Sao Paulo



Named after Saint Paul of Tarsus, São Paulo is the largest city in South America and the fourth largest metropolis in the world. A modern, cosmopolitan city it is a hub of commerce, finance, arts and entertainment.

Things to do in Sao Paulo!





  • Imposing buildings, squares and monuments dot the streets of Centro (Downtown), which is the historical center of São Paulo.
  • Almost all the sights surrounding the Marco Zero (a monument marking the center of the city) can be visited on foot, by bus or by subway.
  • Main areas and attractions:
    • Bela Vista (Bixiga): A former Italian settlement, it still maintains traditions like the tarantella in its cantinas. The area is also home to the city's most important theater venues and also has a vibrant nightlife, dotted with bars. Main attractions include Caixa Cultural, Theatro Municipal (Municipal Theater) and Banco do Brasil Cultural Center.
    • Bom Retiro: It contains the neighborhood of Luz, which has various historical landmarks and tourist attractions like the Jardim da Luz, the Estação Luz (the Luz train station) and the Museum of the Portuguese Language. If you can score a ticket to see a concert at the Julio Prestes Cultural Center even better!
    • Consolação: Includes the neighborhoods of Consolação, Higienópolis and Pacaembu. Note that the Paulista Station is on Rua da Consolação, while Consolação Station is on Avenida Paulista.
    • Liberdade: It is considered to be São Paulo's Japanese district.
    • República: The historical central area of the city it is also one of its oldest gay spots.


Paulista Avenue

  • Paulista Avenue is São Paulo’s financial and cultural center and is the city’s emblematic icon through which thousands of people pass daily.
  • Paulista Avenue is not only full of stores and restaurants but also plays host to large events with its cultural centers, halls and movie theaters.
  • Of particular note is the São Paulo Art Museum (MASP), one of the most important museums of the southern hemisphere.



  • It is the modern part of São Paulo and is undoubtedly the financial and social hub of the city.
  • Main areas and attractions:
    • Itaim Bibi: The area has a number of bars, clubs and shopping malls.
    • Jardim Paulista (Jardins): It is one of the nicer (and more expensive!) areas of the city and is quite popular with tourists.
    • Pinheiros: Comprising of Vila Madalena and other neighborhoods, this part of the city is quite popular with the artistic crowd.


South Central

  • It is the city’s wealthiest region in terms of average per capita income and contains some of the most expensive places to live in São Paulo.
  • Main Areas and attractions:






Far East

  • It contains two of the most beautiful parks of the city, and is the future host of the FIFA 2014 World Cup.



  • It is a more suburban area and is home to Parque Estadual do Jaraguá, where the highest point of the city is located.

Getting around

General info

  • During peak hours 6:00 – 9:00 AM and 4:00 – 8:00 PM both the roads and the public transport options can get overtly crowded.
  • The SPTrans website can be used to plan itineraries using all the city's public transportation options.
  • You can purchase a Bilhete Único transport smartcard that is used for paying fares on buses, subways, and trains.
  •  A single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system with free transfers between the subway system and buses within 3 hours.
  • The card is issued at no cost at underground stations and can be charged with the minimum amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "lotéricas"), supermarkets and other establishments having a round "Bilhete Único" logo.


  • Almost 10,000 buses are used to transport people in São Paulo.
  • A single ticket can be purchased at lottery shops or at SPTrans desks. This ticket is a magnetic card to be charged with credits. Using it, passengers may travel by four different means every three hours paying a single fare.
  • Fare can also be paid directly to the collector on the bus.
  • Refer here for information on the special bus service to Guarulhos Airport - Airport Bus Service.


Metro & Train:


  • The metro provides a convenient option of visiting most of the tourist attractions in the city.
  • For more distant locations, metro integrated bus lines are available.
  • The Metrô is open from 5:00 am-12:00 am, including weekends, but ticket windows close at 11:00 pm.
  • If you are not using a Bilhete Único card then you can purchase single-trip flat price tickets. Alternately, you can buy a BLA card which provides discounts on the use of the Metrô and the CPTM trains on Saturdays, from 06:00pm until the close of operations on Sundays.
  • Refer here for details of the metro lines and the corresponding tourist attractions along each line.
  • Refer to the São Paulo Metro website for more details.
  • Refer to the São Paulo Rail Network Map for more details on the rail network.


