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Sao Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a city population of about 11 million and almost 20 million in its metropolitan region. It is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. São Paulo is one of the richest cities in the southern hemisphere, though inequality between the classes typically observed in Brazil is blatant. Historically attractive to immigrants as well as (somewhat later) Brazilians from other states, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world.
São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of... Read more

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Destination:
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a city population of about 11 million and almost 20 million in its metropolitan region. It is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. São Paulo is one of the richest cities in the southern hemisphere, though inequality between the classes typically observed in Brazil is blatant. Historically attractive to immigrants as well as (somewhat later) Brazilians from other states, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world.
São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of its inhabitants, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes. If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.
Just south of the city, lies the Parque Estadual Serra do Mar (part of the Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a mountain range covered by exuberant rainforest that faces the coast and provides various ecotourism options.

A large sprawling city can present numerous challenges to sensibilities. São Paulo is no exception. Although the first impression might be that of a grey concrete jungle, soon it becomes apparent that the city has a great number of pockets of beauty. The population and environment of São Paulo are diverse, and districts within it range from extremely luxurious areas to hovels housing the poor and destitute, located usually in suburbia far from the so-called "expanded center".
São Paulo, together with Rio de Janeiro, is the spot where most visitors from abroad land in Brazil. While a complete experience of the city would take a few weeks (since the lifestyle of Paulistanos and every-day routine in the city are huge attractions in themselves), it's possible to visit all major sites within three days.
Staying a little longer than that is always a nice idea. As the financial and cultural center of the country, the city is a sea of possibilities.

Orientation

São Paulo's basic spot for orientation should be Avenida Paulista. From there, it's pretty easy to reach every single spot in town, be it by bus or underground transport. It is located between the neighborhoods of Bela Vista and Jardim Paulista. Av. Paulista is also within walking distance to Centro and Ibirapuera Park, which makes it the perfect place to start a walking tour.
However, keep in mind that central Sao Paulo actually comprises a very large area, and traveling from one spot to another may require that you take a cab or public transport. To find out the general direction where you are, see the street signs, as it is color-coded:
  • Sé/República (in Downtown): White street plate.
All other areas have blue street plates, and a bottom stripe on the following colors:
  • Expanded Center: Grey (Expanded Center means the area limited by the Tietê river on the North, the Pinheiros river on the West, Avenida dos Bandeirantes on the South and Avenida Salim Farah Maluf on the East)
  • Northwest: Light Green
  • North: Dark Blue
  • Northeast: Yellow
  • East: Red
  • Southeast: Dark Green
  • South: Light Blue
  • Southwest: Purple
  • West: Orange
To find the direction of Downtown (most precisely Praça da Sé), just follow the direction of decreasing street numbers. That doesn't work, however, in the Santo Amaro subprefecture (South Central), neither in the Far South region; in these areas, decreasing numbers lead to Largo 13 de Maio.

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Sao Paulo, Brazil: Port Information


Cruise ships dock at the Concais Cruise Terminal in Santos. The port is located 43 miles from San Paulo. You can take a bus or a taxi to get from Santos to Sao Paolo.

Shuttles are available in the port area.

Get around Sao Paulo, Brazil


Transport in São Paulo can be anything from complicated to hellish. Peak hours are normally roughly 6 AM-9 AM and 4 PM-8 PM, but since city roads are constantly on the edge of their capacity, any little incident can cause major queues and delays. The cheapest way for tourists to get around is to use the subway/metro, trains, and trolleybuses as much as possible, and then take a taxi for shorter distances. Even these means of transport can be uncomfortably crowded during peaks, and only a very limited carry-on is recommended.  

Bilhete Único
The Bilhete Único is a transport smartcard that is used for paying fares on buses, subways, and trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system with free transfers between the subway system and buses within 3 hours. The card is issued at underground stations; charge them with any extra amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "lotéricas"), supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red, round "Bilhete Único" logo.

By metro and train
The rail network, composed of metro (subway) and surface trains, is the method of transportation a tourist is likely to use the most while visiting São Paulo. The metro is modern, safe, clean and efficient; the quality of surface trains varies, but those in more touristic areas area as good as the metro. 
Surface trains can also be used to reach a number of other cities in the metropolitan area of São Paulo and even beyond. The fee is the same, make some of these trips incredible cheap depending on where you want to go.

