Information & Facts
The climate of Sao Paulo may not be as congenial as other
Brazilian cities, but it is warm and sunny enough by world
standards. The weather remains mild to warm all year round, the
lowest temperatures of around 54°F (12°C) being experienced during
July and the maximum of around 82°F (27°C) being enjoyed during the
hottest month of February. Sao Paulo receives around 53 inches
(135cm) of rain a year, mostly during the summer months.
In a huge city like Sao Paulo roads can be extremely congested,
with peak traffic between the hours of 6am to 9am and 4pm to 8pm.
Driving is not recommended in the city, as parking can be as much
of a problem as the traffic. There are hundreds of buses covering
the city, operating from 5am to midnight, but these can be very
crowded and slow during peak hours. Buses won't stop unless hailed,
and pickpocketing is also common.
The subway system is usually the fastest option for getting
around in Sao Paulo. It has three main lines: a north-south line,
an east-west line, and a short central line below the Avenida
Paulista. The Avenida Paulista line runs from 6am to 10pm, and the
other lines from 5am to midnight.
The Bilhete Único is a smartcard that makes it easy to pay for
transport on Sao Paulo's buses, subways, and trains. You can buy
them at underground stations, and charge them at newspaper stands
with credits for public transportation.
Taxis are freely available and absolutely essential after dark.
White cabs can be found at stands near big venues and central
areas. Radio taxis are more reputable and favoured by tourists, but
are more expensive and must be ordered by phone.
Sao Paulo is large and spread out. You won't be able to walk
everywhere, but the various neighbourhoods are easy to negotiate on
foot and are usually safe by day.
Despite its reputation as a grey urban metropolis, there is a
lot for kids to see and do in Sao Paulo. The city's wide array of
museums and cultural centres offer children fun and educational
experiences, while the various parks and gardens give them a chance
to run around.
Sao Paulo's museums cover so many themes and areas of interest
that there's bound to be one for everyone. Kids will love the
Estrela House of Dreams, which showcases toys made at the Estrela
factory going back to the 1930's. The Science Station in Lapa,
housed in a formerly abandoned factory, has children's exhibits
dedicated to astronomy, physics, meteorology, math, geology,
geography, and more.
The Sao Paulo Zoo is a great place to start, giving kids the
opportunity to interact with a variety of animals, both local and
international. Many animals, including the lions, giraffes, bears
and elephants, were rescued from a circus, while the zoo is focused
on conservation of indigenous animals like marmosets, macaws, and
neotropical cats. The nearby Safari Zoo experience is a bit wilder,
with animals roaming free while visitors drive themselves through
in their cars.
There are a lot of other great parks in Sao Paulo as well,
including the Ibirapuera Park, which has great family attractions
like a planetarium, gymnasium, and Air Force Museum. The Parque
Siqueira Campos has a miniature rainforest, and the Praça da
República is a great place for family picnics.
Children's attractions in Sao Paulo also include several
amusement parks great for families. The Playcentre in Barra Funda
has Brazil's biggest roller coaster, along with other rides and
games. It's conveniently located within walking distance from the
metro. The city centre is also where you'll find children's
attractions dedicated to South American pop culture figures like
television personality Xuxa and comic book character Mônica.
Less central is Hopi Hari, a large amusement park about 45 miles
(72km) north of Sao Paulo. The park has several themed areas
focusing on European and local culture, and rides including roller
coasters, a haunted house, and a Ferris wheel.
For hot days, families can head to Wet'n Wild, about 50 minutes
from Sao Paulo. The popular water park offers water slides, wave
pools, a lazy river, and 'Bubble Up' attraction as ways to beat the
Cold days are also taken care of if you head 34 miles (54km) out
of town to Ski Mountain Park, which offers skiing, snowboarding,
tobogganing, a skating rink, and more. There's also horseback
riding, mountain biking, and a playground for the summertime,
giving older kids and teens something to do in Sao Paulo all year
Taxis to theme parks outside of town can be expensive, but most
have dedicated buses that leave from various points around the city
The spoken language in Brazil is Portuguese, however
Spanish and English are also used in the cities.
