Destination guide: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo is the most inhabited city in Brazil, with modern architecture that coexists in perfect harmony with the city’s greenery and white sandy beaches. On strolling through its streets, visitors witness a magnitude of culture and nightlife, as well being able to visit exclusive shops and art galleries.

Fly with LAN to Sao Paulo and get to know Guaruja Island, the legacy of the golden age of coffee and the place where the South American Grand Prix is held.

  • Sao Paulo - Things to do

    Sights

    Avenida São Luís

    Praça da República is an always-lively square a few blocks northwest of Anhangabaú that turns into an open-air market on Sundays, specializing in crafts, paintings, coins and gemstones. The area north of the square has become popular with the gay community , while to the south lies a nest of business hotels, huge office buildings and, especially along Avenida São Luís, what were once some of the city's most prestigious apartment buildings.

    Latitude: -23.5446713335941 / Longitude: -46.6431856155396 
    Sub-Type: Square, Plaza
    Address: Avenida São Luís, Praça Da República 

    Banespa Skyscraper

    For one of Sampa's best panoramas, head to the top of the Banespa skyscraper, Brazil's version of the Empire State Building, completed in 1939. Ride free to the observation deck on the top floor for views of the city. Note, you will need some form of ID to sign in.

     Latitude: -23.5457434149344 / Longitude: -46.6341090202332 
    Sub-Type: Tower
     Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 Mon-Fri
      Address: Rua João Brícola 24, Banespa

    Instituto Butantan

    One of the city's most popular attractions - at least among non-ophidophobes - this institute is internationally respected for its ground-breaking biomedical research. However, the biggest draw is its venom farm - researchers milk some 1000 snakes of their poison, which is then used to make antidotes to snake and spider bites, as well as in research for other medicines.

    You can see the snakes in their cages, which attempt to recreate their native habitat - because apparently happy snakes produce more poison. Yet further proof the universe has a sense of humor!

    Latitude: -23.5686287904112 / Longitude: -46.7146825790405
    Sub-Type: Zoologic
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3726 7222
    Opening Hours: 09:00-16:30 Tue-Sun
    Pricing: admission adult/student R$5/R$2
    Address: Av Vital Brazil 1500, Butuntâ, 05503-900
    Extras: Cidade Universitária
    Transportation Type: bus
    Email: instituto@butantan.gov.br
    Website: www.butantan.gov.br

    Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP)

    Sampa's pride, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) museum possesses Latin America's most comprehensive collection of Western art. Hovering above a concrete plaza that turns into an antiques fair on Sundays, the museum, designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi and completed in 1968, is considered a classic of modernism by many and an abomination by a vocal few. The collection, though, is unimpeachable, and ranges from Goya to El Greco to Manet.

    The Impressionist collection is particularly impressive. There are also a few great Brazilian paintings, including three fine works by Cândido Portinari. The museum hosts temporary exhibits, and there is a bright, pleasant cafeteria on the lower level, though the food is only OK.

    Latitude: -23.5615875609265 / Longitude: -46.6559636592865
    Sub-Type: Gallery
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3251 5644
    Opening Hours: 11:00-18:00 Tue-Sun, to 20:00 Thu
    Pricing: adult/student R$15/R$7
    Address: Av Paulista 1578, Jardim Paulista
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Trianon-Masp
    Website: masp.uol.com.br

    Praça da Liberdade

    Praça da Liberdade is the neighborhood's main square and also the location of its metro stop. It hosts an open-air market on Sundays. A short walk south on Rua Galvão Bueno takes you past many Asian shops and restaurants as well as some rather neglected Japanese-style gardens.

    Latitude: -23.5551262124712 / Longitude: -46.6354823112488
    Sub-Type: Square, Plaza
    Address: Liberdade
    Transportation Type: underground rail
    Details: Praça da Liberdade

    Eat

    A Bela Paulista

    This very agreeable, upscale bakery is especially popular with the gay Paulistano community for its gourmet sandwiches and salads served around the clock. Expect lines in the wee hours as clubs start to close.

    Sub-Type: Bakery
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3214 3347
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address: Rua Haddock Lobo 354, Around Avenida Paulista

    Arábia

    Widely considered São Paulo's best Middle Eastern restaurant, Arábia sticks closely to classic recipes but stands out for their careful preparation and, above all the excellence and freshness of the ingredients.

