast and dip your toes in the Atlantic. The closest beaches are situated at the mouth of the river that leads to Sao Paulo. Santos Beach offers a beautiful stretch of sand as well as impressive gardens. It’s located near Sao Vicente, the oldest town in Brazil and the hometown of soccer star Pele. Or continue to the Green Coast, between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to find other secluded beach retreats.