Do you know what the coolest things to do in Sao Paulo are? Even though Sao Paulo is one of the largest cities in the world, this is a question that even those who are from the city will ask. There are so many worthwhile sights and attractions here, that figuring out what to focus your time on can be difficult. Luckily, our local Sao Paulo tour guides are here to help, offering their best tips for what not to miss on a visit.
Established in 1947 as the headquarters of the State Bank of Sao Paulo (Banespa), the Altino Arantes building, now known as Farol Santander, can be seen from all over the city. Inspired by New York City’s Empire State Building, the tower is all about the views. With 35 floors and a soaring 161 metres, the building makes for the perfect place to get some epic views of the city from the lookout deck on the 26th floor.
Beco do Batman (Batman Alley), is a must-see in Sao Paulo if you love street art. Hidden between the alleys within the Vila Madalena district, this area is covered top to bottom in vibrant and definitely Instagram-worthy graffiti. Legend has it that in the 1980s, a sketch of Batman appeared on one of the walls of the alley, and from then on, it became known as Batman Alley, with more and more artists adding to the collection. Graffiti is a big part of Sao Paulo, which is home to some of the greatest street artists in the world. The walls of Beco are fiercely contested and artists even have a code of honour among themselves; when someone wants to paint over an old piece of graffiti, they have to talk to the owner of the work first.
If the epic views atop Farol Santander weren’t enough, don’t miss a visit to SESC Avenida Paulista, one of the busiest cultural centres of the city, located in the heart of Paulista Avenue. The centre is home to a library, galleries, performance space, classes and workshops, a gym and much more. But the real fun starts at the top. Make your way up where you can either admire the city panoramas, or grab a drink and a snack at the café on the 17th floor.
Beneath the Sao Paulo Cathedral is what feels like a whole other church, dug just under the main altar. The space, which is actually an ornate crypt, is 619 square metres and seven metres high, with marble floors in black and white, and an arched ceiling similar to that of the cathedral. Within the crypt are buried 15 bodies of Portuguese and Brazilian bishops who acted in the city of Sao Paulo. Among the “residents” of the crypt is the body of the first Brazilian bishop, Antônio Joaquim de Mello, from 1861.
Overlooking the city, the deck of the Skye Bar at Hotel Unique has a wonderful panoramic view of Sao Paulo. The bar, split between open ambiance and a lounge, is funky with loud music and a DJ every night from 9pm. On colder days, there are heaters available to minimise the chill, and they also serve food. Prices are high, but they’re not so absurd that they’re not worth the view and the experience. The good news is, you don’t have to pay an entrance fee or cover charge to get in. With unique architecture, the hotel was designed by architect Ruy Ohtake. Imposing, it’s shaped like a big boat, like an open-air piece of art.
Considered the oldest art museum in Sao Paulo, the State Pinacoteca is one of the coolest Sao Paulo attractions. The Pinacoteca was founded in 1905, with only 26 works. Today, the collection has about 9,000 pieces of Brazilian art from the 19th century to present day. While the second floor houses the museum’s collection, the space on the first floor of the building is reserved for temporary exhibitions, which occur periodically. Outside, you’ll find the oldest park in Sao Paulo, Parque Jardim da Luz. Between the beautiful reflection off the water, the trees and a grotto with a waterfall, the place is perfect for relaxing. Depending on the day of your visit, the park still surprises visitors with spontaneous performances by amateur musicians.
For more things to do in Sao Paulo, hop on one of our locally led city tours!