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!
In the south east of Brazil, the city of São Paulo is bursting with superlatives. The largest city in Latin America, the country’s cultural capital, financial centre and also its industrial centre, São Paulo is a whole world of its own, a world which reflects the diversity of South America. In just 450 years, the village founded by twelve Jesuits has become a megalopolis of 11 million people of all backgrounds.
Your tour of the city begins at the Patio do Colegio, right in the old city centre. This former Jesuit mission takes you back to the origins of São Paulo. Its construction dates back to 1554, indeed this building served as the foundation of the city. Inside is the Padre Anchieta Museum, named after one of the founding fathers of the mission. Here you can learn all about the history of the colonisation of Brazil and the work of the Jesuits.
Stay in the area for lunch. You may be surprised to learn that in São Paulo you can find some of the best pizza in the world, often better than in Italy. This is because about 60% of the population in São Paulo has Italian roots, and means the Brazilian city is an honourary "capital of Italy". São Paulo is also the world’s second greatest consumer of pizza, after New York.
In the afternoon, head back up to the north of the city towards the Jardim da Luz, a park which lies next to the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo, the oldest museum in the city and one of the most sumptuous art galleries in the whole of South America. Inside, you will discover more than 8000 works, mostly by Brazilian artists. Visiting this museum may well tire you out, so afterwards feel free to enjoy the late afternoon in the beautiful park next door, the oldest park in the city.
If you still have lots of energy, you can visit the nearby Museum of Sacred Art of São Paulo which is housed in a beautiful sixteenth century building.
In the evening, have dinner in one of the trendy areas of the city such as the Vila Madalena district to the west or Vila Olimpia to the south west.
The next day, begin in the centre once more with a visit to the São Paulo See Metropolitan Cathedral, located in the square named after it. This huge building is one of the five largest Gothic cathedrals in the world, and it was only completed in 1967. After an Italian lunch yesterday, why not discover one of the other major communities that make up São Paulo? You can easily find a Japanese restaurant in the city centre, particularly in the Liberdade district, south-west of the centre, the home of the largest Japanese community in the world outside of Japan.
In the afternoon, take the metro towards the city’s famous landmark and important artery: Avenida Paulista. This gigantic avenue is lined by skyscrapers housing the offices of major banks and large financial groups. The Avendia Paulista expresses all the economic dynamism of Brazil.
On this street you’ll also find the Museum of Art of São Paulo, or MASP, whose brutalist architecture is worth a the detour alone. Inside, you will discover the largest and most comprehensive collection of Western art in Latin America, with more than 8,000 works dating from the thirteenth century to the present day. The collection includes works by Raphael, Botticelli, Titian, Delacroix, Velasquez, Rubens and many others.
After this visit, take the time to relax a bit in the Trianon Park, which borders the Avenida Paulista. It is unique in that it is left over from a primary forest, and therefore features lush tropical vegetation.
In the evening, you can stay on the Avenida Paulista which continues to buzz with activity, and where you will find many excellent restaurants, or head to Rua Augusta which runs perpendicular to Avenida Paulista and contains many bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
The last day of your stay should be more relaxed than the first two because you will not be visiting anything on the scale of the MASP museum or the Pinacoteca, but will be exploring the city’s most famous parks.
Start the day off with a visit to Independence Park, where you will discover the Ipiranga monument, which commemorates the “cry of Ipiranga”, the event that resulted in Brazil's independence, on September 7, 1822. This date that now serves as a national holiday. The monument is also the tomb of Pedro I of Brazil, the proclaimer of independence.
Next, head into the Ibirapuera Park for a picnic. It is comparable with New York’s Central Park in terms of size, and lies at the heart of São Paulo. Inside this huge green space, you can find many notable buildings, such as the MAM, or modern art museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the Pavilion Manoel da Nobraga, which served as the city hall until 1922. On your last day in São Paulo enjoy just wandering around and getting a little lost in the park.
And for your last night, stay in the park to discover the Auditorio Ibirapuera, designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer. This venue regularly organises top quality concerts in this tropical paradise setting.
Three days in this cosmopolitan city will allow you a mere glimpse of the wealth and diversity of São Paulo. However, you will have had the opportunity to discover the most iconic and most interesting elements, including its unique museums. If you have the chance to come and spend a little more time in the city, do not miss the Banespa Tower which offers a stunning panoramic view, or wander around the Morumbi district, admiring its beautiful parks and townhouses.