Planning a trip to Sao Paulo? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
Begin your discovery of this sprawling city with a visit to its historic centre. The Centro Historico and Higienópolis neighbourhoods are home to numerous sites and monuments that you simply must visit during your weekend in São Paulo. Your visit begins at Praça da República. This square, along with Luz Station and Praça da Sé, defines the borders of the historic centre. This neighbourhood has benefitted for many years from a policy of restoration, but it is still advisable to visit during the daytime, since most residents and tourists vacate the area in the evening. The nearby São Paulo Cathedral was built in a neo-Gothic style and can hold up to 8000 people. It is one of the world’s five largest neo-Gothic cathedrals, and also São Paulo’s episcopal centre. The square around it has been renovated, and today it is one of the most lively in the city.
Continue your weekend in São Paulo with a visit to Pátio do Colégio, where it all began. This was the first building in São Paulo, built by the Jesuits in 1554. Visit the museum inside before heading to Praça da República by way of the Tea Viaduct (Viaduto de Chá). This structure was built to cross over the valley, which used to be covered in tea plantations. On your way, admire the Municipal Theatre, which was built in 1911 and inspired by the Opera Garnier in Paris.
Next you will head a bit farther north of the city, to Light Garden Park. After a pleasant stroll in this lovely park, make your way to the Museum of Sacred Art, a Baroque-style building that is home to an impressive collection of nativity scenes. The Art Gallery is also found nearby. It contains more than 8000 works of art from many different collections.
If you still have time during your weekend in São Paulo, continue on to the Latin America Memorial, built in a very modern style. To relax after your first day of sightseeing, spend your evening in one of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods, such as Vila Madalena to the west or Vila Olímpia to the southwest.
For the second day of your weekend in São Paulo, our itinerary takes you a bit farther south. You’ll find yourself suddenly catapulted into the modern world when you arrive at Paulista Avenue, the Manhattan of Brazil! This urban jungle is today Latin America’s most important financial district. Direct your gaze upwards to admire the most remarkable skyscrapers: Edificio Altino Arantes (formerly known as the Banespa Building), Edificio Copan, built by Oscar Niemeyer, Edificio Itália and many other structures that seem to defy the laws of gravity.
The main hall of the municipal market is an ideal place to buy some food and enjoy a typical Brazilian lunch. Once you’ve eaten your fill, head to the Largo de São Francisco to visit the law school and the church. We also suggest strolling along the many small, typical pedestrian-only roads that start at Praça da República, each one specialising in a different kind of business.
Afterwards, head for the Bela Vista neighbourhood and Liberdade to discover an Asian atmosphere. Filled with Japanese, Chinese and Korean immigrants, this neighbourhood feels like a little Tokyo! This is also where you can visit the Museum of Japanese Immigration. Finally, head down Avenida Paulista where you will find a charming mix of garden cities based on the English model. Jardim América, Jardim Paulista and Jardim Europa follow one after the other in this bucolic residential neighbourhood. While you’re here, visit the Casa das Rosas, the magnificent house dedicated to poetry and literature. Continue your walk to the Museum of Art of São Paulo (Masp), the city’s largest museum, with its controversial modern architecture.
In the Pinheiros and Vila Madalena neighbourhoods, you will find a bohemian atmosphere that’s in striking contrast with the dynamism of the rest of the city. This area’s hip restaurants, designer shops and hippy artists’ villages will show you a different side of the bustling city. Visit the antiques market of Praça Benedito Calixto before stopping by the Museu da Casa Brasileira (MCB), which is dedicated to design.
Afterwards, head back to l’Avenida Paulista, where you will find high-quality restaurants offering varied cuisine, before making your way to rua Augusta, where you’ll find plenty of bars to end your evening on the right note.
This third day of your weekend in São Paulo is dedicated to the discovery of an outlying area that’s well worth the detour. The neighbourhoods of Vila Mariana, Moema and the south are home to numerous museums, as well as São Paulo’s largest park, where you can enjoy a breath of fresh air. Begin with the Afro Brazil Museum, where you can learn more about the country’s African heritage and today’s intermingling of cultures. Afterwards, take in some of the high-quality exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art of the University of São Paulo.
The Museum of Modern Art (MAM) is another little jewel bound to delight art lovers. This museum is considered to be a reference in the field.
Finally, Ibirapuera Park, the Central Park of São Paulo, is a lovely place to take a break and enjoy some greenery. Take advantage of its numerous recreational areas to walk along the lakefront, have a picnic or visit the Biennial Pavilion or the replica of Kyoto’s Imperial Palace. End your last day of this weekend in São Paulo by watching the many street performances that take place in this lush green park.
You can also spend your evening attending a concert at the Ibirapuera Auditorium, a modern building designed by Oscar Niemeyer to stand out against the natural backdrop of the park.
A weekend in São Paulo is a lovely way to discover the architectural and cultural wealth of this unique city. You can also partake in other pleasures, such as visiting the city’s numerous shopping centres and boutiques.