Exploring Brazilian Cities – Sao Paulo and Curitiba

Sao Paulo

After spending a few too many days relaxing on the beaches we were ready for the hustle and bustle of Brazilian cities once again. Sao Paulo was the next logical destination as all of buses seemed to go there. Daniel and I started originally began our whole South America trip in Sao Paulo, but we didn’t see or do much as we stayed in an area that isn’t very touristic and spent our days getting organised for the rest of our trip. So, we decided to try it again and this time we would try to see and do a little bit more.

We booked a hostel in an area of Sao Paulo called Vila Madalena, this is the area you should stay in as a backpacker. It is very trendy with cool restaurants, bars, and shops but is also very cheap and relatively safe (in comparison to many other areas of Sao Paulo.)  The area is accessible by the metro and the metro is very easy to use in Sao Paulo.

Staircase in Vila Madalena

The first night we arrived was a Friday night, which meant we had no choice but to check out the weekend nightlife. The hostel staff told us that Vila Madalena was a good area for partying and pointed us to a street just around the corner and up a hill. We headed there and sure enough, the street was filled of people drinking, literally though – people were crowded in the middle of the street all drinking beer from buckets of ice. We went to the nearest bar and bought a few beers and asked for the bucket and ice, and sure enough that’s what we got. We grabbed our bucket and headed to the middle of the street with everyone else. It must just be a known fact in this area not to drive down this particular street on the weekend as you won’t get by.

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We met a few other backpackers along with some locals and stayed out until the bar closed at 2am. Naturally, at 2am we found a food truck and bought some hot dogs which were amazing! Not only do they put cheese on their hot dogs but also these potato chip-like sticks (similar ot Hickory Sticks). Needless to say, we spent the whole next day hungover and didn’t do anything.

Sunday we planned for a big day as we wanted to see a bit of the city before we left. We took the metro to the Japanese Village area where there is markets on Sundays. Sao Paulo has the worlds largest Japanese population (after Japan obviously) which made the area very authentic, lively, and extremely busy. We walked around the markets a bit looking at food but the lines (or rather mobs of people pushing and shoving) made it too frustrating to eat there. We walked around the streets for a bit until we found a nice Sushi restaurant.

That afternoon our friends we met in Ilha Grade who live in Sao Paulo came to Vila Madalena to meet up with us. We walked around the area and had some drinks at the local bars and tried some local food. We also went to a popular street called “Batman Ally” which is a showcase of street art, it was pretty cool to see.  Brazilians can be so kind and accommodating, they are very proud of their culture and are often very enthusiastic to share it with tourists. Thanks Sofia and Stella for a great evening!

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Batman Ally

That wrapped up our time in Sao Paulo, it was again short but this time we got out and about a bit more. The city definitely is interesting and has a lot going on. It is very different from Rio and worth a visit if you are headed to Brazil.


Another full day of buses led us to Curitiba. Curitiba is a big city but is not a popular tourist destination. We thought it could be interesting as we read it was the most modern city in Brazil and that many western countries model their recycling programs and public transport after Curitiba.

What we had read was right, this city was just like being in Canada or Australia. There were many skyscrapers, beautiful parks, and the place was clean. Many people dressed in business attire and as soon as we pulled out a map and spoke English to one another somebody would come up to us offering help, in English! The grocery store looked just like ones back home and the locals shopped like us too, with a focus on healthy foods (as opposed to the carts full of chips and pop we saw in Lapa in Rio.) There were no homeless people because they apparently have some program that helps the homeless to get off of the streets.

While in Curitiba we went to the well-known Botanic Gardens. While the gardens were nice (and very impressive by Brazil standards) they were not as amazing as what I have seen in Australia. We were more impressed by the bus system to get there. The public bus stops are tube-like structures where you pay a man to enter, then you get onto the bus from a platform and can transfer from stop to stop without paying again (similar to a metro.) There are even bus stops that are massive with bathrooms and shops and many different buses that stop there. It is very futuristic-like and works very well.

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Botanic Gardens in Curitiba
A little corner store/bar we stopped in for an afternoon beer.

We also went out partying one night in Curitiba which was a similar street drinking style to Sao Paulo. We went to the poorer area to party which was full of young people from the favelas. The people seemed very nice and the few that spoke English were happy to speak to us. Some people even had their dogs with them! It was a nice change to be out in city in Brazil and feel totally safe.

After our few days partying and exploring in the cities it was time to switch it up again an head to a beach on Santa Catarina!



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