The best things to do in Sao Paulo include the highlights of the eclectic financial centre of Brazil and the most populous city in the country. To say this city is a bustling metropolis would be a huge understatement. From grand cultural events like the world’s largest Gay Pride Parade to cutting-edge art galleries and stunning historic monuments, the city will have you coming back to explore more.

    The best way to get the most out of your trip is to plan ahead, as you can spend a lot of your time travelling from one place to another. Below is a comprehensive list of the best things to do around the city – so get planning!

    What are the best things to do in Sao Paulo?

    1

    Avenida Paulista

    The city's iconic avenue

    • Families
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    • History
    • Photo

    Avenida Paulista is one of the most important avenues in the city, and also one of the busiest. On weekdays, locals and tourists hustle around to get to one of the many shops along the avenue. Come Sunday, the atmosphere becomes more laidback and festive, and the avenue is pedestrianised. Street performers, market stalls and bicycles litter the streets and people spend their day relaxing and wandering around. Watch out for pickpockets, though.

    Location: Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Map
    2

    Mercado Municipal

    A historic market selling rare produce

    Mercado Municipal is located in the centre of Sao Paulo and is a must for any market shopping enthusiasts. It’s held in a beautifully grand building, adorned with columns, a dome and striking stained glass windows. Spend an hour or so exploring the market’s stalls, tasting some of the unusual produce and buying some if you wish. Because the market is a busy tourist spot, vendors may try to charge you more, so don’t be afraid to just try some food and leave. Make sure to also watch out for pickpockets.

    Location: Rua da Cantareira 306, Centro, Sao Paulo - SP, 01103-200, Brazil

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 6 am to 6 pm, Sundays from 6 am to 4 pm

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    photo by Ting Chen (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Ibirapuera Park

    Sao Paulo's equivalent of Central Park

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    • Families
    • History
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    Ibirapuera Park is a well-loved urban oasis that sprawls across 158 hectares in a diamond-shaped enclosure. As well as being a great place to exercise, the park also has a vivid cultural scene. It has museums, a music hall and holds many popular events, such as Sao Paulo Fashion Week. On a sunny day, come here with a picnic and relax among the towering colourful trees or beside one of its lakes. If you come without refreshments, grab some coconut water from one of the stands along the park’s pathways.

    You can rent a bicycle at the gates of the park to explore its large green grounds. Look out for historic monuments dotted around the park, such as the Obelisk of Sao Paulo and the Monument to the Bandeiras.

    Location: Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral, Vila Mariana, Sao Paulo - SP, 04002-010, Brazil

    Open: Daily from 5 am to midnight

    Phone: +55 11 5574 5045

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    4

    Sao Paulo Museum of Art

    A cutting-edge museum displaying renowned artworks

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    Sao Paulo Museum of Art is found along the busy Avenida Paulista and is one of the defining attractions of this famous avenue. Along with its stellar reputation, the museum’s headquarters are a key symbol of modern Brazilian architecture, with a rectangular glass-paned body held up by two thick beams. Its collection of European art is considered the best in Latin America and the entire southern hemisphere. Gaze upon glorious works by legendary artists such as Degas, Picasso, Modigliani, Monet and many more. Admission is free for all on Tuesdays.

    Location: Avenida Paulista 1578, Bela Vista, São Paulo - SP, 01310-200, Brazil

    Open: Tuesdays from 10 am to 8 pm, Wednesday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +55 11 3149 5959

    Map

    photo by The Photographer (CC0 1.0) modified

    5

    Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo

    Enjoy Brazilian art for free on Saturdays

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    Located in the city centre, Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo is the oldest museum in the city and is said to contain the best collection of Brazilian art in the world. The majestic atmosphere is palpable in its beautiful architecture and spectacular exhibitions, which mix classic and modern works. Visit on Saturdays for free admission, or pay just 6 reals on other days. Visit their café, set in the gorgeous Jardim da Luz, and order one of their tasty pão de queijo. Also worth visiting is the grandiose Luz train station, which is opposite the museum.

