For a long time, Banespa Tower was the tallest building in South America, and although it’s now dwarfed by the skyscrapers in Sao Paulo’s outer neighbourhoods, it remains the tallest building in the historic center. The observation deck on the 34th floor is still a fantastic vantage point for an aerial view over the heart of the city. Entrance is free, but ID – a passport – is required to get in.
The immense Ibirapuera Park is one of the city’s most popular places to kick back and relax under the sun. Up to 150,000 visitors flood the park on sunny weekends for its walkways and bike paths, woods, lakes, and sport courts. Ibirapuera also includes cultural attractions like the Modern Art Museum, the Biennial Art Exhibition building, the Oca Exhibition pavilion, and the Japanese Pavilion, as well as free music performances by national and international artists. Local sweets and drinks are sold throughout the park and make a worthy indulgence after a day of activity.
Paulista Avenue is Sao Paulo’s main and most picturesque boulevard. The avenue boasts a large business centre, shopping district, and numerous cultural institutions. Here you’ll find the fashionistas doing the stroll and hanging out in the coffee shops and gourmet restaurants. The two-mile-long avenue makes a fun afternoon stroll, especially if you duck into the neighborhoods branching off from it. The Jardim Europe and Jardim America, where all the streets are named after European and American countries, include some of the wealthiest and most elegant homes in the city. The city’s gay life is centered on Consolacao and Haddock Lobo Streets off Paulista.
Sao Paulo is spoiled for great museums. Start with the Museu Paulista, whose architecture was inspired by France’s Versailles Palace. The collection is dedicated to preserving Brazil’s history through works of art, furniture, clothing, and other artefacts belonging to the people who shaped Brazil, including explorers, rulers, and freedom fighters.
The Museu da Imigração (Immigration Museum) tells the stories of the millions of immigrants who’ve shaped Brazil’s day-to-day life. It’s housed in the former Immigrants’ Hostel, which housed Sao Paulo’s first immigrants in the 19th century as they were treated for illnesses or sought work in the coffee plantations in Sao Paulo state. More than 2.5 million immigrants from more than 60 countries passed through the Hostel, all of them registered in databanks that are now searchable to the public. Every year, thousands of people find their ancestors in the Museum’s database.
The Sao Paulo Museum of Art is widely recognized as the finest art gallery in the southern hemisphere. There’s a fine collection of European art, supplemented by great work by Brazilian, South American, and African artists. The building itself is a widely recognized symbol of civic pride – two enormous colonnades support the entire 9200-ton building above a 240-foot-long open square.