INTERESTING THINGS TO DO IN SAO PAULO, BRAZIL
March 2, 2020
Sao Paulo is comparable to other megacities in the world – overpopulated, busy, and crazy. Many people mistake it for the capital of Brazil (nope, it’s Brasilia bub), but Sao Paulo’s importance to the country cannot be matched because it is considered as its economic hub and largest city. One can easily spend weeks here and never be bored. Aside from that, as an Asian, I found the best Asian cuisine in Latin America here in this city (believe me I’ve eaten horrible ones), so I instantly felt at home here. You should definitely include Sao Paulo in your Brazil excursion, and this post is here to help you get an idea of the top things to do in this city.
WHICH AREA TO STAY IN SAO PAULO?
I planned on staying in Sao Paulo for a month to fix all the visas that I needed for my South LATAM adventure (yes, Filipinos need visa to all South LATAM countries – Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay), and staying here is strategic since all of these countries have a consulate here, so I can do a visa run without any problems. I decided to stay in an Airbnb apartment because 1 month in a hostel or Couchsurfing just won’t cut it, I will need my privacy and I was willing to spend money to have it.
My criterion was simple – the place should be in the center, so I decided to stay in Republica. I already heard some not-so-good remarks about its reputation, but in the end, I still pushed through with my decision. Well now that I already left Sao Paulo, I got some mixed reaction with Republica. On the positive note, it is indeed at the center of everything. From where I was staying, I can walk to Liberdade, Sé, Mercadão, Museu do Futebol, and heck even Avenida Paulista. But on the downside, it is indeed a shady area, with lots of homeless people, sleazy characters, and prostitutes everywhere. Anyways I survived for a month so I would stay that it is still a good area if you want chaos and be at the center of everything.
For good areas though, others recommended Vila Madalena and Consolação. They are near the center too and more glamourous, but also more expensive.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN SAO PAULO
FEEL THE ASIAN VIBE IN LIBERDADE
This is my favorite area in Sao Paulo. Did you know that this city has the largest Japanese community outside of Japan? Many Japanese migrated here during the early 19th century, and this is the place where they established themselves. Now it houses a mixture of other Asians and Brazilians living together harmoniously. I love this place because I found ALL of the Asian ingredients that I missed since I started traveling in Latin America (even Southeast Asian stuff like fish sauce, shrimp paste, tofu, dried fish, etc). What’s more, the Asian restaurants here taste authentic and were some of the best I tried here in Latin America. To go here, take the metro blue line and alight at Liberdade station.
LEARN BRAZILIAN SOCCER HISTORY AT MUSEU DO FUTEBOL
If you are a fan of soccer (or even if not) then a visit to Museu do Futebol is inevitable. The museum is located inside the huge Pacaembu Stadium and recounts the history of Brazilian soccer through the ages. I liked the interactive setup of the museum; it uses holographs, mini-games, and touch screens to retell the stories of iconic soccer stories. You can reach this museum by taking the yellow line, alighting at Paulista station and walking for a few minutes. The museum is closed every Monday and free entrance on Tuesday.
MARVEL AT THE BEAUTY OF THE ICONIC CATEDRAL DA SÉ
It is one of the most recognizable architecture masterpieces in the city and you will surely stumble upon this one way or another during your visit to Sao Paulo. The original cathedral was built during the 16th century, but the one you can see now is fairly recent, only built-in 1912. You can also visit the crypt, which houses the remains of former archbishops and bishops of Sao Paulo. This can be reached by alighting at the Se station, or walking for around 10 minutes from Liberdade.
STROLL AROUND IBIRAPUERA PARK
Comparable to Central Park, Ibirapuera Park is the best place to visit if you want to escape the stressful urban setup of the city. It covers an area of almost 391 acres and it also holds the record as the most visited park in South America. Museums and monuments such as the Museu de Arte Moderna, Museu Afro-Brasil, Orsini Planetarium, and the Monumento As Bandeiras. It is highly suggested to rent a bike here since this park is huge! With it, you can cover a lot more area during your visit.
EXPERIENCE THE LOCAL VIBE AT AVENIDA PAULISTA
Avenida Paulista is perhaps the best place to experience local Paulista life. It is considered as the most important avenue in the city, and here you can find various restaurants, clubs, cafes, and museums that will surely grab your attention. Street performers are also common here; bands, people in a weird costume, and street performers are some of the locals you will meet here.
You can visit the SESC office located here and go to the topmost floor to get a panoramic view of the whole area. You can also visit the iconic MASP – Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand in here.
SEE THE COOL GRAFFITIS IN BECO DO BATMAN
I used to not like graffiti – I always think of them as an eyesore (especially in my country), but after seeing really good ones in Comuna 13 in Medellin, I became a fan! So I was happy to discover Beco do Batman when I was looking for things to do in Sao Paulo. It got its name from the first-ever graffiti painted there, that of DC’s Batman. Since then, other graffitis sprung up and is continually renovated and maintained by the locals. It is located in Vila Madalena and you can reach it by taking the yellow line of the metro, alighting at Fradique Coutinho, and walking for 10 mins.
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