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São Paulo
—  Municipality  —
The Municipality of
São Paulo
Images, from top, left to right: the Estaiada Bridge; Downtown São Paulo; Ibirapuera Park; São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo Cathedral; Brooklin district with office buildings alongside the Pinheiros River.


Nickname(s): Terra da Garoa (Land of Drizzle) and Sampa
Motto: "Non ducor, duco"  (Latin)
"I am not led, I lead"
São Paulo is located in Brazil
São Paulo
Location in Brazil
Coordinates: 23°33′S 46°38′W / 23.55°S 46.633°W / -23.55; -46.633
Country  Brazil
Region Southeast
State Bandeira do Estado de São Paulo.svg São Paulo
Founded January 25, 1554
 - Mayor Gilberto Kassab (Democrats)
 - Municipality 1,522.986 km2 (588 sq mi)
 - Metro 7,943.818 km2 (3,067.1 sq mi)
Elevation 760 m (2,493.4 ft)
Population (2009)
 - Municipality 11,037,593 (1st)
 Density 7,216.3/km2 (18,690.1/sq mi)
 Metro 19,889,559
 - Metro Density 2,469.35/km2 (6,395.6/sq mi)
Time zone UTC-3 (UTC-3)
 - Summer (DST) UTC-2 (UTC-2)
Postal Code 01000-000
HDI (2000) 0.841–high[1]
Website City of São Paulo

São Paulo ([sɐ̃w̃ ˈpawlu]  ( listen); pronounced /saʊn ˈpaʊ.loʊ/, /sæn ˈpaʊ.loʊ/ or, commonly, /saʊ ˈpa.loʊ/ in English) is the largest city in Brazil and the world's 7th largest metropolitan area. (Also the largest city proper in the Western World).[2][3] The city is the capital of the state of São Paulo, the most populous Brazilian state. It is also the richest city in Brazil. The name of the city honors Saint Paul. São Paulo exerts strong regional influence in commerce and finance as well as arts and entertainment. São Paulo is considered an Alpha World City.[4]

The city has many renowned landmarks, such as the Museu Paulista do Ipiranga, the gothic Metropolitan Sé Cathedral, the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), the Monumento à Bandeira Portuguese to Monument to the flag and Niemeyer's Ibirapuera complex Bienal, planetarium, and museums; and more recently the Estaiada bridge in the South Side. Paulista Avenue, in Midtown is the most important financial center in the country and South America.

The city is home to the São Paulo Stock Exchange, or BOVESPA, the Future Markets, and the Cereal Market Stock Exchanges. São Paulo has been home to several of the tallest buildings in Brazil, including the Mirante do Vale Building[5] and Itália Building.[6]

With an estimated population of 11,037,593 residents[7] within an area of 1,523 square kilometers (588.0 sq mi),[8] São Paulo is the most populous city in the Americas, 6th largest in the world as well as most populous in the Southern hemisphere.[9]

The city also lies at the center of the heavily urbanized São Paulo metropolitan area, with an estimated 19,889,559 people in 2009[10] over 7,944 square kilometers (3,067.2 sq mi),[11] is the largest metropolitan area in the nation. Depending on which definition is used, the São Paulo metropolitan area is ranked as either the most populous or second most populous in the Americas.[12]

People from the city of São Paulo are known as paulistanos, while paulistas designates anyone from the whole of São Paulo state, including the paulistanos. The city's Latin motto, which it has shared with the battleship and the aircraft carrier named after it, is Non ducor, duco, which translates as "I am not led, I lead."[13]

A famous nickname for the city is "Sampa." São Paulo is also known for its unreliable weather, the size of its helicopter fleet, architecture, gastronomy, and multitude of skyscrapers.[14] The São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport operates many domestic and international flights.



Dom Pedro I acclaimed by the population of São Paulo after the announcement of Independence of Brazil.

The first coastal settlement in Brazil, São Vicente was founded in 1532.[15] It was the first permanent Portuguese colony in the New World.[15] Twenty two years later the Tibiriçá Chief and Jesuit missionaries Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta founded the village of São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga 42 miles (68 km) inland from São Vicente, on January 25, 1554.[15] The clergymen established a mission at the Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga, aimed at converting the Tupi-Guarani indigenous Brazilians to the Catholic faith, as well as make it easier for the Portuguese crown to rule them. Anchieta is said to have killed a native, which brings a degree of protest from Indian rights groups against his canonization by the Vatican. The Jesuits were later also often at odds with the Portuguese authorities, mainly the Marquês de Pombal, who eventually expelled them from Brazil for protecting converted natives in their missions. Located just beyond the Serra do Mar cliffs, above the port city of Santos, and close to the Tietê River, the new settlement became the natural entrance from the South East coast to the vast and fertile high plateau to the West that would eventually become the richest Brazilian state.

São Paulo officially became a city in 1711. In the 19th century, it experienced a flourishing economic prosperity, brought about through coffee exports, which were shipped abroad from the port of the neighboring city of Santos. After the abolition of slavery in 1888, waves of immigrants from Portugal, Italy, Spain and other European countries emigrated to São Paulo in order to "bleach the race," as Luso-Brazilian authorities feared Brazil's black population would grow far more than the other society's groups. Many of them were granted lands as incentives to immigrate and some worked in an indentured fashion at the enormous coffee plantations established in the State. Newcomers and their descendants ended up "making the America," as they said in Italian and Portuguese and some of Brazil's greatest entrepreneurs have Italian, Portuguese, and German last names, for example Mattarazzo, Diniz, and Mueller.

Paulista Avenue in 1902.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the coffee cycle had already plummeted due to, among other factors, a sharp decline in international coffee prices. With the New York Stock Exchange 1929 crash, coffee barons started losing their influence and status. Many committed suicide and the Paulistan economy looked for other alternatives such as sugar cane planting and the production of alcohol. With the difficulties brought about by World War II, when industrialized items were more difficult to reach Brazil, and following the national incipient trend of import-substitution, São Paulo began industrializing itself for domestic consumption. Brazil already showed a pattern of huge importation of most fashionable and industry-manufactured products from Europe, which was maintained well into the late twentieth century, and created huge trade deficits despite the equally huge and lucrative coffee and sugar exports.

Local entrepreneurs then started investing in the industrial development of São Paulo, attracting new contingents of immigrants to the city, mainly Italians. In addition to Europeans, Japanese and Syrian and Lebanese immigrants arrived in large numbers in the first half of the 20th century. Along the 20th century, the booming economy of the city also attracted huge waves of migrants from the poorest regions in Brazil, such as the Northeast. São Paulo maintained a high economic growth rate through the 1920s, driven by interrelated streams of immigration, rapid industrialization, and investment. In the early 1920s the Sampaio Moreira Building reached an unprecedented 14 stories, and by the end of the decade the Martinelli Building attained more than twice that height. Growing fleets of automobiles and diesel buses allowed hordes of service workers to commute from their outlying homes to jobs in the city center.

Correios Palace in 1922.

However, due to competition with many other Brazilian cities, which sometimes offer tax advantages for companies to locate manufacturing plants there, São Paulo's main economic activities have gradually left its industrial profile in favour of the services industry in the late 20th century. The city is home to a large number of local and international banking offices, law firms, multinational companies and consumer services. Although a modern face had emerged in São Paulo's better areas by the 1930s, larger portions were basically unchanged. São Paulo had lacked any city plan before 1889, and no zoning law was passed until 1972. Indeed, well into the 20th century much of the city retained a colonial aspect, with narrow unpaved streets, shabby buildings, and a few old churches of Jesuit and Franciscan styles.

The city was bombed during the Revolution of 1924. Between 1920 and 1940 the population more than doubled, reaching 1.3 million. Although Rio de Janeiro had itself grown spectacularly during this period, São Paulo trailed it by only 460,000 inhabitants and would leapfrog ahead within two decades. During 1939–45 the engineer-mayor Francisco Prestes Maia built the multilane Avenida 9 de Julho and widened numerous other streets despite resistance from displaced residents. By 1947 the new star of São Paulo's skyline was the São Paulo State Bank building, and, starting with the Mário de Andrade Municipal Library, the city's architecture moved beyond the short period of Art Deco design. By 1950 São Paulo had grown to a metropolis of 2.2 million compared to Rio's 2.4 million, but a decade later São Paulo led with 3.7 million to Rio's 3.3 million, thus solidifying its reputation as one of the world's most dynamic urban centres. Famed architect Oscar Niemeyer was lured from Rio to design the sinuous curves of the Copan Building, and the Itália Building became its towering neighbour. The highly imaginative São Paulo Art Museum (begun in 1956 and completed in 1968) was built over the juncture of Avenida 9 de Julho and eight-lane Avenida Paulista.

Anhangabaú Valley in 1920.

In the 1960s São Paulo came to include almost half of the population of the State of São Paulo (Brazil's most populous state) and to account for about one-third of the country's total industrial employment. Because automobiles were becoming a São Paulo family staple, expressways were built along the canalized Tietê and Pinheiros rivers in 1967, and the Bandeirantes expressway provided access to the city center. Highway expansion continues to be an ongoing process because the roads running alongside the rivers are among the heaviest used in the country. However, no amount of highway construction and street widening could more than briefly alleviate the intolerable traffic congestion. Construction of a subway system was begun in the late 1960s in hopes of improving the situation, and new subway lines continue to be expanded and added.

View of Campo Belo neighbourhood and Congonhas-São Paulo National Airport.

Despite its many woes, São Paulo remains a business hub of Latin America. Having prospered first with the coffee industry, and later with industrialization, in the early 21st century it expanded into the tertiary, or services sector. Its huge market (over 20 million people in greater São Paulo) is a magnet for multinational corporations. Thanks to events such as the Feira Bienal Internacional de Arte, and its reputation for hosting cutting-edge music concerts, it has become something of a cultural center as well. Economic growth and exportation of goods has lifted employment and wages. The murder rate has dropped by almost a quarter since its peak.

The historic center profited with the return of the city's government and the arrival of private universities, although businesses continue to move out to new boom neighborhoods such as Itaim and Berrini. São Paulo also claims to attract more visitors (mostly, but no longer exclusively, on business) than Rio de Janeiro, testimony of the intense rivalry between the two metropolises.


Physical setting

Pico do Jaraguá Mountain is the highest point in the city, with 1,135 metres (3,724 ft).[16]

São Paulo is located in Southeastern Brazil, in southeastern São Paulo State, approximately halfway between Curitiba the Capital of Paraná State, previously part of São Paulo State and Rio de Janeiro, formerly capital of Brazil and now capital of the State which bears the same. The city is located on a plateau that is part of the Serra do Mar (Portuguese for "Sea Range"), itself a component of the vast region known as the Brazilian Highlands, with an average elevation of around 799 metres (2,621 ft) above sea level, though at a distance of only about 70 kilometers (43 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean. This distance is covered by two highways, the Anchieta and the Imigrantes, (see "Transportation" section below) that roll down the range, leading to the port city of Santos and the beach resort of Guarujá. Rolling terrain prevails within the urbanized areas of São Paulo except in the North of the city, where the Serra da Cantareira Range boasts higher elevations and a sizable remnant of the Atlantic Rain Forest. The entire region is very stable tectonically, and no significant seismic activity has ever been recorded.

The Tietê River, and its tributary, the Pinheiros River were once important sources of fresh water and leisure for São Paulo, only to become grossly polluted by raw sewage and industrial effluents in the latter half of the 20th century. However, a substantial clean-up program for both rivers is underway, financed through a partnership between local government and international development banks such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.[17] Neither river is navigable in the stretch that flows through the city, although water transportation becomes increasingly important on the river Tietê further downstream (towards South, near river Paraná), as the river is part of the River Plate basin.

There are no large natural lakes in the region, but the Billings and Guarapiranga reservoirs in the southern outskirts of the city are used for power generation, water storage, and leisure activities, such as sailing. The original flora consisted mainly of a great variety of broadleaf evergreens. Today, non-native species are common, as the mild climate and abundant rainfall permit a multitude of tropical, subtropical and temperate plants to be cultivated, with eucalyptus being especially ubiquitous.


Skyline from Jardins "Gardens" Neighborhood.

São Paulo has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Cwa), according to the Köppen classification.[18] In summer, temperatures are between 20 °C (68 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F), and 35 °C (95 °F) on the hottest days. In winter, are between 10 °C (50 °F) and 20 °C (68 °F), and 5 °C (41 °F). on the coldest days. The highest temperature recorded was 35.3 °C (95.5 °F) November 15, 1985.[19] and the lowest recorded was −2 °C (28.4 °F) in August 2, 1955, and in the same day was recorded −3 °C (26.6 °F) unofficially. The temperatures rate are similar to Los Angeles. The Tropic of Capricorn, at about 23°27' S, passes through São Paulo and roughly marks the boundary between the tropical and temperate areas of South America. Because of its elevation, however, São Paulo enjoys a distinctly temperate climate.[20]

Rainfall is abundant, amounting to an annual average of 1,317 millimetres (51.9 in).[21] It is especially common in the warmer months, and somewhat scant between June and August. Neither São Paulo nor the nearby coast has ever been hit by a tropical cyclone, and tornadic activity is uncommon. Snow flurries were reported officially only once, on June 25, 1918. During late winter, especially August, the city experiences the phenomenon known as "veranico" (Little summer), which consists of a bout of unusually hot and dry weather, sometimes reaching temperatures well above 28 °C (82 °F). On the other hand, relatively cool days during summer are fairly common when persistent winds blow from the ocean. On such occasions daily high temperatures may not surpass 20 °C (68 °F), accompanied by lows often below 15 °C (59 °F).

Climate data for São Paulo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 33
Average high °C (°F) 27
Daily mean °C (°F) 23
Average low °C (°F) 18
Record low °C (°F) 12
Precipitation cm (inches) 24
Source: Means, records and precipitations from Weatherbase[22] and averages from World Meteorological Organization[23]

Law and government

Conde Matarazzo Building is headquarters of São Paulo City Hall.

São Paulo's most recent mayors were:

Mayor Entry in Left Office in Political Party
Gilberto Kassab 2006 - Democratas
José Serra 2005 2006 PSDB
Marta Suplicy 2001 2004 PT
Celso Pitta 1997 2000 PPB, later PTN
Paulo Maluf 1993 1996 PPB (PP)
Luiza Erundina 1989 1992 PT
Jânio Quadros 1986 1988 PTB
Mário Covas 1983 1985 PMDB

Metropolitan region

Satellite view of Greater São Paulo.

