São Paulo has three major airports: Guarulhos International (GRU) and Viracopos (IATA:VCP, also known by city code CPQ) for international and some domestic arrivals, and Congonhas (CGH) for most medium and short haul domestic flights.
Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
If flying into São Paulo from abroad, you'll mostly likely land at Guarulhos International Airport , also known as Cumbica. Located 40 km from the city centre, the airport has two terminals that are served by Brazilian airlines TAM , Gol  and by international United, Delta, American, Air Canada, Aeromexico, Emirates, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, TACA, TAP, Iberia, Alitalia, KLM, Swiss, Air China (via Madrid), South African, and many others.
Non-airline shuttle buses  are available from Guarulhos to Congonhas Airport (IATA: CGH, ICAO: SBSP), Praça da República (Downtown), Paulista/Jardins region, Barra Funda bus station and Tietê bus station (fastest access to the subway). All lines except Congonhas connect to the Metrô. R$42 one-way(August 2015). There is also a regular urban bus every 20-30 min http://www.viajenaviagem.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/pap-d.jpg (timetables ), which costs only R$6,15 (as of Feb 18) and goes to and from Tatuapé Metro station (30-45 min, via Ayrton Senna, the other is slower) (line 3, red ). Exit Terminal 1 Arrivals and head for the middle island. Look for buses 257  or 299. Less comfy than the shuttles, but can prove faster way to Paulista (and elsewhere) on days with dense traffic, as it goes for the closest Metro station. Be aware that you might be denied access with luggage that won't fit on your lap.
TAM, Gol and Azul, the three main Brazilian airlines, offer free shuttle buses for their passengers with flights to/from Guarulhos International Airport and Congonhas Domestic Airport. Check the schedules for TAM  and Gol . If you're on a budget trip and have enough time, you can ride those buses to Congonhas airport (you must show your boarding pass or printed reservation to the bus driver) and then get a taxi to your destination. It will be much cheaper than getting a taxi directly from Guarulhos airport. The trip between those airports takes between 1h00 and 1h30. No reservation is required.
A taxi co-operative, Guarucoop (tel: +55 11 2440-7070), 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, although it's useful to have local currency as not all international credit or debit cards will work at all businesses in Brazil. Expect to pay about R$100-140(depending upon your destination), as of October 2011, for the 25 km journey into the city. Passengers can ask to see the tabela, which shows the fares for each neighbourhood. Other options such as Sao Paulo Airport Transfers , Vida e Energia Shuttle Services  or LingoTaxi (with English-speaking chauffeurs). When making your travel plans, keep in mind that a taxi ride into the city can take up to two hours during peak times (3 hours if it's a Friday!!), or around 45 minutes late at night or early in the morning.
Congonhas Airport (CGH)
The Congonhas Airport is in a very central region, 15 km (9 mi) from downtown. This airport handles most of the flights to southern and southeastern Brazil, inluding the São Paulo - Rio (Santos Dumont) hop, nicknamed Ponte Aérea. As it was built in the 30s, its simple but glamorous architecture is worth seeing.
Take any of the "Aeroporto" regular line buses that run along Avenida Paulista. After some 40-60 min in modest traffic you'll be dropped right in front of the airport and the fare is the regular R$3,50 (Bilhete Único accepted).
It is mostly faster to take the metro (blue line) to the São Judas (Bus 875, 10 minutes to airport) or Conceição ("Aeroporto" bus, from stop closest to Habibs, 15 minutes,) subway stations, and then the bus from there.
Cab drives from downtown or Paulista should be used after checking how is the out of control São Paulo traffic. Check the CET  website (only in Portuguese), which is the traffic administration department of the city.
Viracopos International (CPQ or VCP)
Located in Campinas, around 99 km (62 mi) from downtown São Paulo, Viracopos International  is sometimes used when weather conditions prevent landing at GRU. Brazilian airline Azul  has its hub here, and it might be convenient depending on your exact location. Azul has flights abroad to Lisbon, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. It can be very difficult to get from Viracopos airport to downtown Sao Paulo or Guarulhos / Congonhas airports. Sometimes a free bus service will be included in your ticket, but check this before you buy the ticket as otherwise the cost to reach Sao Paulo can be prohibitive. Check out taxi companies like Brazil Airport Transfers  to get an idea of pricing. Viação Lira  has buses departing from Tietê bus terminal to Viracopos.
There are three main bus terminals in São Paulo, all of them served by the Metrô (Subway) network. Departing from São Paulo you can reach any city in Brazil and some cities in South America
Terminal Rodoviário do Tietê, Av. Cruzeiro do Sul 1.800, Santana (Tietê metro station, Blue line), ☎ +55 11 3235-0322, reachable from 6AM-11:30PM, . Tietê bus terminal is the second largest terminal in the world, hence an enormous building, but there is an information desk in the middle of the main lobby. Buses leave Sao Paulo for destinations throughout Brazil and for international destinations including Asunción in Paraguay (20 hr), Buenos Aires in Argentina (36 hr), Montevideo in Uruguay (30 hr) and Santiago in Chile (56 hr). A taxi ride from Paulista/Jardins costs around R$40. Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.
Terminal Rodoviário da Barra Funda, Av. Auro Soares de Moura Andrade 664, Barra Funda district, Expanded Center (Barra Funda metro station, Red Line), ☎ +55 11 3392-1878, . Located west of São Paulo's downtown , 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 30 min from Paulista Ave by Metrô. You can also reach it by boarding the "Barra Funda" (875P) bus in Paulista Ave. Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.
Terminal Rodoviário de Jabaquara, R. dos Jequitibás s/n, Jabaquara district, South Side (Jabaquara metro station, Blue Line), ☎ +55 11 3235-0322, . The Jabaquara Terminal serves cities in São Paulo state's south coast such as Guarujá, Santos and Bertioga. Located thirty minutes away by Metrô from downtown. There is a baggage storage (Guarda Volumes) in the Jabaquara Metro, R$6 for 24 hours.
Transport in São Paulo can be anything from complicated to hellish. Peak hours are normally roughly 6AM-9AM and 4PM-8PM, but since city roads are constantly on the edge of their capacity, any little incident can cause major queues and delays. The cheapest way for tourists to get around is to use the subway/metro, trains and trolleybuses as much as possible, and then take a taxi for shorter distances. Even these means of transport can be uncomfortably crowded during peaks, and only a very limited carry-on is recommended. You can check the SPTrans  website, which is the city's transport administration department. There you can get itineraries using all the city's public transportation options.
The Bilhete Único is a transport smartcard that is used for paying fares on buses, subways, and trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system with free transfers between the subway system and buses within 3 hours. The card is issued at underground stations and costs R$4.00 plus an amount to be used for travel (R$ 24 in total); charge them with any extra amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "lotéricas"), supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red, round "Bilhete Único" logo. Fare charging rules are as follows:
On buses: upon boarding a bus, you'll be charged R$4 and can board up to three other buses in a three-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$4.
First Metro/CPTM train then bus: you'll be charged R$4 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$4 is charged from your card. Upon entering the Metro or CPTM systems, you'll be charged a further R$2.9. 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.
Note that the discounts do not typically apply to intermunicipal buses (usually in blue color and operated by the EMTU company), although there are some exceptions.
By metrô and train
The rail network, composed of metro (subway) and surface trains, is the method of transportation a tourist is likely to use the most while visiting São Paulo. The metro is modern, safe, clean and efficient; the quality of surface trains varies, but those in more touristic areas area as good as the metro. An update-to-date map of the rail network can be found in this link.
Line 1 (Blue): The first metro line built runs from North to South, passing through the Historical Center. Tietê and Jabaquara bus terminals are also reachable through via Line 1 (Blue). Operated by Metrô.
