São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a city population of about 10.4 million and almost 23 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 the typical inequality between the classes typically observed in Brazil is blatant. Being home to millions of immigrants, 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 shaded 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.
Liberdade district, downtown São Paulo. One of the areas of the city where the immigrant influence is noted the most.
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 is 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. Spending a weekend in town is highly recommended, since that enables one to enjoy both the day attractions and São Paulo's amazing nightlife.
Useful phone numbers
No vaccination is required for São Paulo, unless you are planning to travel to central-western (Mato Grosso) or northern (Amazon) regions of Brazil afterwards, for which you should take a shot against yellow fever, and carry anti-malaria medication (quinine). If you're arriving from Peru, Colombia or Bolivia, the vaccination of yellow fever is required (i.e. you cannot leave these countries without your vaccination card if you're heading to Brazil). Some countries, such as Australia and South Africa, will require evidence of yellow fever vaccination before allowing you to enter their countries if you have been in any part of Brazil within the previous week. Check the requirements of any country you will travel to from Brazil.
Please check the official Brazil tourism website for general information regarding visas and customs, and the Cidade de São Paulo homepage for updated events and art exhibitions around town. You may also be interested to read stories of foreign expats who have lived or travelled in Sao Paulo in the Gringoes website. The New York Times and the Economist websites also have useful city guides on São Paulo.
José de Anchieta and Manoel da Nóbrega founded the village of São Paulo de Piratininga on January 25, 1554. Along with their entourage, they established a mission named Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga aimed at converting the Tupi-Guarani Native Brazilians to the Catholic religion. Located just beyond the Serra do Mar cliffs, overlooking the port city of Santos, and close to River Tietê, the new settlement became the natural entrance from the South East coast to the vast and fertile plateau to the West that would eventually become the State of São Paulo.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, groups of explorers who called themselves the Bandeirantes traversed forests and new territories within the Latin American continent searching for gold, diamonds and other riches. The Bandeirantes are regarded as being responsible for a great deal of the Brazilian territorial expansion beyond the Tordesilhas Line and for the discovery of many mines of precious metals and stones. There are several monuments in honor of their contribution to the city, including the Monumento às Bandeiras, one of the landmarks of São Paulo.
São Paulo officially became a city in 1711. In the 19th century, it experienced a flourishing economic prosperity, brought about chiefly through coffee exports, which were shipped abroad from the port of neighbouring city Santos. After 1881, waves of immigrants from Italy, Japan and many other countries emigrated to São Paulo in order to work at the enormous coffee plantations established in the State. At the beginning of the 20th century, the coffee cycle had already plummeted due to, among other factors, a sharp decline in international coffee prices. The local entrepreneurs then started investing in the industrial development of São Paulo, attracting new contingents of overseas immigrants to the city.
However, due to competition with many other Brazilian cities, which sometimes offer tax advantages for companies to build manufacturing plants in situ, Sao Paulo's main economic activities have gradually left its industrial profile in favour of the services industry over the late 20th century. The city is home to a large number of local and international banking offices, law firms, multinational companies and consumer services.
Don't be surprised at the diversity of paulistanos and paulistanas. For example, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. The city's Italian influence is also very strong, and there's a large Arab population as well. It may frequently be the case that locals speak to you in Portuguese, in the belief that you're also a local, since foreigners blend in very easily among the city's inhabitants.
The citizens of São Paulo have a reputation as hard-working and industrious, or alternately, shallow money-grubbers. Common word is that the people in São Paulo work while the rest of Brazil can relax; even though many say this is plainly wrong, it's a fact that the Sao Paulo actually contributes with 15 percent of the country's gross national product (GNP).
São Paulo is probably the easiest place in Brazil to find someone who can speak English well. A large number of youngsters in town will be able and willing to start a basic conversation with travellers in English. Besides that, since Portuguese speakers also are quite able to understand Spanish, getting around town is not difficult at all to those who can speak that language.
It's also not unusual to hear people speaking Arabic, Chinese and Korean around town.
The main newsweekly magazines are Veja, which has a good supplement guide on restaurants, theatre plays and main events, and Época.
Profile of visitors
Figures are disputed but between 9 and 16 million travellers visit Sao Paulo every year, both from Brazil and abroad, especialy from Europe, North America and Mercosur countries. 57% travel for business reasons, but nearly 40% are leisure travellers willing to enjoy the city's numerous attractions
According to the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau:
Sao Paulo hosts 90,000 events a year, which yield over R$ 8.2 billion in revenues
Among all types of events taking place in Sao Paulo, 22 percent are Meetings, 21 percent Socio-cultural Events, 20 percent Conventions, 15 percent Conferences, 8 percent Expositions/Auctions, 8 percent trade shows, 5 percent Sports Events, and 1 percent other events. (Economic Assessment of the Event Industry in Sao Paulo – SPCVB).
Profile of Visitors
Every year, 16.5 million people arrive in Sao Paulo (Embratur/2004)
Nine million travelers visit Sao Paulo every year, either for business or on tourism, of which 16.54 percent are foreigners, and 83.46 percent are Brazilian (SPCVB 2005)
Thirty-eight percent of foreign visitors come from Europe; 30 percent from the United States and Canada; 21 percent from Mercosur countries; 7 percent from other Latin American countries, and 4 percent from Asia. (Tourism Marketing Plan for the City of Sao Paulo – SPCVB)
57 percent of visitors come on business (4.7 million people); 39 percent on tourism (3.2 million people), and 4 percent for other reasons (329,000 people). The average stay is 2.24 days. (Tourism Marketing Plan for the City of Sao Paulo – SPCVB)
While business travelers stay an average of 2.4 days in town, spending $ 150 a day, tourism travelers stay an average of seven days, and spend $ 70 a day (SPCVB 2005).
Sao Paulo has about 12,500 restaurants, 550 hotels, 280 movie screens, 71 museums, 120 theatres, 41 natural heritage sites, 41 folk festivals, 72 shopping malls, 34 parks, 16 tourist information centers, 13 regular events, 9 performing arts venues, and 4 theme parks;
The city’s gross domestic product (GDP) is R$ 144 billion, or 15 percent of Brazil’s GDP (SMF/2005).
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 neighbourhoods 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 comprehends a very large area, and travelling from one spot to another may require that you take a cab or public transport. Most of the main attractions are located in the city's "expanded center", 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.
There are some websites providing street maps and itineraries, such as MapLink, Apontador, and Google Maps. For a glimpse of some of the main spots in town, try the SP 360º website.
São Paulo Muncipal Cathedral, Praça da Sé, Downtown.
Following São Paulo's extraordinary growth during the 20th century, most of the old city buildings have given way to contemporary architecture. This means that most tourists sights are concentrated around the center, where 17th-century churches stand in the shadows of skyscrapers. The traditional ethnic neighborhoods are also fairly close to the center.
Shopping and dining, though, are spread throughout the city.
The most cosmopolitan city in Brazil could only have a central area that is equally cosmopolitan. An universe of diverse people moves through the center of São Paulo; there are businesspeople rushing to get to the stock market or groups of punks in search of the latest record. Tourists from the four corners of the world mix with locals from all backgrounds. Centro, . has become a relatively safe area in the last decade, even at night, due to the increased number of policemen watching the streets, and a number of university students hovering around the region attending night classes. Put on comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses, and discover hidden secrets that many Paulistanos may not even know about..
Besides being one of the biggest meccas of Italian culture outside of Italy itself, Bixiga became home to the city's most important theater venues and also has a vibrant nightlife, dotted with bars where bands, be them new or veteran, show off all their skills when it comes to rocking the place. The real name of the neighbourhood is Bela Vista, but traditionally known as Bixiga.
This neighbourhood is São Paulo's response to Los Angeles's Little Tokyo district, a tourist is bound to find there everything Japanese and oriental-related. Originally the settling place of Japanese immigrants, Chinese and Koreans have also joined in the past decades to make the place one of the most vibrant, typical and colourful neighborhoods in town. The name Liberdade means "freedom" in Portuguese.
Vale do Anhangabaú
In the very beginning of its history, São Paulo comprehended solely the triangle formed by the Monastery of São Bento, the Monastery of São Francisco, and the Pátio do Colégio. That area was where all the town's activities used to take place, and neighbourhoods such as Jabaquara took an entire day of horse riding to be reached. Within this minute hub was the River Anhangabaú, which meant "bad spirits" in the native Tupi-Guarani language. In the 18th century, the river was canalised and buried into the ground, but the Anhangabaú valley still remained in its place. Revitalisation works in the 1980s have shaped the beautifully arranged square in the Vale do Anhangabaú (the "Anhangabaú Valley"), where nowadays one can find skateboarders and office workers hanging about.
The south side of the city is so full of delicious yet simple attractions you might forget you’re in one of the largest metropolises in the world. Here, you can ride a bicycle in the park, go shopping at the mall, or at several, eat whatever you want—and still enjoy a wide range of the highest quality services.
One of São Paulo's most proeminent chic neighbourhoods, great for a walk, eating, partying, shopping and visiting upscale art galleries. Some of the city's best restaurants are located in this neighbourhood, so a visit to São Paulo isn't complete without a nice dinner in this region.
Calm and laid-back, this spot is a mainly residential area that's beginning to sprout a strong bar and nightlife scene. Ibirapuera park, one of the city's main features and the perfect place to spend a sunny sunday in São Paulo, is also located here.
In the northern area of São Paulo you can find neighbourhoods with a small-town feel, such as Freguesia do Ó. Places of importance are Expo Center Norte, one of South America's biggest venues for fairs and exhibitions, Serra da Cantareira State Park and Anhembi Park. This region also hosts the Sambodromo and concentrates the bulk of samba schools of the city, as "Gaviões da Fiel", Unidos do Peruche, Rosas de Ouro and Imperio da Casa Verde.
The east side was the former industrial region of São Paulo and also the home to thousands of immigrants who settled in São Paulo during the early 20th century. It's the region with the largest population in the city. Some neighbourhoods of interest are Vila Zelina, with its strong Lithuanian influence, and Mooca, the place that many italians chose as home. Tatuapé/Anália Franco is also worth noting for its "newly-rich" vibe.
The West Side is the wealthiest region in São Paulo, with high and middle class residential neighbourhoods, many cultural establishments, including the city's most important universities (such as the University of São Paulo, the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, the Mackenzie Presbiterian University, and others) and buildings that still conserve the historic heritage of the city.
Formerly an industrial zone, these two districts have some perfect places for the culture-hungry, such as Sesc Pompéia. The Memorial da América Latina and the Latin American Parliament, which carry exhibitions and the occasional political/cultural debate and exhibitions, are two of the main attractions.
These neighborhoods have become a hot spot for artists, writers, journalists, movie directors, intellectuals in general and, of course, wannabes in every one of these categories. It's not uncommon to run into someone famous – or nearly so – when casually drinking in a bar, leaving the supermarket or having an espresso. Keep your eyes peeled.
The backbone of the city is 2.8 kilometers long and was named in honor of the city through which it runs: Avenida Paulista. Located on the top of a ridge, Paulista Avenue is flat, wide and full of life. It connects the neighborhoods of Paraíso and Consolação, while separating the upscale Jardins neighborhood from the more relaxed Bela Vista. Its city blocks bring together the wealth of FIESP (the São Paulo Industries Federation), the art of MASP, orthodox religious faith and the hustle and bustle of those who are late for the movies.
