Sao Paulo (City)

Travel Guide South America Brazil Sao Paulo Sao Paulo



São Paulo - Heavy Sky

São Paulo - Heavy Sky

© mig13

São Paulo is the capital of the state of Sao Paulo and Brazil's largest city with a population of over 10 million people. It is also the most populous city in South America and the southern hemisphere. Locals go by paulistanos and the stunning architecture, with many skyscrapers, can awe anyone.

São Paulo officially became a city in 1711 and the economy of the area grew fast. The city dealt with many economic changes during its life and continued to thrive, such as the dropping of coffee prices in the beginning of the 20th century. During the early 20th century, countless immigrants from Europe, the Middle East and Japan came to the city in order to find their riches. Today, São Paulo is considered the richest city in Brazil.




  • Downtown - The birthplace and administrative center of the city, containing most of the city's historical heritage and showcasing the overwhelming variety of the city's architecture. It is certainly intimidating run-down at many places, but has an unmatched variety of cultural attractions.
  • Avenida Paulista - The Avenida Paulista, considered by many as the city's main landmark, is between the Center, West, and South-Central regions. It is one of the city's main business centres as well as one of the main cultural and entertainment areas.
  • West - Home to the government of the state of São Paulo and of the city's major business districts, it is probably the most vibrant area of the city for business, science, gastronomy, nightlife and upmarket shopping, but contains excellent cultural attractions as well.
  • South Central - A wealthy, residential area of the city that contains the IParque do Ibirapuera, one of the most important recreational and cultural areas of São Paulo, as well as vibrant neighbourhoods such as Vila Mariana and Moema
  • Southeast - A former area of immigrant housing, that has become increasingly more affluent in recent decades. Contains some of the city major attractions such as the Museu do Ipiranga, the São Paulo Zoo and Botanic Gardens, and the Museu da Imigração
  • Northeast - The Northeast is São Paulo's "event arena", where the annual Carnival and many other large scale events take place. Part of the magnificent Parque da Cantareira is also here.
  • Far South - The largest region of São Paulo is still largely covered by forest, farms and water, and can offer unique experiences to a visitor such as the Solo Sagrado and tours to Native Brazilian villages
  • Far East - São Paulo's City of Workers, a mainly suburban and lower class area, that contains however two of the city's most beautiful parks

Northwest - Another suburban area that contains Parque Estadual do Jaraguá, where the highest point of the city is located.



Sights and Activities

Sala São Paulo

Sala São Paulo is a beautiful concert hall located in Julio Prestes Station. The station was constructed between 1926 and 1938 and served as a train station for several decades. Then in the 1990s the grand hall of the train station was turned into the current day concert hall. In order to honor the original design of the station even the sand imported in the restoration effort was brought in from the original source when the building was built in 1926. Today the amazing concert hall has amazing acoustics and can seat 1498 people making it a great place to check out a classical symphony or opera.

Sao Paulo Museum of Art

The Sao Paulo Museum of Art houses a huge collection of Western art, as well as a large collection of Brazilian art and smaller collections of African and Asian arts and collections of Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek and Roman antiquities as well as Pre-Columbian artifacts. Since 1969 the museum is located on the present location on the Paulista Avenue. The building itself is considered to be one of best examples of Brazilian modern architecture. Amongst the highlights are piantings by Raphael, Botticelli, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh and Rembrandt.

Ibirapuera Park

Ibirapuera Park is an amazing park located in the city centre. The park is home to many stunning sights including The Obelisk, a lake and many museums.

  • Grande Marquise is home to the modern art museum.
  • Cicillo Matarazzo Pavilion is home to the Contemporary Art Museum.
  • Manoel da Nóbrega Pavilion was the location of the city hall until 1992.
  • Museu Afro Brasil (Afro Brasil Museum) presents the contributions of African descendants to the formation of national identity.
  • Lucas Nogueira Garcez Pavilion is the home to the Air Force Museum and the Folklore Museum.
  • Planetarium and Municipal Astrophysics School was the first planetarium built in the southern hemisphere and has a dome with a 20 metre diameter.
  • Ibirapuera Auditorium is a modern building that is quite controversial because of its space age design.