The nonspecific term "Grande São Paulo" ("Greater São Paulo") denotes any of São Paulo's metropolitan area definitions. The legally defined Região Metropolitana de São Paulo consists of 39 municipalities in total, and a population of more than 19 million inhabitants (as of 2005, according to IBGE).

Because São Paulo is sprawling like Los Angeles, it has another definition for its metropolitan area. Analogous to the US's CSA (Combined Statistical Area) type definition of metropolitan area, it is the third largest city in the world with 27 million inhabitants (Complexo Metropolitano Expandido),[24] behind Tokyo and Jakarta, which includes 2 contiguous legally defined metropolitan regions, and 3 microregions.


The city of São Paulo is divided into 92 neighborhoods[25] and 31 subprefectures[26] (subprefeituras in Portuguese). Each subprefecture is divided into several districts (in most cases, two or three). The subprefectures with the largest number of districts are the boroughs of Sé, in the historical downtown, Butantã, the location of the University of São Paulo, Lapa, Penha and Mooca, all having eleven districts. Together with the administrative division, there is also a geographic radial division established in 2007 by the mayor Gilberto Kassab.

The city is divided in ten regions (historical downtown, extended downtown, north, south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest), each one identified with a distinct color in the buses and in the street plaques. These divisions have no relationship with the subprefectures and districts, and, in some cases, the same district may be in two or more geographic regions. The district where the headquarters of the subprefecture is located receives the same name of the subprefecture, with exception of M'Boi Mirim.


The Japanese-speaking community of São Paulo used to live mostly in Liberdade neighbourhood.
Italian immigrants in a factory of São Paulo.

São Paulo is the most ethnically diverse city in Brazil. At the end of the traffic of enslaved Africans in the country (1850), São Paulo started to replace the African manpower with immigrants in the coffee plantations. The pioneer in this new project was the senator Nicolau Vergueiro, who brought German, Swiss and Portuguese individuals to work in his own properties. The next waves of immigrants contained Italians and Portuguese from the mid-1800s until the turn of the century. These were far more adaptable to coffee cultivation and became overtime the largest immigrant communities in the state of São Paulo.[27]

After the abolition of slavery (1888), São Paulo received increasingly large numbers of European immigrants, most of them coming from Italy, followed by Portugal and Spain. In 1897, Italians were over half of the city's population. Portuguese, Spaniards, Germans, Japanese, Jews and Christian Lebanese and Syrians also came in significant numbers. From 1908 to 1941, many Japanese immigrants arrived.[28] In the 1960s, Chinese and Koreans started arriving. In the mid-20th century, many from the drought-stricken Northeastern Brazil started to migrate to São Paulo. Nowadays, the city has a growing community from other Latin American countries.[29] Today, the city has the largest community of Italian and Portuguese descendants.

As in all of Brazil, people of different ethnicities mix with each other, producing a multi-ethnic society. Today, people of 100 different ethnicities make São Paulo their home.[30] The main groups, considering all the metropolitan area, are:

Ethnically, São Paulo (city, not the metropolitan area) is made up of:

Ethnic groups Number[37]
White 7,000,000 (70,0%)
Brown (Multiracial) 2,600,000 (23,0%)
Black 527,000 (3,8%)
Asian 456,000 (3,0%)
Amerindian 18,000 (0,2%)


Religion Percentage Number
Catholic 68.11% 7,107,261
Protestant 15.94% 1,663,131
No religion 8.97% 936,474
Kardecist 2.75% 286,600
Buddhist 0.65% 67,591
Umbanda and Candomblé 0.46% 48,400
Jewish 0.36% 37,500

Source: IBGE 2000.[38]

Population growth

Population density of the State of São Paulo. Darker blue means higher population density.
Changing demographics of the city of São Paulo

Source: Planet Barsa Ltda.[39]


As in all of Brazil, the language spoken by the vast majority of the population is Portuguese. Due to the large influx of Italian immigrants, the Portuguese spoken in the city reflects a significant influence from the languages of the Italian peninsula, particularly from Neapolitan and Venetian.[40]

The Italian dialects mixed with the countryside Caipira accent of São Paulo; some linguists maintain that the São Paulo dialect of Portuguese was born in Mooca, a neighborhood settled in the early 20th century mainly by people from Naples, Southern Italy.[41][42]

Other languages spoken in the city are mainly among the Asian community: Liberdade neighborhood is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Although today most Japanese Brazilians can speak only Portuguese, some of them are still fluent in Japanese. Some people of Chinese and Korean descent are still able to speak their ancestral languages. However, most of the Brazilian-born generations only speak Portuguese.[43]

English and Spanish are taught as foreign languages in most schools, although only a small percentage of residents exhibit a high degree of fluency in either language.


Office buildings on Paulista Avenue.


Trade panel of BM&F Bovespa, the São Paulo Stock Exchange.

São Paulo is the 10th richest city in the world,[60] and is expected to be the 6th richest in 2025.[61] According to data of IBGE, its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2006 was R$ 282,852,338,000, equivalent to approximately 12.26% of the Brazilian GDP and 36% of all production of goods and services of the State of São Paulo.[62]

The biggest financial center in Brazil and one of the biggest financial centers in the world, São Paulo's economy is going through a deep transformation. Once a city with a strong industrial character, São Paulo's economy has become increasingly based on the tertiary sector, focusing on services and businesses for the country. The city is also unique among Brazilian cities for its large number of foreign corporations. Many analysts point to São Paulo as more important global city, even though this assignment can be criticized considering its serious problems of social exclusion and spacial segregation.[63] Although being the most important financial centre of the country, São Paulo also presents a high degree of informality in its economy.[64]

São Paulo is the business center of the Mercosul economy. Acclaimed as a city of business tourism, attracting today's biggest and most important international events, be they in the economic, cultural, scientific or sporting area. It holds more than 200 events per day, offering more than 250 thousand square meters of space in pavilions and areas for congresses and fairs. This is without taking into account the supply of spaces within hotels, which adds another 70 thousand square meters, suitable for holding events. According to the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) that ranks the greatest event centers in the world, São Paulo is the most important destination for international events in the Americas. São Paulo is also among Top 20 destinations for events in the world and left behind destinations like Madrid, Sydney, Athens and Vancouver.[65] Adding space in nightclubs, cultural and business areas, clubs and other alternatives to these numbers, São Paulo boasts approximately 430,000 square meters for the holding of any type of event.

There is still the supply of approximately 30,000 apartments of various categories, a number which is to grow significantly in the next two years, predicted to reach 50,000 apartments in 2003, catering for those seeking the more luxurious options of the large chains, to simpler and more economical options. It is worth pointing out that from the tourist attractions the following stand out: gastronomy and culture. With more than 12,000 restaurants of more than 40 different world cuisines, besides the 70 museums, more than 200 cinemas, around 50 theaters, art galleries and cultural centers, São Paulo has one of the liveliest nightlifes in the world.[66]

If the city of São Paulo were a country, its economy would be the 47th in the world, bigger than Egypt and Kuwait, for example, about the same size as Hungary, New Zealand or Israel. The economy of the city of São Paulo would also be bigger than 22 U.S. States, such as Hawaii and New Hampshire.[67]

Headquarters of the Organizações Globo, largest media conglomerate of Latin America.

In 2005, the city of São Paulo collected R$ 90 billion in taxes, and the city budget was R$ 15 billion; these figures show that São Paulo contributes to redistribution of wealth. The city has 1,500 bank branches. There are 70 shopping malls. Of all the international companies with business in Brazil, 63% have their head offices in São Paulo. According to Mystery Shopping International, the Oscar Freire Street is the ninth most luxurious in the world.[68]

A connected city, always in the vanguard of the greatest cultural movements that changed Brazilian behavior and habits. In higher education, the University of São Paulo (USP) is in the top 100 public universities in the world and, recently, in the annual ranking of the British newspaper The Times, as the first university in South America. There is also a wide range of short courses, lectures, seminars, literary discussions and a several universities and cultural centers teaching from handicraft to technology.[69]

The São Paulo Stock Exchange (BM&F Bovespa) is Brazil's official stock and bonds exchange. The BM&F Bovespa is the largest stock exchange in Latin America and third largest in the world. In the Stock Exchange, R$ 6 billion (US$ 3.5 billion) change hands every day.[70] If the Greater São Paulo were a country would be the thirty-third richest nation in the world (in Nominal GDP), ahead of the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong for example and twenty-eighth richest nation ahead of Belgium and Venezuela (in GDP PPP).[59] São Paulo is the best city to do business in Latin America. The large growth of São Paulo GDP is due to the great economic potential of the city and the appreciation of the Brazilian real to the U.S. dollar.

The per capita income for the city was R$ 25,675 (2006).[71]

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers annual economic growth of the city is 4.2%.

Companies in Financial Times Global 500 of São Paulo in 2009 [72]
SP Corporation BRA World
1 Itaú Unibanco 3 75
2 Banco Bradesco 4 114
3 AmBev 5 141
4 Itaúsa 7 304

Central Zone of São Paulo.


There are some Web sites and magazines specialising in the cultural events in the city, including the Agenda Cultural de São Paulo (São Paulo's Cultural Calendar).[73]

São Paulo Art Bienal

The São Paulo Art Biennial is a cultural event hosted in town every two years. Almost 1 million people visited the 26th Biennial in 2004. Its theme was chosen to enable a wide range of artistic positions to feel comfortable. In addition, to an intensification of the North-South dialogue inside Brazil, the Bienal's aims include the promoting of links between non-European cultures along a South-South orientation.[74] The next edition of the Biennial will take place in 2009.

São Paulo Fashion Week

One of the most important fashion weeks in the world (along with London's, New York's, Milan's and Paris' editions),[75] São Paulo Fashion Week established in 1996 under the name Morumbi Fashion Brasil, it is the biggest and most important fashion event in Latin America.

Brazil first entered the international fashion circuit with the increasing reputation of famous Brazilian top models such as Isabeli Fontana, Adriana Lima, Gisele Bündchen, Alessandra Ambrosio, Fernanda Tavares, Ana Beatriz Barros, Izabel Goulart, Brenda Costa and Ana Hickmann, and the "discovery" of some fresh talents such as Alexandre Herchcovitch by some international fashion magazines.

São Paulo Gay Pride Parade

São Paulo Gay Parade on Paulista Avenue, the biggest Gay Parade in the World.

The first parade happened in 1997. São Paulo's version is quite young compared to those in New York, San Francisco and Sydney which have been occurring since the 1970s. It only took 8 years to overcome those cities' parades in attendance. The tourist event in the city, the São Paulo Gay Parade attracted about 1.5 million people to Paulista Avenue in 2006. It is usually opened by the city's mayor and a large carnival runs along the avenue, with several Trio Elétricos. The last parade was held on June 10, 2007, but no official estimate was given by the Polícia Militar.[76][77] The Parade happens annually, in June, with the aims of bringing visibility to social-sexual categories and fomenting the creation of public policies for homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals. Since its 7th year, the Parade is associated with an intense cultural programming that lasts at least a month. Most international hotel companies in São Paulo have specific hotels for the Gay Parade guests due to the huge number of people in the city looking for a room.[78] The city is home of the biggest LGBT nightclub of Brazil and Latin America, The Week International.[79]

March for Jesus

The March for Jesus is an Evangelical parade that takes place on Corpus Christi Thursday every year in Zona Norte. It is organized by the "Rebirth Church", a Pentecostal denomination created in the 1980s which has grown significantly in the first decade of the 21st century. In 2006, more than 1 million people took part in the event, according to official estimates.[80] Evangelicals from across Brazil went to São Paulo Thursday for the "March for Jesus" event as live Christian bands accompanied the more than one million marchers. The annual march, organized by evangelical churches, featured a concert with 30 Christian bands carried on 17 flatbed trucks performing live as participants marched through Brazil's financial capital.

International Transport Industry Show

The Salão Internacional da Indústria do Transporte (FENATRAN) is held in São Paulo in the Park Anhembi, every two years and usually in October.[81] It's a major event presenting new trends for the industry related to transport, such as truck manufacturers, components for vehicles, fuel, motors and services for the industry, such as financial and insurance companies.

International Film Festival

The São Paulo International Film Festival is a film festival held annually in São Paulo, Brazil since 1976. It is one of the most important Brazilian film festival along with Rio Film Festival and Brasilia National Film Festival.

Electronic Language International Festival

Electronic Language International Festival.

The Electronic Language International Festival is a non-profit cultural organization, whose purpose is to disseminate and to develop arts, technologies and scientific research, by means of exhibitions, debates, lectures, and courses. The festival promotes a yearly meeting in Brazil, in the city of São Paulo.[82]

Festival of Electronic Art

Every two years, Associação Cultural Videobrasil's International Electronic Art Festival brings groundbreaking work by cream-of-the-crop artists from all over the world to São Paulo. In keeping with the constant transformations in media and support, the curatorship has added installations, performances, VJs, CD-ROM art, and Internet art to the programme. Art shows, debates and meetings introduce new ideas and artwork, setting new guidelines for contemporary art in Brazil. Exhibitions featuring work by prominent electronic artists are also part of the Festival. Brazilian pioneers such as Rafael França and Olhar Eletrônico, and international guests such as Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and Gary Hill, have featured in the event's past editions. Each edition has a theme of its own.[83]


Gaviões da Fiel Samba school.