Brazil Air Pass
If you intend to visit various cities within Brazil, you should consider getting a Brazil Air Pass, offered by Brazilian airline TAM. It is available to anyone who lives outside Brazil holding an international air ticket to Brazil. You can travel to 4 different cities from USD479, and each additional city in the pass will cost you USD 120. The Air Pass is valid for 21 days, starting on the day of the first flight, and can be used for flights to up to 9 cities throughout Brazil. Other air passes are also available (Mercosul, South America, All America). Ask your travel agent for further advice.
São Paulo has three major airports you can fly into: Guarulhos International, Congonhas and Viracopos. Campo de Marte, the town's fourth airport in importance, is used solely for executive jets, helicopter, air taxis and such, not carrying any commercial lines.
Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
If flying into São Paulo from another country, you'll mostly likely land in Guarulhos International Airport, also known as Cumbica. Located 40 km away from the city centre, the airport has two terminals that are served by Brazilian airlines Varig, TAM, Gol and BRA and by international United, Delta, American, Continental, Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, TAP Air Portugal, Iberia, Alitalia, KLM, JAL, South African and many others.
Some domestic flights that depart from GRU may have a lower fare than ones that depart from Congonhas, since the airport is located farther away from downtown São Paulo. Thus speaking, it's worth checking prices with the airlines for both airports; it won't matter much if you have time, since most airlines have transfer buses from one aiport to the other - just show your plane ticket to the drivers and you'll get the ride at no cost.
There is one baggage storage area with lockers between the main entrances of Terminals 1 and 2, outside the airport.
Non-airline shuttle buses are available from Guarulhos to Congonhas Airport, Praça da República (Downtown), Paulista/Jardins region, Barra Funda bus station (west side) and Tietê bus station (north side). All these lines except the Congonhas one connect to the Metrô. Fares are around R$ 25 (US$ 12) one-way.
A taxi co-operative, Guarucoop (tel: +55 11 6445-7070), has a monopoly on cabs leaving Guarulhos. They are plentiful and the queue is outside the arrival terminal. Credit-card users can pay for their journey in advance at the booth. Expect to pay about R$75 for the 25km journey into the city. Passengers can ask to see the tabela, which shows the fares for each neighbourhood. A taxi ride into the city can take an hour and a half during peak times; 40 minutes late at night or early in the morning.
Congonhas Airport (CGH)
The Congonhas Airport is located in a very central region, 15km (9 miles) from downtown. This airport handles most of the domestic flights and the popular São Paulo - Rio (Santos Dumont) shuttle and its architecture is worth seeing.
The easiest (and cheapest) way to get to Congonhas is by taking any of the "Aeroporto" regular line buses that run in Paulista Avenue. You'll be dropped right in front of the airport and the fare is the regular R$ 2,30 (Bilhete Único accepted).
Viracopos International (VCP)
Located in the city of Campinas, around 99 kilometers from downtown São Paulo, Viracopos International is the second biggest airport in Brazil but is mainly used for air cargo transport; however, domestic and international flights also arrive there. Airlines that operate in VCP are BRA, Gol, Varig, TAM, Total and Trip.
There are three main bus terminals in São Paulo, all of them served by the Metrô network.
Terminal Rodoviário do Tietê
Address: Av. Cruzeiro do Sul 1.800, Santana district, North Side.
Phone: +55 11 3235-0322, reachable from 6h to 23h30
"Tietê" is the second biggest bus terminal in the world, so the buildiing is huge and busy. Tietê Terminal is the main long-distance departure point. Interstate and international lines leave from here. Located about twenty minutes from Paulista Avenue by Subway (Metrô) (station Tietê, Blue line); a taxi ride from Paulista/Jardins costs around R$ 40 (US$ 18,50).
This bus terminal is connected with the metrô. It's an enormous building, but there is an information desk in the middle of the main concourse. Buses leave for destinations throughout Brazil and for international destinations including Asunción in Paraguay (20hr), Buenos Aires in Argentina (36hr), Montevideo in Uruguay (30hr) and Santiago in Chile (56hr).
Terminal Rodoviário da Barra Funda
Address: R. Maria de Andrade 664, Barra Funda district, West Side.
Phone: +55 11 3392-1878
Barra Funda Terminal, located in São Paulo's West Side, carries departures and arrivals to and from western cities in the São Paulo state, to Mato Grosso, Foz do Iguaçu and west Paraná cities. About thirty minutes from Paulista Avenue by Metrô (station Barra Funda, Red line). You can also reach it by boarding the Orca shuttle service from Vila Madalena station (Green line) or by boarding the "Barra Funda" (875P) bus in Paulista Avenue.
Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.
Terminal Rodoviário de Jabaquara
Address: R. dos Jequitibás s/n, Jabaquara district, South Side.
The Bilhete Único is a contactless smart card that can be used for paying the fares in buses and in Metro and CPTM trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system (but not four trips on trains; see below for details). You can get the card at no cost; charge them with the minimum amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "loterias"), supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red round "Bilhete Único" logo. You can use the card to pay for your trips in the public transportation system as follows:
On buses: upon boarding a bus, you'll be charged R$ 2,30 and can board up to three other buses in a two-hour period without being charged a second time.
On the Metro or CPTM trains: for a single trip in the underground train system, you'll be charged R$ 2,30.
First Metro/CPTM train then bus: you'll be charged R$ 2,30 when passing by a Metro or CPTM station's turnstile. Once you board a bus, you'll be charged an extra R$ 1,20 and will be able to board two other buses in a two-hour period - starting from the first validation at the train station - without any further payment.
First bus then Metro/CPTM train: once you board a bus, R$ 2,00 is charged from your card. Upon entering the Metro or CPTM systems, you'll be charged a further R$ 1,00. It's possible, after leaving the Metro or CPTM system, to board up to two other buses without any further payment in the two-hour period that starts from the first validation, depending on whether you boarded one or two buses before entering a train.
By subway and train
Map of the Metrô and CPTM networks.
The Consolação Metrô station in the Paulista/Jardins district, Green line.
São Paulo's underground train system, known as the Metrô, is the form of transportation a tourist is likely to use the most while visiting São Paulo. It is modern, safe, clean and efficient, considered one of the best subway systems in the world, as certified by the NBR ISO 9001. It has four lines (the newest one, the Yellow line, is still in construction thus being unavailable at the moment) and links to the metropolitan train network, the CPTM. (Downloadable map (PDF)).
Line 1 (Blue): The first Metrô line built connects the North and the South Side of São Paulo. Connections are available for the Green, Red and Yellow lines and also for CPTM trains. Tietê and Jabaquara bus terminals are also reachable through the use of this line.
Line 2 (Green): The Green line transverses the Avenida Paulista ridge, connecting Ipiranga to Vila Madalena, also connecting to the Blue and Yellow lines.
Line 3 (Red): One of São Paulo's busiest lines, it connects the East Side to the West Side. Connections to the Blue and Yellow lines are possible, as are with CPTM trains. The Barra Funda bus terminal is located on this line.
Line 4 (Yellow, under construction): Scheduled to be open in a near future, the Yellow line will connect the central Luz station to the West side in a route constructed immediately below the Consoloção and Rebouças avenues. Connections will be available to the Blue, Green and Red lines and to CPTM trains.
Line 5 (Purple): Built for users who need to reach specific places in São Paulo's South Side. Only a short sector of the line is already available, connecting to CPTM trains at Santo Amaro station; the scheduled expansion will make connections to the Blue and Green lines also available until 2010.
Pricing and working hours
If you don't have a Bilhete Único smart card (see above), the Metrô uses a simple fixed-price ticketing scheme - you can get only one-trip tickets, which cost R$ 2,30 (US$1,10). The single tickets can be bought at the counters or automatic machines, found in every station.
Metrô tickets are valid for inter-line changes on the Metrô system. Special tickets are also available if you need a connection with buses and cost R$ 4,00 (US$ 1,90); you will be able to board only a single bus after using the Metrô/CPTM network with such a ticket.
The Metrô's working hours are from 4:30 am 'til around 12:00 am, depending on the station, up to 12:40am. Inter-line changes on the Metrô is guaranteed only for boardings before 12:00am, regardless of the station.
CPTM Train Network
There are 6 commuter train lines to suburban areas, with free transfer to Metro at Brás, Luz, Barra Funda and Santo Amaro stations. The single ticket coasts R$ 2,10. "Bilhete Único" accepted. Info toll free 0800-055-0121.
Buses are the most popular way to get around the city. Even though the drivers really step on it through the bumpy streets of São Paulo, buses are not the fastest way to get around. And they can get really crowdy. But, unlike the Metro lines, they do reach every neighborhood.
Tickets are R$2.30 a piece. 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 staff member sitting onto the bus 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 gate 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 2 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released.
If you are carrying large suitcases, try to avoid rush-hour traffic as buses can become incredibly packed. It is not always wise to take the bus late at night, especially if you find yourself all alone waiting at the bus stop - consider calling a cab instead, or asking someone you know for a lift.
Taxi ranks in Sao Paulo are white, with a distinctive luminous green "TAXI" sign on the roof top. 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 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 radiocab, or just call a company:
Radio Taxi Vermelho e Branco. Tel. (11) 3146-4000
Aero Táxi. T: 6461 40 90
Central Rádio Táxi Comum. T: 5063 04 04
Coopertáxi. T: 6941 25 55
Líder Rádio Táxi Comum. T: 6258 80 00
Regular taxis will cost about US$15 (BRL 31) for a 20 min (10 km) ride, which will get you pretty much anywhere you´ll want to go. Meter is always on and drivers are fairly reliable and know their way around well. Note that some rides are negotiable - remarkably, when comuting to the airport or for a couple of hours tour around the city -, so the taxi driver will shut off the meter and accept a flat fee.
Fares go up after 9pm on weekdays and on Sundays and holidays (all metered). Taking a taxi to outside of the Sao Paulo boundaries (e.g. Embu des Artes) will cost you an extra 50% of the fare. Taxi drivers will charge you a small extra fare for using the trunk or carrying suitcases. You will always be able to get a nice and safe cab outside of clubs, bars and restaurants, no matter how late; and they won't charge you extra for that.
You can tip the cab driver at your discretion, but it is not mandatory. If you use the trunk, or if the driver helps you with the luggage, you should definitely tip.
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 only be reached 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 the Sao Paulo's own urban culture, as the presence of many car manufacturing plants in the neighbouring cities has made automobiles a relatively cheap commodity - one brand-new cheap model can be bought for as little as USD 12,500. Some years ago, it used to be common for some middle- and upper-class young people to receive a car from their families if they passed the entrance exams for university.
However, as is the case with many big cities, getting around by car is borderline crazy. Traffic is hell, parking is a nightmare, and the definition of a lane tends to be "wherever I can fit a car." So be warned that visitors to Sao Paulo don't need a car.
If you don't mind these minor objections, feel free to explore the city from behind a steering-wheel. Companies such as Avis and Hertz provide all the information you need to hire a car in their website. There is some information about driving in town that you should know beforehand:
Rotating transit policy In order to reduce the congestion and the air pollution in Sao Paulo, the city council has adopted the following rotating transit policy: cars whose license plate ends in 1 and 2 cannot circulate on Mondays; if it ends on 3 or 4, Tuesday is off; 5 or 6, stay home or take a cab on Wednesdays; 7 or 8, Thursday is the unlucky day; 9 or 0, on Fridays you can walk. The prohibition is valid only for peak hours: 7am to 10am and 5pm to 8pm. During the remaining hours, cars are allowed to circulate freely.
