My avid readers know my travel insider section where fashion designers, celebrities and industry veterans share their tips for their favorite destinations with us. From now on, I decided also to post my personal recommendations for cities or areas I truly enjoyed visiting. My first one is dedicated to one of the most vibrant and populous cities in the world, SÃO PAULO. As Brazil’s financial center, it holds numerous cultural institutions and iconic buildings rich in architectural tradition.
ABOUT SÃO PAULO
SÃO PAULO reminds me a lot of my favorite place on earth, Los Angeles. Despite my expectations – I was told by some friends that the largest city in Latin America with one of the five largest populations on earth is very dangerous – I never felt unsafe and was truly amazed how clean this huge metropole is. As my tour guide said, there is a huge difference between tourists and travelers, meaning if you stick to certain rules, you will have a lot of fun exploring this lively metropole. Just keep in mind that São Paulo is, as the majority of other places in the world, divided in neighborhoods and you should stay away from certain areas or if you visit them, be extra careful, for example downtown São Paulo.
Be aware of crazy traffic jams as São Paulo has an incredible number of cars: over eight million! Best time to arrive or visit the city is over the weekend or during a holiday. Good Friday was honestly the perfect timing.
MY FAVORITE HOTEL
With no doubt PALÁCIO TANGARÁ, that is part of the Oetker Collection. With an exceptional location in the verdant surroundings of a tropical park, it is a peaceful retreat in a vibrant city. Enjoy some leisure time at the pool or train at the large gym before heading to São Paulo. If the traffic is good, it will take you around 25-30 minutes to the Jardins district. Personally speaking, I loved the hotel’s reﬁned contemporary décor. The rooms are spacious and bathed in natural daylight. The service is outstanding and you are treated to a variety of culinary venues signed by Michelin Star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
R. Dep. Laércio Corte, 1501 – Panamby, São Paulo – SP, 05706-290
Phone: +55 11 4904-4040
MY FAVORITE SPA
Palácio Tangará’s FLORA SPA BY SISLEY, an oasis of refined beauty and serenity. Interiors bathe in the inspiration of the green surroundings, while providing a while providing a wonderfully tranquil atmosphere that will nurture and awaken your senses. I had a wonderful deep tissue massage on my arrival day which was perfect to release any tension from the long flight. Don’t miss the photo-aromatic facials and body treatments.
R. Dep. Laércio Corte, 1501 – Panamby, São Paulo – SP, 05706-290
Phone: +55 11 4904 4099, E-mail: flora.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS
One of the most sophisticated and renowned ones is D.O.M. (Latin abbreviation of Deo optimo maximo), a two-star Michelin restaurant run by Brazilian chef Alex Atala who researches the ingredients used in his restaurant and supervises production in various parts of Brazil. Some of these ingredients include tucupi juice, pirarucu and piraíba fishes, jambu and the tapioca from manioc flour. R. Barão de Capanema, 549 – Jardins, São Paulo – SP, 01411-011
Phone: +55 11 3088-0761
A must-visit is Michelin-starred restaurant TANGARÁ JEAN-GEORGES, located in the ground floor of the Palácio Tangará, overlooking the verdant expanse of the Burle Marx tropical park. In this beautiful and elegant setting (the same where breakfast is served) you can enjoy signature set meals as well as daily specials created by world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. His gastronomy, the first and only in South America, is inspired by lighter Asian methods that are now combined with a hint of Brazil and accompanied by a selection of locally inspired cocktails. Don’t miss the carefully curated list of over 180 different wines including some of the region’s best-kept secrets.
R. Dep. Laércio Corte, 1501 – Parque do Morumbi, São Paulo – SP, 05706-290
Phone: +55 11 4904-4072
A true insider tip, that I got from the concierge at Palácio Tangará, is another two-star Michelin restaurant, TUJU. A beautiful restaurant set in São Paulo’s Vila Madalena neighbourhood, it is well worth a visit for the urban garden and open kitchen. Chef Ivan Ralston is bringing sophisticated simplicity to Brazilian dining. Herbs are harvested in the backyard and everything is prepared fresh with local ingredients. I had the vegetarian 5-course market menu with wine pairing that I can absolutely recommend.
