Sao Paulo Travel Guide
With more than 20 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area, São Paulo offers countless alternatives for travelers, from museums to restaurants, shopping galleries, outdoor areas and unique architecture.
For a long time, the city has been overshadowed by the fame and popularity of other nearby destinations such as Rio de Janeiro. However, more and more people are being attracted by the unique charm of its bustling streets and imposing avenues. Some even call it the Manhattan of Latin America.
Founded in 1554 by José de Anchieta, São Paulo’s evolution has been spectacular. The small village created by the Jesuit priest has been transformed into a megalopolis, the economic engine of the Brazilian and world economy, which attracts thousands of visitors every year.
- Top 5 reasons to visit São Paulo
- What to do in São Paulo
- Shopping: Rua 25 de Março and Rua Oscar Freire
- When to visit São Paulo
- How to get to São Paulo
- Where to stay in São Paulo
- How to get around São Paulo
- Cost of living in São Paulo
- Where to eat in São Paulo
Top 5 reasons to visit São Paulo
Skyscrapers, a unique skyline
São Paulo is the third city in the world with the most skyscrapers. More than fifty buildings exceed 99 meters. To enjoy this spectacle, just go up to the terrace of the Italia Building, on Ipiranga Avenue. The entrance fee is approximately R$ 30.
A fun and authentic carnival
When the carnival arrives, São Paulo is also transformed, like Rio de Janeiro or Salvador de Bahia. The Sambódromo de Anhembi is the stage where the samba schools parade, while the “blocos” are spread throughout the centre to cheer up the most carnival-loving people with their music.
Gastronomic Mecca, a delight for the palate
Cosmopolitan and multicultural, in São Paulo converge flavors from all over the world. The Italian influence can be seen in the pizza, while the Japanese community’s mark is evident in the quality of the sushi. It won’t be easy to choose!
Culture and leisure: the city that never sleeps
In São Paulo you will always find a music room, a museum, a cinema or a gallery with open doors. The Pinacoteca do Estado, the Art Museum, SESC Pompéia, the Itaú Cultural Institute or the Municipal Theater are some of the most recurrent options for a cultural day.
Helicopter: the most efficient means of transport
Helicopters are one of the most used alternatives by executives and business people for their journeys in the city. Getting into one of them is easier than you think. Through mobile applications such as Voom or Cabify you can go from one point to another in the city in just a few minutes.
What to do in São Paulo
Visit the Pátio do Colégio, the cathedral and the Municipal Market
Father Anchieta, a Jesuit from the Canary Islands, founded the city in 1554. The Pátio do Colégio dates from that year and is the first building on record. The cathedral is very close by and the Mercado Municipal is a 15 minute walk away, perfect for enjoying the local cuisine.
Getting lost in Ibirapuera Park
The lung of the city is a short distance from Avenida Paulista. Its 158 hectares make it a perfect place to walk, play sports or have a picnic with friends. The Afro-Brazilian Museum, the Japanese Pavilion and the Planetarium are located inside.
Shopping: Rua 25 de Março and Rua Oscar Freire
Rua 25 de Março and its surroundings are considered one of the most important commercial areas in South America. Here you will find all kinds of shops, with products at a very affordable price. On the contrary, Rua Oscar Freire is one of the most exclusive, with international brands and luxury items.
Enjoy culture at the Museum of Art of São Paulo and CCSP
The São Paulo Museum of Art houses works by such important artists as Van Gogh, Picasso and Renoir, as well as a good national exhibition. Once you’ve visited it, you can continue with a pleasant walk along Avenida Paulista and finish the tour at the Centro Cultural São Paulo.
Live a night of samba at Ó do Borogodó
The Paulista night is magical and vibrant. The samba rodas are the most characteristic of the country. Ó do Borogodó is a place located near Vila Madalena, the most bohemian neighborhood in the city, where you can dance while enjoying live Brazilian rhythms and tasting a delicious caipirinha.