By bus
Buses are the most popular way to get around the city. Even though drivers really step on it through the bumpy streets of São Paulo, buses are not the fastest way to get around. In addition, they can get really crowded. However, unlike the metro/train, they do reach every neighborhood.
You can pay for the ride inside the bus, or use a Bilhete Unico card topped up with credits before boarding. If paying for the ticket on the bus, simply hand over the money to the teller sitting by the turnstile, and he or she will let you pass through. Note that children under 5 years old are allowed by law to slip under the turnstile for free! If you have the Bilhete Unico magnetic card, then a single fare payment allows you to take other buses for free for the next 3 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released.
Most Brazilians move straight to the back of the bus when they board, which can make it difficult to get off the bus, but it's considered the polite thing to do. Also, if you are holding a large bag and standing, another person may offer to hold your bag for you. This is a perfectly alright thing to do, as they're really just being kind and polite. Use your best judgment if the offer seems like anything other than a friendly gesture.
If you are carrying large suitcases, try to avoid rush-hour traffic as buses can become incredibly packed.

By taxi
Taxi ranks in São Paulo are white, with a distinctive luminous green "TAXI" sign on the rooftop. Check out for the white color of the taxi rank (unless it's a radio taxi), the official license sticker with the driver's name and photo on the passenger side of the control panel, and the red license plate.
There are two kinds of cabs: cheaper street-hail and radio taxi. White taxis are often found at stands near city squares and big venues. Radio taxis can be ordered by telephone; ask reception at your hotel for help to call a radio cab, or just call a company. Some companies now provide an online, fixed price, quote, and book service. Taxis in São Paulo are relatively expensive compared to other large cities worldwide and, depending on the neighborhood, there is a risk of being overcharged if you're a foreigner.
Unlike you may have heard otherwise, incidents of tourists being brought by taxists to be robbed are extremely rare. Taxis are one of the safest ways to get around the city, and certainly much safer than riding your own car.

By car
Cars are an important tool in the life of every paulistano. By commuting to and from work, one can spend several hours a day inside a car, stuck in the traffic. Some places can be reached only by car, and if you have to travel long distances in town, it is usually the most convenient means of transport. It is also part of Sao Paulo's own urban culture.

By bicycle
São Paulo is definitely not one of the easiest places in the world around by bike. Most drivers respect cyclists, but unfortunately, there are also many drivers (including bus drivers) who don't. Most of the city is flat or moderately steep, with only the extreme north part of the city being extremely hilly. The basic "survival tips" are: use a helmet, follow the direction of traffic at all times, watch out for car doors opening without warning, never ride in freeways, and use a cycleway whenever possible.
Cyclists with bicycles are allowed in the metro/train network at the following times:
  • In the metro (Metrô/Via Quatro): Monday-Friday starting from 20:30, Saturday starting from 14:00, Sundays and Holidays the whole day
  • In surface trains (CPTM): Saturday starting from 14:00, Sundays and Holidays the whole day
There are public bicycle parking lots in many metro stations (06:00-22:00 daily), and in some, it is also possible to borrow a bike using a credit card. Check the Metrô website for an up-to-date list of stations with infrastructure for bicycles. Parking lots (mainly the ones designed for cars) may not accept your bicycle, so if you are to chain yours to a pole, use a good chain with a strong lock. In metro/train stations, cyclists are allowed to put their bicycles on escalators to go up, but not to go down. As a foreigner, it is complicated to register at ciclosampa.com for renting a bike with your credit card. At Ibirapuera park near gate 3 (Portao 3), it is possible to rent a bike for R$ 5 per hour. You get registered with your passport. It has become a popular place for locals as well, with hundreds renting bikes on Saturdays and Sundays.
São Paulo has about 55 km of cycleways; some of them are displayed are this map (the map is not kept up-to-date, and does not display all existing cycleways). On Sundays, it is also possible to use the Ciclofaixa de Lazer. The cycleways that cover more than one region are listed below; others are described in the individual district sections.
  • Cycleway Marginal Pinheiros, from Cidade Universitário to Jurubatuba train stations. The longest cycleway of São Paulo, running in the east shore of the Pinheiros River and linking the West, South Central, and Far South regions. Offers very nice views of the city, although the bad smell of the river may take some time to cope. The only problem of the cycleway is that it is isolated from the city by a train line and a motorway, so it is only possible to enter and leave the cycleway at specific points. 21.2 km.  
  • Cycleway Radial Leste, from Tatuapé to Corinthians-Itaquera train/metro stations. Goes from the middle of the Southeast to the middle of the Far East regions, running in parallel with the Line 3-Red metro line and the Radial Leste avenue. The cicleway gives an extensive view of suburban residential areas in São Paulo's East region. 12 km.  
On foot
Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads. Take care whenever crossing the streets, watching out for cars that may come unexpectedly, even if the pedestrian lights are green. Do not try to cross large roads with a high volume of car traffic: usually, there will be a pedestrian viaduct or bridge at some point in the sidewalk.
Despite the aggressiveness found in the transit, one can still have peaceful walks across town. The Historic Center area and Avenida Paulista are definitely places to be explored on foot. Check the individual district listings for other nice walks.

