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About Porto Alegre:
Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, is the 10th largest city in the country and has the 4th largest metropolitan area, with almost 4 million inhabitants. It is one of the most important economic areas of the country. The local culture is very valued, as evidenced by the chimarrão (a special kind of tea, known in Argentina as maté), the traditional music, and the flags of Rio Grande do Sul flown throughout the city. It also has an intense nightlife, with university students flocking to the Cidade Baixa on Fridays and Saturdays.
The city has beautiful urban parks, like Farroupilha Park in Redenção, and the Moinhos de Vento Park, also known as Parcão (Grand Park). Sitting on the grass and killing time drinking chimarrão is an everyday activity of the locals. Another capital of the gauchos is the Mercado Público Municipal, where it’s possible to buy regional products and experiment with the local cooking. Watching a sunset from the Usina do Gasômetro, on the edge of Guaíba, is a must-see for visitors. For soccer fanatics, stop by the museums of Internacional and Grêmio. To get to these places, it is recommended to take the bus’s Tourism Line (Linha Turismo).
Porto Alegre is not well known as a place to shop, but it has many shopping centers, like the Iguatemi or Barra Shopping Sul. For popular shopping, try the downtown area. Artisans can be found at the fairs in Praça da Alfândega, Brique da Redenção, and Mercado Público.
For those that go to Porto Alegre, it’s recommended to try to local culinary styles. Throughout the entire city, you can find the traditional “churrasco gaúcho,” or cowboy barbecue. At the Churrascaria Barranco, for example, you can try the traditional meats in an open air space, surrounded by waiters who bring the meat straight to your table. At Galpão Crioulo, you can dine with a show featuring traditional dances from Rio Grande do Sul. For those who want to avoid the barbecue, you can check out Pampa Burger, where the hamburgers are prepared on the grill with gaucho ingredients, like chimichurri. There’s also asian cooking which can be found at restaurants like Koh Pee Pee.
Porto Alegre, even though it is safer than most other Brazilian cities, also has its risks. Avoid dark and deserted places and don’t show off your cellphone or camera. Purses and bags should be kept in view, and take a taxi at night.
The transit in Porto Alegre is much better than cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, but it does have its complications. It is hard to find open spots on the street downtown, so private parking stations are almost always a must. The subway only serves a small part of the city. Road travel is plentiful, but not always comfortable and punctual, and taxis can be found easily.