English

São Paulo in one day!

Definitely not boring!

Lots of people say that São Paulo has nothing interesting for a tourist. I had the chance to spend 28 hours in São Paulo and, as usual, I took the opportunity with excitement. I tried to get some advice from “connoisseurs” regarding what I could do in São Paulo in one day, but the reviews I found online didn’t look too encouraging when it comes to Brazil’s biggest city. Unlike Rio de Janeiro, its name does not resonate with sun, sea, sand, samba, parties and football on the beach. However, I have to contradict all those who rushed to describe São Paulo as a boring and unattractive “concrete jungle”.

Sao Paulo view

The truth is São Paulo is not just a city, but the largest city in Americas and world’s twelfth largest city by population. Based on the estimates carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics in July 2014, the municipality counts 11,895,893 people and it has a density of 7,762.3/ km2. Though in the 17th century it was one of the poorest regions of the Portuguese colony, nowadays São Paulo is the capital city of the homonym state, which is also Brazil’s most populous and wealthiest state. Over the years, the city that has been named after Saint Paul of Tarsus has become one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and its influence in commerce, finance and arts are not to be neglected.

Sao Paulo

Obviously, 1 day is not enough to get to know this giant well, but it is enough to feel its multicultural vibes and to get a glimpse of its most attractive spots. Hence, I hired a car and I told my driver where I wanted to be taken. And it was definitely worth it! Here’s what you can do in São Paulo, even if the time for exploring is short!

1. São Paulo Metropolitan Cathedral or Catedral da Sé de São Paulo and Praça da Sé

Catedral da Sé de São Paulo is the largest church in the city and it has a capacity of 8000 people. Its construction goes back to 1589 when it was decided that a church would be built in what at that time was the small village of São Paulo. Finished around 1616, this first church has been demolished in 1745 and another one took its place till 1911 when it was also demolished. The construction of the cathedral we see today started in 1913 and lasted 40 years. Despite having a Renaissance-styled dome, the cathedral is often considered to be the 4th largest neo-gothic cathedral in the world. All former bishops and archbishops of São Paulo have their tombs in the crypt of this imposing cathedral.

São Paulo Metropolitan Cathedral

São Paulo Metropolitan Cathedral 1

São Paulo Metropolitan Cathedral 2

São Paulo Metropolitan Cathedral 3

The square that developed around the cathedral is known as Praça da Sé /See Square (see = seat, the place in which a church/cathedral stands). Over the years the square has been changing its name and its looks, but nowadays the old shading trees and the high rising palm trees make it an attractive spot on the São Paulo’s tourism map.

Se Square 2   Se Square 1

Se Square

2. Pátio do Colégio ( The School Yard)

The clean white simple façade of Pátio do Colégio reminding of the colonial period is a must see in São Paulo as it marks the site where the city was founded back in 1554. The name given to the historical Jesuit church and school is also used to refer to the square in front. The church and its tower were built in Mannerist style, typical for the Jesuit churches of colonial Brazil. In 1979 inside Pátio do Colégio has been inaugurated the Anchieta Museum, where you can admire beautiful colonial paintings, documents and icons belonging to the Jesuit order in Brazil.

Patio do Colegio  Patio do Colegio 1

Patio do Colegio 3

Patio do Colegio 2

Patio do Colegio 4

3. Avenida Paulista

Avenida Paulista is, by far, the most important boulevard of the city and is often referred as the financial center of São Paulo. Beautiful colonial villas and luxurious mansions belonging to the city’s wealthy coffee barons used to flank Avenida Paulista, but, unfortunately, 1950 was the year when many demolitions took place. The villas were replaced by huge skyscrapers that make the avenue the most expensive real estate in all Latin America. Prestigious institutions and corporations have their headquarters here and many luxury retail shops can also be found on Paulista Avenue. Of big interest is the São Paulo Museum of Art, also located on this highly regarded street.

Avenida Paulista

4. Mercado Municipal

One of my favorite places in São Paulo is Mercado Municipal. I had no intentions to visit it, but thanks to Fabio, my driver, I got the chance to see it and also taste here the famous pastel de bacalao (codfish). First of all the building itself is impressive, built in the eclectic style and decorated with magnificent stain glasses. It was inaugurated in 1933 in the historical center of the city and since then it has been displaying an amazing offer of fruit, vegetables, spices, oils, meat products, cheeses and much, much more. It’s colorful, exotic and absolutely beautiful. The assortments of fruit and olives will definitely make your mouth water!

Mercado Municipal

Mercado Municipal olives2

Mercado Municipal sausage

Mercado Municipal olives

Mercado Municipal jamon

Mercado Municipal fruit

Mercado Municipal cheese1

Mercado Municipal cheese

5. Ibirapuera Park

Often compared to The Central Park of New York, Ibirapuera Park is one of the green lungs of São Paulo. It was inaugurated in 1954 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city and it covers an area of almost 2 square km (second biggest park in the city and one of the biggest in all Latin America). Beautiful trees, flowers, lakes, museums, bicycle and jogging paths make it an outstanding attraction not only for the tourists but mainly for the residents. Fresh coconut water is being sold all over in the park and if you’re lucky to catch a sunny day, you will for sure enjoy this beautiful huge green garden.

Ibirapuera Park 3

Ibirapuera Park 2  Ibirapuera park

Ibirapuera Park 1

5. Ibirapuera Park

Often compared to The Central Park of New York, Ibirapuera Park is one of the green lungs of São Paulo. It was inaugurated in 1954 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city and it covers an area of almost 2 square km (second biggest park in the city and one of the biggest in all Latin America). Beautiful trees, flowers, lakes, museums, bicycle and jogging paths make it an outstanding attraction not only for the tourists but mainly for the residents. Fresh coconut water is being sold all over in the park and if you’re lucky to catch a sunny day, you will for sure enjoy this beautiful huge green garden.

These are my recommendations if you have 1 day in São Paulo and you want to maximize your time there. If time is on your side you may choose to visit as well the São Paulo Art Museum or you may climb the Banespa Tower to the observation deck, for a breathtaking view of the urban jungle. Bring an ID or the copy of your passport as you will need it for the check in. Also, bear in mind that only 5 people are being admitted at a time and it might take long for your turn to come.

Cautions to take when visiting São Paulo

As I mentioned above, in order to access all these spots in São Paulo, I decided to hire a car. The reception of the hotel where I stayed was selling tours as well, but they were a bit pricey. Fabio was the recommendation of the hotel’s concierge and he turned out to be not only a responsible driver but also an amazing human being and a very good guide.

Be aware though that while trying to find transport options you might get multiple offers from “unofficial” taxi drivers who will sell you sightseeing tours through the city. Under no circumstance should you accept it, as you can end up being a victim of theft. You may be charged far more than you anticipated, you may be robbed or even abandoned somewhere without any of your belongings. Sadly the crime threat for São Paulo remains high and the visitors are highly targeted, especially during evening travel or when caught in very crowded areas. Mobiles, photo cameras, and laptops are among the targeted belongings and there are daily reports of armed robberies that occur regularly in crowded areas of the city. Dress modest and avoid displaying valuables ostentatiously. Watch your bag or pockets if you travel by public means and my advice is not to carry large amounts of money with you. Last but not least don’t keep all your money in one place.

There’s a lot to learn about São Paulo before traveling there and while I was doing my “homework” I came across these statistics which I found quite interesting.I hope you will enjoy reading about this amazing city, just as much as I did.

Rsign

1 thought on “São Paulo in one day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.