What to see in Sao Paulo, Brazil


Avenida Paulista (Paulista Avenue) is one of São Paulo's most popular postcards, as it is the pride of Paulistanos. It is one of the largest business centers and probably the largest cultural region in the city. Its architectural contrast reflects the fact that the avenue is located between the "old" and "new" parts of the city.
The avenue and its surroundings, such as Rua Augusta, Alameda Santos, and Rua Oscar Freire, contain numerous shop galleries, art galleries, theatres, movie theaters, pubs, hotel, coffee shops, bookstores, and gourmet restaurants. Gay nightlife is intense on Consolacao and Haddock Lobo Streets.

Historic center
São Paulo's Historic Center met a period of degradation, but it is gradually recovering with recent projects and investments. Even though it still has some problems, it is an area to not be missed due to its historical and cultural value for the city. Here you can find many constructions and landmarks from glorious moments of São Paulo's history, ridiculously crowded commercial areas, and a multitude of theatres and cultural activities.
Regarded as an "ugly and gray concrete jungle" even by many Paulistanos, São Paulo's city center indeed does not conform to a standard definition of "beauty", but nonetheless, it has become a source of inspiration for countless artists and photographers who can see on it much of the personality of the city.

Rio Pinheiros river area
The Pinheiros river crosses the West of São Paulo in North-South direction, and although heavily polluted, the river and its shores are among the most beautiful and interesting areas of the city. The East shore is filled with skyscrapers that compose the business centers of Brooklin Novo and Vila Olímpia and contains the longest cycleway of the city, as well as one of the most vibrant nightlife areas. The West shore is home to the University of São Paulo and exhibits a stereotypical portrait of São Paulo's social inequality, contrasting luxurious apartments and mansions with low-class suburbs and favelas. In the middle of the river, stands the magnificent Ponte Octavio Frias, more known as Ponte Estaiada. The Line 9-Emerald train line runs alongside the river, making all spots quite easy to reach.