Line 2 (Green): The Green line runs from West to East, passing through Avenida Paulista. Operated by Metrô.
Line 3 (Red): One of São Paulo's busiest lines, it runs from West to East (north of Line 2 (Green), and far more extensive), passing through the Historical Center. The Barra Funda bus terminal is on the west end of this line. Operated by Metrô.
Line 4 (Yellow): Connects the Historical Center to the West (mostly south of Line 2 (Green)), passing through Avenida Paulista. It will be fully operating in 2012. Operated by ViaQuatro.
Line 9 (Emerald): Runs from North to South (west of Line 1 (Blue)), crossing the entire West. Operated by CPTM.
Surface trains can also be used to reach a number of other cities in the metropolitan area of São Paulo and even beyond. The fee is the same, make some of these trips incredible cheap depending on where you want to go.
Fare and hours of operation
If you don't have a Bilhete Único smart card (see above), trains uses a simple flat-price ticketing scheme - you can get only one-trip tickets, which cost R$4,00, and allows you to go as far as you wish. Free train transfers appear as white links in the map; paid transfers as black links.
The single tickets can be bought at the counters or automatic machines, which can be found in every station. Buying multiple tickets will not save you money but will save time locating a vending machine or waiting time in line, which can both be bothersome. If you plan to take buses together with trains, using a Bilhete Único is highly recommended.
Typical operating hours for trains are Sunday to Friday, from 4:30AM-midnight (or 1AM Sa) or, depending on the station, up to 12:40AM. Connections on the network operated by Metrô are guaranteed only for boardings before midnight (1AM Sa), regardless of the station. Check the operating companies' website for more updated information.
Daily use of public transport may be quite stressful to Paulistanos; many take more than 2 hours to get to work or school! As consequence, manners are often left aside on train and metro, and on peak hours, pushes are common. When boarding, walk as far as possible into the train after the door opens, and if you wish to wait for the next train, step outside of the boarding area immediately. Otherwise, you may end up being forcefully pushed into the train.
Inside of the train, it is not uncommon to have a lot of people blocking the way to the door, even if they are not leaving the train in the next station. Unless it is a hub station, politely ask Vai descer aqui? (Are you going to step out here?) to make people move on for you to get out.
As weird (or stupid) as it may seem, Paulistanos do not typically wait for people to get out of the train before getting in. If you are confronted with a mass of people outside when stepping out, walk vigorously, otherwise they may end up pushing you back.
Do remember to keep on the right side of a metrô escalator in order to give way to other people in a hurry - you may be pushed aside if just standing on the left side of it, especially on the busiest hours. Also, should you sit in the assento reservado (reserved seats), be kind enough to give them up for the elderly, pregnant women, parents with babies and disabled people.
Buses are the most popular way to get around the city. Even though drivers really step on it through the bumpy streets of São Paulo, buses are not the fastest way to get around. In addition, they can get really crowded. However, unlike the metro/train, they do reach every neighbourhood.
Tickets are R$4,00 one way. You can pay for the ride inside the bus, or use a Bilhete Unico card topped up with credits before boarding. If paying for the ticket on the bus, simply hand over the money to the teller sitting by the turnstile, and he or she will let you pass through. Note that children under 5 years old are allowed by law to slip under the turnstile for free! If you have the Bilhete Unico magnetic card, then a single fare payment allows you to take other buses for free for the next 3 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released.
Most Brazilians move straight to the back of the bus when they board, which can make it difficult to get off the bus, but it's considered the polite thing to do. Also, if you are holding a large bag and standing, another person may offer to hold your bag for you. This is a perfectly alright thing to do, as they're really just being kind and polite. Use your best judgement if the offer seems like anything other than a friendly gesture.
If you are carrying large suitcases, try to avoid rush-hour traffic as buses can become incredibly packed. 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 São 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 are often found at stands near city squares and big venues. Radio taxis can be ordered by telephone; ask reception at your hotel for help to call a radio cab, or just call a company. Some companies now provide an on-line, fixed price, quote and book service. Taxis in São Paulo are relatively expensive compared to other large cities worldwide and, depending on the neighborhood, there is a risk of being overcharged if you're a foreigner. To check app. taxi fares in advance, check out http://precodotaxi.com/sao-paulo/.
Unlike you may have heard otherwise, incidents of tourists being brought by taxists to be robbed are extremely rare. Taxis are one of the safest ways to get around the city, and certainly much safer than riding your own car if you are only for a few days of visit in the city.
The Marginals, the freeways along Tietê and Pinheiros rivers, connect all 8 regions of the city.
Cars are an important tool in the life of every paulistano. By commuting to and from work, one can spend several hours a day inside a car, stuck in the traffic. Some places can be reached only by car, and if you have to travel long distances in town, it is usually the most convenient means of transport. It is also part of the Sao Paulo's own urban culture.It is 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 it is the case in many big cities, getting around by car is borderline crazy if you're not used to São Paulo. Traffic can be chaotic and parking is a nightmare. It is also not so straightforward to find your way in certain neighbourhoods where streets can get windy. So be warned that visitors to Sao Paulo don't really need a car.
If you're comfortable enough to adventure yourself and feel more like a paulistano, feel free to explore the city from behind a steering-wheel. There is some information about driving in town that you should know beforehand:
Rotating transit policy (Rodízio): In order to reduce the congestion and the air pollution in Sao Paulo, the city council has adopted a mandatory rotating transit policy: cars whose license plate number 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 on the so-called Expanded Center (blue street plates with grey bottom stripe), and for peak hours: 7AM-10AM and 5PM-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 do Estado 900, near the Armênia metro station (blue line), tel. (11) 3322-3333. If you have an International Driving Licence, you'll still have to go to Detran and register it. Submit the following documents to “Setor de Atendimento ao Estrangeiro” (4th floor of the main building, also called prédio principal):
your original valid driving licence from your home country and a photocopy of your licence
an original ID document and a photocopy of a valid leave to remain in Brazil (passport with a valid visa or stamp)
Translation of the driving licence by a sworn translator or your country's Consulate in Brazil
A document (such as a utility bill, a bank statement or a letter from your landlord) proving your local residential address.
Drinking: Please be aware that, according to the national transit authority laws, it is illegal to drink and drive. Even tiny traces of alcohol detected in your blood (0.2g per litre, or the equivalent of a glass of wine) are enough for the police to apprehend the driving licence, apply a fine of around USD 600 and prosecute the drinking driver. The police will often search for drivers that seem to be under the effects of alcohol in large avenues and areas with an active night life - locals call this kind of searches a blitz.
Parking fees (Zona Azul or "Blue Zone"): The city council charges a parking fee of R$2 for one-hour parking in some of the main streets in the central area, so be careful not to be fined for not paying the charge. Check for signs in the sidewalk and yellow lines on the pavement. There are plenty of authorised shops, newspaper stands and transit guards selling parking tickets (Zona Azul) in the streets, which have to be filled in with the car plaque number, the date and the hour of the parking and placed inside the car, on the frontal window pane. These tickets are valid for one hour only, but they can be renewed if you plan to stay longer. Only two one-hour tickets can be placed at one time, which means that you'll have to check on you car every two hours to renew them. The fee is charged M-Sa 7AM-7PM, and charging hours may vary across neighbourhoods.
Driving at night: Buses stop at 1AM and the metro around midnight, so it can be tricky to get to many of the famous bars and night clubs unless you take a taxi, or... drive. If you go out at night by car, expect to pay a small fee to unofficial "car keepers" in order to park your car along the streets. This is a common use in many busy outing hubs around town, which may seem unfair given that parking your car in the streets is free of charge after 7PM, but they occasionally may check your car against stereo robbers. If the neighbourhood seems a bit dodgy or deserted, try to find a parking lot rather than parking in the streets.
