São Paulo is enormous: an intimidating giant. From above, it is a seemingly endless urban jungle; a blanket of concrete punctuated by the occasional pocket of green. Down in the thick of it, however, visitors will find a megalopolis that is at once vibrant, cosmopolitan, and incessantly energetic. The city’s collection of unique attractions makes travelling to São Paulo, either for a short getaway or extended visit, very tempting. Indeed, an exquisite array of architectural wonders, cutting-edge museums, and some of the best gastronomic experiences on the continent are all waiting to be discovered. Read this essential guide on how to plan your trip and make the most of your stay.
The cityscapes of São Paulo are quite spectacular / Image Source
A question that always arises before travelling – what kind of clothes do I need to bring? São Paulo has a defined climate in relation to summer and winter, but conditions can vary quite considerably from morning to evening on any given day. Come prepared for every eventuality; the average temperature hovers around 19°C throughout the year, and climbs to 22.4°C during the hottest month of February.
WHEN TO GO
Before deciding when to travel to São Paulo, be sure to check the specific cultural and gastronomic programs that take place across the city almost every month. In addition to an impressive schedule of music concerts and festivals, the city also hosts a number of themed events with fabulous discounts: Restaurant Week, Fashion Week, Spa Week, Cocktail Week – São Paulo has a celebration for pretty much everything.
Avenida Paulista is a shopper’s paradise, one of the most exclusive spots in the city / Image Source
WHERE TO STAY
In a city of this size, location is very important. Lying west of the central areas, the bohemian neighbourhood of Vila Madalena offers boutique designer outlets, independent art galleries, and a wonderful assortment of bars and restaurants. For something in the heart of the city, the modern sweep of Avenida Paulista is also a great option, bringing untold cultural delights and round-the-clock entertainment. Elsewhere, the upmarket Itaim Bibi district is a very popular haunt for younger travellers, and the equally fashionable Moema is close to Ibirapuera Park and all the spectacular sights that come with it. Wherever you stay though, make sure you have easy and convenient access to the public metro system: São Paulo is gridlocked from dawn till dusk and you don’t want to be a part of it.
Ibirapuera Park is a beautiful urban park, home to many cultural attractions / Image Source
The Iconic Avenida Paulista
Avenida Paulista is somewhat of a symbol of São Paulo. Served by the both the blue and yellow lines of the metro, this dynamic thoroughfare is home to iconic attractions aplenty and runs like a fissure through the city’s central zones. Here’s what you can find nearby:
Consolação – small yet multifaceted, this modest area boasts a large number of bohemian bars, authentic restaurants, and dizzying nightclubs, making it a very popular stopover for both tourists and locals alike.
Jardins – the upscale restaurants and verdant, tree-lined streets make for a refreshing break from São Paulo’s unrelenting asphalt labyrinth. The city’s most chic and stylish streets – Alameda Lorena and Rua Oscar Freire – can be found in this neighbourhood.
Bela Vista – home to elegant eateries, trendy cafés, and a number of contemporary shopping malls, laid-back Bela Vista has much going on. Look on Alameda Ribeirao Preto for some of the best Italian cantinas in the city.
Paraíso – situated between Paulista and Ibirapuera Park, this area is a great base from which to explore. Pavilhão da Bienal (Biennial Pavilion), Museu de Arte Contemporânea, and Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo are all within walking distance.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) is one of the best museums on the continent / Image Source
SᾹO PAULO’S MUST-DOS
Stroll along Avenida Paulista and visit the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) to check out their enviable collection of visual art. When you’re done, make your way to Vila Madalena to explore quaint urban art galleries and marvel at the extraordinary graffiti.
Rent a bike and cruise around the green oasis of Ibirapuera Park before heading north to Rua Oscar Freire to dip in and out of the trendiest clothing stores in the city.
Take a walk through the bustling historical centre to appreciate the city’s innovative architecture, and stop at Mercadão to sample some exquisite local food delicacies.
For trips within a trip, São Paulo has plenty of options – uncover the stunning beaches of Santos and Guarujá on the Costa Verde, amble around the Open Arts Fair in hipster suburb Embu das Artes, or travel to Tozan Farm and learn about the history of Brazil’s rich coffee making industry.
For panoramic views of the city, Banespa Tower is the place to go. Two elevator rides and a spiral staircase stand between you and vistas that will take your breath away.
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By following these simple tips on how to plan your trip to São Paulo, you can see the very best of what the city has to offer. Book your tours and travel activities in advance with Sãopaulo4u.
By Luiza Cavalcante, professional in Visual Arts and Image Technologies. Portuguese travel writer, passionate photographer and traveller / Translated by Simon Hall.