Back in 2013, I was scanning through my Twitter feed when I came across a ‘Top 10 Must-Visit in São Paulo’ list. It was written by one of those international bloggers who seem to travel all over the world with the sole intention of making top 10 lists about absolutely everything. This was the first time I’d seen this well-known blogger writing about São Paulo, so naturally I was intrigued to see if I’d been to many of the places included on her list. As I scrolled through I wasn’t surprised to see some of the usual suspects on there; Ibirapuera park, the Municipal market and the bohemian district of Vila Madalena had all made the cut. However I was pretty baffled to see some of the cities expensive bars and restaurants making up the rest of this list. Some of these were places I’d visited, had an exquisitely bland time in, paid a fortune for the pleasure and then vowed never to return.
10) Fabriketa no Brás
Don’t expect to find this place in any guide books for a while yet!
When my friends told me about Fabriketa, I was both hesitant about going and curious about checking it out. Yet the lure of partying the night away in an abandoned factory in Brás was too much, and a few days days later we were in a taxi heading to the venue.
To put it simply, this place is amazing! The thing I appreciate most about it is that it retains the feel of a building that has seen better days. It hasn’t undergone any sort of major refurbishment to accommodate people using it as a place to party, and this is a huge part of its charm.
My Tip for Finding What’s
Good Miley Going on in São Paulo
In 2015 Fabrika played host to big names such as Carlos Capslock and Meca, but the parties here are somewhat sporadic. The place also doesn’t seem to have a Facebook page.
But fear not!
If you’re wondering when the next event will be, let me give you a tip. There is a blog called Chicken or Pasta that offers recommendations on bars, restaurants, museums and concerts that are taking place throughout the city every weekend. You might need to run their guide through Google Translate if you don’t speak Portuguese, but it could prove an invaluable source of information for you during your stay here. So be sure to look out for upcoming events at Fabrika on this website.
9) SP Na Rua
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’m a big fan of street events in downtown São Paulo. I find this area fascinating, dirty, unique and pretty enchanting. So events that run through the night here (when you’re in the safety of numbers) really allow you to experience the city centre in a different way. This is why the annual SP Na Rua gets a place on my list this year. Unlike the yearly Virada Cultural (that has arguably become synonymous with great music and, unfortunately, crime), SP na Rua isn’t nearly as intimidating or crowded.
So, what’s it all about? Well, some of the biggest collectives in the underground party scene occupy the centre of the city from 10pm-6am. For those of you looking to experience São Paulo in a different way, if you’re in the city when SP Na Rua is taking place then this is one free event that you don’t want to miss out on.
8) Parque da Juventude
Av. Cruzeiro do Sul, 2630, Carandiru, Sao Paulo. Opposite Carandiru Station (On the blue line)
I’ve been to this park a couple of times in the last few years as there are often free concerts here. But it wasn’t until I read the book Lockdown: Inside Brazil’s Most Dangerous Prison by Drauzio Varella that I truly appreciated the significance of this space.
Parque da Juventude is on the former site of the Caranderu Penitentiary, which is still regarded by many as one of the most notorious prisons in the world. Varella’s book documented what life was like inside the prison for over a decade before the 1992 massacre, in which 111 people were killed. As a volunteer doctor in the penitentiary this book offers a unique insight into daily life in this facility. It also inspired the film Caranderu.
Today most of the penitentiary has been demolished, but it is still possible to walk along some of the well preserved remains of the prison walls and see what is left of the cells.
Most tourists naturally gravitate towards Ibirapuera on a vist to São Paulo, but if you’re looking to visit a park with the added element of history, this is worth checking out.
7) Drosophyla Bar
Rua Nestor Pestana, 163 – Consolação, S. Paulo – 01303010 – SP
Just behind Roosevelt square lies the bar/restaurant Drosophyla. I’d not heard of this place until a few months ago, yet the minute I walked inside I was instantly sold. The place is a huge house with plenty of comfortable rooms to relax in. Actually, it feels like being inside a Downton Abbey-esque house!
And here’s the thing, after living in São Paulo for so long I’ve come to expect that a place like this would be pretentious. After all, the decoration is very elegant, no expense seems to have been spared on the furniture and the service is of a high standard. However, to its credit, it really doesn’t feel pretentious at all. For what you get, Drosophyla isn’t overly pricey, manages to maintain a very laid back atmosphere and it is very unique.
Rua Bento Freitas, 366, Republica, São Paulo
In contrast to Drosophyla, L’Amour isn’t somewhere that would ever be considered classy! It used to be a strip joint but is now host to some of the cities underground events, like Tenda, Lua, Festa Estranha and Kevin. As with Fabrika, the place looks like it has undergone absolutely no refurbishment whatsoever before becoming a party venue….and then there are the poles!
I don’t know about you guys, but after two Heinekens I’m ALWAYS drawn to poles in nightclubs, and you will soon see that the people you can expect to find here are too. L’Amour attracts an alternative crowd, entry is pretty cheap and it is definitely not likely to be to everyone’s taste. But if you’re looking for a party that isn’t very overpriced with an interesting mix of people, you should check this place out.
I dare you!
5) Biyou’Z Restaurante Afro
Click here for the Facebook page Mon-Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am Alameda Barão de Limeira, 19A
São Paulo is a cultural melting pot, which gives its residents some fantastic culinary options. None more so than the Biyou-Z restaurant in the centre of São Paulo. It is located within walking distance of Republica station, and as with most places in the centre of São Paulo, if you’re planning on eating late at Biyou-Z at night I’d advise those unfamiliar with this neighbourhood to take a taxi. Just to be on the safe side.
