Sao Paulo Travel Guide | Brazil

Sao Paulo is one of the most popular cities in Latin America But is it worth its reputation? Before moving on to the travel guide, let me give you some information about the city:

  • Sao Paulo is not touristic. It is beautiful, daily life is quite lively, but it is not touristic.
  • Sao Paulo is the business and trade center of Brazil.
  • It is the most crowded city in Latin America with more than 12 million population.
  • It is written as ‘Saõ Paulo’ and is pronounced San Paulo.
  • The largest Japanese immigrant community of South America is located here. You can see a lot of Japanese people while you are visiting Sao Paulo and you might think that these people are tourists but most of them are probably Brazilian. Sao Paulo’s neighborhood called Liberdade is a Japanese neighborhood consequently, it’s easy to find delicious sushi there.

Usually, people go to Sao Paulo for work, and they try to get to know the city while they are there. It was the same for us too.  We were actually curious about Sao Paulo city, but we didn’t make any special plan until we had to go for business reasons.

I write this detail especially for those who spend their years dreaming of a Latin American tour and finally start planning it. The people who are planning a South America tour often have limited time or budget. I hope after reading this guide, you can make it easier to decide whether you want to include Sao Paulo in your plan.

Places to Visit


Paulista Street is the most elegant and lively street in Sao Paulo. It is especially interesting on Sundays. The whole street is closed to traffic and there are musicians, dancers, and artists everywhere!   When you’re researching for Sao Paulo, you may come across many shopping center suggestions. Most of these shopping centers are also located on Paulista Street.

City Center

Sao Paulo city is like any typical Latin American city, most of the historically important buildings are located in this area such as the town hall, theatre, museums. However, Sao Paulo’s city center is not very safe. Theft is high in this area. That’s why we joined the free walking tour for a safer experience. This was the only free walking tour that I didn’t enjoy in Latin America. It is not because of the organizers. Actually, the organization was very good. The guides were able to conduct the group quite skillfully and they were quite friendly. However, the tour takes 3 hours and I think it is the way too long for Sao Paulo.

I can recommend this tour especially for people who are more interested in architecture. The whole route is based on the different buildings located in the center. The historical buildings like the cathedral and the theatre were nice but I am not very interested in modern architecture. Also, these points are very close to each other so we were tired of walking around the same places during the tour.

The positive sides of the tour:  The guides are guiding and protecting the group well.  The tour ends exactly at the Mercado Municipal, which was where we wanted to see the most in the center. It is a great final stop as most group members get hungry after 3 hours of walking.

Mercado Municipal

Marvelous flavors! We were a bit worried while going to Mercado Municipal, but we forgot all about that once we entered the market. We were suggested a place called Hocca in the market by some frıends who had lived ın Sao Paulo before. It is located on the top floor and they have incredibly delicious pastels.

Botanical Garden

We could not visit the botanical garden. Even though it is one of Sao Paulo’s important tourist attractions. San Paulo is a big city and it takes a long time to go from one point to the other. The transportation between Paulista and the center is not very difficult, it takes 15 minutes by subway, but the botanical garden is a little further away.

Time and Hotel

It depends on how long your work will take. Places to visit in the city usually take 2-3 days. Sao Paulo is not a safe city. For this reason, it is a wise choice to stay in Paulista which is the most modern and safe place. We stayed at Hotel Bellas Artes SP Paulista. The hotel was nice and clean and it is suitable for business trips. We recommend it.


Sao Paulo is one of the states of Brazil and the capital city of Sao Paulo state is also called Sao Paulo city. Therefore, you can come across with many airports when you search for Sao Paulo airport. If you want to go to the Sao Paulo city, you should prefer Guarulhos International Airport (GRU).

Apart from the airline, you can find buses from other Brazilian cities. We used UBER to get to the city from the airport.  One of the best things about this city is that Uber is legal. Uber has its own stations at the exit of the airport. You can order an Uber from your app and wait for the vehicle at the Uber station.

Post Info:

Original posting date: December 12, 2018

Translation Date: December 16, 2019

Translated by: Hatice Ocak

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