São Paulo holds one of the largest carnival parades in Brazil. Some clubs, such as the Club Athletico Paulistano, organize carnival parties as well. It happens at the sambódromo in Anhembi Park "Parque Anhembi." Some of the Schools of Samba "Escolas de Samba" are:

  • Rosas de Ouro (Golden Roses);
  • X9 (X-Nine);
  • Vai Vai (Go Go);
  • Águia de Ouro (Golden Eagle);
  • Camisa Verde e Branco (Green and White Shirt);
  • Imperador do Ipiranga (Ipiranga's Emperor);
  • Acadêmicos do Peruche (Peruche Academicians);
  • Nenê de Vila Matilde (Baby from Vila Matilde);
  • Acadêmicos do Tucuruvi (Tucuruvi Academicians);
  • Gaviões da Fiel (Fiel's Hawk);
  • Mancha Verde (Green Stain);


Educational institutions

The city has several universities and colleges:

Educational system

São Paulo has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education, both public and private, and a variety of vocational-technical schools. More than nine-tenths of the population is literate, and roughly the same proportion of those age 7 to 14 are enrolled in school. Among the many institutions of higher education, the largest and most esteemed is the state-supported University of São Paulo (USP), established in 1934, which incorporated the historic College of Law (Faculdade de Direito) in the old São Francisco Square. USP, as it is generally known, enrolls a very high proportion of Brazil's doctoral students and has spawned a wide variety of research institutes and policy centre. Affiliated institutions include the Butantan Institute, a world-famous centre for research on snakes and the production of toxins and antitoxins.

The Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo was established in 1946 and has earned an enviable reputation among the continent's private institutions of higher learning. Also of note among Greater São Paulo's many other public and private colleges and universities is the School of Business Administration of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation.

Health care

São Paulo is the largest health care hub in Brazil. In terms of public health facilities, the city is home to institutions from all the three levels of government, federal, state and municipal. The private health care sector is also very large, and most of the best hospitals in Brazil are located in the city. As of September 2009, the city of São Paulo had:[84]

  • 32,553 ambulatory clinics, centers and professional offices (physicians, dentists and others);
  • 217 hospitals, with 32,554 beds;
  • 137,745 health care professionals, including 28,316 physicians.

Municipal health

Public health facilities in charge of the municipal government are spread all over the city's territory, with a grand total of 770 basic health care units (UBS), ambulatory and emergency clinics, and 17 hospitals. The Municipal Secretary of Health has 59,000 employees, among them more than 8,000 physicians and 12,000 nurses. A population estimated in more tham 6,000.000 citizens uses these facilities, which provide drugs at no cost, and manages an extensive family health program (PSF - Programa de Saúde da Família).

The Rede São Paulo Saudável (Healthy São Paulo Network) is a satellite-based digital TV corporate channel, developed by the Municipal Health Secretary of São Paulo, with the goal of bringing programs focused on health promotion and health education, which may be watched by the entire population seeking health care in its units in the city. The network consists of two complete TV studios, and a system for transmission of closed digital video in high definition via satellite, with about 1,400 points of reception in all health care units of the municipality of São Paulo.

Syrian Lebanese Hospital in the afternoon.

Medical schools and teaching hospitals

The city of São Paulo has six medical schools with their corresponding teaching hospitals, which are an important component of public health attention to the city's citizens:

Private medicine

Institute of Cancer of São Paulo is the largest hospital of cancer in Brazil and Latin America.[85]



Adoniran Barbosa was a famous samba singer and composer who became successful during São Paulo's radio era. Born in 1912 in the town of Valinhos, Barbosa was known as the composer to the lower classes of São Paulo, particularly the poor Italian immigrants living in the quarters of Bixiga (Bela Vista) and Brás, as well as the poor who lived in the city's many shanties and cortiços (degraded multifamily row houses). The topics of his songs are drawn from the life of low-wage urban workers, the unemployed and the vagabonds. His first big hit was Saudosa Maloca ("Shanty of Fond Memories", 1951), wherein three homeless friends recall with nostalgia their improvised shanty, which was torn down by the landowner to make room for a building. In his Trem das Onze ("The 11 p.m. Train", 1964) record, which has been ranked one of the five best samba songs ever, the protagonist explains to his lover that he cannot stay any longer because he has to catch the last train to the Jaçanã suburb, for his mother will not sleep before he arrives. An old-school samba band called Demônios da Garoa still plays his songs in the traditional Bar Brahma venue in Downtown. Another important musician with a similar style is Paulo Vanzoline. Vanzoline is a Phd in Biology and semi-professional musician. He composed an important song depicting a love murder cene in São Paulo called Ronda.

In the late 1960s, a psychedelic rock band called Os Mutantes led the way in the national avant garde music scene. Their success is sometimes related to that of other tropicalia musicians, but they also had a musical style and ideas of their own. They were regarded as very paulistanos in their behaviour and clothing. Os Mutantes released five albums together before lead singer Rita Lee departed in 1972 to form another group called Tutti-Frutti. Although almost exclusively known in Brazil at that time, Os Mutantes became quite successful abroad after the 1990s (a legend has it that a Brazilian young woman in an exchange programme in California forgot one Mutantes' vinyl record at her host home when she returned home, and thus helped make the band popular in that U.S. state). In 2000, Tecnicolor, a album recorded in the early 70's in English by the band was released with artwork designed by Sean Lennon.

After the two oil price shocks in the 1970s, the country suffered from an economic recession during the 1980s, a phenomenon that was named the lost decade. The very repressive military government of the day did not help in any way the social situation. At the end of the military rule in the early 80's a band called Ultrage a Rigor emerged in the city. They played a simple and irreverent style of rock. The lyrics depicted the changes in society and culture that not only São Paulo but Brazilian society as a whole were experiencing at the time. A late punk and garage scene became strong in the 1980s, perhaps associated with the gloomy scenario of unemployment and few actual prospectives from the viewpoint of the youth. All of thriving musicians and artists waiting for their moment to come. Examples of bands originating from this movement include Ira!, Titãs, Ratos de Porão and Innocentes. In the 1990s, drum & bass became another musical movement in São Paulo, with artists such as DJ Marky, DJ Patife, XRS, Drumagick, and Fernanda Porto.[86] Many heavy metal bands also originated in São Paulo, such as Angra, Torture Squad, Korzus and Dr. Sin. Many "alternative" cultures of São Paulo mingle at a small shopping mall dubbed Galeria do Rock (English: "Rock Gallery"), which includes shops which cater to a broad range of alternative niches. Famous alternative band Cansei de Ser Sexy, or CSS (Portuguese for "tired of being sexy") also came from São Paulo.

The classical music in São Paulo is also very prevalent. Many of the most important classical Brazilian composers who are still alive, like Amaral Vieira, Osvaldo Lacerda and Edson Zampronha, were born in and live in São Paulo. São Paulo has two important opera houses: Teatro Municipal de São Paulo and Theatro São Pedro, and some opera performances are sometimes hosted in other theaters like Credicard Hall. Local baritone Paulo Szot has won international acclaim and a Tony Award nomination for his performance in a 2008 revival of South Pacific. The São Paulo State Symphony is one of the outstanding orchestras in Latin America and in the world.


São Paulo was home to the first Jesuit missionaries in Brazil, in the early 16th century. They wrote reports to the Portuguese crown about the newly found land, the native peoples and composed pieces of poetry and music for the catechism. Among them were priests such as Manuel da Nóbrega and José de Anchieta, living in or near the colony then called Piratininga. They also helped to register the Old Tupi language, lexicon and its grammar.

In 1922, the Brazilian Modernist Movement, launched in São Paulo, also began to achieve a similar cultural independence through different means. Brazil had gone through the same stages of development as the rest of Latin America, but its political and cultural independence came more gradually. The first emperor of Brazil, Pedro I, was a legitimate member of the royal Portuguese dynasty. Although he declared Brazil's independence from Portugal in 1822, the country remained under imperial rule and the dominance of the court in Rio de Janeiro until 1889.

With Brazil thus tied to Portuguese culture, Brazilian writers only little by little assumed responsibility for giving expression to their own landscape and ethnic mix of peoples. The presence of large numbers of former slaves added a distinctive African character to the culture. And subsequent infusions of immigrants of non-Portuguese origin, from different parts of Europe, helped the new nation to find its own voice and to use it. Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade are the prototypical modernists. With the urban poems of "Paulicéia Desvairada" and "Carefree Paulistan land" (1922), Mário de Andrade established the movement in Brazil. His rhapsodic novel Macunaíma (1928), with its abundance of Brazilian folklore, represents the apex of modernism's nationalist prose through its creation of an offbeat native national hero. Oswald de Andrade's experimental poetry, avant-garde prose, particularly the novel Serafim Ponte Grande (1933), and provocative manifestos exemplify the movement's break with tradition. Modernist artists and writers chose the Municipal Theatre of São Paulo to launch their Modernist manifesto. The site happened to be a bastion of European culture with Opera and classical music presentations brought from Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. It was significant for them to choose such house as their starting point because the high society which frequented it denied its Brazilian roots by speaking languages such as French only in the opera house. Moreover, it behaved as if the rest of Brazil, and Brazilian culture itself, did not matter or did not exist. Both these authors were influential writers from the Modernist school: Mário de Andrade and Oswald de Andrade.

Science and technology

The city of São Paulo has one of the best Research and Development structures in Latin America, and has been attracting a growing number of companies due to the increasing importance of innovation as a decisive differential in the global market. Among the several factors that justify such an attraction, it is worth to highlight the presence of several renowned universities that links higher education and internationally renowned laboratories and research centers that acts in several areas of knowledge. With an ample technical training educational system and several internationally renowned institutions of higher education, the city presents excellent infrastructure aimed at qualifying its workforce. The institutions of higher education in the city of São Paulo are the best of the country and many are internationally renowned.

The system of science, technology and innovation of São Paulo is also leveraged by the allocation of funds from the state government, mainly carried out by means of the Foundation to Research Support in the State of São Paulo (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo - Fapesp), one of the main agencies of promotion of the scientific and technological research of the country.

Tourism and recreation

São Paulo is a major cultural centre. The city has an ethnically diverse metropolitan area, with heavy Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, among other influences. The city is known for its varied and sophisticated cuisine, ranging from Chinese to French, from fast food chains to five star restaurants. There are approximately 62 different types of cuisines in São Paulo, and more than 12,000 restaurants.[87] Other venues such as bars, pubs, lounges and discos cater to a variety of music tastes.

São Paulo is home to the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in the first half of the XX century and "Pinacoteca do Estado" art museums, a symphonic orchestra (São Paulo State Symphony (OSESP - based in the Sala São Paulo theatre in the gorgeous Julio Prestes train station), and a Formula One Grand Prix racing circuit (Interlagos).



Municipal Theatre of São Paulo, "Teatro Municipal de São Paulo."

Many historians believe that the first theatre performance in Brazil was held in São Paulo. The Spanish Jesuit missionary José de Anchieta (1534–1597) wrote short plays that were performed and watched by the Tupi-Guarani natives. After that, however, São Paulo became a province and cultural activities lost momentum. It was only in the beginning of the 20th century that, thanks to the coffee cycle and the wealth it brought, major European ethnic groups started making presentations in some of the state's countryside cities. Theatres such as Pedro II, in Ribeirão Preto, welcomed groups that had already performed in Manaus, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. The most important period for the art in São Paulo took place during the avant-grade time. It was in São Paulo that a professional company, Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia, or TBC (Brazilian Theater of Comedy) made its first presentation. During the 60s, major theater productions in São Paulo and Brazil were presented by two groups. Teatro de Arena began with a group of students from Escola de Arte Dramática (Drama Art School), founded by Alfredo Mesquita, in 1948. In 1958, the group excelled with the play "Eles não usam black tie," a masterpiece by Gianfrancesco Guarnieri that, for the first time in the history of the Brazilian drama, had labor workers as protagonists.

Further to that, after the coup of 1964, theater plays started focusing the Brazilian history (Zumbi, Tiradentes). Teatro de Arena was an embattled stage for the democratic resistance during the military dictatorship period, marked by its censorship. Teatro Oficina also played an important role. It was there that the Tropicalist movement began. There was a number of plays that represented historic moments, among which "O Rei da Vela", "Galileu Galilei" (1968), "Na Sela das Cidades" (1969) and "Gracias Señor" (1972). Today, all kinds of plays are performed at São Paulo's dozens of theatres, going from classical music, ballet to avant-garde plays.


Ipiranga Museum, "Museu do Ipiranga."
  • Museu do Ipiranga

The first monument especially built to preserve the memory of the Independence of Brazil, was opened on September 7, 1895, with the name of Museu de Ciências Naturais (Natural Science Museum). In 1919, it became once again a historic museum. Its collection, with approximately 100,000 pieces, comprises works of art, furniture, clothing, and appliances that once belonged to famous people who took part in Brazilian history, such as explorers and emperors, and revolutionists. Its facilities are also home to a library with 100,000 books and the "Centro de Documentação Histórica," Historic Documentation Center, with 40,000 manuscripts.

  • Memorial da América Latina

Stretching over 78,000 square meters, Memorial da América Latina (Latin America's Memorial) was conceived to be a place for the integration of Latin American countries and their roots and cultures. Memorial is home to the headquarters of Parlamento Latino-Americano - Parlatino (Latin American Parliament). Designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer, Memorial has an exhibition pavilion, where there is a permanent exhibition of the continent's craftwork production; a library with books, newspapers, magazines, videos, films and records about the history of Latin America; and an auditorium with capacity for 1,679 people.

Nationalities of guests in the Immigrant's

Hostel of São Paulo (1882–1891)[88]

Nationality Number
Italians 202,503
Portuguese 25,925
Spaniards 14,954
Germans 6,196
Austrians 4,118
Russians 3,315
French 1,922
Danes 1,042
Belgians 851
English 782
Swedes 685
Swiss 219
Irish 201
Others 483
Total 263,196
  • Museu da Imigração e Memorial do Imigrante
Memorial of the Immigrant, "Memorial do Imigrante."

Hospedaria do Imigrante (Immigrant's Hostel) was built in 1886 and opened in 1887, when the first immigrants were housed there. The Immigrant's Hostel was built in Brás to welcome the immigrants who arrived in Brazil through the Port of Santos, quarantining those who were sick and helping new arrivals to find work in coffee plantations in Western, Northern, and Southwestern São Paulo State and Northern Paraná State. From 1882 to 1978, 2.5 million immigrants of more than 60 nationalities and ethnicities were guests there,[88] all of them duly registered in the museum's books and lists. The hostel used to serve approximately 3,000 people on average, but under special circumstances, this number reached 8,000. The hostel received the last immigrants in 1978.[89]

In 1998 the Hostel became a museum, and it preserves the documentation, memory and objects of the immigrants that came to Brazil in search of hope and wealth. Located in one of the few centennarian buildings left in the city of São Paulo, the museum occupies part of the former Hostel. Aside from bringing the immigrants' history to the public, the museum also restores wooden train wagons from the former São Paulo Railway. There are two restored wagons in the museum. One of them dates from 1914, and another one a second class passenger car, dates from 1931. The Memorial do Imigrante pays homage to the ancestors of millions of Brazilians who arrived through the port of Santos and had São Paulo as a gateway to Brazil. It is possible to find in the museum the names of all immigrants who were hosted there from 1888 to 1978.[90]

  • Museu de Zoologia da USP

Occupying an area of 700 square meters, the animals shown in the museum are samples of the country's tropical fauna and were prepared (embalmed) more than 50 years ago. In the entrance hall, there is information about the main activities carried out by USP's staff and by the museum's researchers. The animals are grouped together according to their classification: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, and some invertebrates such as reefs, crustaceans and mollusks. The library, specialized in zoology, has modern facilities and equipment and serve both the scientific community and the public in general. It has 73,850 works, of which 8,473 are books and 2,364 are newspapers, in addition to theses and maps.

