Known simply as Sampa to its residents, São Paulo often plays underdog to its (let’s be honest) more attractive and coastal sister, Rio de Janeiro. But while Rio has all the sea, sun and sand, Sampa enjoys her own cultural microclimate. Fabulously foodie with a thriving club scene, Sampa’s all edgy and design-focussed with stunning graffiti art on every corner and a superb metro system that leaves Rio for dust. São Paulo is the New York to Rio’s Miami Beach, and it might just be your cup of (strong, Amazonian) coffee…

Bars in São Paulo

São Cristovao (££)

R. Aspicuelta, 533 – Vila Madalena, +55 11 3097-9904

Paulistas (that’s the locals to you and me) rate Vila Madalena as one of the nicest neighbourhoods in the city for pre-dinner drinks. A bit bohemian and with plenty of vibe, this collection of roads to the West of the city offer a great alternative to the glitz and glam of Avenida Paulista. São Cristovao is a winner for dinner or drinks – superb service from friendly staff who serve up great Brazilian fare and heady Caipirinhas. Pop in and soak up some of their superb live jazz music, and watch the world whizz by.

Clubs in São Paulo

São Paulo’s got something for every taste when it comes to clubbing. From rock clubs to hard core dance palaces to places to simply see and be seen, Sampa dominates.

D-Edge (££)

Alameda Olga, 170 – Barra Funda, +55 11 3665-9500

Dance music lovers should try D-Edge for dirty underground electronica and graphic, Tron-inspired décor.


Funhouse (£)

R. Bela Cintra, 567 – Consolação, +55 11 3259-3793

For a student night out with cheesy rock tunes and Carioca funk, check out Funhouse (£). It’s literally a house, packed full of party people on sofas, dancing on the tiny dance floor and propping up the makeshift bar.

Cine Joia (££)

Praça Carlos Gomes, 82, +55 11 3101-1305

This is another totally different night out, where a host of eclectic live music plays every night in this former cinema close to Praça da Sé.

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Events and shows in São Paulo

For a colourful Brazilian experience, get tickets to a match – any match – at the Arena De São Paulo which is home to the state Corinthian’s team (£££). Check it out whether you’re around for the World Cup 2014 or not. Another sporting must-see if you’re in SP is the Brazilian Grand Prix (£££)– the season finale – held at Interlagos, 20km from central São Paulo and easily accessible by metro, train or taxi. Get tickets from Stand A for a Brazilian experience. It’s got a great view of three quarters of the undulating track, and it’s one of the cheaper options.

Carnaval (£) is a sight to behold in São Paulo. Spiritually nourishing and a feast for all the sense, the festival runs for five days from February 28th, finishing the day before Lent begins. A celebration of all ‘pleasures of the flesh’ (carne) before forty days of abstemious living, this is one big blowout of epic proportions. Buy tickets for the biggest parades in the Sambadrome, or join one of Sampa’s wild street parties. Just make sure you start every morning of Carnaval with a strong coffee. Oh boy, you’re going to need it…