Other Sights and Activities

  • The Municipal Theater - Check out this old theater.
  • School Yard (Páteo do Collégio) is the place where São Paulo was founded.
  • Paulista Avenue (Avenida Paulista).
  • Se Cathedral (Catedral da Sé).
  • Copan Building (Edifício Copan).
  • Luz Station (Estação da Luz).
  • Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal).
  • Ipiranga Museum (Museu do Ipiranga) is closed for repairs, but its gardens can still be visited.
  • Museum of the Portuguese Language is an interesting museum located in the Luz Station. The museum is indefinitely closed due to a fire that destroyed its facilities in December 2015.
  • Pinacoteca do Estado is an art museum.
  • Liberdade - Home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.



Events and Festivals

World Cup 2014

Australian Fans

Australian Fans

© Peter

The FIFA World Cup 2014 was held in Brazil. It takes place from 12 June to 13 July 2014. It was the second time that Brazil has hosted the competition, the previous being in 1950. The national teams of 32 countries joined the second biggest sports event in the world (after the Olympic Games). A total of 64 matches were played in twelve cities across Brazil, with the tournament beginning with a group stage. For the first time at a World Cup Finals, the matches used goal-line technology. Twelve locations were World Cup host cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo. They cover all the main regions of Brazil and create more evenly distributed hosting than the 1950 finals in Brazil provided, when matches were concentrated in the south-east and south regions. As a result the tournament required significant long-distance travel for teams. Brazil opened the tournament against Croatia, played in Sao Paulo on the 12th of June, where the host country came out as the winner, and the final was disputed between Germany and Argentina on the 13th of July in Rio de Janeiro, resulting in Germany’s fourth title.

  • Anima Mundi - An animation film festival held in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro every July since 1993.
  • Formula One´s Brazilian Grand Prix. October 31st, November 1st and 2nd at Interlagos race track.
  • São Paulo Art Biennial - Founded in 1951 by Ciccilio Matarazzo, one important Brazilian industrial of Italian background. Held at Ibirapuera Park since 1957 on a pavilion projected by Oscar Niemayer and Hélio Uchôa.
  • São Paulo Fashion Week
  • São Paulo Gay Pride Parade - One of the biggest parades in the world. More than 2 million people participates every year. It is an almost out seasoned carnival.
  • São Paulo International Film Festival or "Mostra Internacional de Cinema de São Paulo" has been held since 1977, in October and November.
  • São Silvestre International Race or Corrida Internacional de São Silvestre - Every December 31, Paulista Avenue is full of people to celebrate the new´s year eve running at the streets of São Paulo. Since 1924 until 1990, the athletes used to run at night.
  • Carnaval started off as a Christian holiday, and became a festival unique to Brazil, enjoyed by people from all cultures, backgrounds, and religions. It happens every year during February or March, and although it’s not as famous as the festivities in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, or Olinda, you should still make sure you come prepared during this time of the year, when the streets fill with people in costume, and the city streets become the stage of the largest street party and festival you’ll see!




The city has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate. In summer, mean temperatures are between 17 °C and 28 °C, and 32 °C on the hottest days. In winter, temperatures are between 11 °C and 23 °C, and 6 °C. on the coldest days. The highest temperature recorded was 35.3 °C on November 15, 1985 and the lowest recorded was -2 °C on August 2, 1955. Rainfall is abundant, amounting to an annual average of 1,454 millimetres. It is especially common in the warmer months and decreases in winter. During late winter, especially August, the city experiences the phenomenon known as "veranico" or "verãozinho" ("little summer"), which consists of a bout of unusually hot and dry weather, sometimes reaching temperatures well above 28 °C. On the other hand, relatively cool days during summer are fairly common when persistent winds blow from the ocean. On such occasions daily high temperatures may not surpass 20 °C.