  • Museu de Arte de São Paulo
São Paulo Museum of Art, "Museu de Arte de São Paulo" in Downtown São Paulo.

The museum was founded by the journalist Assis Chateaubriand and by Pietro Maria Bardi. Its current headquarters, opened in 1968, were designed by the architect Lina Bo Bardi. Two enormous colonnades support the 9,2 thousand ton building, forming a 74-meter free space. MASP has one of Latin America's most important collections of European art, including works of art by distinguished artists such as Degas, Renoir, Modigliani and Bonnard, among others.

  • Acervo do Palácio dos Bandeirantes

The headquarters of the State Government has an important collection of works of art by Brazilian artists, such as Portinari, Aldo Bonadei, Djanira, Almeida Júnior, Victor Brecheret, Ernesto de Fiori and Aleijadinho. Additionally, it also gathers colonial furniture, leather and silver artefacts, and European tapestry. In eclectic style, its walls are covered with panels describing the history of São Paulo.

  • Museu da Imagem e do Som

Opened in May, 1990, the main aim of Museu da Imagem e do Som (Image and Sound Museum) is to keep and preserve manifestations in the music, cinema, photography, and graphical arts areas, as well as any other manifestation related to the Brazilian contemporary life. MIS has a collection of more than 200,000 images, distributed in thematic collections of diverse content. It has more than 1,600 fiction videotapes, documentaries and music, and 12,750 titles recorded in Super 8 and 16 mm. Additionally, MIS organizes concerts, cinema and video festivals, and photography and graphical arts exhibitions.



As in the rest of Brazil, football is by far the most popular sport in the city. The major teams in São Paulo are Corinthians, Palmeiras and São Paulo FC and also, Portuguesa. There are two other small clubs in the city, Juventus and Nacional.

São Paulo is one of the host cities of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, for which Brazil is the host nation. The matches will take place in Morumbi Stadium.

Football/Soccer teams

Club League Venue Established
Corinthians Série A (1st National League Division) Parque São Jorge Stadium[91]

13,969 (27,384 record)

Palmeiras Série A (1st National League Division) Palestra Itália Stadium

29,173 (40,283 record)

São Paulo FC Série A (1st National League Division) Morumbi Stadium

73,501 (138,032 record)[92]

Portuguesa Série B (2nd National League Division) Canindé Stadium

19,717 (25,000 record)

Juventus 2nd Regional State League division Rua Javari Stadium

2,730 (9,000 record)

Nacional 3rd Regional State League division Nicolau Alayon Stadium

9,650 (22,000 record)


It is sometimes wrongly stated that Sport Club Corinthians Paulista owns the Pacaembu Stadium, however the Pacaembu Stadium is owned by the Municipal Prefecture of São Paulo.[93] Due to the low capacity of the Alfredo Schürig Stadium (13, 969 people),[91] Corithians has been playing in the Pacaembu Stadium since the 1950s, therefore the team has a special feeling towards the stadium,even calling the Pacaembu Stadium "home"[94] but it is indeed owned by the Prefecture and not by Corinthians.

Corrida de São Silvestre

The São Silvestre Race takes place every New Year's Eve. It was first held in 1925, when the competitors ran about 8,000 metres across the streets. Since then, the distance raced varied, but is now set at 15 km (9.3 mi).

Brazilian Grand Prix

The Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix (Portuguese: Grande Prêmio do Brasil) is held at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos continuously since 1990. Since 1973, the first year Formula One Grand Prix had been held in Brazil, 4 Brazilians have won the Grand Prix in São Paulo: Emerson Fittipaldi (1973 and 1974), José Carlos Pace (1975), Ayrton Senna (1991 and 1993) and Felipe Massa (2006 and 2008).

In 2007, new local railway station Autódromo of the Line C (Line 9) of CPTM, was constructed near the circuit to improve access.

São Paulo profits the most in the year during the F1 Brazilian Grand Prix due to boosts in tourism, commerce and nightlife.

São Paulo Indy 300

Anhembi Street Circuit, the venue for the 2010 São Paulo Indy 300.

The 2010 São Paulo Indy 300 will be the first race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season. This 190.2-mile (306.1 km) race will take place on March 14, on the 2.536-mile (4.081 km) temporary street circuit in São Paulo, Brazil. The race will be telecast by Versus.

There will be seven IndyCar drivers from Brazil competing in the race, including Ana Beatriz, Hélio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Raphael Matos, Vitor Meira, Mario Moraes and Mario Romancini. São Paulo is the hometown of Beatriz, Castroneves, Moraes and Romancini.

Other sports

Volleyball, basketball and tennis are other major sports. There are several traditional sports clubs in São Paulo that are home for teams in many championships. The most important are Esporte Clube Pinheiros (waterpolo, volleyball, swimming, basketball and handball), Clube Atlhetico Paulistano (basketball), Esporte Clube Banespa (volleyball, handball and futsal), Esporte Clube Sírio (basketball), Associação Atlética Hebraica (basketball), São Paulo Athletic Club (rugby union), Clube de Regatas Tietê and Clube Atlético Ipiranga, also, on Bom Retiro, we have the Baseball Stadium, Mie Nishi.

International sports events

Tennis court in Villa Lobos Park.

The following international sports events have been held in São Paulo:



Imigrantes highway connects the city to the ocean coast.

The city is crossed by 10 major Brazilian motorways and automobiles are still the main means to get into the city. They are:


São Paulo grew quickly from the 1940s to the 1980s and many roads and buildings were built without major planning. As a result, heavy traffic is common on the city's main avenues, and traffic jams are relatively common on its largest highways. The main means of commuting into the city is by car and by bus. An effective way of avoiding heavy vehicles traffic in the city, such as buses and trucks that crossed the city for other destinations, was planned by ex-governor Mário Covas as a road ring that circles the city, called Rodoanel Mario Covas,[95] and is being built by DERSA.[96]


The Luz Station "Estação da Luz" in the morning.

The two major São Paulo train stations are Luz and Julio Prestes in the Luz/Campos Eliseos region. Luz is the seat of the Santos-Jundiaí line which historically transported international immigrants from the Santos port to São Paulo and the coffee plantation lands in the Western region of Campinas. Julio Prestes connected the SW São Paulo State and Northern Paraná State to São Paulo and products were transferred to Luz Station from which they headed to the Atlantic ocean and overseas. Julio Prestes ceased from transporting passengers through the Sorocabana or FEPASA lines and now only has limited suburban service. Due to its acoustics and the beauty of its interior, surrounded by Greek revival columns, part of the rebuilt station was transformed into the São Paulo Hall, or Sala São Paulo, home of the internationally, known São Paulo Orchestra.

The Luz Station, which was built in Britain and assembled in Brazil, has an underground station and is still very active with east and westbound suburban trains that link São Paulo to the Greater São Paulo region to the East and the Campinas Metropolitan region in Jundiaí in the western part of the State. Besides housing the interactive Museu da Língua Portuguesa (Portuguese Language Museum), Luz Station is surrounded by important cultural institutions such as the Pinacoteca do Estado, a brick Greek revival structure planned by the famous local architect Azevedo, where an impressive painting collection is housed. The Museu de Arte Sacra on Tiradentes Avenue with Barroc works of Aleijadinho and a Neapolitan gigantic Nativity Scene. The first Brazilian male saint's, Frei Galvão, tomb is located in the chapel of Convento da Luz, adjacent to it. Jardim da Luz, in front of the gare, is an elegant turn of the century park with cascades, tropical trees, statues and a gazebo which was built to entertain the privileged class who lived in what used to be a grand neighborhood with avenues that borrowed French names such as Avenida Campos Eliseos, translated from the French Champs Elisees.

Trains in Luz Station.

When an outbreak of yellow fever erupted in the area, affluent Portuguese, Italian, Jewish, and Arabic descendants moved to the newly-built Higienópolis section further SW of here. About a century later, the Luz district struggles with panhandling, prostitution, drug activity, crime, and dilapidation. Under the Old Centro revitalization program, and in an effort to do away with the Cracolândia, "crackhead land," nickname to the Luz district, Luz station has been restored, buildings in disrepair demolished, and incentives are being offered to companies that transfer their headquarters to the region, where new highrises are being erected. The city still does not know how to address the drug addiction problem and homelessness, as shelters are crowded and human rights groups often monitor attempts to clear the streets of adult and minor crack addicts without promoting better perspectives.

Although poorly maintained by heavy rail services, there is an infrastructure project to build a high-speed railway service linking Brazil's two largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.[97] The trains would go as fast as 280 kilometres per hour (170 mph) (the trip would last about 1 hour and 30 minutes). This specific project is still waiting an official announcement by the Brazilian government, who is trying to obtain international financing through a public-private partnership.

Another important project is the "Expresso Bandeirantes," which is a medium-speed rail service (about 160 km/h) from São Paulo to Campinas, which would reduce the journey time from the current one hour and a half by car to about 50 minutes by train, linking the towns of São Paulo, Jundiaí, Campinas Airport, and Campinas city center. This service is also going to be connected to the railway service between São Paulo city center and Guarulhos Airport. Major works on an express railway service between São Paulo city center and Guarulhos International Airport were announced by the São Paulo state government in 2007,[98] which will be a milestone in the revitalisation and improvement of the Brazilian passenger railway services.


São Paulo has two main airports. The São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (IATA: GRU) for the international flights and the Congonhas-São Paulo Airport (IATA: CGH) for domestic and regional flights. Another airport, the Campo de Marte Airport, serves light aircraft and helicopters. The three airports together movimentarma 34,342,496 passengers, making São Paulo one of the cities busiest aircraft in the world.

Congonhas Airport operates flights mainly to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasília. After the upgrade work by Infraero has been completed, passengers now enjoy new boarding lounges, located on the mezzanine level, accessed by escalators. Besides this, eight boarding bridges were installed to provide more comfort to passengers by eliminating the need to walk in the open to their flights.

The terminal area was expanded from 37.3 thousand to over 51 thousand square meters. This expansion did not seek to raise capacity, which was already saturated, but only to satisfy current demand. Congonhas Airport, built in the 1930s, was designed to handle 6 million passengers a year and was operating with 12 million a year. The ample new boarding area, separated from the main concourse, adds greatly to passenger comfort.[99]

Campo de Marte is located in Santana district, the northern zone of São Paulo. The airport handles small aircraft, particularly private craft belonging to flying clubs and air taxi firms. Opened in 1935, Campo de Marte today is the base for the largest helicopter fleet in Brazil. It has no scheduled airlines, but its terminal is equipped with a snack bar, restaurant and bank branch. This airport also is the home base of the State Civil Police Air Tactical Unit, the State Military Police Radio Patrol Unit and the São Paulo Flying Club.[100]

A city with possibly the world's highest helicopter ownership rate. Largely using this airport, an elite wealthy class takes advantage of some one hundred remote helipads and heliports to conveniently bypass heavy road traffic.[101] Campo de Marte also hosts the Ventura Goodyear Blimp.

The Guarulhos International, also known to São Paulo dwellers as "Cumbica" is 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the city center, in the neighbouring city of Guarulhos. Every day nearly 100 thousand people pass through the airport, which connects Brazil to 28 countries around the world. There are 370 companies established there generating 53 thousand employments. With capacity to serve 15 million passengers a year, in two terminals, the airport currently handles 12 million users.

Construction of a third passenger terminal is pending, to raise yearly capacity to 29 million passengers. The project, in the tendering phase, is part of the airport’s master plan and will get under way shortly. São Paulo International Airport is also one of the main air cargo hubs in Brazil. The roughly 100 flights a day carry everything from fruits grown in the São Francisco Valley in the Northeast to the most sophisticated medications created by science in the Southeast. The airport's cargo terminal is South America's largest and stands behind only Mexico City's in all of Latin America. In 2003, over 75 thousand metric tons of freight passed through the terminal.[102]


Metro Station.

The city has 61.3 km (38.1 mi) of underground railway systems (34.6 km (21.4) fully underground) (the São Paulo Metro,[103] locally known as the Metrô), with 4 lines in operation and 55 stations, complemented by another 260.7 km (162.0 mi) of Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM, or "Paulista Company of Metropolitan Trains") railways. Both CPTM and the underground railway lines carry some 5 million people on an average weekday, and a few new underground lines to be constructed are expected to add another million people to the system within the next five years. The projects expected to expand São Paulo's urban railway system from the current 322 km (200 mi) to more than 500 km (310 mi) on the next 10 years, surpassing the London Underground, and becoming the largest rail system in the world.[104]

Train of São Paulo Metro.

São Paulo has three rapid transport systems:

  • The underground rail system (called "metrô", short for "metropolitano" and in plates in English is called "subway"), with three complete lines.
  • The suburban rail system, Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM), has six lines that serve many regions not reached by the underground system, and even some other cities in the metropolitan region. The CPTM network is longer than the underground rail system.
  • The fast-lane bus system: there are many such bus lines in the city, called "Passa Rápido," which are street-level, placed on large avenues, and connected with the underground or suburban train stations.

São Paulo has no tram lines, although trams used to be common in the first half of the 20th century.[105] São Paulo's underground train system is modern, safe, clean and efficient, considered one of the best subway systems in the world, as certified by the NBR ISO 9001. It has four lines (a fifth, the Yellow line, is under construction) and links to the metropolitan train network, the CPTM.


Articulated buses on "Tiradentes Express."