This simple African restaurant serves up delicious food at very reasonable prices and also boasts fantastic service too. So if you’re looking for something a little different on your trip to the city, I’d totally recommend this place!
4) KOF – King of the Fork
Endereço: Rua Artur de Azevedo, 1317 – Pinheiros – São Paulo – SP Click here for the Facebook page Monday-Friday 10-8, Saturday 9-6
I absolutely love this little café/bar/bike accessory shop, which can be found a few blocks away from Fradique Coutinho station.
It is a very cosy place, has friendly staff, facilities to secure your bike outside and some delicious cookies.
Like, seriously delicious!
They also have other tasty deserts, snacks and breakfast/lunch options on the menu; but if you’re in the mood for something sweet….grab one of these cookies. I’m pretty sure you won’t be asking for anything else on your next trip there after sampling them!
3) Nos Trilhos
Rua Visconde de Parnaíba, 1253 – Mooca – São Paulo – SP. Click here for the Facebook page
This place really is one of a kind! Dubbed ‘train cemetery,’ a whole load of disused, rusting trains lie abandoned on this site, surrounding those who’ve come to party. Some of my favourite memories of 2015 have come from the parties I’ve attended here. The area is pretty big too, so on rainy days there is no need to worry about being caught in the rain. DJs tend to utilise the large space under the viaduct, and so to do those determined to stay dry and have a good time!
Nos Trilhos isn’t simply used as a place to party though,vendors, food trucks and even exhibitions can often be found on the site. Again, I’d advise getting a taxi to the place if you’re not familiar with the area (The entrance is opposite the Museum of Immigration).
It almost doesn’t matter what party you attend here as this venue is amazing and worth checking out all on it’s own! However, parties thrown on these grounds by the likes of Soul Set, Odd and Carlos Capslock are amongst my favourites, and likely to offer a different partying experience to those visiting São Paulo for the first time.
2) Avenida Paulista - Sunday 9am-5pm
Up until just a few months ago, Avenida Paulista used to be closed to cars just three times a year
- For the New Year’s party
- The São Silvestre race
- The Gay Pride parade.
I’d love to say that I’m someone who participates in the running race every year, but that would be a massive lie! I am also usually travelling over the New Year period. So this is what used to make the gay pride event special for me. It was the one time of the year I could enjoy walking on the road and see Avenida Paulista from a different perspective. Being enveloped by the towering skyscrapers on one of Brazil’s most famous streets is quite an experience! Yet if you’d have told me when I first arrived in São Paulo that I’d feature the avenue in any sort of positive top 10 list about Brazil, I’d have told you to do one! Back then I just didn’t get the appeal of it. In my book Trying to Understand Brazilian Culture I wrote:
There were a sea of skyscrapers that continued down Avenida Paulista as far as the eye could see. We’d booked a hostel just off this street purely because the guidebook had recommended it as a ‘must see’, a place you couldn’t possibly miss on a trip to São Paulo. But as we looked around I began to question if the reviewer had ever been here. It was just so big and so unapologetically ugly. I took a further look at people passing by, most dressed in business attire and armed with umbrellas. The city we were in the midst of definitely seemed to have a different vibe to the one we’d encountered in Rio. These umbrella-wielding business people offered a glimpse of a Brazil I’d not really considered before: a Brazil where people went to work!
And here is the thing, over the last five years Avenida Paulista has really grown on me. It is a lot of things to a lot of people, not just the white collar workers whom I assumed dominated the avenue. I read once on a blog post that every day in Sao Paulo feels like a Monday, every evening feels like a Friday. This is so true of Paulista avenue. During regular working hours the energy of the place is harnessed as business people go about their work, however as soon it’s time to clock out there is a buzz about it that is almost infectious. You will see people spill out onto the street to enjoy a few beers every single night of the week here.
Since late this year, Avenida Paulista has become closed to traffic on Sundays from 9am-5pm, making this place a whole lot more interesting one day each week. Now, as you stroll down this avenue, you’re likely to see families, couples, dog walkers, skaters, runners and pedestrians all using this space. You will see many stopping to talk to friends, to buy ice cream and to watch the street performers (Which usually include Bruno the bucket player, the guy I interviewed for my Meet the Locals feature earlier this year). Then there are the cyclists in the centre of the avenue, utilizing the new bike lane that opened this year.
If you’re coming to São Paulo over a weekend, Avenida Paulista between the hours of 9am-5pm should feature in your plans!
1) Mirante 9 de Julho
Click here for the Facebook page Tuesday-Sunday 10-10. R. Carlos Comenale (Behind MASP) – Bela Vista, São Paulo – SP. This site lay abandoned for decades, but since renovations were completed on it earlier this year, Mirante 9 has quickly established itself as being a pretty big deal to the city’s cultural scene. Let me explain why. If you are on Avenida Paulista and fancy a quick coffee during the afternoon, Mirante 9 is home to Isso é Café. This place certainly offers a coffee with a different view of São Paulo! Drinks are fairly reasonably priced (my recommendation would be the batida de chocolate gelado -a mixture of chocolate and coffee served cold) and you will also find a bar area where you can buy cooked food and imported beer.
Should you come here during the evening on a weekend/public holiday, this place takes on a whole different role. In recent months Mirante 9 has played host to film and live music events where people are able to watch whilst sitting on the stairs. I’ve even been here when DJs have been playing to a very large crowd inside the venue. So large in fact, that a lot of people weren’t able to actually get inside. But don’t let a big name performer put you off visiting! Just outside Mirante 9 are plenty of beer vendors and crowds of people enjoying the atmosphere too. Actually, on days like this, the area outside is arguably just as fun as the inside.
What do you think of this list? Have I missed anything out? Did I get these events in the right order?