Avg Max27.3 °C28 °C27.2 °C25.1 °C23 °C21.8 °C21.8 °C23.3 °C23.9 °C24.8 °C25.9 °C26.3 °C
Avg Min18.7 °C18.8 °C18.2 °C16.3 °C13.8 °C12.4 °C11.7 °C12.8 °C13.9 °C15.3 °C16.6 °C17.7 °C
Rainfall238.7 mm217.4 mm159.8 mm75.8 mm73.6 mm55.7 mm44.1 mm38.9 mm80.5 mm123.6 mm145.8 mm200.9 mm
Rain Days181613996779111316



Getting There

By Plane

Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) is the busiest airport in Brazil and located about 25 kilometres from the city centre. This airport is a major hub for South America making it possible to fly almost from any major city in South America and Brazil to and from here. The passenger traffic is split between two terminals and has over 260 check-in counters. Around 40 airlines from this airport serve dozens of cities in Brazil, and countries in South America and beyond. Some of the main international cities served are Buenos Aires, Mexico City, New York JFK, Amsterdam, Toronto, Beijing, Madrid, Paris, Miami, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Seoul, Lima, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Chicago, Lisbon and London.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: There is a public bus that runs every 30 minutes and travels to the city center of Sao Paulo. Counters at the airport for this bus service can be found at the Arrivals area of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. From the airport, there is also a shuttle bus that stops at many places as well as the main beaches in the area.
  • Car/Taxi: Taxis are available at both terminals, or bookings prior to arrival can be made as well. A taxi from Sao Paulo airport can take up to 2 hours in peak hours, or as little as 45 minutes early in the morning or late evening. Car rental is available from the airport, although traffic in Sao Paulo is very bad and driving in the central city is not recommended. By car take either the Ayrton Senna highway or Presidente Dutra highway to the airport.

Congonhas-São Paulo Airport (CGH) only offers domestic flights with around 5 airlines serving several dozens of destinations throughout Brazil. Taxis are available outside of the airport, keep in mind that not all international credit cards work in Brazil so it's useful to have local currency to pay for your journey when you arrive. A taxi from Sao Paulo Congonhas airport will take around 40 minutes to most hotels in the downtown area.

By Train

  • Luz Station is one of the main train stations in the city.

By Car/Taxi

Taxis are available outside of both airports, keep in mind that not all international credit cards work in Brazil so it's useful to have local currency to pay for your journey when you arrive. Keep in mind that Sao Paulo has very bad traffic and journey times can increase dramatically if travelling to or from the airport in peak hours.

By Bus



Getting Around

Transport in São Paulo can be anything from complicated to hellish. Peak hours are normally roughly 6:00am-9:00am and 4:00pm-8:00pm, but since city roads are constantly on the edge of their capacity, any little incident can cause major queues and delays. The cheapest way for tourists to get around is to use the subway/metro, trains and trolleybuses as much as possible, and then take a taxi for shorter distances.

By Car

Cars are an important tool in the life of every paulistano. By commuting to and from work, one can spend several hours a day inside a car, stuck in the traffic. Some places can be reached only by car, and if you have to travel long distances in town, it is usually the most convenient means of transport. It is also part of the São Paulo's own urban culture.It is common for some middle- and upper-class young people to receive a car from their families if they passed the entrance exams for university.

However, as is true in many big cities, getting around by car is borderline crazy if you're not used to São Paulo. Traffic can be chaotic and parking is a nightmare. It is also not so straightforward to find your way in certain neighbourhoods where streets can get windy. So be warned that visitors to São Paulo don't really need a car.

By Public Transport

The city has 61.3 kilometres of underground and light rail systems. With 4 lines operating and 55 stations it is possible to get to many tourist locations in the city by the public metro. Check the Metrô - SP page for more information. The three companies operating the rail network are Metrô, CPTM and ViaQuatro. There are the lines which are more likely to be useful to a visitor:

  • Line 1 (Blue) - The first metro line built runs from North to South, passing through the Historical Center. Tietê and Jabaquara bus terminals are also reachable through via Line 1 (Blue). Operated by Metrô.
  • Line 2 (Green) - The Green line runs from West to East, passing through Avenida Paulista. Operated by Metrô.
  • Line 3 (Red) - One of São Paulo's busiest lines, it runs from West to East (north of Line 2 (Green), and far more extensive), passing through the Historical Center. The Barra Funda bus terminal is on the west end of this line. Operated by Metrô.
  • Line 4 (Yellow) - Connects the Historical Center to the West (mostly south of Line 2 (Green)), passing through Avenida Paulista. It will be fully operating in 2012. Operated by ViaQuatro.
  • Line 9 (Emerald) - Runs from North to South (west of Line 1 (Blue)), crossing the entire West. Operated by CPTM.

