There’s something irresistible about the Brazilian experience. When many people think of gay Brazil, they immediately turn to Rio de Janeiro and its bright beaches adorned with bronzed men wearing nearly nothing. But people shouldn’t sleep on gay São Paulo, an urban oasis that’s home to a thriving queer scene.
For sure, gay São Paulo has more of an underground slant than its sister city Rio (the latter known for its more in-your-face attitude), but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great destination for the gay traveler hitting up Brazil.
São Paulo Gay Pride is considered the biggest and best gay Pride parade in the world. In fact, it holds the title of “largest Pride” in the Guinness Book of World Records.
And you’ll want to make sure you’re exploring Hornet while you’re tooling around gay São Paulo. The app’s loyal and quite active Brazilian user base will gladly give you a more “personalized” tour of the city. Hornet also comes in handy when curating your trip’s social schedule and nightlife itinerary.
Until you arrive in gay São Paulo and find the “ativo” (top) or “passivo” (bottom) of your dreams, start with our list of 5 must-do queer highlights. Think of us as your personal tour guide.
Here are 5 things you must do in gay São Paulo:
1. Be seen at Spot
The Spot is a “spot” where bougie gays like to see and be seen. The food is good — maybe not great — and it’s a bit overpriced for São Paulo standards, but the ambiance is fab, especially on a buzzy weekend night. After-dinner drinks and dessert is also an option for those stopping in for the people-watching.
2. Listen to real Portuguese music at Boteco do Massay
Boteco do Massay is a fun gay bar in the heart of (one of) the city’s most chic neighborhoods. On Wednesday and Friday nights there’s a band that plays authentic Sertanejo Universitário, real Brazilian song. Surrounded by everyone singing along, you can just sway your hips — no one will notice you don’t know the words. The band leader on Wednesdays has a voice that could melt a glacier, but just a warning: listen and look, but don’t touch. He’s straight.
3. Stuff your face at Castro Burger
The meat in Brazil is just better. Oh, and the food is pretty good, too. Because of the quality of the beef down in South America, even a hamburger is 10 times more delicious than what you’ll find in the States. This applies to the creative nosh at Castro Burger, where the mantra is “We serve with pride.”
You’ll instantly feel that pride when you walk into this over-the-top queer location, featuring photos of Elton and Ellen on the walls, a mural of Lady Gaga and Madonna doing a circle dance on the ceiling and menu items named after Broadway musicals and neighborhoods in San Fransisco.
Come for the meat, stay for the Gaga.
4. Dance at The Week
The Week is a gigantic LGBT nightclub, and it will redefine what you thought a gay nightclub could be. After opening in September 2004, it became the biggest gay nightclub in all of Brazil (and supposedly all of Latin America, too).
Featuring lots of rooms and an immense outdoor area that features shirtless trade and a huge pool you can take a dip in while you dance. The Week is reason enough to visit gay São Paulo.
5. Get laid at Chilli Pepper
This 24-hour, male-only hotel and sauna named Chilli Pepper is located in the slightly dangerous Downtown São Paulo — so be careful while coming and going, especially if you’re inebriated. But the sauna features three floors of hedonism: lots of different pools, a decent steam room and an outdoor area.
The second floor is where most of the action happens at Chili Pepper, especially in the darker corners where anything goes.
Gay São Paulo Selfie Spot: Beco do Batman
You’ll be overwhelmed by the “classic posing in front of brightly colored murals or graffiti” photo opportunities, but nothing beats Beco do Batman for the perfect gay São Paulo selfie. A cobblestone alley that has been adorned with some of the most vibrant pieces of graffiti in the city, the name comes from a sketch of Batman that was painted on one of these walls in the ’80s.
You may also recognize the alley from Alaska’s video for “Come to Brazil.”
Featured image courtesy of Boteco do Massay’s Facebook