Provisory driving licence: Being able to drive around the city is a great advantage for visitors staying in town for a longer period of time. You'll need a Brazilian provisory driving licence, valid for 6 months and renewable, that can be obtained at Detran (State Transit Department), on Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral, 1301, 04094-901, near the Ibirapuera Park. If you have the International Driving Licence, you'll still have to go to Detran and register it. Submit the following documents at “Setor de Atendimento ao Estrangeiro” (4th floor in the main building “or prédio principal”):
your original valid driving licence from your home country and a photo copy of your licence
an original document and a photocopy of it showing a valid leave to remain in Brazil (passport with a valid visa or stamp)
Translation of the driving licence by an official translator or by your country's Consulate in Brazil
A document (such as a utility bill, a bank statement or a letter from your landlord) showing your local residential address.
Parking fees: The city council charges a parking fee of R$2 for one-hour parking in some of the main streets in the central area, so be careful not to be fined for not paying the charge. Check for signs in the sidewalk and yellow lines on the pavement. There are plenty of authorised shops and transit guards selling tickets (Zona Azul) in the streets, which have to be filled in with the car plaque number, the date and the hour of the parking and placed inside the car, on the frontal window pane. These tickets are valid for one hour only, but they can be renewed if you plan to stay longer. Only two one-hour tickets can be placed at one time, which means that you'll have to check on you car every two hours to renew them. The fee is charged Mondays to Saturdays, from 7am to 7pm.
Driving at night: Buses stop at 1 a.m and the metro around midnight, so it can be tricky to get to many of the famous bars and night clubs unless you take a taxi, or... drive. If you go out at night by car, expect to pay a small fee to unofficial "car keepers" in order to park your car along the streets. This is a common use in many busy outing hubs around town, which may seem unfair given that parking your car in the streets is free of charge after 7pm, but they occasionally may check your car against stereo robbers. If the neighbourhood seems a bit dodgy or deserted, try to find a parking lot around rather than parking in the streets.
Valet services: Most bars and restaurants offer non-compulsory parking and valet services to customers, for which you will be charged a small fee, but these services are often covered by insurance and the service is provided by outsourced professionals. Nevertheless, whenever using valet services, do not leave valuables such as handbags, wallets, electronics and sunglasses in the car, as these items are usually not covered by the insurance policies in parking spaces.
Fuel: At petrol filling stations, you'll notice that ethanol is as common as gas in the pumps. That is because, after the oil shocks in the 1970s, the Brazilian government has incentivised car makers to develop and improve the existent ethanol-fueled engines at that time. This policy, applied over the years, has resulted in a large number of people choosing to buy this type of car. Ethanol tends to be cheaper than gas, but the consumption in litres is around 30 percent higher. Many flex-power cars can now be fuelled with either ethanol or gas, or a mixture of both in any proportion. Staff are hired in petrol stations to fill in the tank for you, so you don't need to get off the car, unless if you're paying by credit card, in which case you can go to the cashier to swipe it.
According to the National Association for Public Transport (ANTP), 7,4% of all Brazilian urban journeys are done by bicycle.The chaotic transit of automobiles, however, might discourage many to get a bike and ride. Problems such as the risk of accidents and of getting your bicycle stolen are also to be evaluated. But due to the intense congestions, sometimes your journey by bicycle might take you the same time or faster than if you were driving a car.
It is best to ride on weekends, when the number of pedestrians and cars in the streets are much lower than on week days. Don't ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, and follow the traffic way at all times. Watch out for car doors opening without previous notice.
Not many parking spaces will accept your bicycle, so if you are to chain yours in a light pole, use good chaingangs with resistant locks.
São Paulo has 23km of cycle ways built out of the planned 300 km. Many are underutilised, such as the one that connects the Largo da Batata to avenida Pedroso de Morais, in the district of Pinheiros. Also, you can ride your bicycle on public parks such as Ibirapuera Park and Cidade Universitaria, which are cyclist-friendly.
Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads, and have become an extention of many a people's bodies. 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 car traffic: usually there will be a pedestrian viaduct or bridge at some point in the sidewalk. Motorbikes are especially disrespectful of the traffic laws, as many of them are courier men in a hurry to deliver a document within a short deadline, and are therefore willing to speed up and even drive on the sidewalk to achieve their goals.
Despite the aggressiveness found in the transit, one can still have peaceful walks across town. The historical Centro neighbourhood is definitely one place to explore on foot. You can follow the running order of these attractions in about 3h. Spots worth paying attention to include:
Pateo do Colegio, Praça Pátio do Colégio, 02, Centro [Estação Sé, Metrô]. Tel: +55(11) 3105 68 99 extention 118 or 119, . Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9am to 5pm. Historical Jesuit school where the city was founded in 1554.
Cathedral of Sé, Praça da Sé, Centro. Metrô: Sé station. Built throughout the first half of the 20th century, this is Sao Paulo's main cathedral. In the square in front of the main entrance, you will find a geographical mark that is the very start to the mileage counting of all the roads in the state of Sao Paulo.
Monastery of São Bento (Mosteiro de São Bento), tel. +55 11 3328-8799, . Largo de São Bento. Metrô: São Bento station. Gregorian chants take place on Sundays at 11am. There is one bakery inside the monastery, initially built in 1597 to cater exclusively for the monks, and opened to the public in 1999. This monastery hosted the pope Benedict XVI when he visited Brazil in 2007. It opens Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, Sat 7:30am-12pm, Sun after 10 o'clock mass service until the last bread is sold.
If you have the time, check out the Mercado Municipal, near Metro station São Bento (see the Markets section below).
Edifício Itália, Avenida Ipiranga, 344 [Estação República, Metrô], . Free entrance. Very close to Praça da Republica, it is estimated to be 168m high. At tea time, check out the restaurant on the 45th floor with a stunning panoramic view over the city. Delicious biscuits are served with tea for a set price..
You can also choose a more low profile place to stop by and refil your batteries. Bar e Lanches Estadão is famous around town for its pork leg sandwiches seasoned with onions for R$6. It used to be the snack of choice of many a journalist, when the local newspaper "O Estado de Sao Paulo", aka "Estadão", had its offices in the area. Try one of the many fresh fruit juices, or the Submarino, hot chocolate with an actual milk chocolate bar tucked in the cup. It's located in Viaduto 9 de Julho, 193, Tel. +55(11)3257-7121.
Edifício Copan. Av. Ipiranga 200, Centro. Landmark-ish residencial building designed by Oscar Niemeyer, architect who worked with Le Corbusier on the United Nations and created Brasília, the capital city of Brazil. The Copan was constructed in 1950, and its 1,160 apartments house about 5,600 people. Rumour has it that The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde lived in one of its flats in 2004 while touring with Moreno Veloso.
The Jardins are also great to explore by strolling around the rua Oscar Freire, rua Haddock Lobo and Alameda Santos. More on this area can be found below on the "Buy" section of this guide:
This American-style burger house is inspired in the 1950s. Try one of the cheeseburgers, milk-shakes and excellent onion rings.
The city has a number of great museums, the MASP being one of the most famous.
MASP - Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, Av. Paulista 1578, Bela Vista. Nearest Metrô station Trianon-MASP, ☎ +55(11) 251-5644 (fax: +55(11) 3284-0574), . Tue-Sun 11am-6pm. R$15/R$7 (student).
Displays a collection of works ranging from the Renaissance to Contemporary Modern. Visitors walk through rows of paintings that are hung from the ceiling. There is a restaurant in the lower ground floor.
Pinacoteca do Estado, Praça da Luz, 2. Nearest Metrô station Luz, ☎ +55(11) 3229-9844 (fax: +55(11) 3229-9844), . 10am-6pm. R$5/R$2 (student).
Located very near to Mercado Central, the Pinacoteca has a great art collection, with more than 4,000 works.
Oca Pavillion Ibirapuera Park, near the Bienal Pavillion. Designed by famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the museum has several international seasonal exhibitions.
Museu do Ipiranga, Parque da Independência, Ipiranga, 04218-970, ☎ +55(11) 6165-8000 (email@example.com, fax: +55(11) 6165-8051), . Tue-Sun 9am-5pm. R$2.
The Museu do Ipiranga, also known as the Museu Paulista of the University of São Paulo, has a rich display on the city's history and cultural developments since its foundation. Check out the huge painting covering an entire wall, by Pedro Américo, portraying emperor Dom Pedro I declaring the independence of Brasil from Portugal in 1822 on the embankment of river Ipiranga. This picture has been reproduced in many history books on Brazilian history. Outside the museum there are the beautiful gardens of Parque da Independência (Independence Park) and a tall public monument.
Centro Cultural São Paulo, Rua Vergueiro, 1000. Nearest Metrô station Vergueiro, . Mon 10am-7pm, Tue-Sun 10am-8pm.. Free, although some activities may require a fee entrance.
Cinemas, theatre plays, musical performances, a comics library and seasonal dance courses are part of this cultural centre near Estação Vergueiro.
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, R. Álvares Penteado, 112, Centro. Tel. +55(11) 3113 3651. Movies, theater, exhibitions.
Crime Museum (Museu do Crime), Pça Reinaldo Porchat, 219, Cidade Universitária, University of São Paulo (USP). Contains a collection of artifacts used to perform crimes and a number of conserved cadavers and body parts.
Modern Art Museum (MAM) at Ibirapuera park, located near the OCA Museum.
Contemporary Art Museum (MAC), . Rua da Reitoria, 160, Cidade Universitária, inside the campus of the University of São Paulo (USP).
Lasar Segall Art Museum, Rua Berta, 111, nearest Metro station Vila Mariana, Tel. +55(11) 5574 7322, . From Tuesday to Saturday, 2pm to 7pm, and Sundays, 2pm to 6pm. Free entrance.
Sacred Art Museum (Museu de Arte Sacra) Av. Tiradentes, 676 - Luz, .
Centro Cultural do Liceu de Artes e Ofícios, R. da Cantareira, 1351.
Immigration Museum (Museu do Imigrante), Rua Visconde de Parnaíba, 1316 – Moóca, .
Portuguese Language Museum, Praça da Luz, nearest Metrô station Luz, Tel: +55(11) 3326-0775, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Established in a renovated historical railway station, it has permanent multimedia exhibitions on the history and use of the Portuguese language.
Fundacao Maria Luisa e Oscar Americano, Av Morumbi, 4077, Tel: +55(11) 3742-0077, Fax: +55(11) 3746-6941, .
Buildings with observation decks
Banespa Tower, Rua João Brícola, 24, Centro. São Bento Metrô station, ☎ +55(11) 3249-7180. Mon to Fri, 10am to 5pm. Free entrance. The observation deck is on the 34th floor, 160m 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.
Restaurant Skye, Hotel Unique, Avenida Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio, 4700, . Free entrance. On the rooftop of posh Hotel Unique, Skye serves excellent fusion food under the supervision of chef Emmanuel Bassoleil. Good for night views of the area around Ibirapuera Park.
São Paulo Jockey Club, Av. Lineu de Paula Machado, 1263, . Free entrance. There are two bars and a couple of posh restaurants with a great view of the River Pinheiros, especially around 6pm, when you can go straight from work or a busy day walking about to watch the sun set above town.
