By population, Sao Paulo is the biggest city in South America. São Paulo state has 645 municipalities and a population of approximately 40 million inhabitants. According to the latest statistics by IBGE, Brazil’s main government research institute, the population in the city of São Paulo (also the capital of Sao Paulo state) is about 11 million inhabitants (Forbes).
I was born and raised in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in the state of Sao Paulo. The state of Sao Paulo is a great representation of the urban scenario with a lot of traffic, street art, difference in social realities, and lots of people who make the streets mean but also very charming. I compare it to New York, despite the lack of lights. The city that never sleeps.
I wouldn’t say that Sao Paulo has as many tourist attractions as Rio de Janeiro, but it surely has a lot to enjoy. People usually come to Sao Paulo for layovers or business reasons. In this post, you will find a guide to a 72 hours in Sao Paulo.
Let’s start with the basics:
Sao Paulo has a large coverage of public transportation. The metro, covers the majority of the city and it is very easy to navigate. Here is the 2014 Sao Paulo metro map for your reference
It is always a good decision to opt for convenience when you don’t know much about the place that you are visiting and have little time. I strongly recommend to book a hotel room by metro station. The spot that I find most convenient is anywhere by Paulista Avenue. This busy street is the heart of Sao Paulo, close to many metro stations, theaters, restaurants, bars and to a shuttle stop that connects you to the International Airport of Guarulhos. When we traveled to Sao Paulo with my in-laws, we stayed at a place called Trypp Hotel by Paulista Avenue and a block away from Augusta Avenue and Consolacao Metro Station. By staying closer to a metro, you become a more independent tourist and you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving.
Things to do at a metro radius
Mercadao Municipal de Sao Paulo (bacalhau pastel, bologna sandwich)
The Municipal Market of Sao Paulo (Mercadao) is a must for everyone. This is the most traditional gourmet hub of the city with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, sweets and foods in general. The building was designed by the architect Francisco Ramos de Azevedo in 1926 and it was opened on January 25th in 1933, the day of Sao Paulo’s birthday.
When you go to Mercadao, go hungry. There are two traditional foods that everyone should try, Bacalla fried pastry and bologna sandwich. In case you are not a meat eater, there are several other foods to try, including a long variety of fresh made juices!
Among the gourmet places, we have traditional Italian and Portuguese restaurants serving the most delicious food. The “lanchonetes” serve the three items I mentioned above and it is beyond delicious. Check it out!
Mercadao is open:
Monday through Saturday from 6 am to 6 pm.
Sundays and holidays from 6 am to 4 pm.
Sao Bento – Blue line
Augusta Street(Restaurants, Bars, shops)
Augusta Street is a “travessa” from Paulista Avenue. It has a more hip vibe with nice restaurants, bars, and many co-op type of shops. In those shops you can find mostly artsy items, hand made by a young adult population. Some street art and one of a kind accessories can be found at Augusta Avenue.
Paulista Avenue (Masp, Livraria Cultura)
Paulista Avenue is like the Wall Street of Sao Paulo. Thousands of people go there to work every day, making this location very crowded at times. But Paulista Avenue is not only the financial heart of the city but also the most loved address of the people from Sao Paulo. Museums, cultural centers, street art, restaurants and bars make this place special. After work hours, the bars a filled with people who want to avoid rush hour traffic and metro clutters. After all, we can always use a happy hour after work!
Here are some of the main attractions around Paulista:
Masp, Centro Cultural São Paulo, Casa das Rosas, Itaú Cultural Institute, Centro Cultural Fiesp, Sesc Paulista, Museum of Image and Sound, Museum of the Brazilian Home, Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, Caixa Cultural Galeria Paulista, Galeria Ouro Fino, Shopping Frei Caneca, Shopping Paulista, Shopping Center 3, Shopping Pátio Higienópolis, Trianon, Orthodox Cathedral, Consolação Cemetery.
The one place you must eat at is Black Dog. This is a hot dog place but with a Brazilian twist. The hot dogs are created on a similar system as Subway; you choose a style of hot dog and add the toppings you want. All hot dogs are pressed. This is a must!
Batman Alley (Street Art)
Sao Paulo is the home of many wonderful street artists such as Os Gemeos, Alex Senna, Rodrigo Branco, Zeh Palito, L7M and Tikka. Street art can be found all around the city of Sao Paulo, but there is one place that is a must see if you enjoy street art, Batman Alley.
Batman Alley (Beco do Batman) is an open air gallery situated in Vila Madalena by the Clinicas metro station. The art space started back in 1980, when a drawing of batman was found on the wall. The location is well preserved and very desired by the artists. Street artists contribute to their artwork on the alley walls on a regular basis, so each time you visit you may see something different.
When visiting this area, also check out the store La da Venda. It is located right at the adjacent street to Beco do Batman, at Harmonia Street. They sell handmade, vintage and one of a kind items.
Street art galleries can be found around Batman Alley and you can also purchase prints at A7MA gallery.
Choque Cultural is also a gallery worth visiting. It is small, but free. It features some artwork from local street artists.
Beco do Batman
End.: Rua Gonçalo Afonso e Rua Medeiros de Albuquerque – Vila Madalena – São Paulo.
Lá da Venda
End.: Rua Harmonia, 161 – Vila Madalena – São Paulo.
Rua Harmonia 95B Vila Madalena Sao Paulo
Feira Benedito Calixto
This is a open air market located at Square Benedito Calixto and it is about a 12 minute walk from Batman Alley.
This fair features handmade items, vintage and clothing collections by one of a kind artists. It is almost like an Etsy fair! Worth checking it out to find some treasures to bring home.
Praça Benedito Calixto, 158/162 – Pinheiros – São Paulo – SP
Martinelli Building (First Skyscraper of Sao Paulo)
Giuseppe Martinelli was an Italian immigrant who migrated to Brazil in search of prosperity. He was very successful and he built a respected “equity” in a little over two decades.The building Martinelli was the first skyscraper of Sao Paulo. It was built in the beginning of the 20th century, with about 30 floors and a 360 degree view of the city of Sao Paulo.
The building is open for visitors Monday through Friday 9:30am-11:30am and 2:00pm – 4:00pm.
Liberdade (Little Japan)
Liberdade is Sao Paulo’s little Japan.
In the beginning of the 20th century, not only the Italians but also the Japanese migrated to Brazil in search of a better life. Since then, the Japanese immigrants concentrated in the region of Liberdade and their culture has been preserved to this day. It is estimated that about 400 thousand Japanese and later generations live in Sao Paulo (Cidade de Sao Paulo).
In Liberdade you can find all sorts of Japanese food, grocery stores, department stores and architecture. At the stores everything is displayed in both Portuguese and Japanese languages.
The Japanese language has been taught through generations and majority of people of Japanese heritage who live in Liberdade are able to speak Japanese fluently.
On weekends they have a street market where they make food on the spot like fresh Yaksoba, sushi and fried ice cream. Yes, fried ice cream!
I hope you can make your time in Sao Paulo fun!