Valet services: Most bars and restaurants offer non-compulsory parking and valet services to customers, for which you will be charged a fee (it might be as costly as R$ 25 in upscale places). These services are often covered by insurance, 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 traditional fuels in the pumps. That is because, after the oil shocks in the 1970s, the Brazilian government encouraged car makers to develop and improve the existent ethanol-fueled engines. 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 petrol, but the consumption in litres is around 30 percent higher. Many flex-power cars can now be fueled with either ethanol or gas, or a mixture of both in any proportion. Staff in petrol stations will fill in the tank for you, so you don't even need to step out of the car, unless if you're paying by credit card, in which case you will need go to the cashier to swipe it.
Cycleway Marginal Pinheiros, with 21.2 km, is the longest of São Paulo.
Biking can be the best way to see the city, especially during rush hour. Most of the city is flat or moderately steep, with only the extreme north part of the city being extremely hilly. Most drivers respect cyclists, but many drivers (including bus drivers) don't. However, many bike paths/lanes existing, including an excellent one on Avenida Paulista.
Some of the best areas to explore by bike are Parque Villa-Lobos, Parque do Ibirapuera and Avenida Paulista. The latter is especially pleasant on Sundays when it's closed to cars for the Ciclovia.
Cyclists with bicycles are allowed in the metro/train network at the following times:
In the metro (Metrô/Via Quatro): Monday-Friday starting from 20:30, Saturday starting from 14:00, Sundays and Holidays the whole day
In surface trains (CPTM): Saturday starting from 14:00, Sundays and Holidays the whole day
There is a free public bike system called Bike Sampa. You only need to download the app and sign up with a credit card. Then you can immediately go to one of the stations and use the app to withdraw a bike. You get 60 minutes per trip. As of early 2016, the system is so-so. Don't expect to find a bike near Avenida Paulista late in the afternoon, or an empty slot to put your bike there in the morning. There's no way to report damaged bikes, so if you see on the app that a station has one bike left, don't bother walking there, because it'll likely be too damaged to use. There is another, much smaller public bike system called CicloSampa. As a foreigner it is complicated to sign up for CicloSampa.
There are public bicycle parking lots in many metro stations (06:00-22:00 daily), and in some it is also possible to borrow a bike using a credit card. Check the Metrô website for an up-to-date list of stations with infrastructure for bicycles. Parking lots (mainly the ones designed for cars) may not accept your bicycle, so if you are to chain yours to a pole, use a good chain with a strong lock. In metro/train stations, cyclists are allowed to put their bicycles on escalators to go up, but not to go down. At Ibirapuera park near gate 3 (Portao 3) it is possible to rent a bike for R$5 per hour. You only need your passport. It's a popular place for locals as well, with hundreds renting bikes on weekends.
São Paulo has about 55 km of bike paths. You can see many of them on this map. The map might not be up to date. On Sundays, it is also possible to use the Ciclofaixa de Lazer (see #Do section). The bike paths that cover more than one region are listed below. Others are described in the individual district sections.
Cycleway Marginal Pinheiros, from Cidade Universitário to Jurubatuba train stations. The longest cycleway of São Paulo, running in the east shore of the Pinheiros River and linking the West, South Central and Far South regions. Offers very nice views of the city, although the bad smell of the river may take some time to cope. The only problem of the cycleway is that it is isolated from the city by a train line and a motorway, so it is only possible to enter and leave the cycleway at specific points. 21.2 km.
Cycleway Radial Leste, from Tatuapé to Corinthians-Itaquera train/metro stations. Goes from the middle of the Southeast to the middle of the Far East regions, running in parallel with the Line 3-Red metro line and the Radial Leste avenue. The cicleway gives an extensive view of suburban residencial areas in São Paulo's East region. 12 km.
You can also hire a private limousine service to help you out during you stay from companies like:
Royal American provides Luxury & Secure Ground Transportation through São Paulo
Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads. Take care whenever crossing the streets, watching out for cars that may come unexpectedly, even if the pedestrian lights are green. Do not try to cross large roads with a high volumes of car traffic: usually there will be a pedestrian viaduct or bridge at some point in the sidewalk.
Despite the aggressiveness found in the transit, one can still have peaceful walks across town. The Historic Center area and Avenida Paulista are definitely places to be explored on foot. Check the individual district listings for other nice walks.
You can find practically anything in São Paulo. Imported goods can be expensive, but look out for Brazilian-made bargains in all categories. Spend some time in one of the many "shoppings" (as Brazilians call the shopping malls) and also look out for areas with shops catering for specific interests.
Remember that street shops usually operate 8AM-6PM, including Saturdays (when they close earlier), but most of that are closed on Sundays. The countless shopping malls operate M-Sa 10AM-10PM and Su 10AM-8PM.
Central shopping areas
The area between Avenida Ipiranga and Parque Dom Pedro II (Downtown) is the closest to what São Paulo has from a "central shopping area", with various pedestrianized and non-pedestrianized shopping streets. The exceptionally crowded Rua 25 de Março, with its diverse range of bargains, is perhaps the most famous commercial street of the area.
São Paulo has also many specialized shopping areas, such as Rua Teodoro Sampaio (West) for furniture and musical instruments, Rua José Paulino (Downtown) and Brás neighborhood(Southeast) for bargain and wholesale clothing, Liberdade neigborhood (Downtown) for cosmetics and Asian products, and Rua Santa Ifigênia (Downtown) for electronic equipment.
Paulistanos, especially those with higher income, have an indoor shopping culture. The fear of criminality, traffic and São Paulo's unpredictable weather are strong factors to this. Shopping malls in São Paulo are not only centers of "shopping" but also leisure areas, typically offering spaces for kids, cinemas, food courts, and sometimes even theatres, expositions, and sport areas. Many shopping malls in São Paulo also offer miscellaneous services such as banks, laundry, repairs, and sometimes even police stations and doctors.
The selection of shops of a mall depends on the type of public predominant in the surroundings: at shopping malls located at working class neighborhoods, it is easier to find bargain department stores, while shopping malls in wealthy areas may be the only way to have access to exclusive designer stores. Check the individual district listings for a comprehensive list of shopping malls in the city.
Some shopping malls that deserve special mention are Morumbi/Market Place (South Central - with more than 600 shops and dozens of restaurants), Eldorado (West - with an immense food court), Iguatemi (West - the oldest shopping mall of São Paulo, with very upscale profile), Cidade Jardim (West - the "rich-only" shopping mall), Aricanduva (Far East - the city's largest and most famous working class shopping mall), and Frei Caneca (Downtown - the favorite of the LGBT public).
Suburban shopping areas
Far from Downtown, there are many suburban shopping areas. The busiest of them is probably the area around Largo 13 de Maio (South Central), the "central shopping area" of the former city of Santo Amaro, now part of São Paulo.
There are also the outdoor markets (feiras livres) and municipal markets (where you can buy fresh and cheaper fruit, vegetables and meat), supermarkets and atacados (a type of supermarket where you pay less if buy at least a certain quantity, very convenient for families).
Most of these local commerce centers are not listed in this guide, but they are of extreme importance in the daily life of Paulistanos.
São Paulo has the highest living cost in the Americas, and it's the 10th most expensive city in the world, according to the Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living 2011 Survey. However, it should be remarked that such rankings are based on averages, which hardly describe a city as huge and with so many contrasts as São Paulo.
It is absolutely possible to enjoy the city's attractions while spending a moderate amount of cash in both accommodations and food. For example, a set meal, drinks included, in a reasonably good place is around R$43. Ask locals for tips how to make the best out of your money if you're on a tight budget.
