São Paulo

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 18, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Cayman Islands, destination, Jessica Labrencis, New Zealand, Phoenix, Sao Paulo, Thailand, vacation package.

São Paulo

(Editor's note: Given the recent civil unrest in São Paulo, most travelers are probably not thinking of visiting in the near future. However, many of the activities and events mentioned are available during any summer. If you are interesting in going, be sure to read the latest news.)

Rio de Janeiro gets most of the attention when people think of cities in Brazil, but São Paulo, the largest city in South America, deserves a visit of its own. The city has the hustle-and-bustle feel of a city like New York, and features an impressive selection of fine restaurants, galleries and museums, and shopping.

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While June, July, and August are wintertime in São Paulo, only June and August are considered off-peak. July sees a pick-up in tourism, with an increase in travelers and prices. Temperatures in the winter months are generally between 45 and 65 degrees; pleasant enough for exploring the city on foot.

São Paulo has more than a dozen museums. Perhaps the most popular is the Museu of Art of São Paulo (MASP) (the website is in Portuguese only), which is holding a Degas exhibit through August 20. The museum also features works by Monet, Picasso, Renoir, and Van Gogh. The State Art Gallery (Pinacoteca do Estado) is also a popular museum, and is home to exhibits by Miró and Rodin.

Dining is a central part of any visit to São Paulo, and the city has nearly every type of restaurant, from Brazilian to Vietnamese to Scandinavian. Visitors who enjoy sampling a variety of different foods should check out the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo, a huge indoor market filled with local and imported products, including fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.

Several U.S. airlines have been expanding in Latin America, which makes finding a flight to Brazil more convenient. Delta, for example, is introducing service to São Paulo starting June 16, just in time for summer travel. Also, hotel rates drop by as much as 20 percent during the off-peak season.

We compared peak and off-peak airfares and found savings of up to $214 in the summer.

Route Off-peak fare Peak fare
Chicago (O'Hare) to São Paulo $1,067 $1,137
Orlando to São Paulo $953 $1,026
San Francisco to São Paulo $889 $1,085
Washington, D.C. (Dulles), to São Paulo $1,022 $1,236

Off-peak fares are based on travel from August 21 to 25, 2006, and peak fares are based on travel from January 8 to 12, 2007. Prices were found on Travelocity's website and include taxes and fees.

Planning a São Paulo vacation can be somewhat challenging because many attractions' websites are only in Portugese. However, you can find information in English on the São Paulo government website, and in SmarterTravel.com's São Paulo Travel Guide.

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