Zen Temple, R. São Joaquim, 273 - Liberdade. (11)278 4515. Metrô: Liberdade station.
Latter Day Saint (Mormon) church and temple - Av. Professor Francisco Morato, 2390, Caxingui. Sundays 9am to 1pm.
Mario de Andrade Library, Pça. Dom José Gaspar. Metrô: São Bento station.
República – paintings by Antônio Peticov
Sumaré - paintings by Alex Fleming
Biennal of São Paulo
The arts Biennal takes place every two years in the Biennal Pavillon, inside the Ibirapuera Park. It is an art show that displays the works of both renown artists and fresh talents. The next one will be organised in 2008.
Pavilhão da Bienal, Parque do Ibirapuera (av. Pedro Álvares Cabral, s/n.º, Portão 3), ☎ +55(11) 3032-7576.
Go to the parks.
Ibirapuera Park, . With 1.5 million square meters, this is the most frequented leisure area in São Paulo. It has paths for walking and jogging, bikeways, woods, lakes, sport courts and areas for relaxation that attract city residents of all ages. It receives up to 150 thousand visitors on weekends. There are other important attractions at Ibirapuera, such as the Modern Art Museum, the Biennial Art Exhibition building, the Oca art exhibition pavilion and the Japanese pavilion. It also has frequent free music presentations by national and international artists. Ibirapuera was inaugurated in 1954, during the celebrations for the city’s fourth centennial. Oscar Niemeyer, renowned Brazilian architect, designed several of the buildings. Watch joggers, dog-walkers and all kinds of street vendors, and sit down on a patch of grass and listen to the birds singing. One of the few places in São Paulo where you can do just that. If you feel like it you can even enjoy a Caipirinha from one of the cardbord-box bars you will find close to the entrances. Also buy the sweet and tasty coconut/nougat-sweets that are sold by many vendors in the park. Nearest Metro is "Vila Mariana" and then a short taxi ride, a bus or a 20 minutes walk down the Rua Sena Madureira. You also can walk for around 20 minutes through Brigadeiro Luiz Antonio Avenue, from "Brigadeiro" Station (Green Line), in Paulista Avenue. You also can take a bus from the station, until the park.
Horto Florestal is a nice park in zona norte.
Parque da Luz, Av. Tiradentes  is small, but a nice little green spot if you happen to be in the neighborhood. This Victorian public garden was established in 1825, and is a refreshing green area in a bustling city, receiving between 2000 and 3000 visitors every weekend. Check out the bandstand, restored in 2006 - it was designed by Maximilan Emílio Helh (designer of the current Cathedral of Sé) and built in 1911. The easiest way to arrive in the park is getting the subway until "Luz" station (Blue Line). The park is in front of one exit of the station. You can also visit "Pinacoteca do Estado" e "Museu da Língua Portuguesa", all very close from "Luz" station.
Parque Villa Lobos is located in the neighbourhood of Alto de Pinheiros, by the Marginal do Rio Pinheiros long motorway. It is possible to rent a biclycle there for R$2 an hour and ride around. There are also tennis courts free of charge, and Tai-Chi-Chuan classes in the mornings.
Watch the city. Whether taking a tour by bus, walking in specific neighborhoods or admiring a great view of the city on top of Edifício Itália, São Paulo has many options for sightseeing and exploring. Stroll around Vila Nova Conceiçao, one of the most expensive property areas in town. Drive along Pinheiros neighborhood which contains some of the most famous and popular night clubs in the city. The crossing from Av. Faria Lima and Av. Juscelino Kubitschek is a good place to start. Driving along the Faria Lima and surrounds, visitors will be rejoiced by a wide selection of bars and clubs.
Go to the Zoo The Zoo is always a good option to get to know a little bit more about the varied fauna of Sao Paulo. It is also a nice entertainment option for families with children in town. From Metro Jabaquara station, there is a shuttle bus that takes you straight there. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am to 4:30pm.
Ride on a theme parkPlaycenter is one of the city's main amusement parks, offering dozens of rides, as well as shows, places to eat, stores, banks, parking, etc. Rua José Gomes Falcão, 20, Barra Funda Metrô Station (Red Line).
Visit the Aquarium, Rua Huet Bacelar, 407, Ipiranga, ☎ (11) 2273-5500, . Mon-Fri 8am to 8pm, Sat-Sun 10am to 8pm. R$25.
Sao Paulo Historical City Tour is a panoramic tour for those willing to have a brief idea about 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 Sao Paulo Old Centre and get familiar with highlights such as the Cathedral of Se, Patio do Colegio (short stop at the square, the site where the city was founded), Monastery of Sao Bento, the Banespa Building (Sao Paulo’s “Empire State Building”), Martinelli Building (the first skyscraper in South America), Viaduto do Chá (Tea Viaduct), the Municipal Theater, Sala Sao Paulo concert hall, Estaçao da Luz train station and the Municipal Market. Some companies 1 provide this service under request.
According to the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau, São Paulo hosts 90,000 events a year, from meetings and conferences to sports and cultural events.
If you're in São Paulo during the annual Carnival, a national bank holiday between the end of February and March, you should definitely get tickets to parade in the Sambodromo, near Armenia and Tiete Metro stations (Avenida Olavo Fontoura, 1209, Santana. Tel. +55(11) 6226-0510). This is where the typical Carnival parade takes place, with dancers dressed up in costumes and musicians play samba songs on the top of fancy cars.
If you can afford it, get tickets closest to the "pista" (standing area, close to the parade itself). This will give you a premium view of the parade, and the possibility of comfortably sitting down on benches. Waiters pass to and fro selling chocolate, chips, beer, soft drinks and booze.
The next best place is "Arquibancada B", where you stay in the middle of the pista, and have the possibility of standing next to the parade. This is the best spot for taking photos, as in the more expensive spots just below Arquibancada B high fences may get on the way. After the parade, there are huge lines of taxis looking for customers outside the stadium. Note that there is a very comfortable and relatively reasonable Holiday Inn around the Sambodromo.
Another option is to visit one of the various samba school in town, where you can see the rehearsal concerts of musicians and dancers. You can even have the opportunity to join the parade at the time of Carnival holidays by acquiring the costume from a samba school and getting in touch with the people organising the event in one of the schools:
Rosas de Ouro, Rua Coronel Euclides Machado, 1066, Marginal do Tiete, ☎ +55(11) 3931-4555, . Rehearsals every Friday, 8:30pm.
Vai-Vai, Rua São Vicente, 276, Bixiga, ☎ +55(11) 3105-8725 (email@example.com), . Rehearsals every Wednesdays, 8pm.
Every year, during Corpus Christi holidays (usually between May and June), around 2 million people take part in one of the largest Gay Pride parade in the world. It takes place on the holiday Sunday, and Avenida Paulista is the spot to head to.
There are some spots in town that are gay- and lesbian-friendly, especially in the Rua Frei Caneca region.
Lesbian bar in Itaim Bibi, a bit far from the traditional gay and lesbian scene around Rua Frei Caneca and Jardins. In the menu, drinks are named after famous actresses, such as Cher (absinthe, curaçao blue and pineapple).
This club is currently very hyped, so expect some queuing up at the door. On Saturdays, there is the "Babylon" party, for gay and lesbian audiences.
Nostro Mondo, rua da Consolação, 2554, Cerqueira César, ☎ +55(11) 3259-2945. Fri-Sat 11pm onwards, Sun 6pm-12am. R$10.
This establishment, with a 38-year history, is the oldest gay club in town. On the dance floor, dance and pop songs cheer the audience. It has also some elegant transvestites' shows in its repertoire.
São Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which carry plays in Portuguese. Specific places, such as the British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute (Rua Lisboa 974, Pinheiros) and Alliance Française occasionally carry plays in English, German and French, respectively.
The main theaters are concentrated in Bixiga, a district located in the Centro area, where many Italian immigrants originally settled in town. Tickets range from R$ 15 (US$ 6,50) to R$ 40 (US$ 18). Most venues also accept international student cards for discounts.
Broadway imports, such as The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, The Beauty and the Beast and Les Miserables, are often being played in town in their Portuguese versions. Expect to pay a tad more than the usual Bixiga play for musicals. Sometimes, tickets are sold out for the whole weekend, so buy in advance. The main musicals are performed at Teatro Abril, Av. Brigadeiro Luis Antonio, 411, Bela Vista, and tickets are sold on the Ticketmaster website (in Portuguese) or at the theatre ticket counter.
Sala São Paulo, Praca Julio Prestes, Luz, ☎ +55(11) 3337-5414, .
Concert hall reopened on July 9, 1999. The building has been totally restored and renovated by the State Government as part of the revitalization of the city center. It has a capacity of 1500 seats, and is the home of the Symphonic Orchestra of the State of São Paulo (also known as Osesp). The Julio Prestes Train Station, where the concert hall is located, was built between 1926 and 1938 as the headquarters and departure point for Sorocabana Railway - a company set up by the coffee barons to transport the product to the port of Santos. The state acquired it in 1905. Christiano Stockler das Neves, the architect of the building, based his project under the influence of the Pennsylvania and New York train stations. While it was being built in the 1920s, the Grand Hall, where the concert hall is today, had a small railway in the middle of the construction work, so materials could be brought in from other cities and from Europe.
Single tickets for the Symphonic Orchestra concerts are hard to find, as many packages are sold in advance for the whole season, but you can try your luck at the ticket counter on the same day in which a concert will take place - sometimes unused tickets are returned to the theatre in the morning and re-sold.
Here is some theatre listings in town:
Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia (TBC), Rua Major Diogo 315, tel. +55 11 3104-5523, 
Teatro Bibi Ferreira, Av. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio 931, tel. +55 11 3105-3129.
Theatro Municipal, Praca Ramos de Azevedo, tel. +55 11 3334-0001, .
Ágora Centro de Desenvolvimento Teatral, Rua Rui Barbosa, 672, +55 11 3284-0290
Cine Teatro de Arte Recriarte Bijou, Praça Roosevelt, 172, +55 11 3257-2264
Teatro Sesc-Anchieta, Rua Dr. Vila Nova, 245 - Vila Buarque, +55 11 3256-2281.
Teatro Ruth Escobar, Rua dos Ingleses, 209 - Bixiga, +55 11 3289-2358.
Centro Cultural São Paulo, Avenida Vergueiro, 1000 - Paraíso, close to Metro Vergueiro station, +55 11 3277-3611, . Salas Adoniran Barbosa, Jardel Filho e Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes, Espaço Cênico Ademar Guerra.
Teatro Alfa, Rua Bento Branco de Andrade Filho 722 - Santo Amaro, tel. +55 11 5693-4000, .
Teatro Procópio Ferreira, Rua Augusta 2823 - Jardim América, tel. +55 11 3883-4475/282-2409/3061-9260, .
Sala Cinemateca, Rua Senador Raul Cardoso, 207, 5084-2177, . Movie theater - Vila Mariana.
Teatro Popular do SESI, Av. Paulista, 1313, +55 11 3284-3639.
Teatro Cultura Inglesa, Rua Deputado Lacerda Franco - Pinheiros, +55 11 3814-0100.
Theatro São Pedro, Rua Barra Funda, 171 - Barra Funda, +55 11 3823 9660.
TUCA, Rua Monte Alegre 1024 - Perdizes, +55 11 3670-8453.