Parks
Although São Paulo is commonly associated with gray, concrete, and lack of green space, the Atlantic rainforest still covers large portions of the city and even of the municipality. These green areas are constantly under threat by irregular occupation, so the government has turned many of them into public parks in order to better protect them.
Parks in the city can be divided into three types:
  • Leisure parks are those with plenty of recreational, sport and cultural facilities, but do not contain considerable amounts of the original vegetation. Parque do Ibirapuera (see São Paulo/South Central) is certainly the most famous park of this type in the city, hosting various museums, monuments, and cultural activities;
  • Ecotourism parks are those which are mostly covered by the Atlantic rainforest and other natural ecosystems, and contain limited recreational facilities. They are suited for those seeking an adventure. These include Parque Estadual da Cantareira (see São Paulo/Northeast and Guarulhos), APA Capivari-Monos (see São Paulo/Far South) and Parque Estadual do Jaraguá (see São Paulo/Northwest).
  • Mixed parks are a mix between the two above types: they have both leisure facilities and preserved nature areas. They are a nice option if you think that nature is best enjoyed with the company of other people, or if you want to do something more relaxing and less adventurous. These include Parque do Carmo, Parque Ecológico do Tietê (see São Paulo/Far East) and Horto Florestal (see São Paulo/Northeast).
  • Represa do Guarapiranga is not exactly a park, but a huge dam where there are recreation areas with nature mostly preserved. On weekends, some families go there to practice nautical sports like riding jet skis, wakeboard, and some sailboats. There you can rent some of these boats and enjoy an almost bucolic landscape in the middle of the concrete jungle(see São Paulo/Far South).
Museums and cultural centers
As the art center of the country, São Paulo offers numerous museums and cultural centers. Two museums to not be missed, due to their size, architecture, and historical importance, are Museu do Ipiranga (Southeast) and Memorial da América Latina (West).
Appreciators of art should also check Museu de Arte de São Paulo (Paulista), Pinacoteca do Estado (Downtown), Instituto Tomio Ohtake, Museu de Arte Contemporânea (West) and Museu de Arte Moderna (South Central).
Check each district section of this guide for a comprehensive list of museums.

Panoramic views
São Paulo is a beautiful city seen from above, so spare some time to go to one of the few points where you'll be able to see how far this city extends to, especially at sunset.
  • Banespa Tower, Rua João Brícola, 24, Centro. São Bento Metrô station, +55(11) 3249-7180. M-F, 10 AM-5 PM. The observation deck is on the 34th floor, 160 m above ground. For many decades, it used to be the highest building in town. There is a small museum on the top of the building." Make sure and bring ID (passport) because it is required for entrance. Free entrance.  
  • Restaurant Skye, Hotel Unique, Avenida Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio, 4700. On the rooftop of posh Hotel Unique, Skye serves excellent fusion food under the supervision of chef Emmanuel Bassoleil. Free entrance.  
  • São Paulo Jockey Club, Av. Lineu de Paula Machado, 1263. There are two bars and a couple of posh restaurants with a great view of the River Pinheiros.

What to do in Sao Paulo, Brazil


Theaters and concert halls
The two most important concert and opera houses of the city are Theatro Municipal and Sala São Paulo (see São Paulo/Historic Center). São Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which feature plays in Portuguese. The British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, Instituto Cervantes and Alliance Française occasionally have plays in English, German, Spanish and French, respectively; check individual District listings.

Ciclofaixa de Lazer
Now it is possible to safely cycle in the city during Sundays and holidays, using the Ciclofaixa de Lazer. It is a 255,2 km route that passes mainly through middle and high-class residential areas in the West and South Central parts of São Paulo, passing also through cycling-friendly parks such as Parque Villa-Lobos and Parque do Ibirapuera.

Fun for the family
Both adults and kids are ensured to have fun by seeing the animals in the São Paulo Zoo, Zoo Safari (with animals roaming freely) and in the São Paulo Aquarium. São Paulo also has educative spaces aimed both at adults and children, including Catavento Cultural and Espaço Ciência. Finally, Mundo da Xuxa is a theme park only for the small ones.

Watch football/soccer
Football is an inherent part of Brazilian culture, and São Paulo is no exception, being home of four football teams that generally run in the 1st division: São Paulo, Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Portuguesa. The four large football stadiums in the city are Morumbi, Parque Antarctica (see São Paulo/West), Pacaembu (see São Paulo/Historic Center) and Canindé (see São Paulo/Southeast). A new stadium was constructed in the São Paulo/Far East region to host the opening and some games of the FIFA World Cup 2014. A word of warning, however: although most matches are safe and fun events, games between the biggest local rivals (Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and, to a smaller extent, Santos) have had episodes of violence flaring up (the majority of cases, such incidents happening outside of the stadium), due to a minority of violent fans (ultras). Going to such games can be a risky proposition.
Estadio de Morumbi is not easily reachable from the center (e.g Av. Paulista) by public transport. 

