As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup we have put together a list of recommendations with the hope that these tips will ensure the trip is memorable both in and out of the stadiums and that regardless of how well your team performs. We will begin this tour of the 12 host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in São Paulo, the city that will open the games. São Paulo is a place where creativity and originality are celebrated, and it can be experienced through music, design, fashion and gastronomy.
Though the pace of the city is similar to other financial capitals, like New York or London, it has a particular dynamic that is unmistakably Brazilian and is a result of the diversity that makes up the city. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your visit beyond the stadiums:
1- Eat the Unexpected
São Paulo is Brazil's gastronomical gateway. Given the diversity of immigrants from Japan and Europe, you may find yourself saying the best sushi or pizza you have ever tried was here.
The city is also a hub for Brazilian ingredients that have come from all over the large territory directly to the hands of creative chefs that are rethinking conventional dishes using ingredients as exotic as tucupi, priprioca, taioba and banana da Terra in a revolutionary way. The Municipal Market is also a great place to experience other regional ingredients.
2- Get a New Altitude
Many of the city's incredible rooftop bars and restaurants are designed to highlight the size of Brazil and the southern hemisphere's largest city. At this height, the skyline dazzles with its bright lights and sprawling lay out. And if you are looking for a moment of peace, that's an excellent opportunity to find yourself staring into the horizon.
3- Enjoy the Nightlife
São Paulo is known for its world-class clubs, theatres and bars. Every neighbourhood has its own special character. The bohemian neighbourhood of Vila Madalena has bars and clubs lining its main street.
For more alternative tastes, there is the Baixo Augusta neighbourhood. In this neighbourhood you can find bars and nightclubs to dance, listen to music or just sit around chatting over a beer with friends.
4- Experience the Culture
Experiencing Brazilian music is critical to having the full experience, and São Paulo is one of the best places in the country for live music. From samba to rock, from MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) to Sertanejo, from Chorinho to Forró, all the traditional Brazilian rhythms may be listened in this city, every day of the week in different times of the day and night.
São Paulo's creativity shines through its cultural offerings. In the city with the highest number of Portuguese speakers in the World, a visit to the Museum of Portuguese Language is an excellent way to get immersed into the Brazilian culture. São Paulo's Pinacoteca and MASP (Art Museum of São Paulo) are two other important attractions that represent a cross section of visual arts.
Visits to museums such as the Museum of Afro Brazilian Culture and the Sacred Art Museum are other excellent cultural attractions for visitors willing to experience the best of Sampa, as Paulistanos nickname the largest city in Southern America.
5- Be One with Nature
Make sure you visit nearby cities for some relaxation. There are several options close to the city proper that you can visit, for example, the Mantiqueira Mountains are a popular weekend getaway, where Campos do Jordão resides. This mountain range is sometimes called Switzerland of São Paulo for its European architecture and stunning views.
The coastline in also filled with a wide range of beach cities. The most popular are on the North Shore or "Litoral Norte". São Sebastião and Maresias are two great options in this region. From São Sebastião, you can hop on the ferry and arrive at the picturesque Island of llha Bela.
Note: Look out for the next post in our series, which will feature Brazil's capital, Brasilia.