The largest city in South America and third in the world, São Paulo is a hard place to explain. A city of immigrants from all over the world, with the influence of Portuguese, Spanish, German, African, Jewish, Arab, and Japanese residents, it promises a rich life and culture. After all, the family is just 17 million and counting.
The city gives you the sensation that it extends into infinity, and grasping the vastness of its size is perhaps the most difficult thing. Therefore, this city of first class art museums has its attractions far from one another, so public transportation has been vital for their visitors. The Metro can be a good way to travel, but I recommend walking and biking around. It’s the best way to appreciate the diversity and vastness of the neighborhoods in this massive metropolis.
Gay City Guide
Sao Paolo Gay Month May 1-31, 2017
The Sao Paulo Gay Pride made it to the Guinness Book in 2006 for the world’s biggest Gay Pride celebration and it hasn’t lost its #1 position ever since. With one of the biggest gay clubs in America and 17 million residents, this vibrant scene feels like an ongoing high. They haven’t announced the date for this years pride but the month of May is packed from beginning to end with non-stop partying.
Capital of the Brazilian hipsters, the city center neighborhood Jardim Paulista, is pretty much a Latino version of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY, and it’s pretty awesome! Vintage stores, organic coffee shops, international restaurants, themed barber shops and lots of shopping; Sao Paolo will surpass all your expectations. Here is the list of my favorite gay spots:
Top bars and Clubs
Features two main dance floors in a three level club, a garden, a pool, several bars, valet parking, and a VIP area bringing in over 2,500 people every weekend. Every week feels like they are celebrating something special because of the energy and vastness of the crowd. The light show and special effects in this venue are the best of any other gay club in Brazil. With International DJ’s most of the time, this is the place to be every Saturday Night.
Location: R. Guaicurus, 324 – Lapa, São Paulo
A small club with a bar that is popular between locals. It gets busy on Friday and Saturday nights and you will see more of a laid-back, younger crowd than the Week. A mix of Pop Music and EDM makes this venue a fun alternative for Saturday nights away from the muscle circuit boys.
Location:Rua dos Ingleses, 355/357 – Bela Vista, São Paulo
Famous for their big variety of music, this is a great spot to come and dance and have a fun night with your friends. The energy is more laid-back than the Week. It has a large dance floor and a mezzanine overlooking it, this is a great club to come to if traveling alone. Crowd here was very friendly. Having events and parties every week from Thursday to Sunday, check their website before your travels to see if they have something that interests you.
Location: R. Marquês de Itu, 182 – Vila Buarque, São Paulo
Soda Pop bar
Close to ABC bailao, the name of this small bar sums it up. Pop music and young twinks with too much alcohol. If this is your crowd this is a good place to start the night before heading to the big clubs.
Location: Av. Viêira de Carvalho, 43 – Vila Buarque, São Paulo
The house of the Drags. This fancy, lounge-style club brings world-class, queer entertainment into Sao Paolo’s gay scene. Erotic shows, Stripper boys, Go Go dancers and the Top Drags of the scene; pretty sure you will have a fun night. Great place to come if traveling alone and looking to meet cool guys. The only down side to it is that it is one of the city’s most expensive places. From Thursday to Sunday there is always something happening at Danger.
Location: R. Rêgo Freitas, 470 – República, São Paulo
Not a gay bar but a must visit for every tourist. This is the best rooftop bar in the city. Just to see The Unique Hotel unique giant boat shape design is worth it. The incredible architecture and design of the building is truly striking. One of the best caipirinha you will have in town. When you pay for it think that you are also paying for the amazing terrace, the pool and the stunning view of the city.
Location: Av. Brigadeiro Luis Antonio 4700
Top 3 Hotels
A reference in modern architecture and originality, Unique’s spacey, green copper facade alone makes this hotel unlike any other. Best hotel in town without a doubt. Located in the well-heeled residential area of Jardins, and just meters from Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo’s largest green area, the building rises like a gracious ocean liner in dry-dock. Shielding dark glass and a desert garden of mini, sand-toned cubes of rock, palms and agaves are the first impressions that the hotel offers.
Dramatic high internal spaces such as the lobby are accentuated and illuminated with walls of beige marble, and sharp, geometric themes make the spectacle even grander. A carefully choreographed spectrum of circles and squares, ellipses and sine curves flow in and out of each other, softened by wooden flooring, sleek white furnishings and transparent glass tables and fittings. The rooftop terrace displays amazing views of the city, if you manage to take your eyes off of the fascinating crimson red swimming pool. Best rate $430
This 5-star hotel offers luxurious accommodation just 100 m from Trianon-Masp metro station in Bela Vista, Sao Paulo. When visiting Sao Paolo you will want to be near Avenida Paulista, here you will find the best restaurants, museums and nightlife. The L’hotel has a spa, an internal and heated swimming pool and free private parking. What makes this hotel one of my favorite is the boutique individualize attention it offers to their guests. While Unique hotel offers the top luxury experience this one offers a better location if coming to party in the city.
Rooms at L’Hotel PortoBay São Paulo are elegantly designed and have free WiFi, cable TV, work desk and en suite bathroom with Malin+Goetz amenities. Some rooms have a spacious seating area as well. PortoBay offers the Trebbiano Restaurant, which prepares Italian and Mediterranean specialities, and Il Piano Bar, which serves cocktails and refreshments. Best rate $180
If i could stay in a Fasano every day of my life I would. In every city they place themselves they become without a doubt one of the best luxury options to stay. The Fasano family recognized for over a century for their hospitality and fine northern Italian cuisine administrates Sao Paulo’s newest and most charming property. Ten years of planning and construction have been necessary to find the only location in between the strategic Paulista and Faria Lima Avenue, the private street surrounded by the greatest names of fashion.
