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 “Rio is a beauty. But São Paulo, São Paulo is a city,” said Marlene Dietrich about Brazil's most cosmopolitan city. São Paulo is Brazil’s cultural as well as financial powerhouse, complete with a vibrant music scene, top-designer shopping, and delicious gastronomy, not to mention world-class museums and art galleries. All this is combined with the vibrant local life of Paulistanos, who will surely be easy to make friends with.

currency

Real, R$1 = 100 centavos

phone

Police: 190
Emergency: 192
Fire Brigade: 193
Tourist Police (Rua São Bento 380): +55 11 3107 5642

newspaper

Jornal do Brasil
Folha de São Paulo
Estado de São Paulo
O Globo

hours

Shops are normally open Mon–Sat 9am–6pm. Banks are open from Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, but usually, stop changing money at 2pm. The larger shopping centres are open Mon–Sat from 10am–10pm and from 2pm–8pm on Sundays and holidays.

population

12.200.180 (2022)

info

Tourist Information Centre
Av. Paulista, 1853, São Paulo
Daily 9am–6pm
+55 11 3288 8968

Sao Paulo Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock.com

The City

The fourth largest city in the world has over 12 million people spread over an area of 30.000 square kilometres. São Paulo might be huge but it has humble beginnings. In 1554, Portuguese Jesuit priests founded a small mission on a hill close to the Tietê river, which soon became a trading post. Later, when the area around São Paulo was found to be perfect for growing coffee, the city's future prosperity was sealed. Today, São Paulo is the business and unofficial political capital of the country.

A good place to orientate yourself in São Paulo is by Avenida Paulista, lined with high-rise office buildings, which divides the city centre from São Paulo's exclusive and glamorous district, Jardins, where you find the best hotels including Fasano and Hotel Unique. From here, you can easily reach most parts of the city. Praça da Sé and Praça da República, the two squares divided by Vale do Anhangabaú is the old centre of São Paulo. On Rua Boa Vista, you will find the whitewashed baroque Pátio do Colégio, the site of which dates back to the Jesuits' first mission in 1554. Nearby, Triângulo is the city's main financial district and home to São Paulo's imposing stock exchange, BOVESPA. A few blocks away you can find the serene São Bento Monastery. Northeast is the imposing neo-gothic central market, Mercado Municipal. South of here is the commercial district of Bela Vista, nicknamed Bixiga, once a hub for Italian immigrants. Then you'll find the Liberdade district, home to the world's largest ethnic Japanese community outside Japan.

Rua Augusta slices across Avenida Paulista into the Jardins neighbourhood. Around Praça Franklin Roosevelt, you'll find many of the city's best shops and restaurants. Southwest of Jardins is the fashionable neighbourhood of Pinheiros, with some of the best bars and nightclubs in the city. Across Rio Pinheiros is the vast campus of the Universidade de São Paulo. Southeast from here is the huge green space of Parque Ibirapuera, offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of São Paulo.

View of San Paulo Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock.com

Do & See

Most of São Paulo's main attractions are located in the city centre, the area bounded by the Tietê river on the north, the Pinheiros river to the west, Avenida dos Bandeirantes on the south and Avenida Salim Farah Maluf to the east.

As the country's largest mega-metropolis, São Paulo has something for everyone–the culture vulture, the jazz fan, the clubber, the football fanatic, and the gourmand. To take in the scale of São Paulo's history visit Pátio do Colégio to see its beginnings. Then visit the legendary Brazilian architect and designer of Brasília, Oscar Niemeyer's space-age OCA museum. For a breathtaking glimpse of where São Paulo is going, you cannot beat the view from the top of the Italia Building on Avenida Ipiranga at the corner of Avenida São Luís.