The bulk of the public transport (government and private companies) is composed of approximately 17,000 buses (including about 290 trolley buses),[106] coloured uniformly according to the non-central region served (ex.: light green for the buses that go South West, dark blue for the Northern area). Until the past few years, there was a strong presence of informal transport vans (dab vans), but the vast majority of such vans are already fully registered with the city council, legalized and operating under the same color scheme of the main system.

In a transportation world that has dreamed up such systems as maglev bullet trains and "smart roads" capable of guiding vehicles, bus-based mass transit may appear quite low-tech. But in São Paulo the buses themselves are only the most visible part of a vast operation that relies on a number of advanced technologies: computer simulations help plan the bus network, GPS monitoring keeps track of the fleet, and electronic payment streamlines fare collection. And in an experiment to reduce pollutant emissions, later this year São Paulo will test a small number of hydrogen fuel cell buses on one of the city's busiest busways. None of this technology would be of much use without experienced bus engineers, of whom São Paulo has plenty. Over the years this cadre of bus pros has been disseminating its expertise throughout Brazil and beyond.

Tietê Bus Terminal, the second largest Bus Terminal in the world.[107]

Together with the New York/New Jersey Port Authority terminal, the São Paulo Tietê Bus Terminal is considered the largest in the world. It serves directly 565 localities in all the States of Brazil, with the exception of Amazonas, Roraima and Amapá, as well as five countries (Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia). It offers a special line to the airports of Congonhas and Guarulhos, and a ride sharing automobile service São Paulo to Santos.

The Barra Funda Bus Terminal is much smaller and is connected to the Barra Funda Train and Subway Stations. It serves Southwestern São Paulo State cities such as Avaré, Piraju, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, Ipaussu, Chavantes, and Ourinhos in the border with Paraná State.

For buses to São Paulo State shore, one needs to get off at the Jabaquara subway station, which is the final southbound stop. The Litoral, shore, bus terminal serves Praia Grande, Santos and São Vicente in the South Shore and Mongaguá, Bertioga, and Guarujá in the North Shore. Buses to North Shore cities such as Maresia, Riviera de São Lourenço, Caraguatatuba, Ubatuba, and Paraty, in Rio de Janeiro State must be taken at the Tietê Bus Terminal, at Tietê Sta. on the northbound subway Blue line.


Campo de Marte Airport has the largest fleet of helicopters in Brazil.

Due to the intense traffic jams on the roads combined with a fears of kidnappings among its richer citizens, São Paulo has become the city with the highest number of helicopters in the world, more than cities like New York and Tokyo. With 462 private helicopters[108] in 2008, and around 70,000 flights per year within central São Paulo, according to the British newspaper The Guardian, is turning into a "real life South-American episode" of The Jetsons.[109]

Helicopters enable businessmen and other executives to sharply reduce their commuting time, at least to the most important meetings and conferences. They are also used to bring executives in from their homes in distant parts of the greater metropolitan area and back to them at the end of the work week. Some companies own their helicopters, others lease them, and still others use helicopter taxi services. One suburban helicopter shuttle service, located about 15 miles from the center of the city in a suburb called Tamboré, is unique in the sense that it is run and operated totally by women, including its pilots.

Current critical problems

Smog in São Paulo.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, São Paulo has been a major economic center in Latin America. With the arrival of the two World Wars and the Great Depression, coffee exports to the United States and Europe were critically affected, leading wealthy coffee farmers to invest in industrial activities which eventually turned São Paulo into Brazil's largest industrial hub. The new job positions thereof contributed to attracting a significant number of immigrants from Europe and Asia and migrants from within the country, especially the northeastern states. From a population of merely 32,000 inhabitants in 1880, São Paulo increased its population to approximately 250,000 in 1900, 1,800,000 in 1940, 4,750,000 in 1960 and 8,500,000 in 1980. The effects of this population boom have been:

  • Although urban planning has been implemented in some areas, São Paulo has developed quickly without major planning.
  • Overcrowded public transport associated with a high number of cars and other vehicles in circulation lead to consistently congested traffic on many roads of the city.
  • Due to heavy usage and poor maintenance, the quality of the pavement on certain roads (especially in the outskirts of the city) is problematic, and potholes and other asphalt defects are common.
  • For a long time considered to be one of the most critical problems found in the city, crime rates are, finally, about to reach acceptable levels, according to the UN parameters of violence, with its numbers consistently decreasing for the past 8 years.[110] The number of murders state-wide in 2007 was 67% lower than it was in 2000,[111] one-quarter of that in the State of Rio de Janeiro.[112] During the first nine months of 2008, 19 people were kidnapped.[113]
  • High air pollution,[114] mainly due to the high circulation of automobiles and buses in town.
  • The two major rivers crossing the city, Tietê and Pinheiros, are highly polluted. A major project to clean up these rivers is under way.


Congestion on Consolação Street.
  • State Legilature approves a antitobacco Law in the whole State of São Paulo, in 2009. Project forbids tobacco in "collective enclosures" and creates free environments. This law will be adopted nationally.[115]
  • The Clean City Law or antibillboard, approved in 2007, focused on two main targets: antipublicity and anticommerce. Advertisers estimate that they removed 15,000 billboards and that more than 1,600 signs and 1,300 towering metal panels were dismantled by authorities.[116]
  • Some countries have adopted vehicular restriction in order to reduce air pollution levels. In São Paulo metropolitan region, the vehicle restriction was adopted from 1996 to 1998, in order to reduce air pollution, during wintertime. Since 1997, a similar project was implemented during the whole year in the central area of São Paulo in order to improve the urban traffic.[117]

Human development

Map of the districts of São Paulo by human development index.

In 2007 the city of São Paulo conducted a survey about the quality of life of its inhabitants to help the government in the social politics of the city. The indicator used was the HDI - the same used by the United Nations for qualifying the development of the countries in the world.

It was noted in this survey that the neighborhoods around or in the geographical center of the city tend to be more developed than those located in the fringes. In 2000, top neighborhoods possessed human development indexes equal to or greater than those of Scandinavian countries, while neighborhoods in the lower range where in line with, for example, North Africa.

Top 5 districts

Districts in last 5 places

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

São Paulo is twinned with:[118]

  Americas   Europe   Asia and Africa
Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina Germany Hamburg, Germany Angola Luanda, Angola
Bolivia La Paz, Bolivia Armenia Yerevan, Armenia People's Republic of China Beijing, China[119]
Canada Toronto, Canada Italy Milan, Italy[120] South Korea Seoul, South Korea[121]
Chile Santiago, Chile Portugal Coimbra, Góis, Leiria, Funchal, and Lisbon, Portugal Israel Tel Aviv, Israel[122]
Cuba Havana, Cuba Spain Barcelona, Spain[123] Japan Naha, Japan[124]
United States Chicago and Miami Dade, United States Romania Bucharest, Romania Jordan Amman, Jordan
Paraguay Asunción, Paraguay France Paris, France[125][126] Syria Damascus, Syria
Uruguay Montevideo, Uruguay Romania Cluj-Napoca, Romania Japan Osaka, Japan[127]
Peru Lima, Peru Spain Santiago de Compostela, Spain People's Republic of China Ningbo, China
Argentina Mendoza, Argentina Spain Córdoba, Spain[128] Macau Macau, China


See also



  • Lawrence, Rachel (January 2010). Alyse Dar. ed. Brazil (Seventh ed.). Apa Publications GmbH & Co. / Discovery Channel. pp. 183–204. 


  1. ^ Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano - Municipal, 1991 e 2000
  2. ^ R.L. Forstall, R.P. Greene, and J.B. Pick, "Which are the largest? Why published populations for major world urban areas vary so greatly", City Futures Conference, (University of Illinois at Chicago, July 2004) – Table 5 (p.34)
  3. ^ "Emplasa". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  4. ^ The World According to GaWC 2008 – Retrieved on 2009-07-06
  5. ^ "Mirante do Vale, São Paulo". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  6. ^ "Edifício Itália, São Paulo". Cidade de São Paulo. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  7. ^ Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística; Estimativas das Populações Residentes, em 1o. De Julho de 2008. Zip-file from ftp-archive. Estimated population of municipalities in Brazil on 2008-07-01. Retrieved on 2008-10-14.
  8. ^ Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística; Resolução No. 05, de 10 de Outubro de 2002, Área Territorial: UF – São Paulo – SP - 35 Pdf-file from ftp-archive. Areas of municipalities in São Paulo state. Retrieved on 2008-10-14.
  9. ^ Citimayors website - Largest cities
  10. ^ Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística; Estimativas das Populações Residentes, em 1o. De Julho de 2008. Zip-file from ftp-archive. Estimated population of municipalities in Brazil on 2008-07-01. 22,105,060 is the total population of the 39 municipalities within the official metropolitan area of São Paulo. Retrieved on 2008-10-14.
  11. ^ Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística; Resolução No. 05, de 10 de Outubro de 2002, Área Territorial: UF – São Paulo – SP - 35 Pdf-file from ftp-archive. Areas of municipalities in São Paulo state. Total area of the 39 municipalities within the official metropolitan area of São Paulo. Retrieved on 2008-10-14.
  12. ^ Consejo Nacional de Población, México; Proyecciones de la Población de México 2005-2050 The total population of Zona metropolitana del Valle de México (Distrito Federal plus 60 other municipalities) was estimated to 19,826,918 in 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  13. ^ "E São Paulo". Navios De Guerra Brasileiros. Brazilian Navy. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  14. ^ "São Paulo holds Gay Pride parade," BBC
  15. ^ a b c Rachel Lawrence: 2010, Page 183
  16. ^ Pico do Jaraguá Mountain Official Website
  17. ^ Brazilian Departamento de Águas e Energia Elétrica, "International Competitive Bidding Tender Announcement"
  18. ^ Subtropical climate in the city of São Paulo
  19. ^ São Paulo 40 Graus
  20. ^ Britannica Online Encyclopedia - Climate of São Paulo
  21. ^ Climate of São Paulo
  22. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical weather for São Paulo". 
  23. ^ "World Meteorological Organization: Weather Information for São Paulo". 
  24. ^ Empresa Paulista de Planejamento Metropolitano S.A.
  25. ^ Neighborhoods in São Paulo
  26. ^ Subprefectures in São Paulo
  27. ^ "Nicolau Pereira De Campos Vergueiro". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  28. ^ "Folha Online - Especial - 2005 - São Paulo 451". 2005-01-24. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  29. ^ Latin American Immigration to São Paulo
  30. ^ Ethnicities of São Paulo
  31. ^ Especiais - Agência Brasil
  32. ^ Especiais - Agência Brasil
  33. ^ a b c d e f 450 Anos de São Paulo
  34. ^ Especiais - Agência Brasil
  35. ^ ::: Etni-cidade :::
  36. ^ ELB
  37. ^ "Portal da Cidadania". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  38. ^ "Sistema IBGE de Recuperação Automática - SIDRA". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  39. ^ Barsa Planeta Ltda
  41. ^ "Bot generated title ->". Jornal Mercado Paulista<!. Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  42. ^ Diário do Comércio - Especiais - Locarno
  43. ^ "ELB". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  44. ^ Number of vehicles in the city of São Paulo - G1 News 2009
  45. ^ Number of vehicles - Greater São Paulo
  46. ^ Number of Daily Newspapers
  47. ^ "IBGE Área Territorial Oficial" (in Portuguese). Orcamento e Gestão. Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  48. ^ List of alpha global cities - 2008
  49. ^ Estadão
  50. ^ The largest cities in the world by land area
  51. ^ Emporis
  52. ^ The streets the world's most luxurious
  53. ^ São Paulo Metro
  54. ^ CPTM
  55. ^ Centro Comercial Leste Aricanduva
  56. ^ HCFMUSP
  57. ^ Billionaires in São Paulo, Forbes
  58. ^ Yahoo! Finance, in portuguese
  59. ^ a b PricewaterhouseCoopers, Global city GDP rankings 2008-2025
  60. ^ "Richest cities 2009". PricewaterhouseCoopers.,sp-sera-6-cidade-mais-rica-do-mundo-ate-2025-diz-ranking,463359,0.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  61. ^ "BBC - Último Segundo - São Paulo será 6ª cidade mais rica do mundo em 2020, diz estudo". Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  62. ^ "Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística". IBGE. 2006. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  63. ^ FERREIRA, João Sette Whitaker; The myth of the global city, doctoral thesis presented to the FAUUSP, 2003.
  64. ^ Instituto Brasileiro de Geografía e Estatística. (2006) (in Portuguese) (PDF). informal economy. São Paulo, Brazil: IETS. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  65. ^ International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) - São Paulo
  66. ^ Events in São Paulo
  67. ^ Economy of São Paulo and U.S. states
  68. ^ Oscar Freire Street - 9th most luxurious street in the world
  69. ^ Vanguard and Knowledge Center - São Paulo City
  70. ^ BM&F Bovespa: About us
  71. ^ Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (2006) (in Portuguese) (PDF). per capita income. São Paulo, Brazil: IBGE. ISBN 85-240-3919-1. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  72. ^ "Global 500 June 2009 Market values and prices at 30 June 2009". FT. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  73. ^ Agenda Cultural
  74. ^ South-South orientation in São Paulo Art Bienal
  75. ^ SP Fashion Week
  76. ^ BBC News website, "São Paulo holds Gay Pride parade". Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  77. ^ Folha Online website, "Parada Gay bate recorde, dizem organizadores". Retrieved 14 June 2007.
  78. ^ SP Gay Pride Parade
  79. ^ The Week International São Paulo
  80. ^ March of Jesus in SP
  81. ^ Website of FENATRAN (Portuguese)
  82. ^ FILE - Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica official website.
  83. ^ Video Brasil website
  84. ^ DATASUS Health Care Statistics
  85. ^ Hospital do Cancer de São Paulo
  86. ^ Movement website
  87. ^ São Paulo Convention and Visitors Bureau, "City Facts". Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  88. ^ a b Hospedaria dos Imigrantes (1885)
  89. ^ Histórico da Hospedaria
  90. ^ Acervo Histórico-Cultural
  91. ^ a b [1] in portuguese
  92. ^ "Estádio do Morumbi - Cícero Pompeu de Toledo". Retrieved 2009-05-06. 
  93. ^ [2] in portuguese
  94. ^ [3] in portuguese
  95. ^ Dersa website, "Rodoanel Mário Covas"
  96. ^ DERSA official website
  97. ^ Nasdaq website 2007, "Brazil May Take Bids On Rio-To-São Paulo High-Speed Rail Link"
  98. ^ Secretaria dos Transportes Metropolitanos do Estado de São Paulo "PPP for construction of Guarulhos Airport Express railway". Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  99. ^ São Paulo/Congonhas National Airport - Infraero
  100. ^ Campo de Marte Airport
  101. ^ Brazil's Elites Fly Above Their Fears Washington Post article dated June 1, 2002.
  102. ^ São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport - Infraero
  103. ^ Downloadable map (pdf) of the underground network retrieved from the Metro SP website.
  104. ^ All the main projects from the São Paulo railway and underground system for the next 10 years can be found on the Metrô website and CPTM (in Portuguese).
  105. ^ For the history of São Paulo tramways, see Tramz website
  106. ^ Webb, Mary (Ed.) (2009). Jane's Urban Transport Systems 2009-2010, pp. 42/6. Coulsdon (UK): Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2903-6.
  107. ^ Tietê Bus Terminal, the second largest in the world
  108. ^ Number of Helicopters in São Paulo
  109. ^ [4] The Guardian: High above São Paulo's choked streets, the rich cruise a new highway
  110. ^ Secretaria de Segurança Pública website, [5]. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  111. ^ Época magazine website, "Taxa de homicídio cai para 10,3 no estado de SP; índice é 67% menor do que em 2000", published 31 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  112. ^ McClatchy Newspapers, [6], published 27 December 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2008.
  113. ^ Folha de São /paulo
  114. ^ School of Public Health, University of São Paulo (2003). "Air pollution and children's health in São Paulo (1986-1998)". Soc Sci Med. 53 (Dec): 2013–2022. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  115. ^ Antitobacco in São Paulo
  116. ^ Billboard law in SP
  117. ^ Vehicular Restriction in SP
  118. ^ International Relations - São Paulo City Hall - Official Sister Cities
  119. ^ "Sister Cities". Beijing Municipal Government. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  120. ^ "Milano - Città Gemellate". © 2008 Municipality of Milan (Comune di Milano). Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  121. ^ Seul Metropolitan Government. "International Cooperation: Sister Cities". 
  122. ^ "Tel Aviv sister cities" (in Hebrew). Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  123. ^ "Barcelona internacional - Ciutats agermanades" (in Catalan). © 2006-2009 Ajuntament de Barcelona.,4022,229724149_257215678_1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  124. ^ Naha Sister Cities
  125. ^ "Les pactes d'amitié et de coopération". Mairie de Paris. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  126. ^ "International relations : special partners". Mairie de Paris. Retrieved 2007-10-14. 
  127. ^ "Osaka and the World, the official website of the Osaka city". Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  128. ^ La Cooperación Directa en el Ayuntamiento de Córdoba - Córdoba City Council Web

