What to do in São Paulo
Places to Visit
B3 – Brasil, Bolsa Balcão is located downtown, the smallest district of the city, very close to São Bento subway station. The city was founded here at Colégio São Paulo de Piratininga, now known as Pateo do Colégio, on January 25th, 1554, when jesuits Manoel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta prayed the first mass and originated the town around it. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays there is a free walking tour that you can take to get to know the history of the city. For more information access the São Paulo Free Walking Tour website. Those are just some of the attractions of the city downtown. For other attractions from other regions of the city please access the official tourist website and the city guide.
Pateo do Collegio and Anchieta Museum
It is the birthplace of São Paulo. The Anchieta Museum consists of religious art collections, an art gallery a model of São Paulo in the 16th century and objects of the time. Is has a nice restaurant and a café for a break during the tour in the region.
CCBB – Banco do Brasil Cultural Center
Housed in a beautiful construction of 1927, where the first Bank of Brazil was stablished, the CCBB offers quality cultural programming, movies, theater, besides coffee and a small bookstore. At CCBB’s website you will find their monthly program.
São Bento Monastery
The site, which hosted Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Brazil, houses, in addition to the Basilica de Nossa Senhora de Assunção, the monastery with 40 monks, also responsible for producing breads, cakes and pastries made with exclusive and secular recipes sold at a local bakery. In the morning, masses have Gregorian chants. For more information access the monastery website.
Inaugurated in 1947, with its 161 meters high, is one of the symbols of São Paulo and can be seen from various points of the city. The art-deco building was inspired by the American Empire State and hosts exhibitions, a coffee shop at a viewpoint and a skate lane by Bob Burnquist. Tickets can be purchased at Farol Santander’s website.
Designed by Ramos de Azevedo technical office and opened in 1911, the Municipal Theater hosted the Modern Art Week in 1922. It is one of the city’s icons and has a beautiful architecture with pieces of Belgian crystal and coatings with gold leaf. Its stage receives operas, ballets and musicals. Be sure to visit the cafe.
This true stronghold of rockers and goths houses stores selling rock bands t-shirts, old vinyl collections, clothing and accessories to attend shows. The Gallery also brings together several styles of different tribes, making it easy to find CDs and LPs of rap, hip hop, funk, MPB, hardcore, punk, blues and jazz music; electronic equipment, piercing parts; tattoo studios and even hairdressing salons, among others. For more information access their website.
Julio Prestes Station / Sala São Paulo
Station built between 1926 and 1938 to host the Estrada de Ferro Sorocabana, it was inspired by models of the North American stations. It houses the Sala São Paulo, Osesp headquarters (State Symphony Orchestra of São Paulo), the most modern concert hall in the country and one of the best acoustics in the world. For the full programming and tickets access the website.
Municipal Market - Mercadão
Considered one of the largest supply centers in the city, Mercadão is famous for having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and other types of goods such as cheeses, spices, seafood, exotic meats and wines. The building, with stained glass windows and an architectural style that charms, is a great place for a snack or lunch. On the mezzanine there are restaurants with delicious delicacies, the most famous being the bologna sandwich and the cod fish “pastel” (fried pie).
Pinacoteca State Art Gallery
The Pinacoteca has ten rooms that house the collection of nearly one hundred thousand works. The museum includes pieces by artists like Victor Brecheret, Tarsila do Amaral, Di Cavalcanti, among others. Also receives renowned temporary exhibitions. There is a delicious coffee that provides lunches outdoors overlooking the Luz Park.
São Paulo: Arriving & Departing
Arrival to São Paulo will predominantly be by long haul flight, arriving into Guarulhos International (code GRU), whose official name is Governador André Franco Montoro. São Paulo also has a smaller domestic/short haul airport called Congonhas (CGH). From Guarulhos you will have 3 (three) options to get to downtown São Paulo: pre-paid taxi, bus and Uber.
EMTU (Airport Bus Service) provides buses departing from Guarulhos airport to Congonhas airport, Praça da República (city downtown), Tietê and Barra Funda bus terminals, Paulista and Augusta hotel circuit and Tatuapé subway station. The ticket costs between R$ 42 and R$ 43,70 reais and you can check the timetable and route time at the company website. They have sales booths at terminals 1 and 2 that work from 6:10 am to 11:10 pm (at terminal 1) and 24/7 (at terminal 2).
BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) + Subway
Purchase a BRT pass (R$ 3.40) at the arrival area, at a kiosk before you walk outside to the taxi/bus place. Walk outside and across the street to a glass encased platform area. Insert the bus pass at the turnstyle and just wait for the bus to arrive. Once you get on, the first stop is Vicente de Carvalho, about 25 minutes from Galeao. Get off, walk up and over the streets on the walking ramp/bridge, and you should see the entrance to the metro (crowds of people should be entering/exiting). Once inside, you'll have to buy a metro pass called "unitário" (one trip, R$ 3.70), or you can purchase a prepaid card (“pré-pago”). Make sure to check the subway map to see which stairway to walk down, there is only one line (green). If you are heading to Zona Sul (South Zone), you need to take the train towards Maracanã, Central and Botafogo ultimately. If you are going to General Osorio (Ipanema), you can transfer to the orange line once you hit downtown metro stations (on weekdays) or at Estácio station (on weekends or holidays).
Guarucoop is the taxi driver cooperative that holds concession and operates with exclusivity at the airport. They have booths outside the landing terminals of the airport, work with fixed prices and accept all credit cards or money. The service works 24 hours a day and they offer bilingual receptionists and drivers. From the airport to downtown São Paulo you will spend around R$ 200 reais on an approximately 60-minute drive.
Uber has 4 different meeting places, all of them outside the airport:
- Terminal 1, next to check in A. When outside, look for the Uber plate next to the second car row;
- Terminal 2, next to check in C;
- Terminal 2, next do check in D, on the second floor (boarding floor);
- Terminal 3, next do check in H, on the second floor (boarding floor. When outside look for the Uber plate next to the second car row.
Estimated fares leaving Guarulhos airport:
Avenida Paulista – R$ 50
Itaim – R$ 70
Vila Olímpia – R$ 65
Higienópolis – R$ 45
Please be sure to open and call Uber directly by the application prior to boarding. You can pay it by cash but do not accept if the driver insists on not using the application.
All major rental car companies are present at the airport. For more information please access the airport website.
Where to Stay
São Paulo has a vast variety of hotels for every pocketsize, but some of the most recommend are L’Hotel Porto Bay, Renaissance or Tivoli Mofarrej, all of them near Paulista Avenue and close to subway stations. It will take you 20-30 minutes to get to the event venue by taxi or subway.
As in every metropolis, in the city of São Paulo it is also necessary to take certain precautions related to your security. The Deatur, Specialized Police in Tourist Service, raised some suggestions to ensure a more peaceful stay for visitors in the city of São Paulo. The tips are based on a global safety study for tourists.
- Keep your belongings in your field of vision, particularly in large city sites.
- Look for information or assistance with identified people as a police officer or a tour agent.
- Try not to handle cash, cards or use valuables such as jewelry, electronic equipment and cameras in public.
- To exchange foreign currency, look for accredited exchange offices.
- When using ATMs, try to do it during the day and within banking or commercial establishments.
- Use public or authorized transportation (bus, train, subway and taxi). Avoid clandestine transportation or offered by strangers. Ask the hotel for the phone of accredited taxis.
- Keep your passport in a safe place, but always carry with you a photo ID.
- Always carry with you the address of your accommodation and useful phone numbers (police, hotel, consulates, people to contact).
- Visit the sights indicated by official agencies (www. cidadedesaopaulo.com) or programmed by tourist agencies
Where to Eat
A Casa do Porco
Bar da Dona Onça
Cama e Café
Casa de Francisca
Casa de Francisca