Brazil’s largest city is often overlooked as merely a business center, but a recent cultural resurgence means São Paulo now attracts visitors for its many museums and galleries, and its nightlife. The concentrated city has one of the most dramatic skylines in the world. Discover many historic sites beneath the towering skyscrapers.
You’ll find plenty of things to explore beyond the city center: São Paulo’s parks and gardens become popular meeting places on the weekends. While a little Portuguese will get you a long way, English and Spanish are spoken at most major attractions.
Ibirapuera Auditorium (lower) and Ibirapuera Park (source: expedia)
Go to the large Ibirapuera Park to see a popular green area. The tree-lined banks of its lakes are perfect for relaxing and the many cultural institutions within its grounds are great spots to spend the afternoon. Visit the Ibirapuera Auditorium for an open-air concert. See the night sky unfold before your eyes at the Planetário Professor Aristóteles Orsini. Stop by the Museum of Modern Art to see works by Pablo Picasso and numerous Brazilian artists.
Cultural offerings continue downtown, where you’ll find the Bank of Brazil Cultural Center and the Portuguese Language Museum. Catch the metro, the easiest way to travel, to reach São Paulo’s busy Paulista Avenue. Visit museums, shopping malls and a popular entertainment plaza where you can try the local cuisine. Sample a pastel, a savory pastry stuffed with meat or vegetables, as you wander the streets.
Sao Bento Monastery (upper) and Sao Bento Cathedral (source: internet)
Learn the history of São Paulo by visiting some of the city’s oldest attractions. The iconic São Bento Monastery holds a Mass on Sundays complete with Gregorian chanting, while the nearby São Paulo Cathedral is one of the city’s most photographed structures.
Look after your belongings while visiting the major attractions. As in most major cities, try to avoid areas with little or no activity as they could be potentially risky.