Teatro Plínio Marcos, Rua Clélia, 33, +55 11 3864-3129. Inside Shopping Pompéia Nobre and near SESC Pompéia.
Teatro Arthur Azevedo, Av. Pais de Barros, 955 - Móoca, +55 11 6292-8007
Teatro Flávio Império, Rua Professor Alves Pedroso, 600, +55 11 6621-2719.
Teatro Martins Penna, Largo do Rosário, 20, +55 11 6693-6630.
University of São Paulo is the largest academic institution in the country, and third largest in Latin America. It is a state university, and undergraduate courses are free of charge for those who pass its competitive entrance exams. USP's main campus is located in the Cidade Universitaria district, and it is open for both students and non-students. It is a nice place to ride a bicycle, jog or just lay down on the grass, especially in the summer. The nearest Metro station is Vila Madalena in the Green line. In front of the tube station, a free shuttle bus (Ponte Orca) will take you to the USP campus. You can also take a train (CPTM) until "Cidade Universitária" Station (Line C).
Pontifical Catholic University of São PauloPUC-SP is a pontifical university founded in 1946, highly regarded in Latin America by its departments of human sciences. The main campus is located in the neighbourhood of Perdizes and also open for both students and non-students, but it has a very small area and almost no places for sport activities. However, it's notable for the impressive neoclassical architecture, which is part of the Historic Heritage of the city. The nearest Metro stations are Palmeiras-Barra Funda, in the Red Line and Sumaré, in the Green Line.
Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV-SP). Av. 9 de Julho, 2029, Bela Vista, 01313-902. Tel.: (11) 3281-7777. This university is highly regarded in Brazil for its Economics and Management departments, also having other campi in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.
Information for students
Discounts for Students
With a valid photo ISIC (International Student Identity Card), you can get half-priced tickets at cinemas, theatre plays, gigs and concerts. Some discount applies to museum entrance fees and to some shops as well - check on the official ISIC website for more information on where student discount applies.
Brazil has exchange programmes with many internationally recognised universities. In order to register at a Brazilian university as an exchange student, you must obtain a student visa at the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate in your home country. After you have arrived in Brazil with a valid student visa, then you must register in the “Departamento da Polícia Federal” (Federal Police Department) within 30 days of your arrival and obtain the RNE (Registro Nacional do Estrangeiro), which is the national ID card for overseas citizens. This is also where you can renew your visa with the Brazilian authorities. It is located at Rua Hugo Dantola, 95, Alto da Lapa, near Ponte do Piqueri (Piqueri Bridge). It is open Mon-Fri, 8am to 2pm.
By bus:From Avenida Paulista to the Policia Federal department, you can take the bus line "669-A/10 Terminal Princesa Isabel" in front of Trianon-Masp Metro station (on the same side of MASP museum), get off at the final stop, then take bus "978-J Voith" and get off at Rua Hermano Marchete, 1030. Walk up the street until you see the Policia Federal. To return, take the same bus "978-J" to Terminal Princesa Isabel. Then, take bus "669-A/10 Terminal Sto. Amaro" to return to Avenida Paulista.
By train: From Metro station Barra Funda (red line), take the CPTM light rail train to Lapa station.
You must bring with you the following documents on registration:
Photocopy of your passport (except the white pages), Notarized by Brazilian Authorities (Cartórios) (Note: There is an office that notarizes copies of passports at Alameda Santos, 1470 (parallel to Avenida Paulista)
Student Visa Application Form (signed by the Brazilian Consulate or Embassy in your home country)
2 photos (3x4 cm) against a white background: pictures can be taken at one of the many photo booths located on Avenida Paulista or near the Polícia Federal)
2 sets of payment slips called GRU-Guia de Recolhimento, which can be downloaded on the Policia Federal website. In the "Unidade Arrecadadora" field of the slip, you have to choose "SP-Superintêndencia Regional do Estado de São Paulo", then type in the following codes, each for a different payment slip: (a) 140120 carteira de estrangeiro 1ª via, and (b) 140082 registro de estrangeiros / reestabelecimento de registro. These two forms must be completed, and they can be paid for in any high-street bank branch. The bank cashier will give you the GRU receipt, which you must keep and show it to the police department. Other fields to be completed in the two payment slips include: (i) full name and telephone; (ii) CPF, which is a Brazilian document for tax purposes, or if you don’t have it, you can use the following code: 000.000.001/91”; (iii) “Receita Federal” code: 008-6 (R$ 35,89) for slip (a) and 012-4 (R$ 69,02) for slip (b); (iv) Unidade Arrecadadora code: 027-2.
Registration Form from the Polícia Federal, fully completed
All visa documents received from the Brazilian Consulate in your home country.
Don't forget to keep a copy of the protocol received from the Policia Federal and a copy of your passport. They are the proofs that you are legally allowed to stay in Brazil.
Aliança Russa de Ensino Superior, Av. Eng. Luiz Carlos Berrini 962, Conjunto 102, Brooklin, 04571-000, ☎ +55(11) 5505-5898 (fax: +55(11) 5505-3988), .
There are a number of language schools where you can learn Portuguese, for as short as two weeks or for a longer period of time. These include both private lessons and classes with more students.
Alumni, Rua Padre João Manoel, 319, ☎ +55(11) 5644-9700, .
University of Sao Paulo, Av. Prof. Luciano Gualberto, nº 403 (Prédio de Letras) - Sala 263, Cidade Universitaria, ☎ +55(11) 3091-4851 (firstname.lastname@example.org), .
Uniao Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos, Rua Teixeira da Silva, 540, ☎ +55(11) 3885-1022, .
Senac Sao Paulo, Rua Dr. Plinio Barreto, 285, 4º andar, Jardins, ☎ +55(11) 2182-6900 (email@example.com, fax: +55(11) 2182-6941), .
Working in Brazil is easy, mostly because there is much informality. In theory, you must have a work permit (Autorização de Trabalho) from the Ministery of Labour before you can get a job. However, in order to obtain it, you must be sponsored by an employer before entering the country. This can be a pretty bureaucratic task. Add to this the country's high rate of unemployment and low average wages and you may find it fairly difficult to find a job.
If you are a native English speaker, you may be able to find an English-teaching part-time job; but don't expect that to save your holidays. The pay will be under-the-table without contract, so there are risks as well. Moreover, although working in the informal market can seem hassle-free at first, it will be difficult for you to claim your labour rights later.
The Brazilian currency is the real (plural reais), abbreviated BRL or R$ (as used in this guide). It is the legal tender, and no other currency can be used inside the country for everyday uses, such as shopping, taking a cab or paying for a meal. One real is divided into 100 centavos. There are two families of coins, the first one with all silver coins, and the second one as follows: R$0.01 and R$0.05 (copper), $0.10 and $0.25 (golden), $0.50 (silver) and $1 (silver with a golden halo), plus bills of $1 (green), $2 (dark blue), $5 (purple), $10 (red, paper and polymer), $50 (golden) and $100 (blue). As of March 2007, one sterling pound is worth about R$4.50 and one US dollar is worth about $2.10.
Most credit cards are widely accepted in shops and restaurants, but a few more upscale restaurants and small shops may be an exception to this rule, accepting cash only. Another means of payment that is extremely popular is by cheque, but this only applies if you have a Brazilian bank account. ATMs work with international credit cards and are found in several corners around town.
Store windows will often display a price followed by "X 5" or "X 10", etc. This is an installment-sale price. The price displayed is the per-installment price, so that, "R$50 X 10", for example, means 10 payments (typically monthly) of R$50 each. The actual price is almost always lower if you pay in cash, but you may have to ask the salesclerk to obtain a rebate.
Make sure any appliances you buy are either dual voltage or the same voltage as in your home country. Brazil is 60Hz, so don't buy electronic devices unless you have an adaptor. The voltage is 110V.
São Paulo has one of the highest living costs in Latin America. Even so, costs are usually lower than in Western Europe or North America, and it is possible to enjoy the city's attractions while spending low cash in both accomodation and food. For example, a set-meal, drinks included, in a not-so-bad place is around R$ 12 (US$ 5,50). One glass of beer (300ml) is around R$3.20 (US$1.70) in some upscale bars. Ask locals for tips how to make the best out of your money if you're in a tight budget.
You'll 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. Electronic equipment and European wines can be expensive. But look out for local brands and gift shops for bargains.
There's not one single main shopping area in São Paulo, but many specialised streets, such as Rua Teodoro Sampaio (Metrô Clínicas) for furniture and musical instruments, Rua Oscar Freire (Metrô Consolação) for designer clothing such as Versace and Dior and jewelry shops, Rua José Paulino (Metrô Tiradentes) for bargain and wholesale clothing, and Rua Santa Ifigênia for electronic equipment. Every region of the city (Central, South, North, East and West) has at least one or more shopping areas.
Street shops usually open at 10am and close at 6pm, including Saturdays, and close on Sundays. In shopping centres, opening hours are 10am to 10pm from Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 8pm on Sundays.
Accessible by car only, where parking fees start at R$20, Daslu is not for the faint at heart. This shopping mall has opened in 2005 to provide the Brazilian rich elites with expensive brands of all sorts, from clothes to helicopters and cars. It is the Sao Paulo's answer to Selfridges.
Diesel, rua Oscar Freire, 1007, Jardins, ☎ +55(11) 3082-4937. 10am-8pm.
You'll find most of the books you may be looking for, or if Livraria Cultura doesn't have it in stock, its salesclerks can place an order for you. Good inventory of novels in English, French and Spanish.
Fnac, Praça dos Omaguás, 34 (nearAvenida Pedroso de Moraes, 858), Pinheiros, ☎ +55(11) 4501-3000, . Mon-Sun 10am-10pm.
This enormous branch of the French chain has 8,000 square meters, and sells books, CDs, DVDs and even TV sets and iPods. If you get tired of browsing, there is a pleasant café on the ground floor.
Saraiva Megastore, Shopping Morumbi, Av. Roque Petroni Junior 1089, Brooklin, ☎ +55(11)5542-0336 (fax: +55(11) 5181-6427), . Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 13pm-8pm.
Saraiva sells books, magazines, and stationery as well as CDs, videos, and DVDs. The CD collection is large, though limited to the commercially successful artists. There is a Starbucks annex to the shop, with free wi-fi internet connection.
Furniture and Home
Etna, Av. Eng. Luis Carlos Berrini, 2001, Brooklin, ☎ +55(11) 2161-7600, . Mon-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 12pm-8pm.
Paulistanos have adopted the shopping centre way of concentrating shops, food stalls and leisure areas indoors, with plenty of parking space around. It is a strong part of the local culture to hang out in shopping centres for leisure and browse around shops on weekends. Parking in shopping centres is usually charged (R$4 for up to 4 hours of parking). Most standard shopping centres also provide other convenient services such as movie theatres, hairdressers, laundrettes, keymakers, copy shops, photo shops etc.
The majority of shopping malls can be found on the South of town (Zona Sul), like the Shopping Ibirapuera (famous for its upmarket stores and variety of places to eat), Shopping SP Market Place, Shopping Interlagos, Shopping Jardim Sul, Shopping Plaza Sul and Shopping Metro Santa Cruz (above the station with the same name and offers a good variety of Cinemas, but it goes not much further than that).