Places to visit
Main article: São Paulo/Paulista
Avenida Paulista (Paulista Avenue) is one of São Paulo's most popular postcards, as it is the pride of Paulistanos. It is one of the largest business centers, and probably the largest cultural region in the city. Its architectural contrast reflects the fact that the avenue is located between the "old" and "new" parts of the city.
The avenue and its surroundings, such as Rua Augusta, Alameda Santos and Rua Oscar Freire, contain numerous shop galleries, art galleries, theatres, movie theaters, pubs, hotel, coffe shops, bookstores, and gourmet restaurants. Gay nightlife is intense on Consolacao and Haddock Lobo Streets.
Main article: São Paulo/Downtown
São Paulo's Historic Center met a period of degradation, but it is gradually recovering with recent projects and investments. Even though it still has some problems, it is an area to not be missed due to its historical and cultural value for the city. Here you can find many constructions and landmarks from glorious moments of São Paulo's history, ridiculously crowded commercial areas, and a multitude of theatres and cultural activities.
Regarded as an "ugly and gray concrete jungle" even by many Paulistanos, São Paulo's city center indeed does not conform to a standard definition of "beauty", but nonetheless, it has become a source of inspiration for countless artists and photographers who can see on it much of the personality of the city.
Rio Pinheiros river area
Main article: São Paulo/West
The Pinheiros river crosses the West of São Paulo in North-South direction, and although heavily polluted, the river and its shores are among the most beautiful and interesting areas of the city. The East shore is filled with skyscrapers that compose the business centers of Brooklin Novo and Vila Olímpia, and contains the longest cycleway of the city, as well as one of the most vibrant nightlife areas. The West shore is home to University of São Paulo and exhibits a stereotypical portrait of São Paulo's social inequality, contrasting luxurious appartments and mansions with low class suburbs and favelas. In the middle of the river, stands the magnificent Ponte Octavio Frias, more known as Ponte Estaiada. The Line 9-Emerald train line runs alongside the river, making all spots quite easy to reach.
Parque Estadual da Cantareira, Núcleo Cabuçu (Guarulhos).
Although São Paulo is commonly associated with gray, concrete, and lack of green space, the Atlantic rainforest still covers large portions of the city and even of the municipality. These green areas are constantly under threat by irregular ocupation, so the government has turned many of them into into public parks in order to better protect them.
Parks in the city can be divided into three types:
Leisure parks are those with plenty of recreational, sport and cultural facilities, but do not contain considerable amounts of original vegetation. Parque do Ibirapuera (see São Paulo/South Central) is certainly the most famous park of this type in the city, hosting various museums, monuments, and cultural activities;
Ecotourism parks are those which are mostly covered by the Atlantic rainforest and other natural ecossystems, and contain limited recreational facilities. They are suited for those seeking an adventure. These include Parque Estadual da Cantareira (see São Paulo/Northeast and Guarulhos), APA Capivari-Monos (see São Paulo/Far South) and Parque Estadual do Jaraguá (see São Paulo/Northwest).
Mixed parks are a mix between the two above types: they have both leisure facilities and preserved nature areas. They are a nice option if you think that nature is best enjoyed with the company of other people, or if you want to do something more relaxing and less adventurous. These include Parque do Carmo, Parque Ecológico do Tietê (see São Paulo/Far East) and Horto Florestal(see São Paulo/Northeast).
Represa do Guarapiranga is not exactly a park, but a huge dam where there are recreation areas with nature mostly preserved. On weekends, some families go there to practice nautical sports like riding jetskis , wakeboard and some sailboats . There you can rent some of these boats and enjoy an almost bucolic landscape in the middle of the concrete jungle(see São Paulo/Far South).
Check the individual district listings for a more comprehensive list of parks and more detailed information.
Museums and cultural centers
Museu do Ipiranga (Museu Paulista da USP).
As the art center of the country, São Paulo offers inumerous museums and cultural centers. Two museums to not be missed, due to their size, architecture, and historical importance, are Museu do Ipiranga (Southeast) and Memorial da América Latina (West).
Appreciators of art should also check Museu de Arte de São Paulo (Paulista), Pinacoteca do Estado (Downtown), Instituto Tomio Ohtake, Museu de Arte Contemporânea (West) and Museu de Arte Moderna (South Central).
Check each district section of this guide for a comprehensive list of museums.
São Paulo is a beautiful city seen from above, so spare some time to go to one of the few points where you'll be able to see how far this city extends to, specially at sunset.
Banespa Tower, Rua João Brícola, 24, Centro. São Bento Metrô station, ☎ +55(11) 3249-7180. M-F, 10AM-5PM. The observation deck is on the 34th floor, 160 m above ground. For many decades, it used to be the highest building in town. There is a small museum on the top of the building." Make sure and bring ID (passport) because it is required for entrance. Free entrance.
Restaurant Skye, Hotel Unique, Avenida Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio, 4700. On the rooftop of posh Hotel Unique, Skye serves excellent fusion food under the supervision of chef Emmanuel Bassoleil. Good for night views of the area around Ibirapuera Park. Free entrance.
São Paulo Jockey Club, Av. Lineu de Paula Machado, 1263, . There are two bars and a couple of posh restaurants with a great view of the River Pinheiros, especially around 6PM, when you can go straight from work or a busy day walking about to watch the sun set above town. Free entrance.
Do and events
Theaters and concert halls
The two most important concert and opera houses of the city are Theatro Municipal and Sala São Paulo (see São Paulo/Historic Center). São Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which feature plays in Portuguese. The British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, Instituto Cervantes and Alliance Française occasionally have plays in English, German, Spanish and French, respectively; check individual District listings.
Ciclofaixa de Lazer
Now it is possible to safely cycle in the city during Sundays and holidays, using the Ciclofaixa de Lazer. It is a 255.2km route that passes mainly through middle and high class residential areas in the West and South Central parts of São Paulo and bike friendly parks such as Parque Villa-Lobos and Parque do Ibirapuera. You can see a map here.
Every Sunday, until about 4pm, Avenida Paulista is closed to cars, and people come out in droves to enjoy biking, rollerblading, walking, etc. There's a lot of live music on the street, from the usual street performers to a higher caliber band playing on a big stage. It's one of the best free things to do in the city.
Fun for the family
Both adults and kids are ensured to have fun by seeing the animals in the São Paulo Zoo, Zoo Safari (with animals roaming freely) and in the São Paulo Aquarium (see São Paulo/Southeast). São Paulo also has educative spaces aimed both at adults and children, including Catavento Cultural (see São Paulo/Downtown) and Espaço Ciência (see São Paulo/West). Finally, Mundo da Xuxa (see São Paulo/South Central) is a theme park only for the small ones.
Football is an inherent part of Brazilian culture, and São Paulo is no exception, being home of four football teams that generally run in the 1st division: São Paulo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Portuguesa. The four large football stadiums in the city are Morumbi, Parque Antarctica (see São Paulo/West), Pacaembu (see São Paulo/Historic Center) and Canindé (see São Paulo/Southeast). A new stadium was constructed in the São Paulo/Far East region to host the opening and some games of the FIFA World Cup 2014. A word of warning, however: although most matches are safe and fun events, games between the biggest local rivals (Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Palmeiras and, to a smaller extent, Santos) have had episodes of violence flaring up (the majority of cases, such incidents happening outside of the stadium), due to a minority of violent fans (ultras). Going to such games can be a risky proposition.
Estádio Cícero Pompeu de Toledo (Morumbi), Brazil's third largest football stadium.
Estadio de Morumbi is not easily reachable from the center (e.g Av. Paulista) by public transport. A taxi from Av. Paulista costs about 50 R$ (Nov. 2014). Invest this money instead of splitting the trip to Morumbi into metro and Taxi combinations, it will only save you about 10 R$. If you want to watch a game there, try to get tickets before the match day (Online tickets are available until 3 days before the match) because they might get sold out easily.