R. Fradique Coutinho, 1248 – Pinheiros, São Paulo – SP, 05416-001
Phone: +55 11 2691-5548
MY FAVORITE BAR
I love SKYE BAR & RESTAURANT located on the rooftop of the Unique Hotel. Boasting a crimson red pool and stunning views over Ibirapuera Park and the entire São Paulo skyline, DJs entertain the beautiful crowd with really great music, probably the best I heard in quite some time. I indulged in Brazil’s most famous cocktail, the caipirinha, which is supposed to be one of the best ones in town.
Av. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio, 4700 – Jardim Paulista, São Paulo – SP, 01402-002
Phone: +55 11 3055-4702
MY FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD
This pie-like dish originating from the Levant was introduced in Brazil by Levantine immigrants, where it is known as ESFIRRA, a street popular food. Baked and folded into a triangular pastry, it is filled with different ingredients, from cheese, curd, lamb, beef to vegetables. So yummy!
For breakfast at Palácio Tangará, I loved having an AÇAI BOWL, the perfect boost for energy. They are also very popular as a pre or post-work out meal in Brazil. This dish is made of frozen and mashed açaí palm fruit, served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, and commonly topped with granola and banana. Açaí na tigela (açaí in the bowl) is popular all over the country but the preparation differs from region to region. The original recipe, as eaten in the North, contains shrimp or dried fish and tapioca and is usually salty. The sweet variety is common in the southernmost parts of the country.
MY FAVORITE LOCAL DRINK
Besides the famous and dangerous caipirinhas, I love FRESH COCONUT WATER. Everywhere you go in São Paulo, you’ll find Coco stalls, places where you can buy a fresh coconut, have it chopped and prepared ready for that sweet nutritious milk. It’s a great experience to watch the preparation. I adored having mine at the pool of the Palácio Tangará hotel.
MY FAVORITE MARKET
The MUNICIPAL MARKET OF SÃO PAULO (Portuguese: Mercado Municipal de São Paulo), a large public market in São Paulo designed by the architect Francisco Ramos de Azevedo and inaugurated in January 1933 as a wholesale and retail post specializing in fruits, vegetables, cereals, meats, spices and other food products. The market is located in the historic city center, a meeting point for locals and one of the most visited tourist spots in the city. The smell of fresh fruits is unbelievable. Here you can also find the best esfirra.
R. Cantareira, 306 – Centro, São Paulo – SP, 01103-200
Phone: +55 11 3313-3365
MY FAVORITE PARK
IBIRAPUERA PARK, a major urban park in São Paulo and one of South America’s largest city parks; it covers an area of about 2 square kilometers. Likened to New York City’s Central Park, it is a great cultural scene and a perfect area for leisure and exercise. My favorite photo spot was the illuminated giant Easter egg installed for the holiday in the park.
Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral – Vila Mariana, São Paulo – SP, 04094-050
MY FAVORITE MUSEUM
For those who would like to experience more of the art scene, I would suggest a visit to the MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, University of São Paulo (MAC USP) (Portuguese: Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo). Being one of the largest art museums in the country, it is located in the main campus of the university and in Ibirapuera Park. With approximately 10.000 works, the museum collections cover a period that goes from the modernist Avant-Gardes in the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, both nationally and internationally. From the rooftop, you can enjoy a 360° view over the city of São Paulo. Don’t miss this spot for your souvenir pictures.
Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral, 1301 – Vila Mariana, São Paulo – SP, 04094-050
Phone: +55 11 2648-0254
MY FAVORITE STREET
AVENIDA PAULISTA, the main avenue and one of the city’s most famous postcards. Modern office blocks, high rise apartments and designer shops dominate so be prepared for a busy, hectic atmosphere. You’ll be amongst businessmen, fashionistas and shoppers – just about everyone turns up on this most important thoroughfare. Interesting to know is that near this iconic street, São Paulo has a huge coffee plantation. There are about 1,500 coffee plants rooted within the Instituto Biológico in the neighborhood of Vila Mariana.