The West region (Zona Oeste) has most of high-class shopping malls, like Iguatemi and the beautiful Pátio Higienópolis - both are the most expensive in the city. Other shopping in the Western Region are the West Plaza, Eldorado (which has a bowling area on the lower ground floor), Villa-Lobos, and Morumbi Shopping.
The Central Region (Centro) and the East Region (Zona Leste) has nice shopping options too. In the East Region is placed the Shopping Aricanduva, the largest in Latin America. Other large shopping malls are the Metrô Boulevard Tatuapé, with blocks in the two sides of the Metrô station with the same name, and the high-class Jardim Anália Franco, also in the district of Tatuapé.
The North region (Zona Norte) has only two shopping malls: Center Norte, one of the oldest and largest in the city, and Shopping D.
Municipal Market, (nearest metro station: São Bento) is a bustling food market, that offers everything from expensive Spanish Pata Negra cured ham to cheaper brazilian varieties. Fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat; if you don't find it here, you won't find it anywhere else. Look out for great selections of the brazilian national booze cachaca, and a decent selection of wines from all parts of the world. Upstairs are several simple but alright restaurants, which makes the market, all in all, a great destination while in town. Off Av. Cantareira is a covered cast-iron market square which is nice to see but hard to find.
Praça da Republica (Metro station: Praça da Republica) has a crafts and arts market on Sunday, until 2pm with good cheap food from stalls, stamps, geological stalls, t-shirts and the like.
Feira Oriental (Oriental Bazaar), is held on Sunday afternoons in front of the Metrô Liberdade station. Around the market is Liberdade, former Japanese neighbourhood which has become a center for all Asian imigrants. Rua Galvao Bueno and surrounding streets have a number of Oriental supermarkets, bookshops and restaurants worth exploring.
There is one antiques market in Praça Benedito Calixto (near Rua Henrique Schauman) on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and another under the MASP museum on Sunday mornings.
There are a number of shops and restaurants open 24 hours across town that can be very handy when you need help.
There are around 886 hotspots in the Greater Sao Paulo area, according to MSN(TM) WiFi Hotspots, not all of them free though. Here are some places where you can find free wi-fi connexion, although restaurants and cafés sometimes might require that you consume something while using the internet:
Conjunto Nacional, Avenida Paulista, 2073, ☎ +55(11) 3284-2523.
Fran's Cafe FNAC Paulista Avenida Paulista, 201. Gourmet espressos and coffee lattes can be found here in the book and music shop FNAC.
Starbucks Coffee Avenida Roque Petroni Junior, 1089, Morumbi Shopping Center. Inside Livraria Saraiva book shop, this recently opened branch has wi-fi internet connexion. Another branch is located in Shopping Higienopolis, on Rua Higienopolis.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
São Paulo has a superb diversity of restaurants, and the prices can be relatively low compared to European and American standards. When eating out, a tip of 10 percent on the value of the bill is usually included. Some restaurants don't include service charges (occasion 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 service fee as it is usually part of their wages.
It is not common to leave handbags on the floor; local superstition says your money can go away. The waiters may even offer an extra chair for you to leave your belongings whilst you have your meal. Many restaurants have a small hanger underneath the dining table, or a hook-and-loop velcro fastener on the chair rest for you to hang your bag.
If you don't know what to order in a Brazilian bar, look up for mandioca (Portuguese for cassava root) on the menu. Most likely they'll have it, deep-fried and sprinkled with salt (great alternative to chips!), or cooked and seasoned with melted butter.
Ponto Chic restaurants serve the traditional Bauru, a hot sandwich filled with sliced roast beef, tomato, cucumber and four kinds of melted cheese. Legend has it was invented in Sao Paulo by a law student in the 1930s, who ordered this exact recipe to a cook at Ponto Chic after a heavy night out drinking. In any case, it is a tasty experience of Sao Paulo's history.
There are so many budget eating oportunities in São Paulo, and you will have no problem eating a perfectly good dinner for less than R$ 10. Good places to look for when on a budget is the popular all-you-can-eat establishments called self-service. You will find one literally on every street corner. You pay by weight or a fixed sum to eat as much as you want - although the food may or may not be especially fresh. Another option is to buy nice street-food such as pastel, corn on the cob, hot dogs. You will find equally many pizza-restaurants throughout the city, where a pizza will cost between R$ 10 - 15. For quick lunches (sandwiches, burgers, smoothies, juices etc.) it's hard to beat the numerous lanchonetes, many of which are also open for dinner. Often times, if you order anything more than a sandwich at these places it comes with some combination rice, beans, and/or fries. A cafezinho is also included in the cost of many meals.
There are also plenty of cheap chain restaurants:
Habib's Chain of Arab fast-food restaurants found throughout the city. It is easily recognizable with a genie as its mascot on a red sign. The esfiha is very cheap and is somewhat like a very small pizza. It comes with a variety of toppings, including cheese, beef and spinach. A handful of these can be a quick and cheap way to fill up.
Jamil Middle Eastern (Lebanese) fast-food. Esfiha, Kafta, Kibe, etc. Rua Quisisana, 12, Jardim da Saúde (on the corner of Avenida Cursino, at the 1700 block). Tel. (11) 5058-2223. Just a little corner place with nice portions and very reasonable prices. Two (2) nice sized (5" diameter - 12cm) esfihas, orange juice and halvah dessert for less than R$10,00. No coffee though.
Ponto Chic, Praça Oswaldo Cruz, 26, Paraiso, .
Perhaps the most famous type of Brazilian restaurant is the churrascaria. These types of restaurants are found all over the city and in some shopping malls. They include all-you-can-eat grilled beef, chicken and pork, and usually there is a salad bar included in the price as well. A marker on the table has a green and a red end. When you want the meat servers to come, turn the green end up. When you would like some peace and a chance to eat without interruption, turn the red end up. Come hungry. Apart from this, there are restaurants for all tastes - all over the city.
Braz, Rua Grauna 125, Moema, and Rua Sergipe 406, Higienopolis, ☎ +55(11) 5561-1736, . 6:30pm-12:30am. Fri-Sat until 1:30am.
Pizza restaurant with great ambience, located in the lovely neighborhood of Higienopolis and with yet another locale in the equally pleasing neighborhood of Moema. Many believe that Braz serves São Paulo's best pizza, partly because of a great wood-fired oven and the use of high quality cheeses. Braz also serves a very nice draft beer, both in dark and light varieties.
America. Alameda Santos, 957, and several other addresses. Upscale chain restaurant, the decoration and food was inspired by American dinners. It serves a variety of specialty burgers, milk-shakes, cocktails, steaks and pasta. Good for a long meal with friends or family.
Miyabi Rua São Carlos do Pinhal, 214, Cerqueira César. Tel. (11) 3289-4708. A fine Japanese restaurant located inside the Top Center mall in Avenida Paulista, with good value prices and excellent food. Lunch set menu ranges from R$18 to R$25. Tasty udon noodles with shrimp tempura and salmon temaki are good calls.
Tandoor Rua Dr. Rafael de Barros, 408. Metro Paraíso. Tel. (11) 3885-9470. Indian restaurant that also delivers take aways free of charge to most hotels in the neighbourhood.
Kosher Pizza and Restaurant (supervised by Rabi Shamai Ende), Rua Pe João Manuel, 801, Paraiso, ☎ +55(11)0800-114-666.
Spot, Alameda Ministro Rocha Azevedo, 72, ☎ +55(11) 3283-0946, . Open 12pm-3pm and 8pm-1am. R$50.
Spot is located within metres from Avenida Paulista. Its glass walls allows you to view the office buildings surrounding the area. Try the grilled salmon with sea salt, pepper and dill, with mashed potato. As a dessert, short cake chocolat is prepared as a chocolate mousse, enriched with whipped cream, biscuits and almonds. This restaurant is gay and lesbian-friendly.
Miski, Alameda Joaquim Eugênio de Lima, 1690, Jardim Paulista, ☎ +55(11) 3884-3193, . Tue-Sat 9am-11:45pm, Sun 9am-4:30pm.
Excellent restaurant for Lebanese food. There is a counter at the entrance for take aways - worth trying some candy with nuts or sfihas.
Pinheiros and Vila Madalena
Pasquale A small and quiet little restaurant serving simple italian pasta dishes, cooked with great flavour. You are also offered a selection of brazilian made (but italian-style) prosciutto and salume. Wines by the the glass, and Pasquale also offers a selection of italian wines in bottles. The restaurant is open from noon till midnight every day except Sunday, making it a great place for late lunches! Address: Rua Amalia de Noronha, 167, Pinheiros. Tel: 3081-0333. Near Metro Sumare. Open 12/0h every day but Sunday.
Agadir, Rua Fradique Coutinho, 950, Vila Madalena, ☎ +55(11) 3097-0147.
Authentic Moroccan restaurant open since 1997. Born in Casablanca, the owner Abdelghafour Dounasr is responsible for the preparation of the dishes.
Santa Gula, Rua Fidalga, 340, Vila Madalena, ☎ +55(11) 3812-7815 (fax: Modern Brazilian cuisine), . 8pm-11:45pm.
1900 Pizza restaurant. The location in Vila Mariana is very nicely appointed. They use a brick oven that provides the most enticing scents of cooking pizza when you walk in. See the web page for locations. You can order on-line and they provide delivery to the areas around the individual restaurants.
Restaurante Dueto Rua Corinto, 374, Vila Indiana. Tel. (11) 3726-7162. A small place, popular among the student crowd in nearby USP. The owner is a Dutchman and the food is quite tasty. Broad selection of beers.
Casa Líbano (halal), Rua Barão de Ladário, 831, Pari, ☎ +55(11) 3313-0289. Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sun 8am-5pm.
D.O.M., Rua Barao de Capanema, 549, Jardim Paulista, ☎ +55(11) 3088-0761, . Open 12pm-3pm/7pm-12am. Fri until 0100. Saturday: Lunch only. Closed on Sundays.. One of the most highly regarded restaurants in Sao Paulo. Voted Best Restaurant 2005 by the São Paulo weekly magazine "Veja". It is run by young ex-rocker (now celebrity chef with own TV-show) Alex Atala, who was voted chef of the year 2005 in the same magazine. Elected one of the world's 50 best restaurants in 2007 by the San Pellegrino listing. Sophisticated cooking techniques applied in the updating of traditional, regional Brazilian cuisine.The restaurant offers two degustation menus, one at R$ 160.00 and the other at R$ 230.00..
A Figueira Rubaiyat, Rua Haddock Lobo 1738, Jd. Paulista, ☎ +55(11) 3063-3888, . Mon-Thu 12pm-3:30pm and 7pm-12am; Fri 12pm-3:30pm and 7pm-1am; Sat 12pm-1am; Sun 12pm-12am.. One of the most beautiful restaurants in the city, Figueira ("fig tree") Rubaiyat is built around a magnificent fig tree, 150 years old. Seating can either be "outside" in the gazebo around and under the tree or inside in the ultra chic and modernistic restaurant. Inside in the restaurant there is an excellent buffet of seafood and salads which also serves the national dish - Feijoada: a stew of baby pork and beans. The menu specializes in a la carte meats; most of the beef, chicken and other meats served at the Rubaiyat are home-grown at the owner's fazenda (cattle ranch), ensuring that the quality is always top notch. The seafood is magnificent and fresh - the oysters in particular are worth sampling - you can see the various types laid out for sampling at the oyster bar. The wine list is huge and varied but stick to those from Chile or Argentina you'll find a huge variety of wonderful vintages that rarely make it to Europe and the U.S.A. A three course meal for 5 including French champagne (Veuve Clicquot), white wine, red wine and liquers with coffee, comes to around GBP 85 per head.