City tours
  • São Paulo Historical City Tour is a panoramic tour for those keen to have an introduction to the history, culture, and the lifestyle of the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. The city tour takes about 3 hours, during which the visitor will pass by places in São Paulo Old Centre and get familiar with highlights such as the Cathedral of Sé, Pátio do Colégio (short stop at the square, the site where the city was founded), Monastery of São Bento, the Banespa Building (São Paulo’s “Empire State Building”), Martinelli Building (the first skyscraper in South America), Viaduto do Chá (Tea Viaduct), the Municipal Theater, Sala São Paulo concert hall, Estaçao da Luz train station, and the Municipal Market.
  • SP Up Close is run by Americans who love São Paulo and have experienced the ins and outs of the city and are able to showcase the best of the local flavors. SP Up Close operates Culture, Architecture, Shopping, Food & Custom Tours to meet any visitor's needs. The price of their Tours includes transportation, snacks & drinks.
  • TurisMetrô offers a variety of city tours every weekend. The tours are mostly walking but with some use of the metro. There is no charge but you will need to take some money with you to buy metro tickets during the tour as necessary. Tours start at the TurisMetrô desk in Sé metro station at 9 am and 2 pm on Saturdays and Sundays; you need to arrive half an hour earlier to sign up. The desk is inside the ticket barriers, so if you arrive by metro don't leave the station while looking for the desk or you'll have to pay for an extra ticket to get back in, and if you're already in the area you will have to pay for a ticket to gain access to the desk, although you will use it to make the first journey of the tour so it's not wasted. The guides speak English. 

What to eat and drink in Sao Paulo, Brazil


Eat

São Paulo is home to a superb diversity of restaurants and cuisines, where you can enjoy typical dishes from literally all over the world. The price range is as wide as the diversity of the restaurants in the city, from cheap snacks and meals in simple and cozy restaurants and food tents in popular markets, to the hugely expensive high end cuisine and internationally recognized restaurants, such as D.O.M, which was (in 2012) elected the 4th best restaurant in the World and the best in South America by The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
The city is also home to a vast array of Brazilian and international fast-food chains, offering varying options ranging from burgers to sushi and kebab. The fast-food chain Habib's, which originated in São Paulo, is the favorite of lower class Paulistanos due to its cheap "Arab-Brazilian" snacks.
In São Paulo, the ever-present beans-and-rice accompaniment typically involves brown beans instead of black beans, as in Rio. Another typical food in São Paulo is the Virado à Paulista, which consists of rice, tutu de feijão (a paste of beans and manioc flour; sometimes made of corn flour, in order to be drier than the manioc flour one), sautéed collard greens (couve) and pork chops, typically bisteca. It is usually accompanied by pork rinds, bits of sausage, a fried egg and a fried banana.
Another typical type of restaurant in São Paulo, are the world famous churrascarias where an enormous range of meats and cuts, comes to your table by the stick, offering also a range of sides and salads. This system is called rodízio, and it has been very successful in the city, spreading to other types of cuisine like Italian, where you can find the rodízio de pizza and Japanese, with the rodízio de sushi.
The cuisine of São Paulo shows the influence of European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. The majority of immigrants in São Paulo arrived from Italy, and other European countries like Portugal, Spain and Germany. There's also big numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants from Japan, Lebanon, and many other nationalities. Therefore, it is possible to find a wide array of cuisines in the city of São Paulo. Pizza is a particularly popular dish, which can be found with an endless range of toppings, and paulistas will swear their city has the best pizza in the country, if not in the world.
When eating out, a tip of 10 percent on the value of the bill is usually included. Some restaurants don't include this service charge (when you may come across the message "Serviço não incluso" at the end of the bill), but unless the staff is upsettingly rude, do pay the standard 10 percent tip as it is usually part of their wages.

Drink

You will have no trouble finding bars in São Paulo, where you can enjoy an ice cold beer, a shot of cachaça or a caipirinha - or anything else for that matter. Vila Madalena and Itaim have a very high concentration of bars and are great spots for an all-nighter. For specific suggestions of bars, check the district section.
Sao Paulo history is connected directly to the coffee cultivation so Brazilian coffee is the real deal here. In fact, Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee, and if you watch the locals, you will see that they drink plenty of it, too. Stop at a café or padaria and order a cafezinho (espresso), cafe com leite, or cafe pingado (hot milk with a shot of espresso added to it, slightly stronger than cafe com leite).