The Brazilian monetary unit is the real (BRL), plural reais.
There are 100 centavos to the real. The US dollar is also welcome
in most tourist establishments. In the main cities foreign
currencies and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks or
cambios. There is an extensive network of ATMs in the
country and most major international credit cards are accepted.
Sao Paulo's party scene is a late-night one: most Paulistas
(locals) don't go out until midnight. In fact, there's a saying in
the city: when the sun comes up, you hardly notice.
Sao Paulo's nightlife is a reflection of its cosmopolitan image.
Its bars and clubs are spread out around the city, though you'll
find clusters in neighbourhoods like Vila Olímpia, whose dance
clubs are popular with twentysomething Paulistas, and Vila
Madalena, where you'll find restaurants and bars that appeal more
to revellers in their thirties. Because bars and clubs in Sao Paulo
are so spread out, it can be a good idea to stick to venues in one
area, rather than running up large taxi bills getting caught in the
city's late-night traffic jams. It is not advised to walk around at
night in Sao Paulo.
Bars in Sao Paulo have their own system for payment. Instead of
or in addition to the entry charge, there will be a drink minimum.
You'll get a card that will record all your expenses for the night,
and pay everything when you leave. Be careful not to lose this
card, as the penalty is very expensive!
Live music in Sao Paulo is among the best in Brazil, with a wide
variety of styles to suit every taste. The formal Teatro Municipal
and the Sala São Paulo, where the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
performs, have good programmes of classical music, theatre, and
dance. The Teatro Italia hosts regular Brazilian contemporary dance
performances. For a more relaxed evening, head to Bourbon Street, a
popular jazz club founded by BB King himself. Vila Country hosts
Brazilian Country music, and Armazem da Vila plays pagoda, which is
a simpler form of samba.
If you feel like dancing, Sao Paulo has many options for that as
well. Azucar has a reputation as the best Latin dance spot in the
city, with meringue, salsa, and mambo playing all night long. Bar
Favela is also popular, and includes pop and hip hop music along
with Latin dance. Blen Blen Brasil is also popular, with a more
relaxed and eclectic feel, mixing deejays and live bands. If you're
unsure of your steps, you can go to the Buena Vista Club, which
offers dance lessons in traditional Latin club styles like the
gafieira and the zouk.
Sao Paulo also has a few popular gay clubs, including Lov.e in
Vila Olímpia, and Bendito Fruto Bar or matrix in Vila Madalena.
Be aware of local terms: the words boate or boite, which in Rio
mean nightclub, refer almost exclusively to sex clubs and strip
bars in Sao Paulo.
Pick up a copy of the Friday Folha de São Paulo newspaper, which
has a great concert and event guide. Veja magazine also has a good
entertainment guide that comes out on Sundays, and the monthly
Revista Cultural, a government publication, has up-to-date
information on more formal events like theatre, exhibitions,
classical music and dance. All three publications have a separate
section devoted to free events.
Shopping in Sao Paulo is a big deal, as the city is the major
luxury shopping destination for all of Brazil. You'll find designer
labels and haute couture to rival the best boutiques of New York or
London, small outdoor craft markets, and everything else in
Popular things to buy in Sao Paulo include religious antiques,
soapstone carvings, leather goods and gemstone jewellery, offered
by various shops throughout the city. You can also find local
gemstones carved into shapes like toucans, jaguars, and other wild
If your budget is bigger, though, you won't find a better place
to look for Brazilian fashion than Sao Paulo. Neighbourhoods like
Jardins, Rua Augusta or Alameda Lorena have many high-end fashion
boutiques carrying designer Brazilian labels like Animale, Victor
Dzenk, Ellus, and Totem.