Massimo, Alameda Santos, 1826, Cerqueira Cesar, ☎ +55(11) 3284-0311. Awarded Restaurant of the Year several times by newsweekly magazine Veja, it is an exquisite place that offers refined Italian cuisine.R$200.
Jun Sakamoto, Rua Lisboa, 55, Pinheiros, ☎ +55 (11) 3088-6019. Perhaps the best Japanese restaurant in Sao Paulo, the daily menu changes upon the availability of fresh fish and seafood very early that day in the fishmonger. There is also a list of sake, each complementing a different meal.
Don Curro, Rua Alves Guimarães, 230, Pinheiros, ☎ +55 11 3062 4712, . When Francisco Dominguez, the bullfighting Don Curro, opened a bar back in 1958 he could hardly have expected his paellas to become the most sought after in São Paulo. This is an expensive restaurant, but its refined dishes have an unforgettable taste enhanced by the use of the best ingredients and a special touch. For example, the paella served with fresh lobster which feeds a group of four people. There is also a superb wine list with a fine choice of Spanish reds and whites. A free valet parking service is provided.
Shintori, Alameda Campinas, 600, Jardins (nearest Metro station Trianon-Masp, ☎ +55(11) 3283-2455, . Mon-Thu 12pm-2:15pm, 6:30pm-11:45pm; Fri 12pm-2:15pm, 6:30pm-12:45am; Sat 12pm-3pm, 6:30pm-12:45am.
Vegetarian & Vegan
São Paulo has a number of vegetarian restaurants, here are some suggestions:
Gopala Prasada. Rua Antonio Carlos, 413 / 429, Jardins. Open Mon-Fri from 11:30am until 3pm, Sat from 12am until 3pm. Tel. (11) 3283-3867 / (11) 3289-1911.
Sabor Ético. Rua Artur de Azevedo, 980, Pinheiros. Open Mon-Fri from 8am until 6pm, Sat from 6pm. Tel. (11) 3062-9917. Vegan restaurant inside a food shop that sells organic and fair trade produce. Honest vegan buffet that offers a variety of vegetables, tofu, milk-shakes made from soya milk and organic olive oil.
Nutrison. Viaduto 9 de Julho, 160. Tel. (11) 3255 4263. Vegan restaurant in the Centro neighbourhood.
You will have no trouble finding bars in São Paulo, where you can enjoy an ice cold beer, a shot of cachaça or a caipirinha - or anything else for that matter. A chope (a 300ml glass of draft beer) will set you back between R$ 2 and R$ 10 (in extreme cases), depending on the bar, but anything around R$3,10 is fine.
There are two ways of serving beer in bars: draft or bottled. Draft lager beer is called chope or chopp ('SHOH-pee'), and is commonly served with one inch of foam, but you can always ask for it "sem colarinho" (without foam) if you prefer. In bars, the waiter will usually collect the empty glasses and bottles on a table and replace them with full ones, until you ask him to stop, in a "tap" charging system. In the case of bottled beer, bottles (600ml) are shared among everyone in the table and poured into small glasses, rather than drank straight from the bottle. Brazilians like their beer nearly ice-cold - hence, to keep the temperature down, the bottles are often kept in an insulated polystyrene container on the table.
Vila Madalena and Vila Mariana have a very high concentration of bars, and are great spots for an all-nighter. Some suggestions of bars, by district:
Drake's Bar, Rua Tucambira, 83, Pinheiros, ☎ +55(11) 3819-4120, .
Located inside the British Cultural Centre, a modern building made of glass, steel and water mirrors, this is a British pub, typically decorated with wooden floors and walls. There is an external deck, which runs above the backyard gardens of the British Consulate building.
Finnegan's Pub. Rua Cristiano Viana, 358. Tel. (11) 3062-3232. Irish pub where St.Patrick's day (17th March) is celebrated with green lager. Founded in 1988, the name was inspired by James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. A jukebox and darts are available for customers. Live music on Mondays (blues) and Wednesdays (Brazilian popular music). Guinness is served at R$13,90 a pint, and R$7 (half pint).
Check out Vila Madalena neighborhood, famous for its wide selection of bars and clubs. The region practically never sleeps, with bars usually open until 1am to 3am and most clubs open until 5 am. You can get there by car, or by taking the Metro to Vila Madalena station. A taxi ride from Avenida Paulista is only about R$ 15.
Piratininga Rua Wisard, 149. Open from 4:00 PM until last customer. Live music and a cool barman, interior somewhat like a parisian cafe.
The specialty of this bar is the Brahma draft beer and the fried rice balls with cheese filling.
Baretto Rua Vitório Fasano, 88, Jardim Paulista. Tel. (11) 3896-4000. Mon-Fri 1800, Sat 2000. Posh piano bar located in the Hotel Fasano, it has good live music performances and excellent food.
O'Mailley's Alameda Itú 1529, Jardins. Telephone: +55 11 3086 0780. Open daily, noon until dawn. Irish pub where many Irish and British people living in town spend their Sundays watching football on TV and playing pool with friends. The motto is 'São Paulo's favourite Irish bar & gringo hangout'. Newcastle Brown Ale is available in the menu.
Chopperia Liberdade Rua da Glória, 523, Liberdade. Open until 0500. Trendy karaoke bar with ultra-kitsch decoration and value prices, it serves from sushi to barbecue. There are pool tables available to customers.
This neighborhood considered mostly residential, but in the past 5 years has attracted brand new bars and restaurants. It is mostly cheaper than Vila Madelena and abridges two universities (Belas Artes for arts and ESPM for marketing studies). The crowd varies from university students to 30-40 year-old visitors. Travelling by Metro to Ana Rosa station and then taking a short walk down the streets to the bars is advisable.
Bar da Vila Rua Joaquim Távora, 1322, Vila Mariana. Tel. (11)5539 4887. Open daily from 5pm until 1am. Cozy local bar, it attracts couples, families and students from neighbouring universities who get together for a glass of beer and nice food. Try the "Colonia Carpaccio" wrap, made with slices of carpaccio (thinly sliced raw meat, Italian-style), olive oil, lettuce and parmesan.
Bourbon Street Music Club Rua dos Chanés, 127, Moema. Tel. (11) 5095 6100. Open 9pm until 1:30am. (http://www.bourbonstreet.com.br) Jazz bar with live performances, it has among its attractions both Brazilian and international musicians. Tickets in advance are recommended.
A modern bar inspired by London tube stations, this place has house, hip hop and breakbeat nights. The menu includes classic dishes of the English cuisine, such as fish and chips, BLT sandwiches (bacon, tomato and lettuce) and Chicken Tikka Masala (curry).
Garage Bier Kalt. Rua Apucarana, 1462. Tel.: (11) 6674-1820. Bavarian pub with a large external area, with tables around a fountain. It's a good option for the summer, when the temperature of the beer is around 3°C (37°F) and for winter, when the house becomes specialized in fondues, which are served for two persons with prices between R$ 26,00 and R$ 35,00.
This city has an unbelievably rich and diverse night life, and is able to provide entertainment for all tastes, from traditional samba-rock live music to electro-pop night clubs. It is worth planning at least one night out while you're in town. On the other hand, São Paulo's nightlife can be quite expensive; most clubs charge an entrance fee. Usually, entrance hovers around R$ 25 (US$ 13), but they can be over R$ 100 (US$ 45) in some upscale places.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
You can easily book a hotel on lastminute.com or Expedia.com, or go to the hotel's website and make a reservation.
Albergue de Juventude Praça da Árvore, Rua Pague 266, +55(11) 5071 5148. This Hostelling International hostel is set way out of the center, but in a safe neighbourhood and close to metro station Praça da Árvore. Has a pleasant and quiet atmosphere.
The Pousada Dona Ziláh is located on Alameda Franca, 1621/1633, Jardim Paulista, Tel: + 55 (011) 3062-1444, fax: + 55 (011) 3061-5413.
Ô de casa, Rua Alves Guimarães, 321, Pinheiros, Tel. +55(11)3063-5216.
Formule 1 from Accor hotel chain is usually good value for money, with prices starting from R$70 for a room for 3 persons. But breakfast is not included, and the services available correspond to the price paid.
Holiday Inn Express, Rua Doutor Homem De Melo, Sumare, 05007-002, ☎ +55(11) 3674-7777 (fax: +55(11)36747779), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. R$115 for 2 persons.
Motels are an intrinsic part of the Brazilian culture, and are mostly designed as love hotels. Perhaps because of the overcrowding of the cities, and consequently decreasing privacy at home (especially for teenage couples, who try to escape from their parents, and for married couples, who want to have some time out from their children), motel-going is a socially acceptable activity, provided that this subject is treated with discretion. Rates are charged by the hour, and there is very little personal interaction between guests and staff. Room service is often provided, and a standard en-suite room is equipped with a double bed, cable TV with porn channels, a mini-fridge, and sometimes toys with informative instructions. Motels can be a cheap alternative when you find yourself having a hard time to find accommodation in town.
Motel Astúrias, Av. Nações Unidas, 7715, Pinheiros, ☎ +55(11) 3816-6689, . R$189 for 4h.
Motel My Flowers, Av. Dr Ricardo Jafet, 1188, ☎ +55(11) 6163-9981, .
Motel Swing, Av. Duquesa de Goiás 430, Morumbi, ☎ +55(11) 3758-3324, .
Estanplaza Nações Unidas, Rua Guararapes, 1889 Brooklin Novo, 55 11 3055-0000 ,fax 55 11 3055-0009. Has a WISP hotspot and cheapish rooms. It's close to a train line, and the IT office district. Nearest Metro is Sao Judas, 10 minutes by taxi.
Matsubara Hotel, Rua Cel. Oscar Porto, 836, Paraíso, ☎ +55(11) 3561-5000 (fax: +55 (11) 3561-5001), . From R$180.
Every room provides satellite TV, fridge bar, internet connexion and 24-hour room service. The restaurant on the ground floor offers both continental and Japanese-style breakfast.
London Othon Flat, Alameda Jaú, 135, Jardins - São Paulo - SP. Located within a couple of blocks of Avenida Paulista, yet provides great rates for suites. Short walks to the museum, metro stations, and bus stops.
This premier business hotel is located in the city's most refined and exclusive financial and residential districts, 1 block from Paulista Avenue in "Jardins." The common area is fully equipped fitness club featuring massage therapy, outdoor heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi and Sauna.
Maksoud Plaza, Alameda Campinas 150, +55 (11) 3145 8000. Five star hotel conveniently located in the heart of the business and commercial sector.
Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi, Av. das Nacoes Unidas, 12901, Morumbi, ☎ +55(11) 6845 0000 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +55(11) 6845-0001), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm.
Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, Av. das Nações Unidas, 13301, Morumbi, ☎ +55(11)6838-1234, . From R$550.
Public telephones are found in almost every corner of town. They work with phonecards only, which can be bought at any newspaper stand. Regular phonecards allow you to make local and national calls, but the credits fall at an incredible rate if the call is directed to another city or to mobile phones. There is a special phonecard for international calls, so make sure you ask the clerk for the correct one if that's the case.
