One day in Lima / one day in Sao Paulo
February 20, 2014 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I am going on a business trip to Sao Paulo next month. I will have one free day in Sao Paulo (a Sunday, which I know many mean many things are closed) before my work begins and a 24 hour layover in Lima over the weekend on my way back (noon to noon). What are the can't-miss things in Sao Paulo and Lima? The must-sees, must-dos, must-drinks? Special snowflake details inside!

Special snowflake details:
- I love architecture (as in, a walking tour of architecture would be a great way to spend a day in my eyes), history, coffee, beer and wine, obscure foreign toiletries, and dancing (although I'm not necessarily much good at that last one).
- I enjoy going to grocery stores in foreign countries (hey, everyone is weird in some way!)
- I like to go shopping if I can find something that is both unique and useable (loved the great plus-sized clothes I bought in Sydney and the coffee from Costa Rica; no interest in little clay pots or any other item that just sits on a shelf to be gazed at).
- I would rather go to a cool market where artisans and crafters show off their wares than to an art museum. (Call me a Philistine.)
- A ton of people close to me have birthdays in March, April and May and the idea of bringing them something unique from Brazil or Peru is really appealing.

Does anyone have any recommendations for restaurants in Lima or Sao Paulo that serve food without meat? I'm a vegetarian but I don't require a vegetarian restaurant (unless it's a really amazing vegetarian restaurant), just a dish without meat or fish. Added level of difficulty: I am allergic to corn, soy protein (soy sauce is AOK) and quinoa.

Sao Paulo: What I've picked up from my research is - buy Havianas, a hammock, coffee and cachaha. Drink the beer that is all foam. So far I haven't gotten great tips on what to see and do. Any pointers?

For Lima, my goals are:
- See Huaca Pucllana (or another huaca, but this is apparently the best?)
- Get something made of vicuna wool for my mom
- Get pisco for my other half (which I understand can be done at the airport)
I am staying Miraflores-adjacent so it doesn't seem like these three items will be a problem. I am wondering if I can also see the city centre or if that may be too much to accomplish.

Last question: I've heard you have to be at Lima Airport 3 hours early for an international flight because the lines get crazy. What about Sao Paulo?

Thanks for reading all of this and I look forward to your tips!
posted by rednikki to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "I would rather go to a cool market where artisans and crafters show off their wares than to an art museum."

Best of both worlds! For Sao Paulo on a Sunday I would go to the flea/antique market under the MASP art museum. It says 10-5 but I wouldn't head over before 11:30 or so. Ave Paulista is quite nice to walk down and people watch, and there are tons of small restaurants and cafes on the side streets (especially one or two blocks downhill on the Jardins side). Theres a great park across the street with people selling more handmade-ish things outside - recommended for daylight hours only though.

The MASP itself is a fascinating building, and there are plenty of other buildings to look at up and down Paulista, especially if you're interested in the brutalist style.

Sao Paulo airport is a mixed bag. They recently re-did the security and passport control and it's been smooth, but in the past prior to that I've had substantial waits. The biggest issue is getting to the airport - it's a half hour trip normally that can take up to 2 hours or so in traffic.
posted by true at 8:56 AM on February 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Which Sunday in SP? Knowing the date might help! Where's your hotel?

I'd go to a feira (farmer's market) and eat pastel, sugar cane juice, coconut water and buy some fruit. Then I'd go to a samba bar, eat coxinhas, cod fish balls, fried yuca, fried chicken (frango à passarinho) and drink caipirinhas and beer.

But there are many cool things to do (art shows, music shows, street events, etc) that happen in specific dates. You can memail me if you want, I'll be in SP for most of March.
posted by TheGoodBlood at 9:40 AM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sorry about not noticing that you are vegetarian! Yeah SP is huge, I'll give you a couple of recommendations for veggie stuff based on your hood! Not hard to get vegetarian food in any restaurant, but it'd be easier to learn a bit of Portuguese to order.

I'm vegetarian. | Sou vegetariana/o.
I can't eat corn, soy protein or quinoa. | Não como milho, proteína de soja ou quinoa.
Do you have any vegetarian dishes? | Você tem algum prato vegetariano?
Do you have any dishes without any meat or fish? | Você tem algum prato sem carne, frango ou peixe?

Print this!

I always get to the airport three hours early. Always have plenty of time to kill though. Only once I didn't have any free time due to huge lines. Just follow your airline recommendation!
posted by TheGoodBlood at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2014

Best answer: Hi! Sampa mefite here, welcome to our city!

If you love architecture there are two main places to go to: the Centro Histórico, with buildings mainly from the 1920s (the coffee boom), and Parque do Ibirapuera by Oscar Niemeyer (the guy who designed Brasília, 1950s modernism)

In the Centro Histórico, check out the Pátio do Colégio, where SP was founded in 1554 and the Theatro Municipal, from 1911.

You could have a drink at the top of Edifício Itália, our highest building, great 360º view, excellent caipirinhas. Try to catch the sunset there, it's gorgeous!

The best way to see the Old Center is a bike tour! HEY has the best tours, the site is still being translated, but they speak english. (review) you can email

For shopping, the flea market under MASP and across the street next to Parque Trianon on Avenida Paulista is OK. Also, on Sundays we have the Feira do Bixiga flea market in a traditional Italian neighborhood, great food also, very typically Paulistano.

Another option for shopping is Vila Madalena, not a market but a neighborhood with lots of small hip shops, bars and art galleries. Depending on the day you come, PasseiÔ (site in Portuguese, but you can email them in English) has a great walking tour of the area (don't miss the Batman Alley!)

For dancing, or just enjoying music, one of the best live samba places is Ó do Borogodó also in Vila Madalena, and they are open on Sundays. It's a small place, so get there early!

Top 5 vegetarian restaurants in SP: Moinho de Pedra, Banana Verde, Bio Alternativa, Gopala Hari and Horta Café & Bistrô

Also, our beer is not all foam :-) but even if you don't go to a craft brewery, any moderately upscale place should have a Colorado.

For more tips have a look at Time Out São Paulo

Regarding the airport... unfortunately ours has been voted as Worst Airport Ever, so plan accordingly.

Feel free to memail me with any additional questions!
posted by Tom-B at 3:00 PM on February 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh yeah, forgot about cachaça... here's the 2014 ranking for the top 50 cachaças (scroll down), #3 Boazinha is pretty easy to find and delicious. Protip for drinking cachaça: hold your breath, take a small sip, swallow and breathe right afterwards, so you feel the taste and aroma at once.
posted by Tom-B at 3:09 PM on February 20, 2014

Best answer: Tom-B gave you the full treatment! I'm only a repeat visitor, but my highlights for Sunday with a colleague visiting for the first time were Parque do Ibirapuera, Patio do Colegio, Teatro Municipal, walk through the old town, and the Mercado Municipal. This will mean some taxi time, but is totally worthwhile and a doable one-day itinerary. He was unimpressed by Avenida Paulista but maybe it's more your thing?

Make sure to fill yourself up with cheap fresh-squeezed (or pureed) fruit juice. Acerola com laranja (orange) is one of my favorites, but I like acerola with almost anything. Get pineapple with mint. Try cashew fruit (yes the fruit of the nut). Eat pao de queijo (essentially a cheese bread, but the particular flour and cheese used give it a very nice taste).
posted by whatzit at 3:13 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: By the way, the restaurant at Huaca Pullanca is amazing. I highly recommend it.
posted by superfille at 5:05 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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