Sao Paulo has a few worthwhile outdoor markets, including the
Saturday market Feira do Bixiga, which has crafts, antiques,
clothing and live music; and Feira Moderna, offering high-end local
goods set in a flower garden with a relaxed cafe. The Museu de Arte
hosts an antique fair every Sunday, and the predominantly Japanese
neighbourhood of Liberdade has its own Saturday market. Markets can
be a great way to get bargains on Sao Paulo souvenirs, but there is
petty theft, so always keep a close watch on your belongings.
There isn't a central shopping district in Sao Paulo, but stores
tend to be clustered in groups: Rua 25 de Março has an abundance of
market stalls, and Jardins is where you'll find a lot of high-end
Brazilian fashion. But for those who would just as easily arrive in
a helicopter as a taxi, Daslu is a posh department store catering
to the every whim of its customer, from free espresso to a sushi
bar, and all the designer labels you need to max out your credit
There are also a few shopping malls in Sao Paulo, including
Patio Higienópolis, Morumbi, and Iguatemi. These tend toward
upscale stores, with fine dining and expensive boutiques next to
cinemas and food courts.
Shops in Sao Paulo accept credit cards with few exceptions.
High-end stores won't bargain, but feel free to haggle at markets.
Sales tax is 18 percent, and there is no tax refund scheme for
departing tourists in Brazil.
On the surface, Sao Paulo can't begin to compete with the
spectacular sights of Rio de Janeiro, but underneath the grey,
concrete exterior beats the heart of a vibrant cultural and
artistic metropolis. In a word, Sao Paulo's attractions are its
Sao Paulo is the cultural capital of Brazil, with a vibrant
artistic community that takes the form of art galleries and museums
scattered around the city. Clustered in neighbourhoods like
Jardins, Cerqueira César, and Bela Vista, you'll find both local
and international talent at places like the Luisa Strina Gallery,
Arte 57 Escritorio de Arte, Choque Cultural Gallery, and the Museu
da Tatuagem (Museum of Tattooing).
Sao Paulo is the home of Brazil's famous combination of dance
and martial art: capoeira. There are several capoeira schools for
tourists wanting to give it a try, including the Salão De Festas or
The city also has some notable green spaces, including the
manicured Botanical Gardens, the Sao Paulo Zoo, and the miniature
rainforest in the Parque Siqueira Campos. The Praça da República in
the city centre is surprisingly green as well, with lagoons, a
fountain, and a bandstand.
One particularly beautiful area of Sao Paulo is the Parque do
Ibirapuera, a major park near the centre of the city with many
points of interest, including a planetarium, Japanese pavilion,
gymnasium, the Obelisk of Sao Paulo, and the Cicillo Matarazzo
Pavilion, which houses the Museum of Contemporary Art and is the
site of large events like the São Paulo Art Biennial and São Paulo
Fashion Week. The park is home to many museums, including the Air
Force Museum, Folklore Museum, and Modern Art Museum.
Sao Paulo is home to a number of other interesting museums,
including those dedicated to immigrants, the African Diaspora, the
Japanese community, revolutionary heroes, and Brazilian language
Sao Paulo has many interesting buildings for architecture
enthusiasts, including whimsical Victorian mansions in Bela Vista,
and modern skyscrapers like the curving Edifício Copan, the
colourful Instituto Tomie Ohtake, the Victorian train station
Estação da Luz, and the Baroque cathedral Igreja de São Francisco
de Assis. The Italia and Banespa buildings offer panoramic views of
Sao Paulo from their viewing decks.
Most attractions in Sao Paulo are easy to get to through a
combination of walking and taking the metro. Pickpockets and
muggings are common, but visitors are generally safe in
well-populated areas during the day.
Brazil spans four time zones: Rio and Sao Paulo: GMT -2 (GMT
-3 April to October); Brasilia and Belm: GMT -3 (GMT -2 October to
March); GMT -4 in the West.