Whether it’s during free time or as part of a scheduled outing, both Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro offer plenty of interesting activities and neighborhoods to explore.
In Rio, the most interesting nightlife takes place in Lapa, where countless bars and tiny eateries stay open until the wee hours of the morning—not luxurious, to be sure, but a distinctly local experience. For a more elegant place to relax and refuel, head to the beachfront neighborhood of Leblon to savor gourmet Italian cuisine at Gero, a restaurant that belongs to the famed Fasano group, or legendary Ipanema, where Satyricon is a favored spot for seafood, sushi and sashimi. Also celebrated is the work of celebrity chef Claude Troisgros, who operates three noteworthy restaurants: Olympe, Bistro 66 and CT Brasserie, located in the upscale Sao Conrado district, which is perhaps the best place in the city for French cuisine.
Rio-savvy meeting planners are likely already aware of the neighborhood called Barra da Tijuca, which is “the one to watch” according to Miguel Assis, managing director of Events by TLC, a destination management company with offices in Rio.
“This is where the Olympic park is located, and the regeneration of this area is bringing much attention,” he explains. “It is the ‘Dubai’ of Rio, with expensive apartments and heliports for the many who commute to Sao Paulo for work or meetings.”
Sao Paulo, meanwhile, may be known as a hub for business, but the metropolis is dotted with many interesting neighborhoods. Visitors can spend an evening visiting the bars, restaurants and galleries in the Vila Madalena district, where live samba bands perform at O do Borogodo, Pau Brasil and Favela. Rock fans often head to Morrison and Matrix, while other musical styles fill the air at Lanterna, Bleecker St. and Grazie a Dio.
According to Thierry Guillot, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, one of the best places for nightlife is the Baixo Augusta area, which has restaurants, bars and live music venues.
“Barra Funda neighborhood is another emerging alternative, especially for the arts and electronic music scene,” he says. “Higienopolis, a traditionally wealthy district, is the new area for restaurants, with many great new offerings. An alternative area for shopping outside the Jardins area is the Moema neighborhood—shoes, clothing and home decoration items.”