Best Ways to Relax and Chill Out in São Paulo

São Paulo skyline
São Paulo skyline | Leandro Neumann Ciuffo/Flickr
Euan Marshall

Greater São Paulo is home to over 20 million people in an area of 3,088 square miles (8,000 square km). Its residents work hard and for long hours, so it often seems that the city never stops. As such, in the middle of this packed cosmopolitan metropolis, it can be hard to catch your breath or just find some time alone with your thoughts. However, the city still has some excellent opportunities for peace and quiet. Here is a guide to the best places to go in São Paulo to chill out.

1. Ibirapuera Park

Park, Natural Feature

Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo
John Pizzarelli / Flickr

Regarded among the best urban parks in the world, Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo’s answer to Central Park, is an excellent choice for anyone in the city looking for a relaxing environment close to nature. Besides its wonderful landscaping and architecture – the latter designed by iconic Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer – the unique thing about Ibirapuera is that such a beautiful island of nature and tranquility is located right in the middle of one of the world’s largest and busiest cities. There is lots to do here: visitors can rent bikes and cycle around the gorgeous lakes, you can wander around the park’s excellent museums and admire the architecture, or just take a seat on the grass and lose yourself in its splendor.

2. Villa-Lobos Park

Park

Villa-Lobos Park, São Paulo
© inacioluc / Shutterstock
Known as São Paulo’s “second park”, behind the aforementioned Ibirapuera, Villa-Lobos is located to the west of the city on the banks of the Pinheiros River. While there is less going on compared to its bigger brother to the south, it’s another excellent option for a relaxing afternoon surrounded by lush, green space. Within walking distance of the neighborhoods of Alto dos Pinheiros and Vila Madalena, it is a great place for cycling, with a path that encircles the park. If exercise is how you relax, there are lots of free-to-use sports courts in the park, meaning you can play a bit of basketball, tennis, or even try your hand at soccer against the locals (warning: even your average Brazilian is quite good at soccer). Other activities include the Villa-Lobos library and the beautiful Prof. Ruth Cardoso orchidarium.

Have a beer in a boteco

Brazil loves beer. And like any other hot country, Brazilians like their beer cold. Really cold. One famous macro-brewed Brazilian beer even boasts that their product is to be served “stupidly cold”. Maybe it’s not for connoisseurs, but on any Brazilian summer afternoon, the refreshment of cracking open a “stupidly cold” one is hard to beat. Beer is served everywhere in São Paulo, from newspaper stands to bakeries, from hairdressers to internet cafés. However, the most traditional spot for a beer in São Paulo is at a boteco, a Brazilian-Portuguese word which can mean anything from a hole-in-the-wall dive bar to small restaurants, and everything in between.

The boteco is a Brazilian institution and, frankly, a pretty therapeutic experience. If you’re looking for a quick way to relax, wherever you are in the city, find the closest boteco, grab a table outside, order the cold beer of your choosing and watch this insane and incredible city go by.

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