    Latitude: -23.5636330966545 / Longitude: -46.6673684120178
    Sub-Type: Middle Eastern
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3061 2203
    Opening Hours: lunch & dinner
    Price Range: High
    Address: Rua Haddock Lobo 1397, Jardins

    Ponto Chic

    A São Paulo tradition, Ponto Chic is famous for its efficient, bow-tied staff and the extravagant bauru - a sandwich of beef, tomato, pickle and melted cheeses on French bread

    Latitude: -23.5428517259907 / Longitude: -46.6389691829681
    Sub-Type: Brazilian
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3222 6528
    Opening Hours: 07:00-24:00 Mon-Sat
    Price Range: Moderate
    Address: Largo Paissandu 27, Triângulo

    Entertainment

    A Lôca

    Still the reigning queen of trashy chic, this sprawling club is the point of reference for Sampa’s alternativos – gay, straight, male, female and various combinations thereof. Music varies from punk to electronica to classic disco.

    Latitude: -23.5549786893905 / Longitude: -46.6558885574341
    Type: Night
    Sub-Type: Bar
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3159 8889
    Opening Hours: midnight-late Wed-Sun
    Address: Rua Frei Caneca 916
    Website: www.aloca.com.br

    ABC Bailão

    The Bailão is definitely ‘brega’ (tacky), but that’s the point. Basically just one big dance floor, it features everything from Whitney Houston to forró – the music of the Northeast, where many of the patrons were born. The crowd is refreshingly multiracial and multigenerational.

    Latitude: -23.5437566150813 / Longitude: -46.6458356380463
    Type: Night.
    Sub-Type: Club.
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3333 3537.
    Opening Hours: 11pm-late Thu-Sat
    Address: Rua Marquês de Itu 182.

    Bar Brahma

    A Sampa classic near Praça da República with a well-preserved wood-panelled interior, Brahma remains a popular after-work hangout for professionals, and offers up live music (sometimes with cover) most nights after 21:00.

    Latitude: -23.5420451891616 / Longitude: -46.6408252716064
    Type: Night
    Sub-Type: Live Music
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3333 0855
    Opening Hours: 11:00-24:00
    Address: Av São João 677, Praça da República

    Shop

    Daslu

    Don’t plan on walking to Daslu. It’s against the rules to arrive on foot at São Paulo’s most over-the-top shopping emporium. A taxi is one option, though a much chicer option is to arrive by chopper at the rooftop heliport. The store itself looks like an all-white Roman villa on steroids, and over its three floors you can find every top designer, from Gucci to Tumi. Servants in black-and-white uniforms dole out free espresso, biscotti and sparkling water at bars spread throughout the store.

    Still hungry? There’s a tearoom, a sushi bar and a more formal dining room. Daslu even has its own harem – a sprawling series of lounges and changing rooms where mirrors are ubiquitous and men are forbidden to set foot.

    Latitude: -23.5918346392188 / Longitude: -46.6902637481689
    Type: Shop
    Sub-Type: Shopping Centre
    Telephone Number: +55 11 3841 4000
    Opening Hours: 10am-8pm Mon-Sat, to 10pm Tue
    Address: Av Chedid Jafet 131, Vila Olímpia

    Galeria Ouro Fino

    From hip-high boots to camouflage club gear, this old-fashioned, 3-story mall has been turned into ground zero for alternativo shoppers.

    Latitude: -23.5641248072256 / Longitude: -46.6667890548706
    Type: Shop
    Sub-Type: Shopping Centre
    Opening Hours: 11:00-20:00 Mon-Sat
    Address: Rua Augusta 2690, Jardim Paulista

    Shopping Frei Caneca

    Relatively modest in size, Shopping Frei Caneca is nevertheless fully equipped with food court, cinema and good midrange shops.

    Type: Shop
    Sub-Type: Shopping Centre
    Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00 Mon-Sat, 14:00-20:00 Sun
    Address: Rua Frei Caneca, Around Avenida Paulista

    Events Overview

    The city’s two biggest events are the Bienal de São Paulo and the Gay Pride events.

    Also worth checking out:

    • Carnaval (February &/or March) The celebrations don’t approach those of Rio, but there are parties throughout the city.
    • Virada Cultural (one Saturday in late April or early May) A nonstop, 24-hour party of cultural, especially musical, events around the city.
    • São Paulo International Art Fair (late May or early June) This national and international art fair is one of the world’s largest.
    • Festa de NS Achiropita (every weekend in August) A series of street fairs in Bixiga celebrating the city’s Italian heritage.
    • São Paulo Restaurant Week (late August and early September) More than 100 restaurants offer special menus and promotional prices.
    • Mostra Internacional de Cinema (October) The country’s largest film festival, with screenings throughout the city.
    • Reveillon (31 December) Av Paulista turns into a big outdoor party to ring in the new year.

     

    Activities Overview

    What to do in São Paulo? Forget extreme sports or communing with nature, and focus on the man-made pleasures available to you: endless museums and galleries to explore, infinite shops to visit, and all sorts of nocturnal hot-spots to frequent. The historic center is also worth a leisurely stroll.