    Location: Praça da Luz, 2 - Luz, Sao Paulo - SP, 01120-010, Brazil

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 10 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Phone: +55 11 3324 1000

    Map

    photo by The Photographer (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    Sao Paulo Cathedral

    One of the world's largest neo-Gothic temples

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    Sao Paulo Cathedral, also known as Catedral da Sé, is a massive 20th-century cathedral with a Renaissance-style dome and soaring gothic-style architecture. Scenes outside the cathedral may be hectic and crowded, but they remain picturesque nonetheless, with skinny palm trees lining the walkway leading up to it. The atmosphere inside is the polar opposite; visitors speak in hushed tones and the intricate stained-glass windows transform the sunlight into colourful artworks plastered across the walls. Walk up to the top of the dome for a great view of the city. Enjoy the serene atmosphere before braving the chaos outside, where you’ll want to your belongings close to you.

    Location: Praça da Sé, Sé, Sao Paulo - SP, 01001-000, Brazil

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +55 11 3107 6832

    Map
    7

    Jardim Botânico de São Paulo

    São Paulo’s serene botanical gardens

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    Jardim Botânico de São Paulo is a state-run botanical garden, verdant green lung, and pristine nature retreat. Located in the southern Bairro da Água Funda neighbourhood, this 360,000-square-metre expanse attracts Paulistanos from all corners of the city.

    On a stroll through the tranquil parklands, you’ll encounter a wide range of plant species, including orchids, palm trees, and spore-dispersing pteridophytes. Pop by the English-style greenhouse to see exotic flowers in bloom or the Garden of the Senses to get close to aromatic shrubs. If aquatic plants are more your thing, make a beeline for Lago das Ninfeias (Water Lilly Lake).

    Location: Av. Miguel Estéfno, 3031 - Vila Água Funda, São Paulo - SP, 04301-905, Brazil

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +55 11 5067-6000

    Map
    8

    Beco do Batman

    A display of vibrant graffiti

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    Found in the neighbourhood of Vila Madalena, Beco do Batman is the name used to refer to the area around Rua Gonçalo Afonso and Rua Medeiros de Albuquerque. Here you’ll find street art plastered all along the walls, in every nook and cranny. The art displayed tends to change every 6–12 months, so there’s always something new to see. Stroll along these walls and take pictures of the colourful art. Weekdays are less busy, but weekends hosts a livelier atmosphere, with local artists also selling some of their art.

    Location: Rua Gonçalo Afonso, Vila Madalena, Sao Paulo - SP, 05435-000, Brazil

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    photo by fedejve (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Monastery of St. Benedict

    One of the city's oldest churches

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    The Monastery of St. Benedict (Mosteiro de Sao Bento) dates to 1598, though its gorgeous neo-Gothic façade is more recent, added in the early 20th century. Don’t be fooled by the church’s modest exterior – the interior boasts stunningly detailed and brightly coloured art and stained-glass windows. You can spend well over an hour in here, wandering around the church, admiring its neo-Romanesque walls and ceilings and revelling in the holy atmosphere.

    On the last Sunday of every month, a legendary brunch is held to mark the Holy Eucharistic Meal. Along with its traditional 10 am Monastery Mass, Gregorian chants and pipe organ music are performed during the brunch. Food is supplied by the church’s famous bakery and by top Paulistano chefs.

    Location: Largo de Sao Bento 48, Centro, Sao Paulo - SP, 01029-010, Brazil

    Phone: +55 11 3328 8799

    Map

    photo by Thiago Santos (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    The Football Museum

    An immersive museum to Brazil's favourite sport

    • Families
    • History

    Brazil is one of the football greats. Blessing us with some of the best footballers in the world and the most entertaining games in history, it’s not surprising that Sao Paulo has its own football museum. The Football Museum aims to show the importance of football to Brazilian history through interactive displays, films and photographs. Upon entrance, be greeted by Brazilian legend Pelé, and continue into a hall filled with television screens showcasing memorable football matches. Located in the Pacaembú Stadium, football fanatics can easily visit both in an afternoon. Leave with some Brazilian football memorabilia and a touch of nostalgia.

