One of the best views of São Paulo can be found from the roof of the Edifício Itália, a huge 46-story skyscraper in the heart of the city’s historical center. Built in the 1950s, it was given a proverbial cherry on top 10 years later with the opening of the Terraço Itália, a swanky rooftop restaurant with a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city. While its food and cocktails are absolutely delicious, Terraço Itália is just as much about the view. The windows of the restaurant span from floor to ceiling, providing a completely unobstructed view of the massive city around you. While it would make for an incredibly romantic dinner, the food here really is quite pricey. If you’re just here to take photos, you can buy a drink at the bar (the Martinis are particularly popular), grab a sofa and stay as long as you like, gazing at the cosmopolitan masterpiece which is the city of São Paulo.
Terraço Itália, Av. Ipiranga, 344, República São Paulo – SP, Brazil, +55 11 2189 2929
Praça Pôr do Sol
As the name itself suggests, Praça Pôr do Sol (Sunset Square) is an ideal spot to go at the end of the day, just as the sun is setting. In the fancy and elevated neighborhood of Alto dos Pinheiros, the square has gained a reputation for being one of the most romantic places in São Paulo. For decades it has attracted couples, young and old, wanting to take in one of the city’s breathtaking sunsets from a vantage point that allows you to look all the way to the horizon of São Paulo’s west side. Being such a large and built-up city, you wouldn’t expect São Paulo to have such impressive sunsets, particularly as even on clear nights it can be difficult to see stars in the night sky due to the city’s pollution. However, you’d be gravely mistaken, as the São Paulo sky often takes on an incredible, almost hallucinogenic haze every evening, with some spectacular colors, as pictured below.
Núcleo Pedra Grande
For the more adventurous types, one of the best views of São Paulo can be found at the end of a hike up to the Cantareira State Park to the north of the city. The so-called Núcleo Pedra Grande (Big Rock) is a great trail which is close to the city, not terribly challenging, and absolutely rewarding. The walk up to Pedra Grande is done via an asphalted path, through beautiful vegetation with some impressive wildlife and the entire journey, to the top and back, should take you about three hours. Once you reach Pedra Grande, you’ll realize exactly why this is one of the best views of São Paulo. Looking down on the city from the north, you can see for miles, with lush forest immediately in front of you, followed by the never-ending city. The park charges a token fee of R$9 for entry and only opens on the weekends, except during the height of summer (December and January), when it is open throughout the week.
One of the most historically important constructions in the city, the Martinelli Building marked the beginning of São Paulo’s expansion to becoming a true metropolis in the 1920s. In a previously low-rise city, the Martinelli, made out of brick and concrete, was the first skyscraper in Brazil and for a time was the tallest building in Latin America. Rooftop tours are available for visitors and the view is spectacular. With the historical center in the foreground, you have a gorgeous panorama of the west of the city, from Paulista Avenue and the Pinheiros River in the southwest to Jaraguá Peak (the highest peak in Greater São Paulo, pictured below) on the northwest horizon.
Edificio Martinelli, Rua São Bento 405, Centro, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3104 2477
The name of this rooftop bar and restaurant one block from Paulista Avenue really does say it all. Located on the top floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, The View offers good food and incredible views of the modern center of São Paulo. There is indoor and outdoor seating, but the view is infinitely better when outside, so try and get there early. The food is good, but we particularly recommend their risottos and brie starter. As with all rooftop restaurants, the cocktail menu is impressive, particularly the Martini and Kir Royale. The area surrounding Paulista Avenue is one of the highest points of the expanded center of São Paulo (which you’ll know already if you’ve ever walked around the hilly streets of Jardins or Bela Vista), so your view from The View is guaranteed to be special.
The View Bar, Alameda Santos 981, Jardins, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3266 3692
São Paulo’s answer to the Empire State Building, the Edifício Altino Arantes (better known as the Banespa, as it used to be the headquarters of the São Paulo State Bank) is one of the highest skyscrapers in São Paulo and is one of the most popular postcard pictures of the city. Today it is the home of Santander Bank, but they still offer free visits to the observation deck for some amazing 360-degree views of São Paulo. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Cantareira State Park in the north and the gorgeous Serra do Mar mountains to the south, as well as everything in between.
Edifício Altino Arantes, Rua João Brícola 24, Centro, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 2196 3730
Alto da Harmonia
Located on a hill in the artsy, bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena, Alto da Harmonia is a cool bar with a lovely, laid-back atmosphere, good food and a charming roof terrace with superb views of the surrounding area. It’s an excellent place to come for a late afternoon bar lunch, or would even be a good option for a date. The bar has an impressive selection of beer, spirits and cocktails, while there are plenty of options of good bar food for a snack or light meal. Alto da Harmonia is also completely pet-friendly, even offering a menu exclusively for dogs.
Alto da Harmonia, Rua Harmonia, 271 – Vila Madalena, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 2528 1241