MY FAVORITE AREA
The area known as JARDINS is one of the wealthiest districts in the Brazilian city. It takes its name from the magnificent parks in the area, such as Jardim Paulista, Jardim America, Jardim Paulistano and Jardim Europa. As this is also a chic and trendy district, you’ll find plenty of upmarket shops and some of the city’s finest restaurants here. The area also boasts over 200 bars, testimony to the bustling nightlife in Jardins. You will be amazed by the giant residences in this upper class region.
MY FAVORITE SIGHTSEEING SPOT
The NOSSA SENHORA DO BRASIL CHURCH (Portuguese: Igreja Nossa Senhora do Brasil) is a church located in the Jardim América district. Built in 1940, it is one of the most elegant places of worship I have seen with beautiful ceramic insert panels. The bible come to life with vibrant paintings on the ceiling and walls.
MY FAVORITE HISTORICAL SPOT
You shouldn’t miss the site where the city of São Paulo was founded in 1554: the PÁTIO DO COLÉGIO (in Portuguese School Yard, written in the archaic orthography Pateo do Collegio), which is the name given to the historical Jesuit church, the square in front and the school in downtown. Here you might see some homeless people. It is an area where you should be a little more careful.
Praça Pateo do Collegio, 2 – Centro, São Paulo – SP, 01016-040
Phone: +55 11 3105-6899
MY FAVORITE SHOPPING STREET
Reminiscent of Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles, RUA OSCAR FREIRE is a tree-lined shopping street in the Jardins district of São Paulo. For all shopaholics out there, this is a must-visit. It is the 2nd most luxurious street in the Americas, right behind 5th avenue in New York, and ranks 8th in the world. Aside from high-end international fashion brands, Brazilian fashion brands, such as Carlos Miele, Cavalera, Iódice, and Havaianas are present as well. If shopping isn’t your thing, there are also a handful of traditional restaurants and chic cafes, so-called «parking spots for bored hubbies.»
MY FAVORITE SOUVENIR
Definitely a limited edition pair of HAVAIANAS FLIP-FLOPS. The colourful rubber shoes have become synonymous with Brazil. A stop at the Havaianas flagship store is a must. You will find flip-flops in every imaginable design and hue – and so much cheaper (around 70% less) to what you pay in Europe.
Rua Oscar Freire, 1116 – Cerqueira César, São Paulo – SP, 01426-000
Phone: +55 11 3079-3415
MY FAVORITE SHOPPING MALL
Once you enter JK IGUATEMI, you might think, you are dead and landed in shopping heaven. Situated in the heart of Itaim, not far from the Palácio Tangará, is by far the most luxurious shopping center in São Paulo with restaurants, cinemas, three office towers as well as local and international high end designer stores.
Av. Pres. Juscelino Kubitschek, 2041 – Vila Olímpia, São Paulo – SP, 04543-011
Phone: +55 11 3152-6800
MY FAVORITE PHOTO SPOT
No matter how hectic your explorations in São Paulo may get, do not skip BECO DE BATMAN! Nicknamed after the famous comic character, which was painted on one of the walls around the 1980s, this winding alley in Vila Madalena has a very dense concentration of graffiti that is continually renovated by the local community. Only artists from the area are invited to embellish the walls, that are an instagram heaven, inviting you at every corner to start your photo diary.
R. Gonçalo Afonso – Vila Madalena, São Paulo – SP, 05435-000
Phone: +55 11 96846-7472
MY FAVORITE TOUR GUIDE
A huge thank you goes to DANILO VALISSERRA from Touring SP, who showed us around in São Paulo. Another great tip from Palácio Tangará’s concierge. He picked us up with his bulletproof car (he works for several embassies) at the hotel directly and drove us around the city to show us the most important spots. It was such a fun and entertaining tour.
Phone: +55 11 966-366-664, E-mail:
BEM VINDO A SÃO PAULO
I hope you enjoyed my travel tips for this amazing Brazilian city!
Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht