Why Now: Brazil’s Olympic host, Rio, may be hogging the spotlight in typical feather-flouncing fashion, but skyscraper-dominated São Paulo is edging its way onto travelers’ radars. Those who scratch a little at its steel surface are rewarded with lively nightlife and a rich arts scene, mostly concentrated in the colorful, bohemian barrio of Vila Madalena.
Where to Go: Sampa Hostel offers private en suite rooms and a chic sundeck where you can lounge in a hammock with a drink. Some of the world’s most impressive street art can be found on Beco do Batman (Batman Alley); a huge illustration of the Caped Crusader points to the cobbled lanes where every inch, including the doorways, is covered with skillfully created, constantly updated motifs. Nearby boutiques tempt with finds such as retro footwear at Juliana Bicudo or ceramics emboldened with colorful blooms at Calu Fontes. The neighborhood is dotted with tiny, nameless roadside shacks where you can enjoy a bottle of Brazilian Brahma beer or a caipirinha mixed with home-distilled cachaça (a sugar cane spirit). At café/shop Lá da Venda, nearly everything you see can be purchased, from the fanciful cakes to the tin cups, while Tuju restaurant plucks its ingredients from the kitchen garden. Sample dishes such as grilled mango, sautéed radishes and leaves at ChefVivi, the eponymous offering from a culinary star who previously worked at São Paulo’s D.O.M., considered one of the world’s best eateries.
HIT THE TOWN
Try a cheese and java “ritual” (tasting) at this courtyard café.
Duck through this gallery’s recessed entrance into a labyrinth of modern art.
Grazie a Dio!
Devour pizza and appetizers and dance to live samba rock at this late-night club.