There are so many things to do and see in São Paulo that it may take tourists two or three visits to see the city’s main attractions. Since it is a big city, getting around may take a big chunk out of your day and take away from valuable sightseeing time. We have, however, listed 10 things to do and see which should not to be missed by those visiting Latin America’s largest city.
Avenida Paulista is one of the main financial and cultural centers of the capital, attracting thousands of visitors and tourists a day. In addition to having several options of shops and restaurants, it is also the home of São Paulo’s most famous museum, MASP, several movie theaters and large bookstores.
Designed in 1895, the building that now houses the ‘Pinacoteca do Estado’ was the first art museum in São Paulo. At the time it was built to house the Lyceum of Arts and Crafts, an institution that taught technicians and craftsmen. The structure of the museum itself is worth the visit. Exposed brick walls and a large, two-story atrium in the middle of the museum lets visitors enjoy the artwork under natural lighting.
Pinacoteca, Praça da Luz, 2, Luz, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3324 1000
Beco do Batman
Before graffiti was fashionable in São Paulo, there was Beco do Batman. The narrow alleyway in Vila Madalena which gets its name from one of the first drawings on its walls, attracts thousands of tourists a year passing through the artsiest neighborhood in São Paulo. The Beco do Batman (or Batman Alleyway) was one of the first open air museums dedicated to graffiti to spring up in Latin America’s largest city. But it’s better to make the visit through the alleyway on foot, since due to the amount of traffic the walls attract it won’t be easy to stop with a car to take photos.
Parque Villa Lobos
Although much smaller and less famous than its older sister, Ibirapuera Park, Villa Lobos has one of the greenest settings in all of São Paulo. Here the crowds are not as large during the weekends so you can rent a bike and enjoy the native trees and plants. Some weekends on the ‘Musical Island’, an open air stage surrounded by concrete bleachers, bands and individuals play their songs.
One of the most important museums in the Southern Hemisphere, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo has a collection of approximately 8,000 pieces, including famous artists like Brazil’s Portinari and Anita Malfatti, and international acquisitions like Picasso and Van Gogh. The building itself is an attraction. The majestic concrete structure is suspended by four red pillars, forming a 74-meter free zone underneath the museum.
MASP, Avenida Paulista 1578, Bela Vista, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3251 5644
Based on Paris’ Opera House, the Municipal Theatre is one of the postcards of São Paulo. Since its construction in 1903 it has gone through several restorations to modernize its facilities, but without losing the glamour of the early 1900s’ style. The theater hosts performances by music and dance schools and, during days when no performance is scheduled, visitors can enter the theater to visit.
Theatro Municipal,Praça Ramos de Azevedo, República, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3053 2100
Museu do Futebol
Even if you are not a die-hard fan of futebol, you’ll enjoy the Futebol Museum. The history of the ball game is told in photographs, video clips and memorabilia. After watching and reading and seeing all about one of the most popular sports on Earth, the visitor gets the chance to become a player. In the Body Game Room, visitors can hit a penalty kick and discover the speed of their strike.
Museu do Futebol, Praça Charles Miller, Pacaembu, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3664 3848
Baloney sandwich at Municipal Market
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the center of town is to visit São Paulo’s Municipal Market. With 12,600 square meters, the Mercadão, as it is called, assembles merchants from all corners of the city, selling everything from fruits to spices to salted codfish. Many people who visit the market go there especially to eat the famous baloney sandwich.
Catedral da Sé
The cathedral is one of the five largest neo-Gothic temples in the world. There are guided historical visits within the church, and in its crypt, below the altar where the imaginary line of the Tropic of Capricorn passes, the indigenous leader Tibiriçá is buried. The front of the cathedral is considered the very center of the city of São Paulo.
Catedral da Sé, Praça da Sé, Sé, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3107 6832
Feira da Liberdade
The weekend fair at the Liberdade neighborhood is one of the best places to buy delicate Japanese handicrafts. The stands not only sell souvenirs but also typical food from Japan, Korea and China. The fair is usually packed by mid morning, with both tourists and Liberdade residents alike. If you are not staying in São Paulo during the weekend, a visit to Liberdade is still worth the trip.