1. Parque Villa-Lobos (Villa-Lobos Park) is one of the most pleasant urban parks in the world. It's similar to Central Park In New York City. Perhaps not worth a visit just for sightseeing, but it's an excellent escape from the bustling city. On weekends, it can become quite busy. It's far superior to most parks because:
It's surrounded by hills which block almost all sights and sounds of the city.
Selling stuff is prohibited. This is a small but constant improvement over say, most beaches in the country, where you can feel like you're in a mobile shopping mall.
And you can:
Play one of dozens of possible sports. You could probably just ask to join some people who are playing.
Lay on the grass under a palm tree.
Go to one of the world's few completely free gyms.
Go biking, rollerblading, etc.
2. Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park) is also a massive, bustling park. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Paraíso, Vila Nova Conceição, and Moema. There are plenty of sports facilities, such as basketball courts, a soccer field, and running and cycling tracks. Skateboarders and hip-hop break dancers hang out around the covered pavilion known as Marquise do Ibirapuera. On weekdays, people from all over the city come here to run in the early hours or walk their dogs. On weekends, the park is at its busiest, with families gathering under the trees, people exercising, and kids rollerskating.
Afro-Brazilian Museum: there are plenty of artworks covering Afro-Brazilian culture
Planetarium: Recently refurbished and equipped with a Gauss lens projector, this place is worth a visit if you want to learn about stars and planets in the Southern Hemisphere. There are exhibits many times a day, check at the entrance of the Planetarium for an updated schedule.
Oca: this is a cultural space where temporary exhibitions of art and culture take place. It has been built in the shape of an oca, which is the original Native Brazilian housing.
MAM: this is the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo. There are artworks of many contemporary artists such as a giant spider by Louise Bourgeois, from the same series of spiders such as the one seen at the Mori building in Tokyo or at the Tate Museum in London.
Japanese Pavilion: a peaceful Japanese garden and pond with pine tree bonsai and koi carps.
Concrete Jungles Walking Tours they offer 4 different free walking tours. All tours are free and only based on tips and lasts 2 hours. They have and Historical Tour and a Graffiti Tour both in the downtown, a Cultural Tour in the Pinacoteca and Luz Station area and a Urban Tour focused on the Paulista Avenue and the Bixiga area, the Little Italy of São Paulo. This project provides tours almost everyday and all are in English.
São Paulo Historical City Tour is a panoramic tour for those keen to have an introduction to the history, culture, and the lifestyle of the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. The city tour takes about 3 hours, during which the visitor will pass by places in São Paulo Old Centre and get familiar with highlights such as the Cathedral of Sé, Pátio do Colégio (short stop at the square, the site where the city was founded), Monastery of São Bento, the Banespa Building (São Paulo’s “Empire State Building”), Martinelli Building (the first skyscraper in South America), Viaduto do Chá (Tea Viaduct), the Municipal Theater, Sala São Paulo concert hall, Estaçao da Luz train station and the Municipal Market.
SP Up Close  is run by Americans who love São Paulo and have experienced the ins and outs of the city and are able to showcase the best of the local flavors. SP Up Close operates Culture, Architecture, Shopping, Food & Custom Tours to meet any visitor's needs. The price of their Tours includes transportation, snacks & drinks.
TurisMetrô  offer a variety of city tours every weekend. The tours are mostly walking but with some use of the metro. There is no charge but you will need to take some money with you to buy metro tickets during the tour as necessary. Tours start at the TurisMetrô desk in Sé metro station at 9am and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays; you need to arrive half an hour earlier to sign up. The desk is inside the ticket barriers, so if you arrive by metro don't leave the station while looking for the desk or you'll have to pay for an extra ticket to get back in, and if you're already in the area you will have to pay for a ticket to gain access to the desk, although you will use it to make the first journey of the tour so it's not wasted. The guides speak English.
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. Information in English and Spanish about the events happening in the city can be found on . Events tied to a particular region are listed in the individual district sections. The following events are considered important to the city as a whole:
São Paulo Carnival, Avenida Olavo Fontoura, 1209, Santana (at the Sambódromo from Parque Anhembi, near Armenia and Tiete stations), ☎ 11 6226-0510. If you're in São Paulo during the annual Carnival, a national bank holiday between the end of February and March. 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. 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. However, São Paulo is not a traditional Carnaval destination for Brazillians, like Rio. The city will usually be less crowded on Carnaval then usual, as Paulistanos leave for the Paulista Coast or other states.
Gay Pride Parade, Avenida Paulista. Every year, during Corpus Christi holidays (usually between May and June), around 3 million people take part in the largest Gay Pride parade in the world. It takes place on a Sunday, and Avenida Paulista is the spot to head to. Floats bustling with eletronic music parade from MASP to República, while every type imaginable marches along. The drinks are plenty and the rave party feel keeps the paraders dancing way pass sunset.
Virada Cultural, (Downtown), . Virada Cultural is a round-the-clock cultural marathon that takes place in various parts of the Historic Center (Downtown), happening yearly around April-May. It is a free event that gathers an audience of several million of people circulating during a 24-hour, non-stop cultural party. Exceptionally, the metro and train work uninterruptedly during the event. During the 2012 edition, there were about 1,300 shows and 15 km of streets were occupied. Free.
São Paulo Indy 300, (Northwest), . is an event in the IRL IndyCar Series, which opened the 2010 IndyCar Series season. The circuit is located in the Santana district, birthplace of legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna and Brazilian auto racing pioneer Chico Landi. The main straightaway of the track is along the Sambadrome of Anhembi and utilizes portions of the Marginal Tietê service drive. The Anhembi Convention Center will be used for support facilities and spectator attractions. Unlike many other circuits, the pit lane is not located around the start-finish line; it is instead positioned after turn four.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Far South), . s a Formula One championship race which occurs at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos. The Interlagos circuit has created some of the most exciting and memorable races in recent Formula One history, and is regarded as one of the most challenging and exciting circuits on the F1 calendar. Along with Spa-Francorchamps, it is rare in that the circuit in its modern form is one of the few with a lengthy history in the sport not considered to have lost much of its mystique or challenge in its adaptation for the modern, much more safety-conscious era of 21st century Formula One.
Food and drinks
São Paulo is home to a superb diversity of restaurants and cuisines, where you can enjoy typical dishes from literally all over the world. The price range is as wide as the diversity of the restaurants in the city, from cheap snacks and meals in simple and cozy restaurants and food tents in popular markets, to the hugely expensive high end cuisine and internationally recognized restaurants, such as D.O.M, which was (in 2012) elected the 4th best restaurant in the World and the best in South America by The World's 50 Best Restaurants.
The city is also home to a vast array of Brazilian and international fast-food chains, offering varying options ranging from burgers, to sushi and kebab. The fast-food chain Habib's, which originated in São Paulo, is the favorite of lower class Paulistanos due to its cheap "Arab-Brazilian" snacks.
In São Paulo, the ever-present beans-and-rice accompaniment typically involves brown beans instead of black beans, as in Rio. Another typical food in São Paulo is the Virado à Paulista, which consists of rice, tutu de feijão (a paste of beans and manioc flour; sometimes made of corn flour, in order to be drier than the manioc flour one), sautéed collard greens (couve) and pork chops, typically bisteca. It is usually accompanied by pork rinds, bits of sausage, a fried egg and a fried banana.
Another typical type of restaurant in São Paulo, are the world famous churrascarias where an enormous range of meats and cuts, comes to your table by the stick, offering also a range of sides and salads. In those places, you can eat as much as you want, paying a single fee whose price range may vary from R$45 to R$115. This system is called rodízio, and it has been very successful in the city, spreading to other types of cuisine like Italian, where you can find the rodízio de pizza and Japanese, with the rodízio de sushi.
