Sao Paulo is located in the south-eastern region of Brazil, and is the capital city of the state of Sao Paulo. The city of Sao Paulo is one of the largest cities by population in the entire world, and the biggest in Brazil – there is estimated to be over 12 million people living in the city.
Sao Paulo is considered one of the most important cities in the world. The city of Sao Paulo has the largest - and one of the most significant - economies in the Southern Hemisphere, with the stock exchange being located here. It is also home to some of Brazil’s largest and most iconic buildings, and to many nationalities from around the world. It has Arab, Italian and Japanese ethnic groups. There are many great things to do in Sao Paulo, such as visiting Parque Ibirapuera and seeing the incredible Mosteiro Sao Bento. Below is our Sao Paulo travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
MUSEU DE ARTE SAO PAULO – This museum has one of the greatest collections of art in Latin America. This wonderful museum contains works from some of the most famous artists in history, including Picasso and Monet, as well as famous Brazilian artists.
MOSTEIRO SAO BENTO – This is one of the city’s oldest churches, it was built in 1598! Mosteiro Sao Bento has beautiful stain glass windows and a wonderful interior. There is also a delicious brunch that is served by monks.
BANESPA – This skyscraper offers one of the best panoramic views of the city. This building was built in 1939 and stands 161 metres high. This is one of the best places to witness the beauty that is the city of Sao Paulo.
TEATRO MUNICIPAL – The construction of the theatre began in 1903 and is one of the most splendid structures in the city today. It has a combination of many different architectural styles, and its interior is a beautiful mix of gold and marble.
MERCADO MUNICIPAL – This covered market is one of the best places to experience the craziness that is selling and buying in Brazil. There is almost every food product that you can imagine here. It also offers the opportunity to try some of the local foods that you may not have had a chance to sample in other parts of the city.
MUSEU AFRO BRASIL ¬– This museum is one of the most important history museums in the country, because it has information about the African immigrants that came over to Brazil. It also talks about the ten million Africans that died in the construction and development of Brazil.
PINACOTECA DO ESTADO – This museum holds an outstanding collection of Brazilian art, especially from the Sao Paulo area. There are works here by big name artists, such as Portinari and Di Cavalcanti.
PARQUE IBIRAPUERA – This 2-km-square park is the best place to go to get away from the endless streets and people that is the busyness of Sao Paulo. Parque Ibirapuera is also a great cultural place to visit. There are a few different museums found here as well as places for people to put on performances.
MUSEU DA LINGUA PORTUGUESA – This museum has fascinating information on the language of Portuguese, as well as how the Brazilian people speak a different way to the European Portuguese. This museum also celebrates Brazilian literature.
CASA AMARELA – This building is fairly unknown and sees few visitors, but still provides quite the history. A small part of this building is a museum that has artifacts from the Irmaos Villas–Bôas, a group of three brothers that were the first white men to come into contact with the indigenous people of the Amazon.
MUSEU DE ARTE SACRA – This is one of the best museums of its kind in Brazil. This museum contains works from the 18th century, by famous sculptor Antonio Aleijadinho. It also contains over 200 works from between the 17th and 20th centuries. It is housed in an 18th century monastery - one of better preserved buildings from this era.
MUSEU DO FUTEBOL – This museum is under the seats of the Pacaembu Stadium and is dedicated to one of the most famous sports in Brazil – football. This building speaks to the greatness of Brazilian players, and can get even the non-football fans excited about watching this sport.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Sao Paulo also holds its annual carnival at the end of February, and just like in Rio this is one of the most exciting and interesting things to see. The display of the cultures that are involved in this carnival is beautiful, and it is one of the must-see events that happen over the course of the year in Sao Paulo.
Sao Paulo has so much diversity in the food that you can find almost every common dish from all over the world. There are international food chains, as well as local traditional food found here, including rice and beans, as well as virado a paulista, which contains rice, a bean paste, fried eggs, sausage, pork, fried banana, and sautéed collard greens. A typical type of restaurant you can find here is a churrascaria. This is a buffet, and normally serves large portions of almost every meat and in every style that you could think of. Here in Sao Paulo you can eat from the large chain restaurants or you can find the more local foods.
For typical Brazilian fare, try Mocoto (Av. Nossa Senhora Do Loreto 1.100) – the environment is relaxed, the food is exceptional, and it will hit your taste buds with an explosion of flavours from the north of Brazil.
If you’re vegetarian, don’t forgo Gopala Hari (Rua Antonio Carlos 429) – nice, cosy restaurant serves veggie food but with an Indian influence. Make sure you get here early as it fills up!
For a little piece of France in Brazil, go to Bistrot de Paris (Rua Augusta 2542) – the chic atmosphere and delicate French cuisine will transport you to ‘La Ville-Lumiere’.
There is no shortage of nightlife in Sao Paulo. Here you can find everything, from your local bars and pubs where an ice-cold beer and some shots can be enjoyed, or you can find your night clubs where the music and the dancing are the popular way to pass the time.
For a lively local bar, go to O do Borogodo (R. Horácio Lane, 21) – here you’ll experience a classic Brazilian night, with live music and samba galore. If you fancy karaoke, look no further than Choperia e Petiscaria Liberdade (R. da Glória, 523) – this place has a fun, energetic atmosphere which will get you in the party spirit.
Known as the best club in Sao Paulo, D.EDGE (Av. Auro Soares de Moura Andrade, 141) plays mostly electronic music, and is perfect for an after-party at 5am on a Sunday morning. Come here for the sound system, DJs, people, and atmosphere.
Sao Paolo has a slightly colder climate, with an average temperature in its summer months (from December to March) of about 21 degrees Celsius. In the winter months (from May to September) the average temperature is about 16 -17 degrees. The dry season also falls over the winter months, while the wet season and most of the rainfall happens over the warmer months of the year.
Sao Paulo is home to an international airport that has flights to almost every main destination worldwide. It is served by nearly every mainstream airline, and if you are going to Brazil you’ll probably end up flying into this international airport. Flights from Rio to Sao Paulo take 50 minutes.
There is also a large bus terminal that has trips to all the cities in Brazil, as well as some of the main cities in South America. A bus from Rio to Sao Paulo takes 6 hours.
Sao Paulo has an abundance of places to stay. You can find pretty much every large chain of hotels that is well known in the world, as well as some smaller, local hotels. There is no problem in finding places to stay, as most of the main streets in the districts offer places to stay. You can also find some lower key, cheaper options.
The Hotel Paulista (Rua Pamplona 795) is situated in the heart of the city, close to everything you need, including a metro station. A good, basic breakfast is included and there’s a cool rooftop bar. The staff are very friendly. Café Hostel (Rua Agisse) is a laid-back place, with good social areas, and well located - close to the beach and nightlife, in Vila Madalena, the bohemian neighbourhood. Another hostel in the same area is O de Casa (Rua Inácio Pereira da Rocha, 385) – this place has a good bar, and hammocks to chill in.
Sao Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world, and has no shortage of dangerous areas. Make sure that you try to stay in the main, busy areas of the city, and do not wander alone - especially at night-time. Make sure that your hotel is in a safe area in the city, and that if you take taxis that they are good quality. It is better to take more expensive taxis and be more secure.