External links

Official websites
Other websites
News stories

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

São Paulo downtown, Anhangabau Valley.
São Paulo downtown, Anhangabau Valley.
São Paulo is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
For other places with the same name, see São Paulo (disambiguation).

São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, with a city population of about 11 million and almost 20 million in its metropolitan region. It is the capital of the Southeastern state of São Paulo, and also a beehive of activity that offers a jovial nightlife and an intense cultural experience. São Paulo is one of the richest cities in the southern hemisphere, though inequality between the classes typically observed in Brazil is blatant. Historically attractive to immigrants as well as (somewhat later) Brazilians from other states, it's one of the most diverse cities in the world.

São Paulo, or Sampa as it is also often called, is also probably one of the most underrated cities tourism-wise, often shaded by other places in the Brazilian sun & beach circuit such as Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. It is in fact a great city to explore, with its own idiosyncrasies, the exquisite way of living of its inhabitants, not to mention the world-class restaurants and diverse regional and international cuisine available to all tastes. If there is a major attraction to this city, it is the excellent quality of its restaurants and the variety of cultural activities on display.

São Paulo Muncipal Cathedral, Praça da Sé, Downtown.
São Paulo Muncipal Cathedral, Praça da Sé, Downtown.

Following São Paulo's extraordinary growth during the 20th century, most of the old city buildings have given way to contemporary architecture. This means that most tourists sights are concentrated around the historical center, where 17th-century churches stand in the shadows of skyscrapers. The traditional ethnic neighborhoods are also fairly close to the center. Shopping and dining, though, are spread throughout the city. São Paulo can be divided in 7 main regions:

Centro Histórico

The most cosmopolitan city in Brazil could only have a central area that is equally cosmopolitan. A universe of diverse people moves through the center of São Paulo; there are business people rushing to get to the stock market, groups of punks in search of the latest record and a number of university students hovering around the region attending night classes. Put on comfortable walking shoes and sunglasses, and discover hidden secrets that many Paulistanos may not even know about.

Expanded Center

During the 20th century, little São Paulo became a giant metropolis and the historic downtown was just too small to hold its title. Since then, districts surrounding downtown in every direction became a circle known as Centro Expandido. The area is the most visited by tourists along with historic downtown, and home to the largest variety of services.

South Side

On the South Zone you can go from residential green areas by a lake, middle-class villages with local commerce, to the area that has been called the new downtown, where the skyscraper lovers find themselves at home, together with high profile businessmen.

West Side

Home to the University of São Paulo, the State's Palace, and the largest soccer stadium in town, the West side offers a green suburban feeling in contrast with the chaotic megalopolis. The northwest neighborhoods of Rio Pequeno e Jaguaré hold lower class residential and industrial areas respectly.

North Side

In the northern area of São Paulo you can find neighborhoods with a small-town feel, such as Freguesia do Ó. Places of importance are Expo Center Norte, one of South America's biggest venues for fairs and exhibitions, Serra da Cantareira State Park and Anhembi Park. This region also hosts the Sambodromo and concentrates the bulk of samba schools of the city, as "Gaviões da Fiel", Unidos do Peruche, Rosas de Ouro and Imperio da Casa Verde.

  • Santana, Casa Verde and Vila Guilherme
  • Jardim São Paulo, Tucuruvi and Cantareira

East Side

The east side was the former industrial region of São Paulo and also the home to thousands of immigrants who settled in São Paulo during the early 20th century. It's the region with the largest population in the city, and also with the largest shopping mall (Aricanduva) and the largest urban park (Parque do Carmo). Some neighborhoods of interest are Vila Zelina, with its strong Lithuanian influence, and Mooca, the place that many italians chose as home. Tatuapé/Anália Franco is also worth noting for its "newly-rich" vibe.

  • Tatuapé, Penha and Anália Franco
  • Itaquera and Cidade Líder


The places here are part of Greater Sao Paulo, although each is an independent municipality:

Liberdade district, downtown São Paulo. One of the areas of the city where the immigrant influence is noted the most.
Liberdade district, downtown São Paulo. One of the areas of the city where the immigrant influence is noted the most.

A large sprawling city can present numerous challenges to sensibilities. São Paulo is no exception. Although the first impression might be that of a grey concrete jungle, soon it becomes apparent that the city has a great number of pockets of beauty. The population and environment of São Paulo is diverse, and districts within it range from extremely luxurious areas to hovels housing the poor and destitute, located usually in suburbia far from the so-called "expanded center".

São Paulo, together with Rio de Janeiro, is the spot where most visitors from abroad land in Brazil. While a complete experience of the city would take a few weeks (since the lifestyle of paulistanos and every-day routine in the city are huge attractions in themselves), it's possible to visit all major sites within three days.

Staying a little longer than that is always a nice idea. As the financial and cultural center of the country, the city is a sea of possibilities.


Native American Chief Tibirica' and the Spanish Jesuit priests José de Anchieta and Manuel de Nóbrega founded the village of São Paulo de Piratininga on 25 January 1554 -- Feast of the Conversion of Paul the Apostle. Along with their entourage, the priests established a mission named Colégio de São Paulo de Piratininga aimed at converting the Tupi-Guarani Native Brazilians to the Catholic religion. Anchieta has been referred to the Holy See in Rome to become a saint & has received the title of "blessed," but intellectuals and human rights groups oppose his canonization for he would have killed or ordered the killing of a "disobedient" Native American.

São Paulo officially became a city in 1711. In the 19th century, it experienced a flourishing economic prosperity, brought about chiefly through coffee exports, which were shipped abroad from the port of neighbouring city Santos. After 1881, waves of immigrants from Italy and other European countries, Japan and Middle Eastern countries, such as Syria and Lebanon immigrated to São Paulo State due to the coffee production boom. Enslavement of Africans was coming to an end, due to British pressure, as the British Empire wished to introduce its machinery and industrialized products to Brazil. The government was also concerned with the fact that the population of Blacks was greater than that of Europeans, and, in an effort to "bleach the race," gave incentives to European nationals of countries such as Italy, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Portugal, and Spain to immigrate. Thus, after Emancipation, with the influx of European labor and failure on the part of the racist system to include African-Brazilians, Blacks became unemployed and many begged to be re-enslaved by their former "owners." By the beginning of the 20th century, the coffee cycle had already plummeted due to, among other factors, a sharp decline in international coffee prices. The local entrepreneurs then started investing in the industrial development of São Paulo, attracting new contingents of overseas immigrants to the city. Many of those entrepreneurs had Italian, Portuguese, German, and Syro-Lebanese Christian descent such as the Matarazzo, Diniz, and Maluf.

However, due to competition with many other Brazilian cities, which sometimes offer tax advantages for companies to build manufacturing plants in situ, Sao Paulo's main economic activities have gradually left its industrial profile in favour of the services industry over the late 20th century. The city is home to a large number of local and international banking offices, law firms, multinational companies and consumer services.

All major Brazilian companies have offices in São Paulo, and its stock exchange is the main South American indicator. After merging with the Future Markets Exchange, Bovespa, the Sao Paulo Stock Exchange has become the largest in the world (Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper 2008).


Don't be surprised at the diversity of paulistanos. For example, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. It is not uncommon to see businesses and churches being conducted by Chinese and Korean-Brazilians in the Bairro Oriental, which was originally Italian, then Japanese and which is heavily populated by other East Asians today. The city's Italian influence is also very strong, and Sao Paulo is said to be the second Italian city in the world. The large Christian Arab and Jewish communities are also well represented in all levels of society, from art to real estate businesses, and notably in politics.

The citizens of São Paulo have a reputation as hard-working and industrious, or alternately, shallow money-grubbers. Common word is that the people in São Paulo work while the rest of Brazil relaxes; even though many say this is plainly wrong. It is a fact,nonetheless, that the city of Sao Paulo alone actually contributes with 15 percent of the country's gross national product (45 percent if the entire São Paulo state is taken into account).

But when paulistanos are not working, they are clubbing. The city nightlife is as intense as it gets, which makes going to a club a total must-do. Everything is possible in a city that doesn't dare to blink.


São Paulo's basic spot for orientation should be Avenida Paulista. From there, it's pretty easy to reach every single spot in town, be it by bus or underground transport. It is located between the neighborhoods of Bela Vista and Jardim Paulista. Av. Paulista is also within walking distance to Centro and Ibirapuera Park, which makes it the perfect place to start a walking tour.

However, keep in mind that central Sao Paulo actually comprises a very large area, and travelling from one spot to another may require that you take a cab or public transport. Most of the main attractions are located in the city's "expanded center", the area limited by the Tietê river on the North, the Pinheiros river on the West, Avenida dos Bandeirantes on the South and Avenida Salim Farah Maluf on the East. Outside the circle of the expanded center there are 8 areas, some of which you'll probably never go. To find out where you are, see the street signs, as it is colour-coded:

  • Historical Center: White street plate.

All other areas have blue street plates, and a bottom stripe on the following colours:

  • Expanded Center: Grey
  • Northwest: Light Green
  • North: Dark Blue
  • Northeast: Yellow
  • East: Red
  • Southeast: Dark Green
  • South: Light Blue
  • Southwest: Purple
  • West: Orange


Although not at all a tourist city, its cosmopolitan inhabitants (i.e. of the middle and upper classes) probably speak better English, Spanish and Italian than anywhere else in Brazil. English is generally spoken at main hotels and those in contact with tourists, though in most bars and restaurants it may be difficult to find a menu in English. Several schools teach Portuguese for foreigners. Locals are very friendly, and will try to help you, but for many there will be a language barrier, it's a good idea to print out some key phrases from Google Translator.

  • Check the official Brazil tourism [1] website for general information regarding visas and customs, and the Cidade de São Paulo [2] homepage for updated events and art exhibitions around town.

By plane

São Paulo has three major airports: Guarulhos International (GRU) and Viracopos (CPQ) for international and some domestic arrivals, and Congonhas (CGH) for most medium and short haul domestic flights.

Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)

If flying into São Paulo from abroad, you'll mostly likely land at Guarulhos International Airport [3], also known as Cumbica. Located 40 km from the city centre, the airport has two terminals that are served by Brazilian airlines Varig [4], TAM [5], Gol [6] and by international United, Delta, American, Continental, Air Canada, Air France, British Airways, TACA, TAP, Iberia, Alitalia, KLM, JAL, Korean Air (via Los Angeles), South African and many others.

Non-airline shuttle buses [7] are available from Guarulhos to Congonhas Airport, Praça da República (Downtown), Paulista/Jardins region, Barra Funda bus station and Tietê bus station(fastest access to the subway). All lines except Congonhas connect to the Metrô. R$28 one-way. There is also a regular urban bus every 20-30 min (timetables [8]), which costs only R$3,65 and goes to and from Tatuapé Metro station (30-45 min, via Ayrton Senna, the other is slower) (line 3, red [9]). Exit Terminal 1 Arrivals and head for the middle island. Look for buses 257 or 297. Less comfy than the shuttles, but can prove faster way to Paulista (and elsewhere) on days with dense traffic, as it goes for the closest Metro station. Be aware that you might be denied access with luggage that won´t fit on your lap.

TAM and Gol, the two main Brazilian airlines, offer free shuttle buses for their passengers with flights to/from Guarulhos International Airport and Congonhas Domestic Airport. Check the schedules for TAM [10] and Gol [11].