Weinsfeld and Marcio Kogan succeeded architecture of a distinctive elegance updating the style of the 1930s and 40s. They combine classical details such as English bricks and Italian travertine marble with a contemporary view.
National and international jazz stars perform in the Baretto a cool meeting point, which was considered as the most beautiful bar in the world by a leading English magazine. The charming Ruggero Fasano room with its large terrace is for breakfast and private venues. The health club a rooftop retreat with stunning views over the city features a pool, baths, sauna, massage, fitness center and exquisite armchairs signed by Hans Wegner. The hotel owns a fleet of limousines providing airport pick-ups and transfers to discover the other restaurants of the fasano family. Best Rate $490
Top 3 restaurants
Best find dinning experience in the city. Rogerio Fasano assumes the responsibility to maintain the outstanding standard of gastronomy, which made him the number one restaurateur of Brazil. The restaurant serves, since 1990, a traditional Italian cuisine, which finds its origin as the Fasano family in Milan. The osso bucco gnocchi are a must have.
Brazil is an enormous country with various distinct cuisines. This small and very busy restaurant celebrates the cooking of the state of Minas Gerais. Huge dishes (they are mainly for two people to share) come to table with traditional accompaniments. At the weekend, look out for rabada com agrião – this is a mega-rich stew based on oxtail and watercress served with a corn porridge that is a first cousin to polenta. Beware, this restaurant stocks 97 different cachaças!
With 1.5 million people of Japanese origin living in the city there are hundreds of Japanese restaurants, from cheap sushi joints to high-end places. I’m doing you a favor and pointing you at the best. Kinoshita an award winning restaurant brings the highest level to the table. The more cutting edge dishes – like seared foie gras – are underpinned by ultra-fresh, ultra-traditional nigiri sushi and whisper-thin crisp tempura. It is one of Sao Paulo’s most expensive restaurants but it will be totally worth it.
Hostel prices Starting at $30 BRL for a night for a dorm (8-18 beds). Depending on the location and time of the year you can pay more. The cheapest a private room can be is $90 BRL, although most are closer to $150 BRL per night. Hostels are abundant but become more expensive the closer you get to Avenida Paulista. Most of the hostels have WiFi and breakfast included. Stay in the gay neighborhood of Santa Ifigenia or Buena Vista so you can be walking distance from the best clubs and bars.
Hotel prices Good location, budget friendly hotels with free WiFi start at $120 BRL per night, though expect to pay closer to $150 BRL, again depending the location and proximity to Paulista. Airbnb share rooms start around $80 BRL and private apartments start around $150 BRL.
Food Small, local restaurants here cost $12-15 BRL for a meal that includes a drink. Fancy restaurants will cost around $50-60 BRL. Casual restaurants can start at $30 BLR. In general, Brazilian food is not that great, so I would not spend a lot of money eating out and save the money for tourist attractions and other things.
Transportation A metro ride costs $2.80 BRL. Public buses cost $2.50-4.50 BRL, depending the distance. Getting around with buses can be hard, especially if you don’t know the language; stick to the metro, which takes you to the most important points. A cab or an Uber is one of the best ways to move around the city at night, try to have the addresses of where you’re going always at hand.
Top things to do
The São Paulo Museum of Art, known locally as MASP, only opened in 1968. It has the most representative and comprehensive collection of western art in Latin America. You’ll see works by Impressionists and modern masters. Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Manet, Debret, Picasso, Miró, along with 73 works of bronze sculpture by Degas alone. This is one of the first art museums on the continent to focus on artists of the mid-20th century.
You will see as well works by contemporary artists in Brazil, including Portinari and Di Cavalcanti. Its outstanding collections put it in the league with the Tate Modern, MoMA, and the Centre Pompidou. The building itself, designed by Brazilian-Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi, is a classic of Modernism. The plaza under its suspended structure hosts a Sunday antiques market and frequent concerts.
Location: Avenida Paulista 1578, São Paulo
Parque do Ibirapuera
Ibirapuera Park is the creation of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, with buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The vast green space has a number of monuments, museums, playgrounds, gardens, trails, lakes, and performance spaces that make for a great day of city exploration. You can easily spend an entire day in this area visiting the museum of Afro Brasil and the nautical Museum. If you don’t feel like consuming history and art you can just relax under a tree and enjoy a lovely afternoon.
Location: Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral, São Paulo
This museum is also inside of Ibirapuerca park but it is a must for every visitor, I believe. It has over 8,000 pieces representing a wide range of art schools, from Picasso, Modigliani, and Léger, to important Brazilian painters like Tarsila do Amaral, Anita Malfatti, Portinari, and Di Cavalcanti. You can also find displays of works by Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, and my personal favorite, Joan Miró. One of the highlights of this incredible museum is the Sculpture Garden, with over 30 pieces designed by Roberto Burle Marx.
Address: Gate 3, Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo
With such a diverse and massive population the possibilities of high, fresh cuisine are infinite. Try and explore as many restaurants as you can. Eating in Sao Paolo, from the food trucks to the fine dining restaurants, will be a delicious culinary experience of the best quality in the country.