Thiago Leite/Shutterstock.com

Parque do Ibirapuera

Governo do Estado de São Paulo/Flickr

Memorial da America Latina

Eva Blue/Unsplash

Museu Afro Brasil

Vincent Tantardini/Unsplash

MAB FAAP - Museu de Arte Brasileira

seier+seier/Flickr

Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM)

Lelê Breveglieri/Flickr

Catedral da Sé

Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Casa das Rosas

Patricia Figueira/Wikimedia Commons

Mosteiro de São Bento

Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Pátio do Colégio / Museu Padre Anchieta

Matt Flores/Unsplash

Zoológico de São Paulo

Emerson Vieira/Unsplash

Cícero Pompeu de Toledo Stadium

Jake Melara/Unsplash

Pedra Grande Trail

RescueWarrior/Pixabay

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock.com

Museu da Língua Portuguesa

Lekies/Pixabay

Aquário de São Paulo

Kapa65/Pixabay

Instituto Butantan

Brazilian food stockcreations/Shutterstock.com

Dining

São Paulo's best restaurants are to be found in the Jardins, Itaim Bibi, Pinheiros, and Vila Madalena neighbourhoods. However, for those on a smaller budget, you can get a delicious hearty meal at side street restaurants called "lanchonetes", which are a mix between a café and a bakery.

The best non-Brazilian cuisine tends to be Italian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Japanese. The Portuguese restaurants are pretty spectacular too.

stockcreations/Shutterstock.com

Mocotó

KPG Payless2/Shutterstock.com

Chalezinho

Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.com

Rubaiyat

Mustafa Ertugral/Shutterstock.com

Arábia

rocharibeiro/Shutterstock.com

Capim Santo

Fanfo/Shutterstock.com

Veridiana Pizzaria

svry/Shutterstock.com

Le Chef Rouge

farbled/Shutterstock.com

Andrade

Kzenon/Shutterstock.com

Due Cuochi Cucina

hlphoto/Shutterstock.com

Fogo de Chão

DanaTentis/Pixabay

A Bela Sintra

Barista making coffee Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Cafés

Coffee is a fundamental part of Brazilian culture. “Cafézinho” (small coffee) is a symbol of hospitality throughout the country and is the most common type of coffee style served here. These small cups of strong, black coffee are enjoyed throughout the day–and hot, despite Brazil’s warm climate.

Paulistanos love a good bakery or as they like to call it "padoca" (short for padaria). They’re almost like extensions of their homes. Most locals love to drink a “pingado” (coffee with a dash of milk, similar to ‘cortado’) and eat a “pão na chapa” (toasted bread, done on a grill or hot plate).

msheldrake/Shutterstock.com

Ponto Chic

Paulo Vilela/Shutterstock.com

Frevo

JM Travel Photography/Shutterstock.com

Bacio di Latte

Dj mixing outdoor at beach party festival with crowd of people in background - Summer nightlife view of disco club outside - Soft focus on hand - Fun, youth, entertainment and fest concept - Bild DisobeyArt/Shutterstock.com

Bars & Nightlife

The hometown of electro-hipster group CSS, São Paulo's eclectic nightlife is the best in Brazil. Bela Vista has plenty of live music and draws a mixed crowd, while Vila Madalena and adjoining Pinheiros are full of trendy, bohemian nightspots and clubs where you can enjoy a nice cold beer and check out the scene. The Jardins district offers upmarket bars for a more mature as well as the LGBT crowd. Head to the bar at the Fasano Hotel for the best Caipirinha you are likely to taste anywhere. Itaim Bibi and Vila Olímpia are where you will find the trendy up-and-coming clubs.

stockcreations/Shutterstock.com

Empanadas

Geoff Goldswain/Shutterstock.com

All of Jazz

Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com

Café Piu Piu

Pavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock.com

D-Edge

Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.com

Bar do Luiz Fernandes

Room 76/Shutterstock.com

Empório Alto dos Pinheiros

T photography / Shutterstock.com

Bar Veloso

Prasit Rodphan / Shutterstock.com

Skye

Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com

Bourbon Street Music Club

Ranta Images/Shutterstock.com

Capitão Barley

Pavel L Photo and Video / Shutterstock.com

Canto da Ema

Credit Card, Shopping Bag, Shopping. Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com

Shopping

São Paulo's shopping possibilities are extensive and the city offers lots of intriguing browsing. The success of São Paulo Fashion Week has drawn many top designers here but there are other delights on offer, from food markets to huge air-conditioned shopping malls. The main shopping hub is in Centro around the Praça da Republica, particularly off Avenida Iparanga and Rua 25 de Março.

Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.com

Jardins District

blurAZ / Shutterstock.com

Rua 25 de Março

nito / Shutterstock.com

Feira Benedito Calixto

Arte Fora do Museu/Flickr

Galeria Do Rock

Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Shopping JK Iguatemi

Miika Laaksonen/Unsplash

Sogo Plaza Shopping

connel / Shutterstock.com

Livraria Cultura

Seqoya / Shutterstock.com

Rua do Arouche

Itsra Sanprasert / Shutterstock.com

Morumbi Shopping

Rodrigo Kristensen / Shutterstock.com

Ponto Solidário

Annto / Shutterstock.com

Chocolat Du Jour

Brazil flag Filipe Frazao/Shutterstock.com

Tourist Information

São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport

São Paulo is served by the Guarulhos International Airport, also known as Cumbica, located 30 kilometres northeast of the city.

Blue air-conditioned EMTU buses operate between the airport and the city centre. The buses stop at Tietê bus terminal, Praça da República, the major hotels along Avenida Paulista, Brooklin Novo, Barra Funda, and Congonhas. The journey to Avenida Paulista takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. The buses leave every 30-90 minutes. A cheaper option is to take a bus to Bresser metro station and then take a train to the city centre. You can also take a blue and white taxi or request an Uber.

Congonhas airport is located 14 kilometres south of São Paulo's city centre (a 30-minute drive) serving domestic airlines.

Address: São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport, São Paulo

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Website: www.gru.com.br/en

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Buses

São Paulo has an extensive public transport system. Bus services are frequent and cover the entire city, but congestion can sometimes make travelling slow. With stops clearly marked, bus routes are easy to find. There are different tickets to suit your needs.

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Website: www.sptrans.com.br

More Information: www.emtu.sp.gov.br

Metro

São Paulo's metro system is efficient and easy to use. There are six lines and nearly 100 subway stations. The network covers most of the city's attractions and will help you save time escaping the chaotic traffic of the city. The metro in São Paulo runs every day from 4:40 am to midnight.

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Website: www.metro.sp.gov.br/index.aspx

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Taxi

Taxis in São Paulo are white. You can either hail one on the street, call for one, or find a taxi at marked points around the city.

Another option for lower fares is the rideshare company Uber.

Here are a few taxi companies in São Paulo:

Use Taxi
+55 11 5582 2000

Call Taxi São Paulo
+55 11 2101 3030

Coopertax
+55 11 2095 6000

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Post Office

The Post Office in Brazil is called Correios. The Central Post Office in São Paulo is located downtown at Praça Pedro Lessa. Yellow postal kiosks can be found throughout the city. Many can be found on Av. Paulista. The Post Office at the international airport of Guarulhos is open 24 hours.

Address: Praça Pedro Lessa, São Paulo

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Website: www.correios.com.br

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Pharmacy

Pharmacies, called farmácias or drogarias, can be found throughout the entire city. Most pharmacies will deliver 24 hours a day, usually for a small surcharge. Ask your concierge for the nearest one.

Here are a few pharmacies in São Paulo that are open 24 hours:

Droga Raia (Higienópolis)
Av. Angélica, 1062, São Paulo
+55 11 93251 6593

Farmácia Pague Menos (Vila Mariana)
R. Joaquim Távora, 1086, São Paulo
+55 11 4002 8282

Drogasil (Consolação)
R. Augusta, 1065, São Paulo
+55 11 94129 6331

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Telephone

Country code: +55
Area code: 11

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Electricity

The voltage in São Paulo is 127 V. Some hotels might have 220 V outlets. Plugs: type N (3 round prongs).

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