Brazil’s largest city – a mass of super highways and concrete — can be overwhelming at first. São Paulo is South America's cultural capital and if you take time to explore its incredible museums and garden parks you’ll be astonished at what you find.

Surrounded by concrete skyscrapers, the city is one of the most exciting and hectic places to start your South American holiday. 

Sao Paolo city landscape

Image by Photo by Alessandro Di Credico (Unsplash)

Follow our step-by-step guide on what to do when you land, and you’ll feel all the more relaxed to explore the city.

Go visit Paulista Avenue

Paulista Avenue

Image by Gustavo Gomes (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Brazil’s equivalent to New York’s 5th Avenue, is pedestrianised for visitors on Sunday’s. Full of music and food vendors, it’s a brilliant place to experience the sights and sounds of São Paulo.

This bustling thoroughfare is home to multiplex cinemas, shopping malls, restaurants, music venues and nightclubs - and is a must see for any visitor to the city. 

View European art in Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP)

Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Image by Felipe Lange Borges (Flickr/Creative Commons)

This museum is the most important museum of European art in Latin America. Here you can see works from Goya to El Greco to Manet alongside Brazilian and South American artists. Anyone travelling towards MASP in Paulista Avenue will be astonished by its modernist appearance. 

It rests on four enormous red legs inside a glass concrete box floating metres above the pavement. It divides opinion architecturally, but its European artworks are nothing short of spectacular.

Attend Mosteiro São Bento

Situated on the northern edge of the Triângulo, you'll find Mosteiro São Bento, which is among the city's oldest and most important churches, and has a stunning neo-Gothic facade.

Go to the Football Museum

Discover more about Brazilian football legends such as Pele, Romario and Ronaldinho at the city’s Football Museum. You will find it inside one the most beautiful Brazilian stadiums, Paulo Machado de Carvalho Municipal Stadium (Pacaembu) located across Charles Miller Square.

Get some fresh air in Jardim Botanico de São Paulo

Jardim Botanico de São Paulo

Image by Danilo Paes (Flickr/Creative Commons)

If you want some fresh air travel over to Parelheiros for some pristine cloud forests or check out the city’s Botanical Gardens, where you’ll see hummingbirds flying over your head and monkeys dancing in the trees. 

Afterwards, you might to have a few cocktails in the bars and clubs of Vila Madalena, or chill out to Brazilian jazz at Baretto.

When the city has finally worn you out, sit back and relax at one of the city’s budget youth hostels, where lazing on a hammock is a fine way to unwind in Brazil’s largest city.

*Header image by Alessandro Di Credico (Unsplash)