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Sao Paulo Travel Guide | Brazil

Updated: Apr 24

In this article, I will explain to you the different areas in Sao Paulo and the best things to do and see in each of them.

Areas in Sao Paulo explained:

  1. Paulista Avenue

  2. Ibirapuera Park

  3. Vila Madalena & Pinheiros

  4. Centro of Sao Paulo

  5. How to get around Sao Paulo

If you prefer this in a video format, please scroll to the bottom of the video!

Areas in Sao Paulo explained

Paulista Avenue

As the first one, I would like to highlight Paulist Avenue because it is a must-see and visit area, as well as a great and fairly safe place where to stay! I say fairly safe because I can't name any area as perfectly safe. So Paulista Avenue is definitely a good area where to stay. Also because you will be close to all the action.

Historically Paulista Avenue was the culture center of Sao Paulo, full of theaters and cinemas. These days you will find many business buildings there and shopping centers. It is still one of the biggest and busiest avenues in the city.

The best day to visit Paulist Avenue is on Sunday because the government closes off traffic and people can enjoy it in peace. There are always street musicians and some activities you can join in.

The avenue has a cycling track in the middle so at any point you can explore the area with a bicycle or rollerskates!

These are 3 places I highly recommend visiting on Paulist Avenue:

São Paulo Museum of Art - It is one of the best museums in Brazil featuring some famous artworks of world-renowned artists and also many local young talents.

SESC Buiding Rooftop Terrace - Almost all rooftop terraces in Sao Paulo are expensive, but I managed to find one that is free! Head to this building and go to the top floor. There is a cafe but you do not need to order anything. Just go and enjoy the beautiful views of Sao Paulo.

Itaú Cultural Centre - Next to SESC Buiding is the Itaú building in which the 4th and 5th floor is converted into a history museum. I really enjoyed it because it was a good short summary of the history of Brazil. Could do it in half an hour and learned a lot.

Ibirapuera Park

My personal favorite area in the whole of Sao Paulo was Ibirapuera Park! It is one of the largest parks I have ever been to! Also, there is so much to do. There are loads of football, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. Accessible to anyone. Also a lot of spaces around the lake where to have a picnic and relax. As well as, a very long track around the park so you can enjoy cycling or rollerskating there too.

The park is encompassed by several entrances and looked after by guards at each one so the park is a very safe area to be at.

In the park, it felt like I am on another planet. I didn't feel like I was in Sao Paulo. I personally really enjoyed renting the bikes in the park for a few hours and just riding around and enjoying the amazing atmosphere!

Vila Madalena & Pinheiros

This area I would put as the 2nd safest area in Sao Paulo for tourists where to stay. This area I definitely classify as a hipster area. You will find a lot of art, graffiti and murals. Also some local markets and cool cafes.

A must do in Vila Madalena & Pinheiros is the Batman and Aprendiz alleys. Those are two alleys full of graffiti and street murals. Some of the world's most famous graffiti and mural artists have left their art there! I did a tour there with Sao Paulo Free Walking Tour and I really enjoyed it!

A very popular bar street in this area is called Guaicui Street.

Centro of Sao Paulo

Centro is the most dangerous area in Sao Paulo but definitely, a must-visit because that is where all the history was made and you will see some amazing architectural examples.

I definitely do not recommend staying in Centro. It is not safe to wander around there during the night.

Also, during the day always watch after your belongings. I highly recommend going on the tour around the Centro area and learning more about the history and culture of Sao Paulo. I did mine with Sao Paulo Free Walking Tour and I couldn't recommend them highly enough.

My personal favorite place in Centro was the local market (Mercado Municipal de São Paulo). The best day to visit is Saturday when it feels like everyone is there! It is a lovely bubbly atmosphere to be at and in this market, you not only can buy all the local goodies but can also have lunch. If you prefer fewer people, then visiting during the week is a better idea. Also do not worry, once you are in the market it is fairly safe to explore.

One place where you need to be very careful in Centro is around the Se Cathedral! It is one of the main cathedrals in the city but the area around it is unsafe. People wait for tourists to take their phones out to make a picture of the cathedral and then they snatch the phone out of your hands. So be cautious of your belongings and I wouldn't try to take a picture there.

One place I want to mention that is literally next to Centro is the Liberdade area. It is basically a Japanese district in Sao Paulo. A lot of bloggers highlight it as a 'must-visit' but I went there and found it to be nothing special. If you are short on time, do not waste time visiting it.

How to get around Sao Paulo

All these areas are huge and although you can walk through them while you explore, you will need to use transportation to get to each location because Sao Paulo is massive.

I highly recommend using the metro because it is a very safe, easy, and good option how to travel around Sao Paulo. Also, I mentioned safe because, confirmed by several locals, 'bad guys' don't use the metro. The metro can be used as a safe space if you ever feel uncomfortable anywhere in Sao Paulo.

If you do not want to use public transport then please instead of a taxi use Uber. Uber will be a cheaper and safer option in Sao Paulo. Local taxis tend to charge double!

I hope all these tips will help you plan your visit to Sao Paulo better
and here is my video about Sao Paulo:


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