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As part of my São Paulo series, one of my favorite (and I believe, underappreciated) cities, I thought I would write an article pointing travelers to more authentic, local experiences in the city. There is so much to see and do in São Paulo that it’s easy to get lost in the city’s meandering streets and energetic neighborhoods. Most travelers only see the highlights and then move on to the next destination.

However, São Paulo has plenty of lesser known sites that are definitely worth your time and attention. If you want to dig a little deeper into the city’s culture and past, check out some of the following attractions you may otherwise miss.

Photo by alicia nicole via

Visit Museo Afro Brasil

This museum is less crowded than MASP and the local Museu de Futebol, but you will find a lot to interest you in the Museo Afro Brasil. It highlights the effect of Brazil’s large African population on local culture, and includes exhibits ranging from art and sculpture to old documents and artifacts from the first African settlers.

Explore Mosteiro de São Bento

Skip the crowded Catedral da Se and head to Mosteiro de São Bento instead, a Benedictine monastery completed in the early 20th century. Besides the beautiful architecture on display, the monastery provides a more immersive experience for visitors than most Cathedrals as it is host to celebrations in Gregorian chant or Latin twice a week. Check the schedule of Mosteiro de São Bento to discover which days are best to visit to see an authentic service in person.

Find a Hotel Near Ponte Estaiada

Ponte Estaiada provides a stunning postcard view of São Paulo at night, and the best way to see the bridge is from a high floor window in one of the many nearby São Paulo hotels. The bridge spans the Pinheiros River and is a recent addition to the city, as construction finished in 2003. For architecture lovers and photographers alike, the view is one you should not miss.

Grab a Drink at Drosophyla

After you’ve hit the hot bohemian nightlife spots in Vila Madalena and the high-end clubs of Itaim Bibi, head to the understated Drosophyla Bar in Consolação. At first glance, Drosophyla is easy to miss as it looks more like a house from the outside than a bar. Once you enter, you’ll see plenty of eclectic decorations in a relaxing, low-light atmosphere, and a tasteful mix of old hits and new music. Try to get a table in the inner garden to taste some of the great cocktails off the handwritten menu, as well as the delicious appetizers.

Discover New Music at Casa do Mancha

A lot of independent bands got their start playing at low-key bars in Vila Madalena, and Casa do Mancha has some of the best up and coming performers on the Brazilian scene. Grab a drink in the cozy, house-like atmosphere and then sit back to listen to a good mixed sample of new Brazilian bands.

São Paulo is one of the largest and busiest cities on the planet, so visitors to the area might feel overwhelmed by all the different sites and activities. To get a more authentic feel for the city, skip the big tourist attractions and head to these little known museums and nightlife spots to experience life like a local Paulista.