Shopping in Sao Paulo, Brazil


You can find practically anything in São Paulo. Imported goods can be expensive, but look out for Brazilian-made bargains in all categories. Spend some time in one of the many "shoppings" (as Brazilians call the shopping malls) and also look out for areas with shops catering for specific interests.
Remember that street shops usually operate 8 AM-6 PM, including Saturdays (when they close earlier), but most of that are closed on Sundays. The countless shopping malls operate M-Sa 10 AM-10 PM and Su 10 AM-8 PM.

Central shopping areas
The area between Avenida Ipiranga and Parque Dom Pedro II (Downtown) is the closest to what São Paulo has from a "central shopping area", with various pedestrianized and non-pedestrianized shopping streets. The exceptionally crowded Rua 25 de Março, with its diverse range of bargains, is perhaps the most famous commercial street of the area.
Avenida Paulista and Rua Augusta (Paulista) form a smooth transition between the popular commerce of Downtown and the affluent commerce of Rua Oscar Freire (West).
São Paulo has also many specialized shopping areas, such as Rua Teodoro Sampaio (West) for furniture and musical instruments, Rua José Paulino (Downtown) and Brás neighborhood (Southeast) for bargain and wholesale clothing, Liberdade neigborhood (Downtown) for cosmetics and Asian products, and Rua Santa Ifigênia (Downtown) for electronic equipment.

Shopping malls
Paulistanos, especially those with higher income, have an indoor shopping culture. The fear of criminality, traffic, and São Paulo's unpredictable weather are strong factors to this. Shopping malls in São Paulo are not only centers of "shopping" but also leisure areas, typically offering spaces for kids, cinemas, food courts, and sometimes even theatres, expositions, and sports areas. Many shopping malls in São Paulo also offer miscellaneous services such as banks, laundry, repairs, and sometimes even police stations and doctors.
The selection of shops of a mall depends on the type of public predominant in the surroundings: at shopping malls located at working-class neighborhoods, it is easier to find bargain department stores, while shopping malls in wealthy areas may be the only way to have access to exclusive designer stores. Check the individual district listings for a comprehensive list of shopping malls in the city.
Some shopping malls that deserve special mention are Morumbi/Market Place (South Central - with more than 600 shops and dozens of restaurants), Eldorado (West - with an immense food court), Iguatemi (West - the oldest shopping mall of São Paulo, with very upscale profile), Cidade Jardim (West - the "rich-only" shopping mall), Aricanduva (Far East - the city's largest and most famous working-class shopping mall), and Frei Caneca (Downtown - the favorite of the LGBT public).

Suburban shopping areas
Far from Downtown, there are many suburban shopping areas. The busiest of them is probably the area around Largo 13 de Maio (South Central), the "central shopping area" of the former city of Santo Amaro, now part of São Paulo.
There are also the outdoor markets (feiras livres) and municipal markets (where you can buy fresh and cheaper fruit, vegetables and meat), supermarkets and atacados (a type of supermarket where you pay less if buy at least a certain quantity, very convenient for families).
Most of these local commerce centers are not listed in this guide, but they are of extreme importance in the daily life of Paulistanos.

Safety in Sao Paulo, Brazil


São Paulo, once one of the most violent cities of Brazil, has managed to drastically reduce crime during the 2000s.

Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that a visitor can really relax about safety because São Paulo is simply too large and diverse to be described by average statistics. In fact, two of the most visited areas, Downtown and the Pinheiros subprefecture (in the West), have respectively 150% and 50% more violent crime than the city average. Check the individual district listings for safety advice in each area of the city. The general advice is as follows:

Visitors should avoid walking alone.

Driving can sometimes also be risky, especially when you are alone and/or in an upscale bars/clubbing area, like Vila Madalena or Vila Olímpia.

Some areas can be dangerous even during the day. These include run-down areas, like favelas and areas populated by drug addicts. The last can be easily recognized by the presence of poorly maintained buildings, bad odor, and dirty streets - there are many of those in the Historic Center. Most drug addicts are harmless, but a few may resort to violence to get money to buy their drugs.