The Bilhete Único is a transport smartcard that is used for paying fares on buses, subways, and trains. In essence, 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. Fare charging rules are as follows:

  • On buses - upon boarding a bus, you'll be charged R$3,00 and can board up to three other buses in a three-hour period without being charged a second time.
  • On the Metro or CPTM trains - for a single trip in the underground train system, you'll be charged R$3,00.
  • First Metro/CPTM train then bus - you'll be charged R$2,90 when passing by a Metro or CPTM station's turnstile. Once you board a bus, you'll be charged an extra R$1,20 and will be able to board two other buses in a two-hour period - starting from the first validation at the train station - without any further payment.
  • First bus then Metro/CPTM train - once you board a bus, R$3,00 is charged from your card. Upon entering the Metro or CPTM systems, you'll be charged a further R$1,45. It's possible, after leaving the Metro or CPTM system, to board up to two other buses without any further payment in the two-hour period that starts from the first validation, depending on whether you boarded one or two buses before entering a train.

By Foot

Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads. Take care whenever crossing the streets, watching out for cars that may come unexpectedly, even if the pedestrian lights are green. Do not try to cross large roads with a high volumes of car traffic: usually there will be a pedestrian viaduct or bridge at some point in the sidewalk. Despite the aggressiveness found in the transit, one can still have peaceful walks across town. The Historic Center area and Avenida Paulista are definitely places to be explored on foot. Check the individual district listings for other nice walks.

By Bike

Only a few places in the city have segregated cycle facilities.




São Paulo is home to a superb diversity of restaurants and cuisines, where you can enjoy typical dishes from literally all over the world. The price range is as wide as the diversity of the restaurants in the city, from cheap snacks and meals in simple and cozy restaurants and food tents in popular markets, to the hugely expensive high end cuisine and internationally recognized restaurants, such as D.O.M (see below), which was (in 2012) elected the 4th best restaurant in the World and the best in South America by The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

The city is also home to a vast array of Brazilian and international fast-food chains, offering varying options ranging from burgers, to sushi and kebab. The fast-food chain Habib's, which originated in São Paulo, is the favorite of lower class Paulistanos due to its cheap "Arab-Brazilian" snacks.

In São Paulo, the ever-present beans-and-rice accompaniment typically involves brown beans instead of black beans, as in Rio. Another typical food in São Paulo is the Virado à Paulista, which consists of rice, tutu de feijão (a paste of beans and manioc flour; sometimes made of corn flour, in order to be drier than the manioc flour one), kale sautéed with garlic (couve) and pork chops, typically bisteca. It is usually accompanied by pork rinds, bits of sausage, a fried egg and a fried banana.

One dish that claims its local character is the bauru sandwich, allegedly created by a druken student from the University of São Paulo's law school at the Ponto Chic restaurant after a long night out. It consists of four types of melted cheese and sliced roastbeef, and it still endures as one ubiquitous snack in padarias (Brazilian-style eateries).

Japanese restaurants of the rodizio style are found pretty much everywhere, but mainly in the past decade, São Paulo became world famous for its excellent Japan-like and fusion restaurants, including ramen and udon shops and exquisite sushi and sashimi sets, which sometimes even come at a reasonable price. Many of these types of restaurants can be found down rua Tomaz Gonzaga in Liberdade, where connaisseurs of good food have already found their way in. On weekends, these restaurants can be packed, so arrive early to avoid queues.

Another typical type of restaurant in São Paulo are the world-famous churrascarias, where an enormous range of meats and cuts comes to your table by the stick; they also offer a range of sides and salads. In those places, you can eat as much as you want, paying a single fee whose price range may vary from R$45 to R$115. This system is called rodízio, and it has been very successful in the city, spreading to other types of cuisine like Italian, where you can find the rodízio de pizza and Japanese, with the rodízio de sushi.

