Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo has often been called the New York of Brazil, and is utterly vast. With 10 million inhabitants, it’s the world’s third largest city and definitely never sleeps.

Sao Paulo is the industrial and financial megalopolis of Brazil. It’s by far the biggest Brazilian city, also the richest and most dynamic. A word of warning; if concrete jungles and skyscrapers aren’t your thing, avoid Sao Paulo. Otherwise, as the Brazilians would say, boa vinda a Sao Paulo!


You can hardly talk about Brazil without mentioning football, and Sao Paulo is one of the districts where it is taken most seriously. Check out a game at the stadium in Pacaembu, Morumbi or Parque Antartica. Even if you’re not a football fan, in Sao Paulo, football becomes art.

If you need some peace and tranquillity after the hulabuloo of town life, take a breather in the Parque do Ibairapuero. The public park boasts a large lush grassy area, beautiful monuments and a famous planetarium.

Peculiar as it may sound, many tourists make a beeline for one of the city’s top attractions, the national poisonous snake centre. This research centre holds tens of thousands of snakes, and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see one being milked for its venom. Lovely.

If poisonous reptiles don’t do it for you, a milder although equally entertaining option is the Museo de Arte Sacra and Jardim da Luz. This art museum is built within a labyrinthine baroque monastry dating back to the eighteenth century. The Jardim da Luz, translated as the garden of light, is a stunning spot of tranquillity and natural beauty.

Art aficionados should also check out the Sao Paulo Museum of Art, which has a great collection of European and Brazilian art from ancient times to the present.

To appreciate the sheer enormity of the city, take a trip one day to the fortieth floor of the Edificio Italia. Your ears will pop as you go up; this is not the place to go if you’ve got vertigo. The balcony has a 360° view and on a fine day you can take in the entire breathtaking cityscape, as far as the eye can see.


Sao Paulo, like much of Brazil, is a very stylish city and the shopping is fantastic. The malls are great, but the weekend markets are by far the best place to go for your retail therapy.

The Praca da Republica hosts a market from eight ‘til two on Sundays, selling precious stones, lace, leather, wood-carving and other fine crafts. If you’re after beautiful and unique furniture go to the weekend fair at Embu, 12 miles out of Sao Paulo. For food shopping go to the Mercado Municipal, which takes place every day downtown near Estado Avenue. On the weekends you’ll find clothes markets in every third street in town… a shopper’s paradise.

Nightlife and Eating Out

People travel for miles to eat in Sao Paulo. Legendary for its innovative and diverse cuisine, Sao Paulo is no place for dieters. In terms of food as well as everything else, Sao Paulo was multicultural before the word hit the dictionary.

The huge array of nationalities co-inhabiting means you’ll find Japanese, Chinese, Brazilian, Jewish, Lebanese, Arab and Italian eateries rubbing shoulders. The traditional Paulistanian dish is succulent cured beef, which you can order in the numerous rodizios and churrascarias around town.

Brazilian food is famous for its bizarre combinations of strong flavours. Try pastel, fried pastries filled with guava, condensed milk or cheese. Virada Paulista is another unique dish; rice, beans, banana and meat.

The best place to eat is the Jardins district. Remember the Paulistanos eat late and you won’t get served before ten, with restaurants often staying open ‘til three in the morning.

The nightlife is as varied as the food. Sao Paulo offers every beat in the book, jazz, disco, techno, jungle, samba and garage. The best place to go for clubs and bars is Rua 13 de Maio and Jardins. For shows go to Olympia, Palace and Tom Brasil.

If you love dancing, a great time to go to Sao Paulo is during the internationally celebrated Carnaval. This giant fiesta takes place during the week before Lent, and will absolutely blow your mind.


Although Portuguese is the official language, you can get by in Spanish and most people speak English. Unusually for such an urban metropolis, the locals are extremely friendly and go out of their way to help tourists.

However, don’t be naïve; there is a lot of crime in Sao Paulo. At night take taxis and always use a safe if you’re staying in a hotel. People aren’t violent but there is a great deal of poverty in the city.

Tourist Information

Sao Paulo Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tel: +55 11 3289 7588 Web:


Fly to the Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport. This is 18 miles northeast of the city. To get to the airport, take either the Ayrton Senna or Presidente Dutra highway.

There is an airport bus which goes to the city centre from the airport and a shuttle minibus which takes between 30-50 minutes.

There is plenty of parking available at the airport, and radio taxis serve both the terminals.

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