Walking through these colonial streets, you can admire the painstaking tile work that makes the buildings look more like confectionery than architecture. Founded by the French and occupied by the Dutch, the city looks distinctly Portuguese. There's a certain rhythm that is mentioned in any Sao Luis city guide. Known as Brazil's Reggae Capital, you'll find massive sound systems not only in the bars and clubs of the city's vibrant nightlife scene, but also on the beaches. You can explore this musical culture at beaches like Ponta d'Areia, with its multiple reggae clubs, or take a break from the museums and art galleries of the historic district by visiting the relaxed Praia Grande beach. Most restaurants in Sao Luis can be found in the historic Old Town. You'll also find pizzerias, posh French bistros, and informal sandwich shops. Seaside areas like Praia Grande are also well situated to try freshly grilled seafood or the ubiquitous fish and shrimp pie.
One of the most pleasurable things to do in Sao Luis is simply wander through the historic Old Town and admiring the architecture. There is also a dense concentration of monuments and museums here to visit. Don't miss the Centro do Cultura Popular Domingos Vieira Filho, which showcases exhibits about Sao Luis's various festivals and Afro-Brazilian folklore. The Palacio dos Leoes is the palace of the state governor, lavishly furnished with antique furnishings and colonial French art. You can also visit the Museu Historico e Artistico to catch a glimpse into colonial life, in a perfectly restored mansion. The Casa das Tulhas is another 19th century building, but this market now holds a variety of artisanal food and craft stalls, along with several lively bars. Learn more about the region's Maranhao indigenous heritage at the Centro de Historia Natural e Arqueologia do Maranhao. Staying in Sao Luis provides access to numerous pristine beaches. Calhau is known for its golden sand dunes, while Sao Marcos is the beach to visit if you want to try your hand at surfing. Live reggae performances and the Brazilian Carnival are typical Sao Luis events, but the main event that the city's known for its Bumba Meu Boi.
Sao Luis's central bus station provides Sao Luis transport and links to major cities throughout Brazil. There are several lines that will take you straight to the Old Town. A train runs three times a week to Parauapebas, which you can catch at the train station in the southwest of the city. Domestic and international flights also serve Sao Luis and arrive at Marechal Cunha Machado International Airport outside of the city. If you're staying near the Old Town, the city is best explored on foot. However, there's also an extensive bus system based around the seaside Praia Grande terminal.