A taxi co-operative, Guarucoop (tel: +55 11 2440-7070), has a monopoly on cabs leaving Guarulhos. They are plentiful and the queue is outside the arrival terminal. Credit-card users can pay for their journey in advance at the booth. Expect to pay about R$75-110 (depending upon your destination) for the 25 km journey into the city. Passengers can ask to see the tabela, which shows the fares for each neighbourhood. A taxi ride into the city can take up to two hours during peak times; 30 min late at night or early in the morning.

Congonhas Airport (CGH)

The Congonhas Airport is in a very central region, 15 km (9 mi) from downtown. This airport handles most of the domestic flights and the popular São Paulo - Rio (Santos Dumont) short-flight or air shuttle (nicknamed Ponte Aérea). As it was built in the 30s, its simple but glamorous architecture is worth seeing.

The easiest (and cheapest) way to get to Congonhas is by taking any of the "Aeroporto" regular line buses that run in Paulista Ave. After some 40-60 min in modest traffic you'll be dropped right in front of the airport and the fare is the regular R$2,70 (Bilhete Único accepted). It is mostly faster to take the metro to the São Judas or Conceição subway stations, and then the bus from there (10 min).

Cab drives from downtown or Paulista should be used after checking how is the out of control São Paulo traffic. Check the CET [12] website (only in Portuguese), which is the traffic administration department of the city.

Viracopos International (CPQ or VCP)

Located near the city of Campinas, around 99 km (62 mi) from downtown São Paulo, Viracopos International [13] is the second biggest airport in Brazil but is mainly used for air cargo transport; however, domestic and international flights also arrive there and it can be used when weather conditions prevent landing in Cumbica. The new (Jan 2009) Brazilian airline Azul [14] serves important cities throughout the country from this airport.

By bus

There are three main bus terminals in São Paulo, all of them served by the Metrô (Subway) network.

  • Terminal Rodoviário do Tietê, Av. Cruzeiro do Sul 1.800, Santana (Tietê metro station, Blue line), +55 11 3235-0322, reachable from 6AM-11:30PM, [15]. Tietê bus terminal is the second largest terminal in the world, hence an enormous building, but there is an information desk in the middle of the main lobby. Buses leave Sao Paulo for destinations throughout Brazil and for international destinations including Asunción in Paraguay (20 hr), Buenos Aires in Argentina (36 hr), Montevideo in Uruguay (30 hr) and Santiago in Chile (56 hr). A taxi ride from Paulista/Jardins costs around R$40. Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.  edit
  • Terminal Rodoviário da Barra Funda, R. Maria de Andrade 664, Barra Funda district, Expanded Center (Barra Funda metro station, Red Line), +55 11 3392-1878, [16]. Located west of São Paulo's downtown , carries departures and arrivals to and from western cities in the São Paulo state, to Mato Grosso, Foz do Iguaçu and west Paraná cities. About 30 min from Paulista Ave by Metrô. You can also reach it by boarding the Orca shuttle service from Vila Madalena station (Green line) or by boarding the "Barra Funda" (875P) bus in Paulista Ave. Guarulhos International Airport shuttles also depart and arrive from this terminal.  edit
  • Terminal Rodoviário de Jabaquara, R. dos Jequitibás s/n, Jabaquara district, South Side (Jabaquara metro station, Blue Line), +55 11 3235-0322, [17]. The Jabaquara Terminal serves cities in São Paulo state's south coast such as Guarujá, Santos and Bertioga. Located thirty minutes away by Metrô from downtown. There is a baggage storage (Guarda Volumes) in the Jabaquara Metro, R$6 for 24 hours.  edit

Get around

Transport in São Paulo can be anything from complicated to hellish. Peak hours are normally roughly 6AM-9AM and 4PM-8PM, but since city roads are constantly on the edge of their capacity, any little incident can cause major queues and delays. The solution for tourist is to use subway (metrô), train (CPTM) and trolleybuses (EMTU) as far as possible. Even these means of transport can be uncomfortably crowded during peaks, and only a very limited carry-on is recommended. You can check the SPTrans [18] website, which is the city's transport administration department. There you can get itineraries using all the city's public transportation options.

Bilhete Único

The Bilhete Único is a contact-less smart card that can be used for paying the fares in buses, subways and trains. In essence, a single billing of the card grants a person up to four trips in São Paulo's public transportation system. You can get the card at no cost at many underground stations; charge them with the minimum amount required in newspaper stands, state-owned betting shops (known as "lotéricas"), supermarkets and other establishments - look for the red, round "Bilhete Único" logo. You can use the card to pay for your trips in the public transportation system as follows:

  • On buses: upon boarding a bus, you'll be charged R$2,70 and can board up to three other buses in a two-hour period without being charged a second time.
  • On the Metro or CPTM trains: for a single trip in the underground train system, you'll be charged R$2,55.
  • First Metro/CPTM train then bus: you'll be charged R$2,55 when passing by a Metro or CPTM station's turnstile. Once you board a bus, you'll be charged an extra R$1,20 and will be able to board two other buses in a two-hour period - starting from the first validation at the train station - without any further payment.
  • First bus then Metro/CPTM train: once you board a bus, R$3,00 is charged from your card. Upon entering the Metro or CPTM systems, you'll be charged a further R$1,45. It's possible, after leaving the Metro or CPTM system, to board up to two other buses without any further payment in the two-hour period that starts from the first validation, depending on whether you boarded one or two buses before entering a train.

By subway and train

Metrô (Subway System)

Map of the Metrô (Underground) and CPTM networks.
Map of the Metrô (Underground) and CPTM networks.
The Consolação Underground Station in the Paulista/Jardins district, Green line.
The Consolação Underground Station in the Paulista/Jardins district, Green line.

São Paulo's subway system, known as the Metrô [19], is the method of transportation a tourist is likely to use the most while visiting São Paulo. It is modern, safe, clean and efficient. It has four lines in operation and one under construction. In several stations, Metrô connects to São Paulo's extensive suburban trains network, called CPTM(Downloadable map (PDF) [20]).

  • Line 1 (Blue): The first Metrô line built runs North-South. Transfers are available for the Green and Red and lines and also for CPTM trains. Tietê and Jabaquara bus terminals are also reachable through via Line 1 (Blue).
  • Line 2 (Green): The Green line runs through Ave Paulista ridge, connecting Alto do Ipiranga to Vila Madalena, and also the Blue line.
  • Line 3 (Red): One of São Paulo's busiest lines, it connects the East Side to the West Side. Connections to the Blue line and CPTM trains are available. The Barra Funda bus terminal is on the west end of this line.
  • Line 4 (Yellow, under construction): Scheduled to have the first stations operating in 2010 and fully operating in 2012, the Yellow line will connect the central Luz station to the West side in a route constructed immediately below the Consolação and Rebouças avenues. Connections will be available to the Blue, Green and Red lines and to CPTM trains.
  • Line 5 (Purple): Built for users who need to reach specific places in São Paulo's South Side. Only a short sector of the line is already available, connecting to CPTM trains at Santo Amaro station; the scheduled expansion will make connections to the Blue and Green lines in 2013.

Fare and hours of operation

If you don't have a Bilhete Único smart card (see above), the Metrô uses a simple fixed-price ticketing scheme - you can get only one-trip tickets, which cost R$2,55. The single tickets can be bought at the counters or automatic machines, found in every station. Buying multiple ticket will not save you money but will save time locating a vending machine or waiting time which can both be bothersome. Metrô tickets are valid for inter-line changes on the Metrô system.

The Metrô's operating hours are Su-F 4:30AM-midnight (or 1AM Sa), depending on the station, up to 12:40AM. Connections on the Metrô network are guaranteed only for boardings before midnight (1AM Sa), regardless of the station.

CPTM (Commuter Trains)

There are 6 commuter train lines to suburban areas, with free transfer to Metro at Brás, Luz, Barra Funda and Santo Amaro stations. The one-way ticket costs R$2,55. "Bilhete Único" is accepted. Info toll-free 0800-055-0121.

By bus

Buses are the most popular way to get around the city. Even though drivers really step on it through the bumpy streets of São Paulo, buses are not the fastest way to get around. In addition, they can get really crowded. However, unlike the Metro lines, they do reach every neighbourhood.

Tickets are R$2,70 one way. You can pay for the ride inside the bus, or use a Bilhete Unico card topped up with credits before boarding. If paying for the ticket on the bus, simply hand over the money to the teller sitting by the turnstile, and he or she will let you pass through. Note that children under 5 years old are allowed by law to slip under the turnstile for free! If you have the Bilhete Unico magnetic card, then a single fare payment allows you to take other buses for free for the next 3 hours after touching in the card. Simply scan the card in front of the card reader, and the turnstile will be released.

If you are carrying large suitcases, try to avoid rush-hour traffic as buses can become incredibly packed. It is not always wise to take the bus late at night, especially if you find yourself all alone waiting at the bus stop - consider calling a cab instead, or asking someone you know for a lift.

By taxi

Taxi ranks in São Paulo are white, with a distinctive luminous green "TAXI" sign on the roof top. Check out for the white color of the taxi rank (unless it's a radio taxi), the official license sticker with the driver's name and photo on the passenger side of the control panel, and the red license plate.

There are two kinds of cabs: cheaper street-hail and radio taxi. White taxis are often found at stands near city squares and big venues. Radio taxis can be ordered by telephone; ask reception at your hotel for help to call a radio cab, or just call a company. Taxis in São Paulo are relatively expensive compared to other large cities worldwide.

By car

Cars are an important tool in the life of every paulistano. By commuting to and from work, one can spend several hours a day inside a car, stuck in the traffic. Some places can only be reached by car, and if you have to travel long distances in town, it is usually the most convenient means of transport. It is also part of the Sao Paulo's own urban culture, some years ago, it used to be common for some middle- and upper-class young people to receive a car from their families if they passed the entrance exams for university.

However, as it is the case in many big cities, getting around by car is borderline crazy if you're not used to São Paulo. Traffic is hell, parking is a nightmare, and the definition of a lane often is "wherever I can fit a car." So be warned that visitors to Sao Paulo don't need a car.

If you're comfortable to adventure and feel more like a paulistano, feel free to explore the city from behind a steering-wheel. There is some information about driving in town that you should know beforehand:

Rotating transit policy: In order to reduce the congestion and the air pollution in Sao Paulo, the city council has adopted a mandatory rotating transit policy: cars whose license plate number ends in 1 and 2 cannot circulate on Mondays; if it ends on 3 or 4, Tuesday is off; 5 or 6, stay home or take a cab on Wednesdays; 7 or 8, Thursday is the unlucky day; 9 or 0, on Fridays you can walk. The prohibition is valid only on the so-called Expanded Center (blue street plates with grey bottom stripe), and for peak hours: 7AM-10AM and 5PM-8PM. During the remaining hours, cars are allowed to circulate freely.

Provisory driving licence: Being able to drive around the city is a great advantage for visitors staying in town for a longer period of time. You'll need a Brazilian provisory driving licence, valid for 6 months and renewable, that can be obtained at Detran (State Transit Department), on Ave Pedro Alvares Cabral, 1301, 04094-901, near Ibirapuera Park. If you have a International Driving Licence, you'll still have to go to Detran and register it. Submit the following documents to “Setor de Atendimento ao Estrangeiro” (4th floor of the main building, also called prédio principal):

  • your original valid driving licence from your home country and a photocopy of your licence
  • an original ID document and a photocopy of a valid leave to remain in Brazil (passport with a valid visa or stamp)
  • Translation of the driving licence by an official translator or your country's Consulate in Brazil
  • A document (such as a utility bill, a bank statement or a letter from your landlord) proving your local residential address.

Parking fees: The city council charges a parking fee of R$2 for one-hour parking in some of the main streets in the central area, so be careful not to be fined for not paying the charge. Check for signs in the sidewalk and yellow lines on the pavement. There are plenty of authorised shops and transit guards selling tickets (Zona Azul) in the streets, which have to be filled in with the car plaque number, the date and the hour of the parking and placed inside the car, on the frontal window pane. These tickets are valid for one hour only, but they can be renewed if you plan to stay longer. Only two one-hour tickets can be placed at one time, which means that you'll have to check on you car every two hours to renew them. The fee is charged M-Sa 7AM-7PM.

Driving at night: Buses stop at 1AM and the metro around midnight, so it can be tricky to get to many of the famous bars and night clubs unless you take a taxi, or... drive. If you go out at night by car, expect to pay a small fee to unofficial "car keepers" in order to park your car along the streets. This is a common use in many busy outing hubs around town, which may seem unfair given that parking your car in the streets is free of charge after 7PM, but they occasionally may check your car against stereo robbers. If the neighbourhood seems a bit dodgy or deserted, try to find a parking lot rather than parking in the streets.

Valet services: Most bars and restaurants offer non-compulsory parking and valet services to customers, for which you will be charged a small fee. These services are often covered by insurance, nevertheless, whenever using valet services, do not leave valuables such as handbags, wallets, electronics and sunglasses in the car, as these items are usually not covered by the insurance policies in parking spaces.

Fuel: At petrol filling stations, you'll notice that ethanol is as common as traditional fuels in the pumps. That is because, after the oil shocks in the 1970s, the Brazilian government incentivised car makers to develop and improve the existent ethanol-fueled engines. This policy, applied over the years, has resulted in a large number of people choosing to buy this type of car. Ethanol tends to be cheaper than petrol, but the consumption in litres is around 30 percent higher. Many flex-power cars can now be fueled with either ethanol or gas, or a mixture of both in any proportion. Staff are hired in petrol stations to fill the tank for you, so you don't need to get out of the car, unless if you're paying by credit card, in which case you can go to the cashier to swipe it.

By bicycle

It is best to cycle on the weekends, when the number of pedestrians and cars in the streets are much lower than on weekdays. Don't ride your bicycle on the pavement, and follow the direction of traffic at all times. Watch out for car doors opening without warning.

There are public bicycle parking lots in Guilhermina-Esperança and Pinheiros metro stations (6AM-9PM daily). Parking lots (mainly the ones designed for cars) may not accept your bicycle, so if you are to chain yours to a pole, use a good chain with a strong lock.

The Metro underground system accepts cyclists with bicycles on weekends and holidays.

Cycle ways

São Paulo has built 23 km of the 300 km planned cycle routes. Many are underutilised, such as the one that connects the Largo da Batata to Ave Pedroso de Morais, in the district of Pinheiros. You can also ride your bicycle in public parks such as Ibirapuera Park and Cidade Universitaria, which are cyclist-friendly.