  • Taxis are easily found in São Paulo. There are four categories of taxis: Common, radio taxi, special and luxury.


  • The fare is the sum of a fix fare of R$3.50 and a value which varies according to distance in kilometers and time of the day:
    • Flag 1 (Monday to Saturday – 06:00 am to 08:00 pm) – R$2.10/km
    • Flag 2 (Monday to Saturday – 08:00 pm to 06:00 am and holidays) – R$2.73/km


Staying connected

  • Brazil uses the 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz GSM bands for mobile phones.
  • SIM cards are not readily available to foreign tourists.
  • Service providers: Getting a TIM SIM card is the most practical way out for foreign tourists.
    • TIM
    • Claro
    • Oi
    • Vivo (reportedly the best coverage; however a Brazilian tax id is required).
  • There are TIM stores in most malls and a passport should suffice as an identity proof

Eat / Drink


  • The cuisine of São Paulo is a blend of European, Indian, and African ingredients allowing the city to live up to its tag of being the most cosmopolitan one in Brazil. Moreover, São Paulo offers a great diversity of restaurants and cuisines from across the world.


  • Popular items:
    • Bauru sandwich: This local favorite is a hot sandwich filled with tomato, cucumber, and four different kinds of cheese over roast beef.
    • Carne del Sol: This sun-dried meat snack, usually salted is made of spiced beef.
    • Feijoada: It is a tasty stew of black beans, beef, and pork; usually there are several types of sausage included in the dish as well as salted pork trimmings. It is made in a large, clay pot, so that the broth becomes thick and richly browned. It is typically served over rice; locals enjoy it with a glass of red wine.
    • Mandioca: Typically served at bars, this is a cassava root, served deep fried and sprinkled with salt; alternatively you can ask for it to be cooked and seasoned with butter.
    • Virado á paulista" with "tutu de feijão" (a delicious pasta of cooked beans and cassava flour): It includes pork chops, sausages, fried bananas, and eggs, served with a garnish of vegetables.
    • Couve-de-folhas: This is cabbage seasoned with pork.


  • D.O.M.
    • Cuisine: Contemporary Brazilian / American
    • Voted #6 in the world on S. Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013.


  • Mani
    • Cuisine: Contemporary Brazilian
    • Voted #46 in the world on S. Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013.



  • While Brazil is a meat-dominated country, there are options for vegetarians including “por kilo” restaurants, which are self-service buffet eateries with patrons paying for food by weight. There are also plenty of juice bars offering fresh (and refreshing!) tropical fruit juices.


  • Vegacy
    • Cuisine: Vegan, Buffet, Fast food, Brazilian, Western
    • Review: HappyCow


  • Maha Mantra
    • Cuisine: Vegan, Indian
    • Review: HappyCow


  • Lotus Vegetariano
    • Cuisine: Vegan, Chinese, Brazilian
    • Review: HappyCow


  • Cachaca: Cachaca is the national spirit of Brazil. It is made from sugar cane through a process very similar to the making rum, though Cachaca uses freshly fermented and distilled sugarcane juice instead of molasses. Some of the best Cachaca has been aged a few years. 


  • Caipirinha: This is an exotic, traditional cocktail that blends Cachaca together with sugar cane, some ice and a few crushed limes. The ingredients are all thrown together and then muddled with a blunt spoon or a masher, with a twist of lime to top it off.


  • Guarana: Made from the Guarana plant, it is a sweet fruit drink that also has caffeine.
  • Beer:
    • Brahma
    • Antarctica
    • Bohemia
    • Baden Baden
    • Eisenbahn
    • Colorado


  • Tipping in Brazil is typically not expected nor given.
  • Taxi drivers don‘t receive a tip, but it‘s nice to leave the change.
  • In restaurants a 10% service charge is often already included in the bill.

Banner image credits: Flávio Conca

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