24 hours in: Sao Paulo

August 30, 2018
Urban Adventures

It can be a difficult task to put together a 24-hour guide for one of the largest cities in the world, and as a visitor in such a huge city, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But that’s what we’re here for! Our local Sao Paulo tour guides have shared their ideas for how to blend in and spend a perfect day in São Paulo. Paulistas (as Sao Paulo locals are known), always seem to be in a hurry, but they do know how to enjoy a day off. Here’s how to spend the ultimate day and night in Sao Paulo — and feel like a local when you do.

Early morning (7am-9am)

There’s no better way to start your day in Sao Paulo than by visiting one of the city’s best-known parks. Ibirapuera Park is the perfect place for strolling, cycling or simply soaking up the sun among locals. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, treat yourself to breakfast at one of the hundreds of bakeries (or padarias) found in São Paulo. Although not considered the most important meal of the day, Brazilians swear by their café com leite (coffee with milk), French bread, butter and queijo de minas (Brazillian cheese).

Morning (9am-12pm)

Sao Paulo Cathedral

A visit to Sao Paulo Cathedral should be in your plans | Photo by Sao Paulo Urban Adventures

Next, make your way downtown and visit Sao Paulo Cathedral, one of the largest Neo-Gothic cathedrals in the world and the largest church in the city. Nearby, you’ll also find Pátio do Colégio, known as the birthplace of São Paulo, which offers courses and workshops, and is home to the Anchieta Museum. This is one of the main Sao Paulo tourist attractions.

Lunch (12pm-2pm)

Getting hungry? Go straight to the Municipal Market of Sao Paulo and have lunch there. The popular market has a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, spices, meats and other stalls laden with local foods. On the upper floor you’ll find several restaurants to choose from serving regional cuisine. Spend some time browsing before or after you eat, as well as admiring the market’s soaring stained glass windows.

Market shopping in Sao Paulo

Taste some local treats at the market | Photo by Sao Paulo Urban Adventures

Afternoon (2pm-6pm)

Spend your afternoon in Sao Paulo exploring Avenida Paulista, jam-packed with some of the city’s top attractions. These include the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), which houses some of the greatest international works of art; Parque Trianon, a lush swath of Atlantic Forest; and Casa das Rosas, a space dedicated to culture, focusing on poetry and literature, with one of the most beautiful rose gardens in the city. Avienda Paulista is also home to various malls such as the Shopping Cidade São Paulo.

Evening (6pm onwards)

What you do for the evening in Sao Paulo will depend a lot on your preference.  If you prefer something less chaotic, you can visit one of the thousands of pizza places in São Paulo. São Paulo residents’ favourite food is pizza, and the city has more than 6,000 pizzerias to show for it! Although the Italian community has a neighbourhood to call its own, Bixiga, you can find pizzerias all over São Paulo.

If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, a dinner at Terraço Italia is the right choice. The prices at the restaurant are not the cheapest, but the wonderful view of Sao Paulo and the delicious food make up for it all. This is one of the best restaurants in the city.

Bar in Sao Paulo

End the day with some drinks | Photo by Sao Paulo Urban Adventures

For post-dinner drinks, some of the best options are in the Vila Madalena neighbourhood, an area known for its nightlife and laid-back vibe. Start your bar-hopping with Salve Jorge, São Cristóvão and Quitandinha Bar to have a drink or two among locals.

Shorter stays

For travellers on a short visit, we recommend having a layover that will allow you to spend two hours in the city centre, and another three hours for travelling to and from the airport.

The best way to get from the airport to see the sites is by taking a taxi, which will take anywhere from 45 minutes two hours, depending on traffic. You can also take the subway (which is cheaper).  Take the free transfer at Terminal 3 from the airport to Estação Aeroporto on Line 13 (Jade). From there, you’ll ride the metro to Estação Engenheiro Goulart. From there, you’ll switch to Line 12 (Sapphire) and make your way to Estação Brás, switching then to Line 3 (Red), which will take you to Estação Sé in downtown São Paulo. The whole trip takes around 90 minutes.

If you want to visit Sao Paulo in the morning or afternoon, make your way to Ibirapuera Park, one of the city’s best-loved parks. There are many restaurants and cafes near the park, so after your stroll, stop for a coffee or a snack. The park is home to many museums, public art and walking trails, so there’s plenty to keep you busy.

If you’re in Sao Paulo for an evening or nighttime layover, visit Avenida Paulista, filled with museums, parks, malls and cultural attractions well worth checking out for a couple of hours.