The cuisine of São Paulo shows the influence of European, Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. The majority of immigrants in São Paulo arrived from Italy, and other European countries like Portugal, Spain and Germany. There's also big numbers of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants from Japan, Lebanon and many other nationalities. Therefore, it is possible to find a wide array of cuisines in the city of São Paulo. Pizza is a particularly popular dish, which can be found with and endless range of toppings, and paulistas will swear their city has the best pizza in the country, if not in the world.
When eating out, a tip of 10 percent on the value of the bill is usually included. Some restaurants don't include this service charge (when you may come across the message "Serviço não incluso" at the end of the bill), but unless the staff are upsettingly rude, do pay the standard 10 percent tip as it is usually part of their wages.
Vila Olímpia, in the West, is one of São Paulo's main nightlife areas.
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 chopp (a 300 ml glass of draught beer) will set you back between R$3 and R$10 (in extreme cases), depending on the bar, but anything around R$4, R$5 is fine. Vila Madalena and Itaim have a very high concentration of bars, and are great spots for an all-nighter. For specific suggestions of bars, check the district section.
Sao Paulo history is connected directly to the coffee cultivation so Brazilian coffee is the real deal here. In fact, Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee, and if you watch the locals, you will see that they drink plenty of it, too. Stop at a café or padaria and order a cafezinho (espresso), cafe com leite, or cafe pingado (hot milk with a shot of espresso added to it, slightly stronger than cafe com leite).
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, raves and even some fetish 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, but they can be over R$250 (US$145) in some upscale places.
The main areas for nightlife in the city are Vila Olímpia, Vila Madalena, and Barra Funda (West), Moema (South Central), Tatuapé and Mooca (Southeast), Avenida Paulista (Paulista), (Southeast)and Santana (Northeast). Be sure to check the individual District listings.
Visit vejasp.com.br or buy one of the paper editions to have the latest clubbing updates.
Emergency phone numbers:
Quick city code (DDD) guide:
11 - São Paulo, Santo André, São Bernardo do Campo, São Caetano do Sul, Barueri, Diadema
19 - Campinas
21 - Rio de Janeiro
24 - Paraty
31 - Belo Horizonte
16 - Ribeirão Preto
12 - São José dos Campos, Ubatuba, Caraguatatuba, São Sebastião
13 - Santos, Guarujá
71 - Salvador
84 - Natal
92 - Manaus
Public telephone booths can be found on 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 city code (also known locally as the DDD 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 DDD 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.
To make reverse charge calls within the same city code area, dial 90 90 + the telephone number (do not use the city code (11)).
To make reverse charge calls to other cities, dial 90 followed by (15) Telefónica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the 2-digit DDD code and the telephone number.
Internet cafés (also called cyber cafés or lan houses) can be easily found in every neighborhood.
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 unless they're gay or with intimate long-time friend or family. 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, a 15-30 min delay in a meeting is usually tolerated, and you shouldn't worry too much if you or someone else turns up a bit late. In general, do not plan more than two meetings per day, with a possible lunch meeting in between, due to the traffic delay in getting from place to place.
Office hours are usually from 9AM-6PM, and banks are open M-F 10AM-4PM. 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.
It is always safer to first adopt a business attire to a meeting -- suit and tie for men, business suit for women -- even if you turn out to be a bit overdressed in a more informal business environment.
Before a meeting starts, it is not unusual to have some 5-10 min of informal chat, not related to the business to be discussed (traffic, weather forecasts, and football matches are accepted example topics). To cut short this informal chit chat might appear slightly rude and potentially embarrassing.
Gay and lesbian travelers
São Paulo is the host of one of the biggest Gay Pride parades in the world, attracting every year about 4 million people. Although paulistanos are relatively tolerant to homosexuality, openly public displays of affection between people of same sex are uncommon and likely to attract attention, with the exception of places such as Avenida Paulista and the Ibirapuera Park, and at some bars, coffee shops, night clubs and shopping centers. Such displays of affection should be completely avoided in poorer neighborhoods and on public transport, where prejudice is more likely to be openly manifested.
Update: Although the area of Avenida Paulista was a traditional haven for gays and lesbians of São Paulo, as of February 1, 2011, a number of violent attacks against homosexuals had recently been reported in this area. If this situation does not revert, gays and lesbian couples are advised to take extra care while walking Avenida Paulista and its surroundings, specially at night.
São Paulo, once one of the most violent cities of Brazil, has managed to drastically reduce crime during the 2000s, similarly to Rio de Janeiro. According to the Sangari Institute, São Paulo was the safest capital city of Brazil in 2011, in terms of homicide rate.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that a visitor can really relax about safety, because São Paulo is simply too large and diverse to be described by average statistics. In fact, two of the most visited areas, Downtown and the Pinheiros subprefecture (in the West), have respectively 150% and 50% more violent crime than the city average (according to ). Check the individual district listings for safety advice in each area of the city. The general advice is as follows:
Visitors should avoid walking in deserted areas at night, or at least avoid walking alone. Buses are reasonably safe, but waiting alone at a bus stop at night is not. The metro is always safe, but commuter trains that go to peripheral areas can be dangerous late at night. Be extremely careful when using ATMs at night (or better, do not use them if they are located in a deserted and dark places, if you really need one, try searching in places like shopping malls, theaters and cinemas and gas stations).
Driving can sometimes also be risky, especially when you are alone and/or in a upscale bars/clubbing area, like Vila Madalena or Vila Olímpia. If you are driving at night, when stopping for whatever reason (even at a traffic light), check your surroundings. Keep your doors locked and windows closed during the night. If possible, when going back late to the hotel, take a cab or ride with a group of friends. During the day, keep valuable objects away from the window (even if you are using a taxi).
Some areas can be dangerous even during the day. These includes run-down areas, like favelas and areas populated by drug addicts. The last can be easily recognized by the presence of poorly maintained buildings, bad odor, and dirty streets - there are many of those in the Historic Center. Most drug addicts are harmless, but a few may resort to violence to get money to buy their drugs.
Contrary to popular belief, nowadays poor neighboorhoods in São Paulo aren't usually dangerous, at least not more dangerous than an ordinary neighborhood. Still, some of them can be dangerous, so if you are in doubt, don't go or have the company of a local.
And naturally, every safety recommendation that applies to big cities in general also applies to São Paulo:
Don't trust strangers, especially those who seem excessively helpful;
Always prefer the help of an identified officer or employee than that of a stranger;
Watch your belongings all the time in crowded streets or public transportation;
Avoid withdrawing and carrying large amounts of money;
Avoid using expensive clothes and jewelry that make you stand out.
Tourist police stations
Familiarize yourself with the location of the police stations specializing in tourist service and protection. These stations offer information on public safety and are staffed with qualified professionals to meet your needs.
Port and Airport Police Division. Special services for tourists and protection for dignitaries. Rua São Bento, 380, 5th floor, Centro. Tel. (11) 3107-5642 and 3107-8332.
Headquarters of the Specialized Tourist Police – DEATUR. Av. São Luiz, 91, Centro. Tel. (11) 3214-0209 and 3120-3984.
São Paulo Police Station at Congonhas Airport. Avenida Washington Luis, Moema. Tel. (11) 5090-9032, 5090-9043 and 5090 9041.
São Paulo Police Station at Cumbica/Guarulhos International Airport. Rua Dr. João Jamil Zarif, Guarulhos. Tel. (11) 6445 3064, 6445-2686, 6445-2162, 6445-3464, 6445-2221.
