Porto Alegre is the capital and largest city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. It has a great blend of Spanish, Brazilian, and Portuguese cultures, giving the city an international atmosphere. Porto Alegre is a wealthy city, with good shopping, excellent restaurants, and exciting bars.
Porto Alegre is famous for its sunsets and the locals gather beside the refurbished Usina do Gasômetro to watch the sun fall into the Guaíba River.
The city is dotted with fabulous parks, such as Parque Moinhos de Vento and Parque Marinha do Brasil, where you can enjoy some of the area's stunning plant life and getaway from the bustle of the city.
There are good bars and clubs throughout the city; check out the areas of Cidade Baixa and Moinhos de Vento for some of the best.
Fundacao Ibere Camargo and MARGS are both excellent art galleries, with good collections of both contemporary and traditional local artworks.
Take the ferry to Guaíba and enjoy the top views from its beach walkway.
The building known today as the Rio Grande do Sul Museum of Art is as majestic on the outside as its vast, sprawling, 2,600 piece collection of visual artworks displayed carefully on the inside. Today, the collection comprises paintings and illustrations on paper by famous South American artists, local Brazilian artists and sculptors. Its neoclassical, bright yellow exterior might draw you closer but the free admission, bright, open interiors and a chance to spend the afternoon contemplating the works of Latin American artists such as Leopoldo Gotuzzo, Libindo Ferrás and Oscar Boeira will keep you riveted.
The Metropolitan Cathedral in Porto Alegre is located right in the heart of the city for a reason: it proves just how close to the letter and spirit of Roman Catholicism the city's inhabitants truly were - and continue to be today. Enter the domed cathedral, flanked by its two towers and, on the inside, you'll have a view of its airy, vaulted ceilings, decorated with intricate carvings, crown moldings, temple columns, chandeliers and yet more statues. Take some time to contemplate the mystery of its stained glass, which tells a story using light and color.
The entrance to the Porto Alegre Botanical Garden feels to every traveler like the initiation of a journey to a secret garden. With its cobblestones, lush green palms flanking the paths and shallow staircase leading in a loose spiral downwards, the botanical gardens welcome you with a sense of entering another realm. If you choose to walk through the looking glass, a selection of thriving cacti, sweet succulents and nurseries for orchids, vines, and trees will greet you. Take time to walk through its forests, across its bridges spanning small ponds and streams, and rest for a leisurely lunch on the verdant softness of its sprawling lawn.
What happens when finance meets fine art? You get the chance to completely restore, co-opt and modernize an early 20th century Baroque-Rococo style building in Porto Alegre for the purposes of revitalizing cultural programming in Brazil. The Santander Culture space focuses on fine art works and collection acquisitions of Latin American gaucho painters as well as screening foreign and landmark films in its movie theater. Clearly, commercial activity and culture go hand in hand.
Take a break and breathe in the scents of nature at Farroupilha Park, a major urban green space where residents and visitors alike come to take a break from Porto Alegre - without ever leaving the city. Relax with a picnic under the trees, or hit the waters, where you can rent a paddle boat for another view. Stroll along its pathways and discover several stalls serving up snacks and antiques, art work and souvenirs.
Porto Alegre has a humid, subtropical climate with significant precipitation all year round. Summer temperatures can top 90 degrees, so visiting in spring or fall is perhaps more comfortable.
Porto Alegre's main airport is Salgado Filho International Airport (POA), which has good domestic connections and direct flights to many international destinations. The Trensurb train will take you into the city center for just R$1.70 in 12 minutes. A taxi costs around R$25.
The Trensurb network extends to neighboring cities in the region and fares are set at R$1.70.
Porto Alegre is well connected by road to other major Brazilian cities. The BR-101 is the main route north and the BR-290 connects with Argentina and Uruguay.
Porto Alegre has good regional and international daily bus services to Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
Hotel Ritz on Rua Des. André da Rocha has clean dorm rooms and good amenities. Plaza Sao Rafael Hotel offers a touch of luxury and is located in the historic center.
Cidade Baixa - this is a historic neighborhood and is populated by old mansions and impressive colonial buildings. It also has lots of good bars around Rua General Lima e Silva.
Moinhos de Vento - this is one to the city's most upscale neighborhoods, with expensive clubs and restaurants and some of the better hotels.
Guaíba - Guaíba is actually a separate city, but is easily reached by ferry across Guaíba River. It offers a wonderful beach promenade and a relaxed atmosphere.
The Trensurb is the most convenient form of public transport and tickets cost R$1.70. The city bus network is extensive but costs more at R$3.25.
Taxis are plentiful and safe. The starting fare is R$5 and then you will pay around R$4 per mile.
Porto Alegre has a good urban road network and connections to national highways. You can find Avis in town, and car rental costs start around R$60.
Central Market on Avenida Borges de Medeiros has 100 stalls selling local produce, while Bourbon Shopping Wallig is the largest shopping mall in South America, with a huge range of fashion, electronics, and household goods.
A quart of milk in Porto Alegre costs R$3 and a loaf of bread is R$4.21.
Churrascaria Giovanaz is an excellent all-you-can-eat steakhouse in Cidade Baixa, with a menu costing R$25. Churrascaria Galpão Crioulo is a more upmarket barbecue restaurant, with mains costing R$65.