When to visit São Paulo
São Paulo is characterized by a subtropical climate, with warm summers (maximum of 28 ºC) and cool winters (minimum of 10 ºC). From October to March, high temperatures and heavy rainfall are recorded, while from April to September, thermometers drop and rainfall is not as intense. In spite of this, the weather is quite unstable, and it is common to have clear skies, storms and clouds on the same day.
How to get to São Paulo
Congonhas and Guarulhos are the two main airports in São Paulo. Congonhas (CGH) is right in the center and operates most domestic and regional flights. Guarulhos (GRU) is about 30 kilometers away and is where international flights arrive. There is a bus service that connects to the main urban areas of São Paulo. The ticket price is R$ 30. Guarucoop is the only taxi operator with permission to transport passengers and its rates are negotiated before the start of the race. The approximate cost is R$ 100.
Rodoviária Tietê is the most important bus station in São Paulo, followed by Barra Funda and Jabaquara. All of them are connected to the subway system. Several companies connect São Paulo with Brazilian cities, such as Rio de Janeiro from R$ 120, approximately; and even with other Latin American capitals, such as Buenos Aires or Montevideo from R$ 557.
The BR-116 is the main Brazilian road, with a length of 4385 kilometers. The section between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (a six-hour drive) is known as Via Dutra and is a private concession, for which tolls must be paid. This same highway continues south, linking the city with other points such as Porto Alegre. The Anchieta-Imigrantes System crosses a large part of the state of São Paulo, linking the city with other nearby towns such as Santos or Campos do Jordão. The frequent traffic jams and agglomerations make the use of the car inadvisable, being better to use other alternative means of transport.
Airports near São Paulo
(GRU) São Paulo Cumbica
(CGH) São Paulo Congonhas
(VCP) São Paulo Campinas
Where to stay in São Paulo
In São Paulo you can find everything from large hotels to modest guesthouses. Meliá Jardim Europa, with 5 stars (R$ 450 per night), is one of the most outstanding and luxurious. A simpler alternative is the Mercure São Paulo Ibirapuera Privilege, in the quiet neighborhood of Moema, where you’ll find rooms starting at R$ 180.
Finally, backpackers can stay at Aquarela SP, from R$ 37 per night, near the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Neighborhoods with essence
Vila Madalena. Bohemian and modern, it’s full of restaurants, botecos, pubs and cafes. Enjoy Beco do Batman graffiti and discover the best culture at the Rio Verde Cultural Center.
Paulista. Paulista Avenue is one of the city’s arteries, and life is booming all around it. The São Paulo Museum, the Itaú Cultural Institute or Haddock Lobo Street are some of its main attractions.
Brooklin Novo. The neighborhood for those who come to São Paulo for work or business meetings. If you stay here, don’t miss the nearby JK Iguatemi Shopping Center.
How to get around São Paulo
The São Paulo subway and bus service will allow you to get to any point in the city quickly. The price of a ticket is R$ 4. It is advisable to avoid rush hours. To check the best routes you can use the Moovit smartphone application.
You can request a taxi through applications such as Cabify, 99taxis or Easy Taxi. The fare is R$ 4.10, while the kilometer is billed at R$ 2.75 or R$ 3.57. Uber is a very popular alternative in this destination.
Avis, Budget, Movida or Hertz, among others, have offices in the city. Although their rates may be attractive (from R$ 50 per day), it is not advisable to drive in São Paulo due to the large traffic jams that occur during rush hours. Parking on the street can be dangerous, as well as driving through certain areas and neighborhoods.
Cost of living in São Paulo
The cost of living in São Paulo is similar to other European cities. Pão de Açúcar, Extra o Dia are common supermarket chains. A liter of milk can reach R$ 4 and a dozen eggs R$ 7.
The streets Haddock Lobo, Oscar Freire and 25 de Março are some of the most frequented for shopping. Shopping Cidade Jardim and JK Shopping are other interesting alternatives, with national and international firms.
Where to eat in São Paulo
Coco Bamboo is considered one of the best restaurants in the city. A dinner for two can be around R$ 200. Pizza is another delicacy that should not be missed. Braz Pizzaria offers good options from R$ 50. To taste the best of Japanese cuisine, book a table at Ohka, in the Itaim Bibi neighborhood.
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