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Overview to Sao Paulo: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Sao Paulo

It’s probably fair to say that Sao Paulo is often forgotten by backpackers in South America as they head for hedonistic Rio de Janeiro or futuristic Brasilia. But Sao Paulo should not be cast aside so hastily; a sleek, urbane city, it’s also Brazil’s unrivalled hub of art and culture.

Having been continuously rebuilt (often with little planning) over the past two centuries, Sao Paulo can be a little bewildering on first sight. Travelers may be best to walk around the so-called Expanded Downtown in order to get their bearings before venturing further afield.

The Downtown area is an engaging place. It lies at the city’s heart and contains the majority of the sightseeing attractions in Sao Paulo. And yet, since it’s such a sprawl of ever-evolving buildings, it's easy to stumble across places that seem practically undiscovered.

The area spreads out from the Praca de Se, where the remaining traces of the city’s colonial heyday can be detected. Here, the Catedral Metropolitana sits, backed up to the south by another of the city’s impressive churches, the Igreja se Sao Francisco.

Three worthy attractions lie to the north of the Praca. The Patio de Colegio contains an extensive collection of ancient relics, the Solar da Marquesa de Santos is another fascinating museum, while the Mercado Municipal, a lively market, is situated a little further north still.

Various 'barrios' spread out from the Downtown. Roughly speaking, those to the West are wealthier and older, while those to the north carry more of a small-town ambience. To the south, chic, laidback districts can be found.

One of the best ways to experience Sao Paulo, however, is through its boisterous nightlife. Rio de Janeiro doesn’t have a monopoly when it comes to nightlife in Brazil and, as with all many aspects of this often underestimated city, Sao Paulo can more than hold its own here too.

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