Off Beaten Path Attractions in Sao Paulo



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  • Avenida Paulista
  • São Paulo's asphalt teems with car and foot traffic. Bodies congest the buses and subway cars. Lines are a way of life. A metropolitan area with more than 20 million people might seem to have few lightly treaded paths. But amidst the hustle and bustle, there exists a network of absconded passageways, deserted patches of concrete and proverbial secret gardens. Sampa's offering of off-the-beaten-path activities is aided by the city's yet untapped potential as a tourist destination.

    The city lacks the postcard beaches and colonial architecture of its Brazilian brethren, such as Salvador, Fortaleza or Rio de Janeiro. Here, a business professional darting between the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Transamerica Conference Center fits the profile more than a wide-eyed and zoom-lensed vacationer perusing for the perfect snapshot. But this hardly means São Paulo is missing the locales that escape traditional guidebooks' imaginations. On the contrary, Sampa is rife with the sort of destinations that in places like Manhattan, Mexico City or Madrid may already have become passé to those who delight in a sense of discovery when they travel.

    Tours of São Paulo's lesser-touted lugais (places) should start with the labyrinthine Beco de Batman (the Bat Cave) in Vila Madalena. The name alone belies the under-the-radar nature of this ever-evolving alleyway-cum-communal graffiti canvas.

    Nearby, and considerably unconfined in comparison, the Saturday flea market at Praça Benedito Calixto is a hodgepodge of peddlers selling second-hand keepsakes that they've declined to keep. Antique bottles, books, records, kitchenware and camera equipment are just some of the trash/treasures on display.

    On the last Sunday of each month, Rua Jandi in Zona Sul becomes the site of Samba da Laje, a street festival blending some of Sampa's best music with top-notch feijoada stew (for the bargain price of Rs. 5).

    The city also boasts a robust network of tucked-away eateries and watering holes, like coxinha-and-caipirinha stronghold Bar Veloso in Vila Mariana or the underground lair-like COQ in Higienopolis.

    Outside of the capital, São Paulo state features a catalogue of sites where one can escape the urban crowds, from the caves of Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira (PETAR) to the sands of Praia Preta. Lastly, just remember, São Paulo's inhabitants and visitors might beat a lot of paths, but they also blaze a lot of new trails. So enjoy our list of hidden gems and don't be surprised to find some of your own along the way (and, please share!).

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    Beco de Batman

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    Rua Harmonia, 62

    Graffiti abounds in the "the Bat Cave."... read more

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    Matilha Cultural

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    Rua Rego Freitas, 542

    Nonprofit cultural center with a philanthropic slant... read more

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    Samba da Laje

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    Rua Jandi, 79

    Samba and feijoada stew on the last Sunday of the month... read more

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    Aguas de Lindoia

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    Av. das Nações Unidas, 570-710

    Hot springs known for curative properties... read more

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    Jaragua

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    Rua Antônio Cardoso Nogueira, 539

    Climb above the high-rises... and even the clouds...
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    Solo Sagrado da Guarapiranga

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    Estrada do Jaceguai, 6567

    Nature, architecture and spirituality intertwined...
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    Mercado das Pulgas

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    Praça Benedito Calixto - Jardim Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil
    Praça Benedito Calixto, Pinheiros

    Saturday flea market... read more

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    Parque Estadual Turi­stico do Alto Ribeira (PETAR)

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    Av. Isidoro Alpheu Santiago, 364

    A collection of caves, waterfalls and hiking trails... read more

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    Vila Capivari

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    Avenida das Colinas de Capivari

    "Brazilian Switzerland" near São Paulo... read more

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    Espaço VilaMundo

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    R. Belmiro Braga, 216 B

    Mass media with a word-of-mouth feel... read more
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