Contrary to popular belief, nowadays poor neighborhoods in São Paulo aren't usually dangerous, at least not more dangerous than an ordinary neighborhood. Still, some of them can be dangerous, so if you are in doubt, don't go or have the company of a local.

And naturally, every safety recommendation that applies to big cities in general also applies to São Paulo:
  • Don't trust strangers, especially those who seem excessively helpful;
  • Always prefer the help of an identified officer or employee to that of a stranger;
  • Watch your belongings all the time in crowded streets or public transportation;
  • Avoid withdrawing and carrying large amounts of money;
  • Avoid using expensive clothes and jewelry that make you stand out.

Tourist police stations

Familiarize yourself with the location of the police stations specializing in tourist service and protection. These stations offer information on public safety and are staffed with qualified professionals to meet your needs.
  • Port and Airport Police Division. Special services for tourists and protection for dignitaries. Rua São Bento, 380, 5th floor, Centro. Tel. (11) 3107-5642 and 3107-8332.
  • Headquarters of the Specialized Tourist Police – DEATUR. Av. São Luiz, 91, Centro. Tel. (11) 3214-0209 and 3120-3984.
  • São Paulo Police Station at Congonhas Airport. Avenida Washington Luis, Moema. Tel. (11) 5090-9032, 5090-9043 and 5090 9041.
  • São Paulo Police Station at Cumbica/Guarulhos International Airport. Rua Dr. João Jamil Zarif, Guarulhos. Tel. (11) 6445 3064, 6445-2686, 6445-2162, 6445-3464, 6445-2221.

Stay healthy

  • No vaccination is required for São Paulo
  • If you're arriving from Peru, Colombia or Bolivia, the vaccination of yellow fever is required only if you need a visa (i.e., if you are going to stay for longer than 90 days). Check the requirements of any country you will travel to from Brazil.
  • Tap water in São Paulo is generally safe, at least when straight from the water supply system. However, several buildings can be lacking in the periodic cleaning of their cisterns and water tanks (the locals themselves tend to avoid tap water and drink bottled or filtered water instead).

Language spoken in Sao Paulo, Brazil


Portuguese is the official language. English is spoken in tourist places.  

LOCAL TIME

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June 20, 2019
America/Sao_Paulo

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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Ibirapuera Park (Portuguese: Parque Ibirapuera) is a major urban park in São Paulo, Brazil. It has a large area for leisure, jogging and walking, as...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Sala Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

The Júlio Prestes Cultural Center, which is located in the Júlio Prestes Train Station in the old north central section of the city of São Paulo,...
http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en ||| Public domain Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.8 (12 votes)

The Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Portuguese for "pinacotheca of the state of São Paulo") is one of the most important art museums in Brazil. It...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Liberdade street market, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The Liberdade Street Fair (Portuguese: Feira de Arte e Artesanato da Liberdade or Feirinha da Liberdade) is an art and handicraft fair in the...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Sao Paulo
Average: 9.7 (10 votes)

The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB, in English: Bank of Brazil Cultural Center) is a cultural organization of the Banco do Brasil based in...
By The Photographer - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37812222 Sao Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The São Paulo Museum of Art (Portuguese: Museu de Arte de São Paulo, or MASP) is an art museum located on Paulista Avenue in the city of São Paulo,...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Paulista Avenue, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.7 (10 votes)

Paulista Avenue (Avenida Paulista in Portuguese, Paulista being the gentilic for those born in São Paulo state) is one of the most important avenues...
http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en ||| Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication Theatro Municipal, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

Municipal Theatre of São Paulo is a theatre in São Paulo, Brazil. It is regarded as one of the landmarks of the city, significant both for its...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Mosteiro de Sao Bento, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

Mosteiro de São Bento (in Portuguese: São Bento Monastery) is a church located in São Paulo, Brazil. Established on 14 July 1598, the current church...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Jardim da Luz, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Average: 9.3 (10 votes)

Jardim da Luz (also: Praça da Luz or Parque da Luz) is a public park near the Luz station and Avenida Tiradentes in the Bom Retiro district of São...

Sao Paulo, Brazil shore excursions