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 only if you need a visa (ie, if you are going to stay for longer than 90 days). Check the requirements of any country you will travel to from Brazil.
Tap water in São Paulo is generally safe, at least when straight from the water supply system. However, several buildings can be lacking in the periodic cleaning of their cisterns and water tanks (the locals themselves tend to avoid tap water and drink bottled or filtered water instead).
Argentina, Ave Paulista, 2313 - sobreloja, ☎ +55 11 3897-9522 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +55 11 3285-0748). 9AM-5PM
Bolivia, Rua Coronel Artur Godoi, 7 Vila Mariana, ☎ +55 11 3289 0443 (fax: +55 11 3289-2073).
China, Rua Estados Unidos, 1071, Jardim América, 01427-001, ☎ +55 011 3082-9877 (fax: +55 11 3062-4396), . 9AM-1PM.
Colombia, Rua Tenente Negrao, 140-9° andar. Cj.92 Sao Paulo, CNPJ 04.919.564/0001-83, ☎ +55 11 3078-0322 - 3078-0262 (email@example.com, fax: +55 11 3078-0298). 9AM-noon 2PM-5PM.
France, Ave Paulista, 1842, Torre Norte, 14F, 01310-923, ☎ +55 11 3371 5400 (fax: +55 11 3371 5410), . 8:30AM-noon.
Greece, Avenida Paulista, 2073, Conjunto Nacional, Edificio Horsa II, 23o andar - conj. 2303 CEP 01311-940, ☎ +55 11 3251 0675; Emergencies:+55 11 8138 2129 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +55 11 3289 0178).
Republic of Korea, Ave Paulista, 37, 9F, 01311-902, ☎ +55 11 3141-1278 (fax: +55 11 3141-1279). 9AM-5PM.
Lebanon, Ave Paulista, 688, 16F, Bela Vista, 01310-100, ☎ +55 11 3262-0604 (email@example.com). 9AM-1PM.
Norway, Rua General Almério de Moura, 780, Morumbi, 05690-080, ☎ +55 11 3759-2379 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +55 11 3758-5986). 8AM-6PM.
Paraguay, Rua Bandeira Paulista, 600 Conjuntos 81/82 - 8° Piso, ☎ +55 11 3167 0455 (email@example.com, fax: +55 11 3167 0412).
United States of America, Rua Henri Dunant, 500, Chácara Santo Antônio, 04709-110, ☎ +55 11 5186-7000 (fax: +55 11 5186-7199), .
University of São Paulo (USP).
University of São Paulo (USP) is Brazil's most important university in terms of academic research and international reputation, with its main campus located in the West. It was considered the top university of Latin America according to the QS Ranking. Other important public universities present in the city are Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) (see São Paulo/South Central) and Federal University of ABC (UFABC) (see Santo André).
The city also contains many traditional private high education institutions. Check the individual district sections for a comprehensive list of them.
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-recognized 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 visawith the Brazilian authorities. It is located at Rua Hugo Dantola, 95, Alto da Lapa, near Ponte do Piqueri (Piqueri Bridge). It is open M-F, 8AM-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.
British Council, Rua Ferreira Araújo, 741, Térreo, Pinheiros, ☎ +55(11) 2126-7526 (fax: +55(11) 2126-7564).
Aliança Russa de Ensino Superior, Av. Eng. Luiz Carlos Berrini 962, Conjunto 102, Brooklin, ☎ +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.
Fast Forward .
Alumni, Rua Padre João Manoel, 319, ☎ +55(11) 5644-9700, .
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São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a city population of about 11 million and almost 20 million in its metropolitan region. It is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. São Paulo is one of the richest cities in the southern hemisphere, though inequality between the classes typically observed in Brazil is blatant. Historically attractive to immigrants as well as (somewhat later) Brazilians from other states, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world.
São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often overshadowed by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of its inhabitants, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes. If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.
Just south of the city, lies the Parque Estadual Serra do Mar (part of the Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a mountain range covered by exhuberant rainforest that faces the coast and provides various ecotourism options.
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 historical buildings are concentrated downtown, where 17th-century churches stand in the shadows of skyscrapers. The best of São Paulo's gastronomy, nightlife, and museums are concentrated in the historic downtown and neighboring areas to the west. Consequently, this is where most visitors to the city tend to stay. Those who are adventurous enough to venture beyond these areas may discover a completely different São Paulo, including areas of preserved natural beauty, affluent suburban neighborhoods, as well as more dangerous and impoverished districts.
Note: the region of Avenida Paulista is partly in the Center, West, and South-Central, and its number of attractions, as well as its peculiar characteristics, justifies it having its own section.
Regions of São Paulo.
The birthplace of the city, with many historical areas, cultural centers, and a universe of diverse people rushing to work or to school.
The wealthiest region of the city contains Parque do Ibirapuera, one of the most important recreational and cultural areas of São Paulo, and inumerous shopping malls.
Home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who settled in the city, that is where Museu do Ipiranga, the São Paulo Zoo and other attractions are located.
The Northeast is São Paulo's "event arena", where the annual Carnival and and many other large scale events take place. Part of the magnificent Parque da Cantareira is also here.
The largest region of São Paulo is still have some parts covered by forest, farms and water, and can offer many unique experiences to a visitor.
São Paulo's City of Workers contains two of the most beautiful parks of the city, and was the host of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in the city.
The Northwest is a more suburban area which is home to Parque Estadual do Jaraguá, where the highest point of the city is located.
Metropolitan area (Greater São Paulo)
Guarulhos - it's where is located the internacional airport (Cumbica - GRU)
Embu das Artes - Town just Southwest 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.
South - The South of Greater São Paulo, also known as the "Great ABC" region, is composed of mostly industrial cities separated from the coast by Parque Estadual Serra do Mar, a hilly area covered by Atlantic rainforest. The area offers inumerous opportunities for ecotourism.
Santo André - City containing the main campus of Federal University of ABC, the historical village of Paranapiacaba, and the nature area of the same name.
São Bernardo do Campo - City historically linked to Brazil's labor movement, offering nautical leisure at the Billings reservoir and ecotourism at Parque Estadual Serra do Mar, including a walking route in direction of the coast.
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. Staying a little longer than that is always a nice idea. As the financial and cultural center of the country, the city is a sea of possibilities. Sightseers will be disappointed however, because the city does not have a single major tourist attraction.
The city has a so called clean city law that prohibits advertising such as billboards. Likewise, heavy trucks are not allowed on most streets except during the middle of the night. These are small but constant improvements which make the city more beautiful and pleasant to live in.
Native American Chief Tibiriçá and the Jesuit priests José de Anchieta and Manuel de Nóbrega founded the village of São Paulo de Piratininga on 25 January 1554 -- Feast of the Conversion of Paul the Apostle. Along with their entourage, the priests established a mission named Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga aimed at converting the Tupi-Guarani native Brazilians to the Catholic religion. São Paulo's first church was constructed in 1616, and it was located where today is the the Pátio do Colégio (metrô: Sé or São Bento station).
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 other European and Middle Eastern countries, such as Syria and Lebanon immigrated to São Paulo State due to the coffee production boom. Slavery in Brazil was coming to an end, so incentives were given to immigrants coming from European countries such as Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. By the beginning of the 20th century, the coffee cycle had already plummeted due to, among other factors, a sharp decline in international coffee prices and competition from other nations. The local entrepreneurs then started investing in the industrial development of São Paulo, attracting new contingents of overseas immigrants to the city. Many of those entrepreneurs were Italian, Portuguese, German, and Syro-Lebanese descendants such as the Matarazzo, Diniz, and Maluf families.
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 nowadays home to a large number of local and international banking offices, law firms, multinational companies, advertising firms and consumer services.
