My Lonely Planet guidebook described São Paulo as a monster and our plan was to stay here for two nights and leave as soon as possible. I hadn’t heard great things about the city. What I mostly associated with it were high crime rates and dirty streets and I wasn’t too keen on staying any longer than necessary. But then we unexpectedly had to stay three nights instead of two and discovered that there is much more to São Paulo. Great museums, beautiful parks and friendly people – it would have been a shame to miss out on all of it.

Here are some of the city’s highlights:

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When talk comes to food in South America, people mention steaks and ceviche. Argentina is praised for its excellent beef and Peru for its huge variety of dishes. Nobody ever talks about Bolivia.

But as I found out while visiting this Andean nation, Bolivia has a lot of delicious food to offer. From market stalls to fancy restaurants, you will never run out of possibilities to try yet another dish. And if you really want to delve into Bolivian food, I recommend the foodie tours in La Paz, run by Red Cap Tours.

For now, let me recommend the food I enjoyed most while travelling through Bolivia.

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The coast in between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo is made up of hills, bays, jungle, beaches and thousands of islands. Going from one city to another, travellers find many places worth visiting along their way. We spent two weeks on this stretch of coast and in the giant cities. Since it is such an easy and rewarding itinerary for travellers, I have decided to put together its highlights. There are, of course, many more things to do along the way, but those were my personal favourites. They are put together in a geographical order, starting in Rio and going along the coastline all the way to São Paulo.

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I have been to Rio de Janeiro twice and each time, I was surprised by the city’s beauty. The Portuguese settlers couldn’t have chosen a better location. In between the mountains, the bay and the sea, with islands dotted along the coast, a white city sprawls out so far, it is impossible to see its limits.

Rio de Janeiro has its problems, with high crime rates and gangs winning back favelas. I had a long discussion with my Pantanal tour guide about whether or not you should call a city like Rio beautiful. In the end, we agreed that despite everything happening in the city, its location was stunning and it is worth a long visit.

And this post isn’t about Brazil’s problems and politics. It is about how to enjoy Rio de Janeiro and to make the most out of your stay in one of my favourite cities in South America.

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For me, Porto Alegre was a necessary stopover on the way to Rio de Janeiro. We arrived on an overnight bus from Montevideo and left the next morning on a plane. I did not have any plans for this city. The guidebook had mentioned two museums and that was all I knew about Porto Alegre when I arrived.

Fortunately, we came across a very helpful woman at the tourist information who helped us make the best of the day we spent in Porto Alegre. And the best about it? All attractions mentioned below are free and perfect for budget-concious travellers.

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