The international telephone country code for Brazil is +55, and the city code for São Paulo is (11), hence local telephone numbers have the following format: +55(11)0000-0000. If you are making local calls, the +55(11) prefix should be dropped.
When making national calls from SP, you have the option to choose your telephone provider: dial 0 followed by (15) Telefónica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the two-digit city code and telephone number.
When making international calls from São Paulo to abroad, you also have the option to choose your telephone provider: dial 00 followed by (15) Telefónica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the country code and telephone number.
People from Sao Paulo kiss on the right cheek once when they say hello, goodbye and nice to meet you. Some will kiss twice, once on each cheek, a kiss in the air. Men kiss women on the cheek and women kiss women as well, but two men won't give the kiss out. If you feel the occasion is a bit formal, especially on business occasions or if you don't know the person too well, a hand shake will do the job. However, if a paulistano takes the initiative to kiss, make sure you turn your face to the left side to avoid embarrassment...
Paulistanos do appreciate if you are on time. However, given the infamous traffic congestion that prevails in town, some 15 or 20min delay in a meeting is tolerated, and you shouldn't worry too much if you or someone else turns up a bit late.
On a business meeting, it is always sensible to wear a business suit and a tie for men, and a tailleur for women. However, many offices are adopting a more casual wear, without the tie but with a long-sleeved shirt.
Office hours are usually from 9am to 6pm, and banks are open from 10am to 4pm on weekdays only. However, don't be surprised if a meeting is scheduled after 6pm, as the business culture in Sao Paulo is a bit workaholic.
Small gifts are usually gladly accepted, but exchanging presents is not the general rule.
Interpersonal relationships are sometimes more valued over the qualities of a business deal, so it is important that you conquer the trust of your Brazilian counterparts in a deal. In a meeting, there is usually some 10 to 15 minutes of informal, non-business chit-chat before participants start engaging in direct business matters. Interrupting this conversation abruptly may cause an awkward feeling - be sensible and try to sense when to start talking business.
São Paulo, like many a big city in South America, has its crime problems. However, with the due caution, the likelihood of being a victim is still very small for the average tourist. Visitors need to take some care when wandering about areas outside the main shopping and hotel districts. Leave your jewelry and excess cash in the hotel's safe. Wearing extravagant or expensive-looking clothing will make you stand out.
A moderate amount of cash should always be carried and be handed over immediately in case of a mugging. Don't resist muggers by running away or carrying weapons as a "deterrent", as muggers will almost certainly outnumber you. Always comply with their demands, then get out quickly. If you obey that rule, you're likely to escape unscathed.
DEATUR, the Specialized Tourist Police, put together some suggestions to make your stay in the City of São Paulo as pleasant and safe as possible. These tips are based on research carried out all over the world regarding tourist safety.
At the airport
Pay close attention during check-in and when claiming baggage. Always remain alert at airport terminals and observe the following tips:
When asking for information or assistance, always look for a duly identified police officer or an employee of the company with which you are traveling. Never talk to strangers. There is a DEATUR police station at all São Paulo airports, staffed by professionals specially trained to provide assistance to travelers.
Always keep a close eye on your belongings. Be careful with people who approach you to ask questions. Their objective could be simply to distract you. Respond normally while not letting your baggage out of your sight.
Do not open suitcases or other bags in public, especially if they contain electronic equipment or money.
Never handle large quantities of cash in public.
If you must use an ATM, make sure no one is watching when you type your security code. If the machine malfunctions, only request assistance from duly identified employees.
Never agree to carry packages for people who you don't know.
If another person is not feeling well and asks you to go get help, do so but do not leave your belongings with this person, even if he or she insists that you can move more quickly without your belongings.
When using taxis or renting cars, choose only registered professionals and companies. When entering the vehicle, ask that all of your belongings be placed in the trunk. If the driver refuses, look for another taxi.
When using your mobile phone inside the taxi, keep it away from the window.
In slow traffic, do not handle large quantities of cash inside the vehicle.
It is important to pay special attention at hotels, as they are the places where visitors spend the majority of their time. Despite having security guards and a close relationship with the police, hotels are not immune to crime. Follow these suggestions to have a more pleasant stay:
While checking in or out, leave your bags with a hotel employee or keep them in front of you, preferably between your body and the reception counter.
During meals, it is preferable to leave your belongings inside the room. You can also ask an employee to keep them for you while you enjoy your meal.
Don’t leave your wallet, purse, cell phone or handheld computer on the table if you need to get up momentarily.
While in hotel common areas, always keep your belongings in sight. Never put them next to you or behind your seat and always keep them close by.
Don’t bring people you don’t know to the hotel.
If you do receive visitors in the room where you are staying, it is of utmost importance that they fill out the visitor’s form.
When you want to go out, ask the hotel employees for information. They can help you with good suggestions for activities and restaurants that are conveniently located and safe.
If you are organizing an event at the hotel, all participants should be properly identified with badges. When leaving meeting rooms, make sure the doors are closed. Both before and during the event, keep hotel security duly informed.
Use the safe in your hotel room.
Try not to discuss important matters, especially those involving money, near people you don’t know.
Avoid accepting help from strangers. All hotel employees in the city wear uniforms with proper identification during work hours, and are trained to help visitors.
During meals, your attention is focused on the table, which could compromise your safety. Put into practice the following advice to avoid problems:
Choose places recommended by friends or the hotel staff where you are staying. Find out the best way to get there, the best time to go and what type of service the restaurant offers, etc.
When you get to the restaurant, ask staff to watch your bag or baggage. Use the cloakroom if you are carrying valuable objects or money. When your objects are returned to you, make sure everything is in order.
If the restaurant does not have a cloakroom to keep your belongings, keep a close eye on your belongings.
Avoid leaving valuable objects on the table such as wallets or mobile phones, especially if you leave the table, even if momentarily.
In public areas and at large-scale events
Events and public places where there are a lot of people with bags and other belongings are attractive targets for thieves. Take the following precautions to avoid any unpleasant occurrences:
- Avoid talking to strangers, especially those who are insistent.
- Always keep an eye on your belongings.
- Never give out personal information.
- Do not handle large amounts of cash in public.
- Carry cameras discreetly.
- Use only officially registered forms of transportation.
- If you need assistance, look for a properly identified staff member, usually is trained to provide assistance to visitors.
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.
International Police Station at Viracopos/Campinas. Tel. (19) 225-5426.
Porto of Santos Police Station.
Even if it doesn't taste very nice, tap water in São Paulo is provenly 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, which causes algae buildup that may lead to intestinal complications, particularly to the unaccustomed (the locals themselves tend do avoid tap water and drink bottled water instead). So you may find better staying away from tap water and ice at least when you don't know the building you're in. If you want to be extra-cautious, avoid raw vegetables (which have most likely been washed in tap water).
Albert Einstein Hospital, Avenida Albert Einstein 627/701, Morumbi, ☎ + 55 (11) 3747-1233, .
This is considered one of the most modern and prestigious hospitals in town, and some of the doctors with the best reputation in medical circles work here. Room service is excellent and the food is actually quite tasty. It has an accident and emergency service.
For electronic devices, the frequency is 60Hz and the voltage is 110V for the entire state of São Paulo. The frequency is the same everywhere, but voltage varies across Brazil, so be careful when you leave town to use a 110V-220V voltage adaptor.
Ney Cabeleireiro Unissex. Avenida do Cursino, 1206, Jardim da Saude. Tel.(11) 5062-4664. Shave and a haircut nicely done for less than R$30,00. Helps if you speak a little Portuguese to explain what you want or use the magazine pictures.
M.G. Hair Design. Rua Estados Unidos, 1838, Jardins. Tel.(11) 3068-9035. Price: Haircuts range from R$100 to R$200. Marco Antônio de Biaggi colours and cuts the hair of many Brazilian actresses and fashion models, so expect to get finely executed hairdressing services and pay well for them. Phillipe Stark's furniture lies around, and you can relax with shiatsu massage while waiting for your appointment.
United States Consulate General, Rua Henri Dunant, 500, Chácara Santo Antônio, 04709-110, ☎ (55-11) 5186-7000 (fax: (55-11) 5186-7199), .
The city of São Paulo is only one hour driving from the Paulista Coast, which is a region full of splendid beaches and great seafood. The young and the old of São Paulo alike head there on the weekends to enjoy the sand, sun and fun. You can take a bus to your chosen destination at the Terminal Rodoviario Tiete Bus Station, Metrô Portuguesa-Tietê station (blue line). Nearby cities include:
Ilhabela (3h journey by car, more with traffic): large island in the Atlantic Ocean, with many leisure options such as sailing, camping and walks. It is very tourist-friendly, with many shop keepers and restaurant owners offering menus and services in English. The Castelhanos beach, on the East side of the island, requires the hiring of jeep services, available in tents found in the city centre. Make sure you take insect repellent to fend against the infamous "borrachudos" otherwise known as blackfly which have a particularly itchy bite.
Santos (1h journey by car): estuary city near Sao Paulo, home to Pelé's famous football team Santos F.C.
Guaruja (1h journey by car): many paulistanos have their beach houses in this town, which becomes packed with tourists during the summer months of December, January and February. There are a number of good seafood and fish restaurants along the beaches.
Bertioga (2h journey by car via Moji das Cruzes; slightly longer via Santos and the ferry): just NE of Santos and Guaruja, this beach town hosts a variety of annual festas which include the Japanese (October), Italians (November), and indigenous Brazilian Indians (April). These are set up at the park and beach next to Fort São João at the mouth of the river. Don't miss the waterfall on the way down the mountain (via Moji das Cruzes), as there's no access on the return trip.
Ubatuba (3h journey by car): beautiful beaches are the main attraction of this place. Hotels sometimes provide leisure activities such as scuba diving, mountain biking and trekking. The city is known for providing a good surfing environment. Try the hotel Pousada Picinguaba, recommended by many magazine reviews.
Campos do Jordao (2h journey by car): charming little town in the mountains, at 1,600m high. Well-off paulistanos buy their winter country house in Campos do Jordao, due in part to the famous winter classic music festival in July, when the high season takes place in town. Many upscale club and bar owners go up the mountain and promote events and parties at this time of the year. Train rides to neighbouring cities are available daily from the town centre. There are also many ecoturistic activities, such as walks in the mountains, fishing, visits to national parks.
Embu das Artes: town just South of Sao Paulo, known for its talented local artists. If you are looking for authentic Brazilian art, handicrafts, furniture, or just want to browse around some really cool shops, this is the place to go.
Louveira (40min journey by car): it's a famous city for its viniculture tradition. Every year the Festa da Uva (The Grape Party) takes place. A good tourist attraction is the neighbourhood of Abadia, a short trip from town by bus where you can put your hands on and harvest grapes in many farms around the area. It's also a good place for buying wines, due to the large number of local wine cellars.
Brotas is a city famous for its adventure leisure activities, rafting being the most famous one. It's 257Km away from Sao Paulo, or a 3-hour drive.
Hopi Hari in Vinhedo (40min journey by car) is a huge theme park with various rollercoasters and showcases, in a region that enjoys more than 300 sunny days per year on average. Hopi Hari hires official shuttle buses that will take passengers to the park in the morning and bring them back at night for a small fee. One shuttle bus stop is inside Shopping Eldorado underground parking lot, Av. Rebouças, 3.970, Pinheiros. The bus departs right in front of Carrefour supermarket, inside the shopping parking lot).
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