The cuisine of São Paulo shows the influence of European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. The majority of immigrants in São Paulo arrived from Italy, and other European countries like Portugal, Spain and Germany. There are also large numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants from Japan, Lebanon and many other countries. Therefore, it is possible to find a wide array of cuisines in the city of São Paulo. Pizza is a particularly popular dish, which can be found with an endless range of toppings, and paulistas will swear their city has the best pizza in the country, if not in the world.

When eating out, a tip of 10% on the value of the bill is usually included. Some restaurants don't include this service charge (when you may come across the message "Serviço não incluso" at the end of the bill), but unless the staff are upsettingly rude, do pay the standard 10 percent tip as it is usually part of their wages.

  • D.O.M. - D.O.M. is a Brazilian restaurant run by Alex Atala. It is considered to be the best restaurant in South America. It was ranked #4 in The World's Best Restaurants list sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna. Address: Rua Barão de Capanema 549 Jardins, São Paulo, 01411-011, Brazil, Phone: +55 11 3088.0761, Hours: Lunch Monday to Friday 12:00pm-3:00pm. Dinner Monday to Saturday 7:00pm-12:00am.




You will have no trouble finding bars in São Paulo, where you can enjoy an ice cold beer, a shot of cachaça or a caipirinha - or anything else for that matter. A chopp (a 300 ml glass of draught beer) will set you back between R$3 and R$10 (in extreme cases), depending on the bar, but anything around R$4, R$5 is fine. Vila Madalena and Itaim have a very high concentration of bars, and are great spots for an all-nighter. For specific suggestions of bars, check the district section.




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  • University of Sao Paulo - Brazil's most important university in terms of academic research and international reputation, with its main campus located in the West. It was considered the top university of Latin America according to the QS Ranking. Other important public universities present in the city are the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) and the Federal University of ABC (UFABC).



Keep Connected


Internet cafes (Lan houses) are increasingly common, and even small towns often have at least one spot with more or less decent connections.
An increasing number of hotels, airports and shopping malls also offer hotspots for Wi-Fi with your laptop computer or of course smartphone. Sometimes it is free, sometimes you need to register and there is a time limite and sometimes you need to pay a small amount for (day) use.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Brazil is: 55. To make an international call from , the code is: 0014. All cities use the following emergency numbers: 190 (police), 192 (medical) and 193 (fire department). However, if you dial 911 or 112 while in Brazil, you will be redirected to the police.
Brazil uses two-digit area codes, and phone numbers are eight digits long. Numbers beginning with digits 2 to 5 are land lines, while eight-digit numbers beginning with digits 6 to 9 are mobile phones.

Public payphones use disposable prepaid cards, which come with 20, 40, 60 or 75 credits. The discount for buying cards with larger denominations is marginal. Phone booths are nearly everywhere, and all cards can be used in all booths, regardless of the owner phone company. Cards can be bought from many small shops, and almost all news agents sell them.

Brazil has 4 national mobile operators: Vivo (Telefónica Group), Claro (Telmex/América Móvil Group), OI and TIM (Telecom Italia Group), all of them running GSM and HSDPA/HSPA+ networks. Pay-as-you-go (pré-pago) SIM cards for GSM phones are widely available in places like newsstands, drugstores, supermarkets, retail shops, etc.


Correios is the national postal service of Brazil. It is a government run postal service and overseen by the Brazilian Ministry of Communications. Post offices are generally open from Monday to Friday from 09:00am to 5:00pm, although post offices located in shopping malls have their own opening hours, usually from 10:00am to 10:00pm. There are no set opening hours at weekends and as post office owners can choose when to open and close. More and more post offices are open until 1:00pm on Saturdays though. You can check things at the nearest post office.

Sending postcards, letters and parcels is a rather straightforward process and services are reliable, though not overly fast when sending post internationally, mostly taking about a week to the USA and Europe, and there is a track-and-trace service for this as well. Domestically, there are both next day as well as more expensive same day delivery options. Stamps are available at post offices, as well as some kiosks or other places where they sell postcards.

For sending packages internationally, you can also used competitively priced private companies like TNT, UPS or DHL. They are generally much quicker and not much more expensive.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -23.548943
  • Longitude: -46.638818

Accommodation in Sao Paulo (City)

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This is version 196. Last edited at 12:47 on Jan 6, 22 by overtheseaside. 5 articles link to this page.

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