Mercado Municipal de São Paulo#4 in Best Things To Do in São Paulo
Most major cities have impressive markets filled with fresh produce, meats and fish, unique crafts and local treats. In São Paulo, that vibrant, aromatic market is the Mercado Municipal, known simply as Mercadão by locals (the "big market"). Originally the city's very first grocery market, Mercadão first opened in 1933 and hosts around 300 stalls selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to spices, cheeses and sweets to meat and seafood. More than 1,500 people work at this market and handle more than 450 tons of food on a daily basis. The building is also decorated with stunning stained-glass windows (72 windows that make up 32 panels) that depict different aspects of food production in the region.
Visitors and locals alike say you must stop by this market when you're in São Paulo. They suggest taking advantage of the free samples available (vendors generously hand them out) and shopping around for the best price. Travelers warn that the market gets exceptionally busy on the weekends, so come prepared for long lines; even better, try to visit on a weekday. A handful of restaurants and bars operate inside the Mercadão as well – visitors say you should try the famous massive (and tasty) mortadella sandwiches at Bar do Mané or Hocca Bar.
Located near the Tamanduateí River, the market is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The nearest metro stop is São Bento (it's about a half-mile walk from the metro station to the market). For additional information on vendors, history and more, visit the market's website.
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#1 Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park)
If you get tired of the concrete jungle, make your way to the Parque do Ibirapuera, which offers a spacious, green respite from São Paulo's towering skyscrapers. The land was selected to be a public park in the 1950s to celebrate the city's 400th anniversary and spans around 400 acres; many people liken it to New York's Central Park and London's Hyde Park because of its size and the amount of visitors it sees. Walking and biking paths snake through the lawns, and you can rent a bicycle from a number of vendors nearby. Music fills the air on Sunday mornings, when visitors can enjoy free concerts in the park's Praça da Paz. Many cultural institutions can be found in the park as well, including the Museu Afro Brasil, Museu de Arte Contemporânea and Museu de Arte Moderna.
Travelers frequently describe Ibirapuera Park as an "oasis" and say it is a relaxing place to spend the day walking through the park, utilizing the running trails or going for a bike ride. Some warn it can get particularly crowded on weekends and when it's sunny.
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