São Paulo is as famous for its ugliness as Rio is for its beauty. Restaurants, shops, hotels and nightlife here are infinitely better than in Rio. While wandering and browsing in plush neighborhoods such as Jardins, it is even possible to forget that few cities in the world have quite so much relentless concrete punctuated with quite so few green spaces; or have rivers quite so disgracefully polluted as the Tietê. Marlene Dietrich perhaps summed it up when she said, "Rio is a beauty—but São Paulo; ah …São Paulo is a city."
It has world-class art collections, notably Western paintings at MASP and local sculpture at MuBE, and all things soccer at the Museu do Futebol where the likes of Pele are celebrated. São Paulo is vast but it’s not all an urban jungle—take for example its parks, including Parque do Ibirapuera and Parque da Independencia, which manage to combine lush lawns and running tracks with museums and concert halls. There are smart fashion stores, but no-one should miss the belle époque Mercado Munipical, the city’s largest indoor market. And then of course there’s a night out on the town—São Paulo is best seen from above, from its terrace bars.