One of the world's major metropolises, Sao Paul is the cultural and business capital of Brazil. Looming large over South America, the city has a stunning array of attractions - world-class museums, concerts, experimental dance, ultra modern theatre, and some of the best nightlife on the continent. The locals, known as Paulistanos are friendly, outgoing and fiercely proud of their city.
Founded in 1554 by Jesuits, Sao Paulo was a remote backwater until the early 20th century when it began to come into its own and join the modern world. The new century brought the city an explosion of immigrants from the world over to build railroads, farm, build infrastructure, and work in factories. By the 1950s the city was leading the rest of Brazil as the country's commercial and industrial center. The result of the immigrant explosion is obvious. The city of 18.5 million is Brazil's most culturally diverse destination. For the visitor, a ramble through Sao Paulo's diverse neighborhoods is like being part of a multicultural parade.
Nightlife can be found in various parts of the city but some of the best is to be found near downtown in Bixiga (or Bela Vista or Little Italy). The streets here are full of cafes, bars, clubs and an exciting selection of restaurants. A quieter area but also culturally enticing and full of cafes and museums is the zone of Jardins.
The social scene in Sao Paulo tends to focus on dining out. New restaurants are always opening every time you turn a new corner. You can find top quality Indian, French, Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese restaurants. Be sure to try the pizza—it's world class. Also delicious is beirute, a traditional Lebanese sandwich served hot. Of the Brazilian restaurants, the countless churrascarias (places that serve barbequed meat) are beloved by locals and visitors alike. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, many restaurants serve feijoada, the national dish, which contains black beans and a variety of meats. Other traditional Brazilian dishes include the scrumptious moqueca, fish stew made with coconut milk and a palm oil. When you finish eating, don't forget to ask for a cafezinho, which means "little coffee." It's always very strong and piping hot. From authentic Italian espressos to Brazilian Santos, Sao Paulo is known for serving the best coffees in all of Brazil.
The best times to visit Sao Paulo are spring and fall. Their summers (December-March) tend to be hot and humid, and their winters (June-September) can get quite frosty.