You can't talk about São Paulo without talking about its size. Everything in the city is big, from the sprawling suburbs that seem to stretch out endlessly as your flight to São Paulo lands to the population that extends to 20 million in the greater metropolitan area.
The city is one of those living, thriving, teeming masses of humanity that has the power to leave you marvelling at the sheer magnitude of people. It's the largest city in the country and all of the Americas.
A lot of travellers who head to Brazil think first about Rio de Janeiro, but to overlook São Paulo would be to miss out on a truly exciting destination. Once you become accustomed to the fast pace of activity you'll find an energetic city full of the finer things in life, from luxury hotels and restaurants to cute cafes and all-night lounges.
São Paulo might not have one restaurant for each of its 20 million residents, but sometimes it can seem that way. The city offers nearly 13,000 distinct venues from which to choose, with dozens of international cuisines on the various menus around the city. One of the main local staples is pastel, a pastry envelope stuffed with all types of fillings, and then deep fried in vegetable oil.
You could probably spend the entire trip eating pastel at various small spots around the city but make sure to build in time to eat at one or more of the best restaurants in São Paulo. There are so many but two standouts are Greek-themed Restaurante Acrópoles and D.O.M. – Chef Alex Atala's joint that is unlike anything else on the planet.
There are also world-class museums, parks, memorials, and sporting events scattered throughout. Finding them can be a bit difficult on the winding streets but that's part of the fun. Just bring your sense of adventure.
When it comes to resting after a full day’s adventuring, São Paulo has your accommodation needs covered. Because it's such a large city, spanning a huge area, picking a hotel in an area you want to explore is one of the more important parts of planning your trip. For most tourists, that means Centro, Higienópolis, or Jardins – three centrally located neighbourhoods with plenty to do.
As a rule, São Paulo shines for its excellent service and the fun starts at Hotel Unique, a place whose name says it all. Or you can choose to end the night (and start the next day) at one of the best hotels in São Paulo, The Tivoli.
The city doesn't have the same mass of wandering backpackers who find their way around Rio de Janeiro, but there's still a vibrant, exciting culture that revolves around the city’s many hostels.
There's excitement around every corner, and literally a million nooks and crannies for you to explore. One thing’s for sure – you won't run out of things to do.