What to do in Sao Paulo
The most populated city in Brazil (and also in South America), with a little over 12 million people, is often considered as a spot mostly for business travelers. It is true that it functions as a key financial centre for Brazil, but that’s not everything that goes on there! ¿Looking for what to do in Sao Paulo?
There’s nightlife, there’s culture, and great architecture! ¡There’s lots of things to do! This city is also very important in Brazilian history, as the independence was declared here, by the Ipiranga River in 1822.
An important detail you must consider is traffic: plenty of times, moving around by car won’t be the most comfortable choice, so consider staying close to a subway station. There’s also a wide variety of buses that will help you get to your point of interest. Now, let’s check out what the city has to offer, and discover what to do in Sao Paulo during your travel:
During the week, it’s a traditional busy avenue in a financial hub. On the weekends, it’s closed to traffic and a delight to walk around. Street performers, vendors, musicians, everyone’s there. Many interesting places of the city are also right there, like:
– MASP (Museo de Arte de São Paulo, the Art Museum),
– Casa das Rosas (House of Roses, a cultural centre dedicated to poetry and cultural events),
– Livraria Cultura (Cultural Bookstore, famous for being one of the largest ones worldwide), inside the Conjunto Nacional -Joint National- Mall,
– Japan House (cultural centre, you can access the exhibitions for free, and the building on its own for sure will end up in your camera!).
Vila Madalena is a neighbourhood famous for its nightlife. With a very bohemian vibe, filled with art galleries, studios and bars. During the day, is a nice shopping stroll, with antique stores and flea markets waiting for you (for example, the Feira da Praça Benedito Calixto, which happens on Saturdays). As the sun sets, live music begins and the young crowds will be rushing to the nearest bar to enjoy some cocktails, dance and hang out with friends. Plenty of companies offer tours by bike or foot if you want to get to know more details about the area. One of the most famous spots is one where the Joker wouldn’t dare going probably…check out what comes next!
Beco do Batman
Literally translates to “Batman’s Alley”. If you only want to make a quick trip around Vila Madalena, this is the place to visit. Named after a Batman graffiti done in the 80’s, which inspired students from the area to add their own art. Eventually it transformed in what you could describe as an open air museum where there’s basically no brick that isn’t painted. You don’t have to be a graffiti expert to enjoy this place, filled with colours, expressions and ideas from the “paulistas” (those who live in the state of São Paulo). And bonus, just 500m away (1600 ft) you also have Beco do Aprendiz (Apprentice’s Alley). Not as famous, but also interesting if you have some time around the area.
In a big busy city like São Paulo, it’s a relief to have parks like this one. It’s the most recognized park of the city, partly due to the size (1.58 km2, 158 ha, for reference that’s about half of NY’s Central Park), and also because of the multiple events and cultural activities (often organized by the government) that take place there. Besides riding bikes, or relaxing around the lake having a picnic, there’s a few landmarks you can find:
– Brazil Afro Museum, dedicated to the African heritage in Brazilian culture.
– Oscar Niemeyer’s Auditorium, impossible to miss this building with its particular entrance.
– Museum of Modern Art or MAM (not to be confused with São Paulo Art Museum -MASP-), free access on Saturdays.
Liberdade / Japanese Neighbourhood
If you walk into this area, for a moment you’ll feel confused and forget which corner of the planet you are visiting. It’s easy to access, from the Liberdade Metro Station. One of the largest Japanese communities outside Japan is here, something you can tell by the multiple traditional bars and restaurants (if you’re into Asian food, this place is an absolute must!). Although it started as the Japanese hub, now there’s also a strong presence of Chinese and Korean immigrants too.
There’s also a market, Feira da Liberdade, open during the weekends.
Catedral da Se
Included within the 5 largest gothic churches in the entire world, the construction started in 1913 and was finished about 40 years later. The crypt, where many key figures of Brazilian history are buried, it’s breathtaking on its own.
If you were just visiting the Liberdade neighbourhood, it’s quite close to this area. This church is also included in plenty of tours around the city.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo
One of the landmarks in Avenida Paulista, it’s impossible to miss that red structure that looks like it’s grabbing the glass and concrete box in the unique style of architect Lina Bo Bardi. Photographs, paintings, sculptures, typical daily objects, representing European, African and South American culture. Considered one of the best museums in São Paulo. Check its galleries and agenda here!
Mercado Municipal de São Paulo
It is also referred to as Mercadão (the Big Market). Exotic fruits, meat, herbs, spices, and their famous Mortadella Sandwich.
You probably go there for the food, but the building itself is also breathtaking, with gorgeous stained glass and a façade that will definitely catch your eye.
¡We really hope this selection of what to do in sao paulo was usefull for you! Now, what’s your next destination? Thought about Rio? Check our recommendations for what to do in Rio here!