It’s a shame that so many travellers to Brazil skip South America’s largest city. With all the great destinations in Brazil, however, it is understandable why people feel like they don’t have time to spend time in Sao Paulo. That being said, if Sao Paulo geography mirrored the natural surroundings of Rio de Janeiro this might be the most popular city in all of South America, if not the entire world. To truly get a handle on this massive city it takes more than a couple of days worth of wandering the streets. Getting to know this great city would take years to complete. However, given a couple of days you should start to understand that this city is one of the most metropolitan in all of South America. In Sao Paulo you will find foods from around the world, the top fashion lines, world class museums and a nightlife that rivals that of New York and Paris. And although the city is massive, there is still something about it that gives it a bit of a small city feel. Sao Paulo might take a little while to get to know, but once you do you’ll fall in love.
Time Needed: 3-7 days
Budget: 35-50$ / day
Things to do in Sao Paulo
- Afro-Brazilian Museum: This isn’t only one of the best museums in Brazil, but in all of South America. This museum on the edges of Parque Ibirapuera ties in the African and Brazilian cultures and manages to depict both, and how they have effected each other, it a way that is both beautiful and interesting.
- Parque Ibirapuera: This park is a beautiful reprieve from the race of the busy city streets. Most of the locals head to the park to exercise but it also makes for a great spot to bird watch, relax by the lake, or just go for a morning walk.
- Oscar Freire Shopping: Call this the Rodeo Drive of South America if you will, but it really is the fashion center of all of South America. Even if you’re not a shopper, this is a great place to grab a coffee and a bench to people watch.
- The Football Museum: I got chills when I walked into the football museum. The sounds of singing fans and the site of banners of World Cup champions would do that to any football fan. Even if you’re not a big fan of the sport, this is a great place regardless. Visitor’s always end up leaving this place with a greater understanding as to what this sport means for the country and its people.
- Banco Santander Views: Climb the elevator to the top of the Banco Santander for absolutely spectacular views of this huge city.
- Nightlife: The cost of going out in Sao Paulo is about as high as anywhere in the Americas. However, the party in this city is also as good as anywhere. Go out for a couple expensive cocktails or hit the dance floor at one of the larger dance clubs. Either way you are sure to find yourself entertained.
- More on things to do in Sao Paulo
Where to Eat in Sao Paulo
For me the best place to go out and get food was in the Jardim Paulista, since it offers such a wide variety of choices. I personally never felt like I had to wander off as the options here would have covered me for months, let alone a couple days.
Where to Stay in Sao Paulo
The selection of hostels in Sao Paulo is not nearly as diverse as that in Rio de Janeiro, but there are still some good ones. I stayed in the Lime Time hostel when I was in town. The rooms are very big (they offer 8, 6 and 4 bed dorms), and there is a great kitchen and common area. The staff was also very nice. A good place to stay and very close to the metro station.