    Location: Praça Charles Miler, Pacaembu, Sao Paulo - SP, 01234-010, Brazil

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +55 11 3664 3848

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    photo by Rodrigo Soldon (CC BY 2.0) modified

    11

    Parque Villa-Lobos

    Municipal park in São Paulo

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    Parque Villa-Lobos is a large leafy park on the shores of the Pinheiros River, about a 30-minute drive west of central São Paulo. Home to over 37,000 trees, this verdant expanse offers a tranquil respite from the concrete metropolis. Onsite facilities include football fields, playgrounds, cycle paths, a library, and an amphitheatre. The park attracts around 5,000 locals every day (even more on weekends and holidays).

    Keep an ear out for audio snippets of the late Heitor Villa-Lobos, a prestigious Brazilian composer from whom the park takes its name. Another intriguing attraction is the Circuito das Árvores, a 120-metre-high elevated walkway overlooking native Atlantic Forest trees.

    Location: Av. Prof. Fonseca Rodrigues, 2001 - Alto de Pinheiros, São Paulo - SP, 05461-010, Brazil

    Open: Daily from 5.30 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +55 11 2683-6302

    Map
    12

    Municipal Theatre of São Paulo

    World-class theatre hall

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    The Municipal Theatre of São Paulo is an essential pitstop for fans of performing arts in Brazil’s biggest city. Inspired by Paris' Palais Garnier, this magnificent building is equally attractive to architecture buffs. Highlights include the Noble Room and the Great Hall, both of which feature Renaissance and Baroque styles.

    Upon completion in 1911, the stately edifice propelled São Paulo as a major theatre destination on the world stage. Esteemed Brazilian and international artists have graced its Great Hall, including Enrico Caruso, Villa-Lobos, and Duke Ellington, to name a few. If you’re keen to catch a show, check out the latest lineup on its official website. The theatre welcomes visitors outside event days for a nominal fee.

    Location: Praça Ramos de Azevedo, República, São Paulo - SP, 01037-010, Brazil

    Phone: +55 11 3053-2100

    Map
    13

    The Latin America Memorial

    Immerse yourself in Latin American cultures

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    The Latin America Memorial is found in the western neighbourhood of Barra Funda and was created as a cultural project by anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro. The cultural centre is most recognisable for the open hand sculpture set in the main square, which has a map of Latin America on its palm. This large outdoor space hosts a string of cultural and gastronomic events, which rotate almost weekly. The space exists as a monument to the culture, history and integration of Latin America as a community, with galleries, a library, an auditorium and art sculptures sprawling the grounds. Check the website for details about upcoming events.

    Location: Avenida Auro Soares de Moura Andrade, 664 - Barra Funda, Sao Paulo - SP, 01156-001, Brazil

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +55 11 3823 4600

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    photo by Gabrielt4e (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    14

    Liberdade

    The largest Japanese expat population in the world

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    • Unusual

    As you wander around the Liberdade district of São Paulo, it’s not hard to see why it could be mistaken for downtown Tokyo. Red lampposts holding Japanese lanterns and bright red torii gates for Shinto shrines line the streets. A myriad of Asian restaurants, shops and supermarkets are decorated with displays written in Japanese characters. In this area, you will find lots of amazing Japanese restaurants – make sure to try the sashimi at Izakaya Issa. For some light shopping, pop into the shops which sell cute Japanese products.

    On weekends, there is a market at Liberdade Square, which sells Japanese street food and hand-crafted products. Also check online for any events going on, such as the Tanabata Matsuri festival (Japanese stars festival) and Chinese New Year.

    Location: Liberdade, São Paulo - SP, Brazil

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    photo by Francisco Anzola (CC BY 2.0) modified

    15

    Moema

    A leafy area with excellent cuisine

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    Moema is a leafy neighbourhood found in the south of the city. If you’re wanting to escape the hecticness of the city, this neighbourhood is your answer. With its streets lined with towering green trees, you’ll feel a million miles away from the bustle of the city centre. The area has more restaurants and cafés than nearly anywhere else in the city and also borders the famous Ibirapuera Park. For some excellent churrasco, head to Fogo de Chão, or Le Casa del Habano for delicious fish.

    Location: Moema, Sao Paulo - SP, Brazil

    Map
    Sophia Macpherson | Contributing Writer

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