Many major international and Brazilian companies have offices in São Paulo, and the Bovespa stock exchange index (Ibovespa) is considered one of the most important Latin American market indices abroad. After merging with the BM&F (Futures Markets Exchange), Bovespa (São Paulo Stock Exchange) has become the third largest exchange in the world (Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper 2008).
Don't be surprised at the diversity of Paulistanos. For example, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. It is not uncommon to see businesses and churches being conducted by Chinese and Korean-Brazilians in Liberdade, which was originally an Italian district, then Japanese and currently is heavily populated by Koreans and Chinese. The city's Italian influence is also very strong, mainly in the upper and middle-class spots, with about 6 million people in the metropolitan area having Italian background. The small but notable Arab and Jewish communities are also represented in the high-levels of society, from arts to real estate businesses, and notably in politics. But over all the most notably communities of São Paulo is the "Nordestinos", people with a northeasterner backgrounds or descent, which have a very particular culture and accent. Almost 40% of "paulistanos" have one of the parents or grand-parents who came from Brazilian northeastern region. Rarely this so important part of population reaches a high-developed level of economy or living, in exception of popular music and sports. It is too much more common to hear northeasterner accents in the streets of São Paulo, rather than immigrant accents.
The citizens of São Paulo have a reputation as hard-working and industrious or shallow money-grubbers. It is common to hear that the people in São Paulo work while the rest of Brazil relaxes; even though many say this, it is plainly wrong. It is a fact, nonetheless, that the city of Sao Paulo alone actually contributes with 15 percent of the country's gross national product (45 percent if the entire São Paulo state is taken into account).
But when Paulistanos are not working, they are often clubbing. The city nightlife is as intense as it gets, which makes going to a club a total must-do. Everything is possible in a city that doesn't dare to blink.
Street numbers of São Paulo begin counting from the direction of Praça da Sé.
São Paulo's basic spot for orientation should be Avenida Paulista. From there, it's pretty easy to reach every single spot in town, be it by bus or underground transport. It is located between the neighborhoods of Bela Vista and Jardim Paulista. Av. Paulista is also within walking distance to Centro and Ibirapuera Park, which makes it the perfect place to start a walking tour.
However, keep in mind that central Sao Paulo actually comprises a very large area, and travelling from one spot to another may require that you take a cab or public transport. To find out the general direction where you are, see the street signs, as it is colour-coded:
Sé/República (in Downtown): White street plate.
All other areas have blue street plates, and a bottom stripe on the following colours:
Expanded Center: Grey (Expanded Center means the area limited by the Tietê river on the North, the Pinheiros river on the West, Avenida dos Bandeirantes on the South and Avenida Salim Farah Maluf on the East)
Northwest: Light Green
North: Dark Blue
Southeast: Dark Green
South: Light Blue
To find the direction of Downtown (most precisely Praça da Sé), just follow the direction of decreasing street numbers. That doesn't work, however, in the Santo Amaro subprefecture (South Central), neither in the Far South region; in these areas, decreasing numbers lead to Largo 13 de Maio.
Although traditionally a working and not a tourist city, its inhabitants, if more educated, probably speak better English (and perhaps Spanish, Italian or French) than anywhere else in Brazil. English is generally spoken at main hotels and tourist-related businesses, although a menu in English is a rare find. Several Portuguese language schools teach English as a second language. You may ask a person if he or she speaks English, especially younger people. Locals are often friendly, and will try to help visitors, but language difficulties can offer a barrier. It's a good idea to print out some key phrases.
A good tip is keep your destinations and addresses on paper, in case you cannot find anyone who speaks, you can show them the note.
If you want to say numbers, here is the translation
One - "Um"
Two - "Dois"
Three - "Três"
Four - "Quatro"
Five - "Cinco"
Six - "Seis"
Seven - "Sete"
Eight - "Oito"
Nine - "Nove"
Ten - "Dez"
Be careful when plugging in electronic devices, as voltages vary between 110V and 220V across cities in Brazil, always 60Hz. In the city of São Paulo the voltage is usually 127V. Other cities in the state of São Paulo may use 220V plugs (such as Jundiai, São Jose dos Campos and cities by the beach). It is always prudent to ask before you plug an electronic device outside the city of São Paulo.
Many electric outlets will accept both the U.S. / Canada type plugs and the parallel twin round pins used in many countries in Europe (low current "europlug"). It is helpful to carry a world-travel adapter in any case, since other countries in South America vary in electrical plug formats and shapes. Some outlets for computers have the USA two flat pins and one round ground pin. A new, exclusive to Brazil shape of plug with 3 rounded pins (similar to the Euro one, but with another pin in the middle, slightly above) was introduced in 2009 and became the standard for newer electronic equipment. However, and likely to the fact that numerous people bring their electronics from abroad to avoid the heavy-taxed price of the imports, it's still pretty common to find the older outlets or ones that can fit several kinds (the outlet for the new 3-pin Brazilian plug is naturally compatible with Europe's twin round pins).
The city of São Paulo is only one hour driving from the Paulista Coast, which is a typical Brazilian 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. Note the telephone code changes from 11 to 12 (northern coast - São Sebastião and remaining cities to the north) or 13 (Bertioga and remaining cities to the south) as you travel from Greater São Paulo to the Paulista Coast. All coded from 14 to 19 are upstate São Paulo. The rich agricultural state offers winter destinations, upscale retreats and large Rodeos.
In parenthesis the typical duration of the journey by car (using the fastest route in good traffic conditions) is listed. During long holidays (like Carnival and New Year), expect to be much more.
Santos (1h) - Estuary city near São Paulo, home to Pelé's famous football team Santos F.C. and Brazil's most important seaport.
Guaruja (1h) - Many Paulistanos have their beach houses in this town, which becomes packed with tourists during the summer months of December, January and February. Be careful, despite being a beautiful place, it's a city with a lot of occurrence of crimes , most of them related to burglary , theft and robbery.
Bertioga (2h): just NE of Santos and Guaruja, this beach town hosts a variety of annual festivals, including a Japanese, an Italian and a Native Brazilian. Don't miss the waterfall on the way down the mountain (via Moji das Cruzes), as there's no access on the return trip.
São Sebastião (2:30h) - Second in preference for summer houses, the beaches of São Sebastião are a mixture of rustic paradisiac nature with first class night life. Contains one of the most famous beaches of the São Paulo coast, Maresias.
Ubatuba (3h) - Beautiful beaches are the main attraction of this place, as well as its well-preserved nature. Hotels sometimes provide leisure activities such as scuba diving, mountain biking and trekking. The city is known for providing a good surfing environment.
Ilhabela (3:30h) - Accessible only from São Sebastião by ferry, it is an archipelago with various savage beaches and ecotourism options.
Peruibe (2:00h) - City located on the south coast with beautiful beaches. In urban area, are distributed many seaside resorts of high standard construction with predominantly horizontal architecture. At south is located ecological reserve Jureia with dozens of preserved and virtually unspoiled beaches, plus many water clean rivers with waterfalls and natural pools.
Campos do Jordão (2h) -Charming little town in the mountains, at 1,600 m high. Well-off Paulistanos buy their winter 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.
Indaiatuba (1:30h) - Millionaires addicted to the Polo lifestyle have always loved this town and its Helvétia neighborhood. Today, the region that began as a small swiss colony holds the highest density of private Polo fields in the world.
Hopi Hari (1h) - A big theme park located in the city of Vinhedo, one hour from São Paulo. It offers many rides, from those for children to the radical ones. Various food, from snacks to a la carte. You can get there by car or shuttle buses from many places.
Wet'n Wild São Paulo (1h), Itupeva (See the Vinhedo article). A water park of the American Wet'n Wild chain, just beside Hopi Hari, with 12 rides and many food shops.