On foot

Although required by the national transit law, pedestrians are definitely not the priority in Sao Paulo, where cars dominate the streets and roads, and have become an extension of people's bodies. Take care whenever crossing the streets, watching out for cars that may come unexpectedly, even if the pedestrian lights are green. Do not try to cross large roads with a high volumes of car traffic: usually there will be a pedestrian viaduct or bridge at some point in the sidewalk.


Despite the aggressiveness found in the transit, one can still have peaceful walks across town. The historical Centro neighbourhood is definitely one place to explore on foot.

view from Edifício Itália
view from Edifício Itália

The Jardins are also great to explore by strolling around the Rua Oscar Freire, Rua Haddock Lobo and Alameda Santos. More on this area can be found below on the "Buy" section of this guide and on the region section.



As the art center of the country, São Paulo offers museums in a variety of subjects. Check each region section of this guide for a list of museums.

Buildings with observation decks

São Paulo is a beautiful city seen from above, so spare some time to go to one of the few points where you´ll be able to see how far this city extends to, specially at sunset.

  • Banespa Tower, Rua João Brícola, 24, Centro. São Bento Metrô station, +55(11) 3249-7180. M-F, 10AM-5PM. The observation deck is on the 34th floor, 160 m above ground. For many decades, it used to be the highest building in town. There is a small museum on the top of the building." Free entrance.  edit
  • Restaurant Skye, Hotel Unique, Avenida Brigadeiro Luiz Antônio, 4700. On the rooftop of posh Hotel Unique, Skye serves excellent fusion food under the supervision of chef Emmanuel Bassoleil. Good for night views of the area around Ibirapuera Park. Free entrance.  edit
  • São Paulo Jockey Club, Av. Lineu de Paula Machado, 1263, [21]. There are two bars and a couple of posh restaurants with a great view of the River Pinheiros, especially around 6PM, when you can go straight from work or a busy day walking about to watch the sun set above town. Free entrance.  edit


São Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which carry plays in Portuguese. Specific places, such as the British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institut, Instituto Cervantes and Alliance Française occasionally carry plays in English, German, Spanish and French, respectively. Check each region of the city for list of theaters.

Ibirapuera Park
Ibirapuera Park

For more parks, check a city region section.

  • Ibirapuera Park, [22]. With 1.5 million square meters, this is the most frequented leisure area in São Paulo. It has paths for walking and jogging, bikeways, woods, lakes, sport courts and areas for relaxation that attract city residents of all ages. It receives up to 150 thousand visitors on weekends. There are other important attractions at Ibirapuera, such as the Modern Art Museum, the Biennial Art Exhibition building, the Oca art exhibition pavilion and the Japanese pavilion. It also has frequent free music presentations by national and international artists. Ibirapuera was inaugurated in 1954, during the celebrations for the city’s fourth centennial. Oscar Niemeyer, renowned Brazilian architect, designed several of the buildings. Watch joggers, dog-walkers and all kinds of street vendors, and sit down on a patch of grass and listen to the birds singing. One of the few places in São Paulo where you can do just that. If you feel like it you can even enjoy a Caipirinha from one of the cardbord-box bars you will find close to the entrances. Also buy the sweet and tasty coconut/nougat-sweets that are sold by many vendors in the park. Nearest Metro is "Vila Mariana" and then a short taxi ride, a bus or a 20 minutes walk down the Rua Sena Madureira. You also can walk for around 20 minutes through Brigadeiro Luiz Antonio Avenue, from "Brigadeiro" Station (Green Line), in Paulista Avenue. You also can take a bus from the station, until the park.
Japanese Pavillion
Japanese Pavillion

Watch the city

Whether taking a tour by bus, walking in specific neighborhoods or admiring a great view of the city on top of Edifício Itália, São Paulo has many options for sightseeing and exploring. Stroll around Vila Nova Conceiçao, one of the most expensive property areas in town. Drive along Pinheiros neighborhood which contains some of the most famous and popular night clubs in the city. The crossing from Av. Faria Lima and Av. Juscelino Kubitschek is a good place to start. Driving along the Faria Lima and surroundings, visitors will be rejoiced by a wide selection of bars and clubs.

Go to the Zoo

The Zoo [23]. Tu-Su, 9AM-4:30PM. Always a good option to get to know a little bit more about the varied fauna of Sao Paulo. It is also a nice entertainment option for families with children in town. From Metro Jabaquara station, there is a shuttle bus that takes you straight there.

  • Playcenter, [24]. One of the city's main amusement parks, offering dozens of rides, as well as shows, places to eat, stores, banks, parking, etc. Rua José Gomes Falcão, 20, Barra Funda Metrô Station (Red Line).
  • Visit the Aquarium, Rua Huet Bacelar, 407, Ipiranga, (11) 2273-5500, [25]. M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa,Su 10AM-8PM. R$25.  edit
  • Hopi Hari, Rodovia dos Bandeirantes, 72 km, Vinhedo-SP, 0300-789-5566, [26]. Check Hopi Hari's website for working days. A big theme park located in the city of Vinhedo, one hour from São Paulo. It offers many rides, from those for children to the radical ones. Various food, from snacks to a la carte. You can get there by car or shuttle buses from many places. R$34,90 for previously bought tickets; R$49,00 for tickets bought in park entrance.  edit
  • Wet'n Wild São Paulo, Rodovia dos Bandeirantes, km 72, Itupeva-SP, (11) 4496-8000, [27]. Check Wet'n Wild website for working days. A water park of the American Wet'n Wild chain, just beside Hopi Hari, with 12 rides and many food shops. from R$ 32,50 (bought in kiosks, for weekdays) to R$65,00 (in park entrance, for weekends).  edit
  • Sao Paulo Historical City Tour is a panoramic tour for those keen to have an introduction to the history, culture, and the lifestyle of the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. The city tour takes about 3 hours, during which the visitor will pass by places in Sao Paulo Old Centre and get familiar with highlights such as the Cathedral of Se, Patio do Colegio (short stop at the square, the site where the city was founded), Monastery of Sao Bento, the Banespa Building (Sao Paulo’s “Empire State Building”), Martinelli Building (the first skyscraper in South America), Viaduto do Chá (Tea Viaduct), the Municipal Theater, Sala Sao Paulo concert hall, Estaçao da Luz train station and the Municipal Market.


According to the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau, São Paulo hosts 90,000 events a year, from meetings and conferences to sports and cultural events.

Biennial of São Paulo

The arts Biennial takes place every two years (even ended) in the Biennial Pavillon, inside the Ibirapuera Park. It is an art show that displays the works of both renown artists and fresh talents.

  • Pavilhão da Bienal, Parque do Ibirapuera (Ave Pedro Álvares Cabral, s/n.º, Portão 3), +55(11) 3032-7576.  edit


If you're in São Paulo during the annual Carnival, a national bank holiday between the end of February and March, you should definitely get tickets to parade in the Sambodromo, near Armenia and Tiete Metro stations (Avenida Olavo Fontoura, 1209, Santana. Tel. +55(11) 6226-0510). This is where the typical Carnival parade takes place, with dancers dressed up in costumes and musicians play samba songs on the top of fancy cars.

If you can afford it, get tickets closest to the "pista" (standing area, close to the parade itself). This will give you a premium view of the parade, and the possibility of comfortably sitting down on benches. Waiters pass to and fro selling chocolate, chips, beer, soft drinks and booze.

Another option is to visit one of the various samba school in town, where you can see the rehearsal concerts of musicians and dancers. You can even have the opportunity to join the parade at the time of Carnival holidays by acquiring the costume from a samba school and getting in touch with the people organising the event in one of the schools.

Gay Pride

Every year, during Corpus Christi holidays (usually between May and June), around 3 million people take part in the largest Gay Pride parade in the world. It takes place on a Sunday, and Avenida Paulista is the spot to head to. Floats bustling with eletronic music parade from MASP to República, while every type imaginable marches along. The drinks are plenty and the rave party feel keeps the paraders dancing way pass sunset.


check district sections for located options of learning

  • University of São Paulo, [28]. The largest academic institution in the country, and third largest in Latin America. It is a state university, and undergraduate courses are free of charge for those who pass its competitive entrance exams. USP's main campus is in the Cidade Universitaria district, and it is open for both students and non-students. It is a nice place to ride a bicycle, jog or just lay down on the grass, especially in the summer. The nearest Metro station is Vila Madalena in the Green line. In front of the tube station, a free shuttle bus (Ponte Orca) will take you to the USP campus. You can also take a train (CPTM) until "Cidade Universitária" Station (Line C).
  • Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Rua Monte Alegre, 984, Perdizes, Tel. +55(11) 3670-8000, [29]. Founded in 1946, PUC-SP is highly regarded in Latin America for its departments of human sciences. The main campus is in the neighbourhood of Perdizes and also open for both students and non-students, but it has a very small area and almost no places for sport activities. However, it's notable for the impressive neoclassical architecture, which is part of the Historical Heritage of the city. The nearest Metro stations are Palmeiras-Barra Funda, in the Red Line, and Sumaré, in the Green Line.
  • Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV-SP), Av. 9 de Julho, 2029, Bela Vista, 01313-902, tel. (11) 3281-7777, [30]. This university is one of Brazil's most traditionals, famous for its Economics and Management departments. It has two other campi, in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

Discounts for Students

With a valid photo ISIC (International Student Identity Card), you can get half-priced tickets at cinemas, theatre plays, gigs and concerts. Some discount applies to museum entrance fees and to some shops as well - check on the official ISIC website for more information on where student discount applies.

Brazil has exchange programmes with many internationally recognised universities. In order to register at a Brazilian university as an exchange student, you must obtain a student visa at the Brazilian Embassy or Consulate in your home country. After you have arrived in Brazil with a valid student visa, then you must register in the “Departamento da Polícia Federal” (Federal Police Department) within 30 days of your arrival and obtain the RNE (Registro Nacional do Estrangeiro), which is the national ID card for overseas citizens. This is also where you can renew your visa with the Brazilian authorities. It is located at Rua Hugo Dantola, 95, Alto da Lapa, near Ponte do Piqueri (Piqueri Bridge). It is open M-F, 8AM-2PM.

By bus:From Avenida Paulista to the Policia Federal department, you can take the bus line "669-A/10 Terminal Princesa Isabel" in front of Trianon-Masp Metro station (on the same side of MASP museum), get off at the final stop, then take bus "978-J Voith" and get off at Rua Hermano Marchete, 1030. Walk up the street until you see the Policia Federal. To return, take the same bus "978-J" to Terminal Princesa Isabel. Then, take bus "669-A/10 Terminal Sto. Amaro" to return to Avenida Paulista.

By train: From Metro station Barra Funda (red line), take the CPTM light rail train to Lapa station.


  • British Council, Rua Ferreira Araújo, 741, Térreo, Pinheiros, 05428-002, +55(11) 2126-7526 (fax: +55(11) 2126-7564).  edit
  • Aliança Russa de Ensino Superior, Av. Eng. Luiz Carlos Berrini 962, Conjunto 102, Brooklin, 04571-000, +55(11) 5505-5898 (fax: +55(11) 5505-3988), [31].  edit

Learn Portuguese

There are a number of language schools where you can learn Portuguese, for as short as two weeks or for a longer period of time. These include both private lessons and classes with more students.

  • Fast Forward [32].
  • Alumni, Rua Padre João Manoel, 319, +55(11) 5644-9700, [33].  edit
  • University of Sao Paulo, Ave Prof. Luciano Gualberto, nº 403 (Prédio de Letras) - Sala 263, Cidade Universitaria, +55(11) 3091-4851 (), [34].  edit
  • Uniao Cultural Brasil-Estados Unidos, Rua Teixeira da Silva, 540, +55(11) 3885-1022, [35].  edit
  • Senac Sao Paulo, Rua Dr. Plinio Barreto, 285, 4º andar, Jardins, +55(11) 2182-6900 (, fax: +55(11) 2182-6941), [36].  edit


You'll find practically anything in São Paulo. Imported goods can be expensive, but look out for Brazilian-made bargains in all categories. Spend some time in one of the many "shoppings" (as Brazilians call the shopping malls) and also look out for areas with shops catering for specific interests.

There's not one single main shopping area in São Paulo, but many specialized streets, such as Rua Teodoro Sampaio (Metrô Clínicas) for furniture and musical instruments, Rua Oscar Freire (Metrô Consolação) for designer clothing such as Versace and Dior and jewelry shops, Rua José Paulino (Metrô Tiradentes) for bargain and wholesale clothing, and Rua Santa Ifigênia for electronic equipment. Every region of the city (Central, South, North, East and West) has several shopping areas.

Street shops usually operate 10AM-6PM, including Saturdays, but closed on Sundays. The countless shopping centres, operating M-Sa 10AM-10PM and Su 10AM-8PM.

Check each city region section for shopping options.


The Brazilian currency is the real (plural reais), abbreviated BRL or R$ (as used in this guide). It is the legal tender, and no other currency can be used within the country for everyday uses, such as shopping, taking a cab or paying for a meal. One real is divided into 100 centavos. There are two families of coins, the first one with all silver coins, and the second one as follows: R$0.01 and R$0.05 (copper), $0.10 and $0.25 (golden), $0.50 (silver) and $1 (silver with a golden halo), plus bills of $1 (green), $2 (dark blue), $5 (purple), $10 (red, paper and polymer), $20 (yellow), $50 (golden) and $100 (blue). As of December 2009, one pound sterling is worth about R$2.84, one US dollar is worth about R$1.75, and one Euro is worth about R$2.56.

  • Most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners) are widely accepted in shops and restaurants, but a few small shops may be an exception to this rule, accepting cash only.
  • Note that ATMs are not as dependable as they are in the US or Europe, not many operate 24/7 and it is not unusual for your card to give you an error and then work when re-tried.
  • Store windows will often display a price followed by "X 5" or "X 10", etc. This is an installment-sale price. The price displayed is the per-installment price, so that, "R$50 X 10", for example, means 10 monthly payments of R$50 each. The actual price is almost always lower if you pay in cash, but you may have to ask the salesclerk to obtain a discount.
  • Make sure any appliances you buy are either dual voltage or the same voltage as in your home country. Brazil is 60Hz, so don't buy electronic devices unless you have an adapter. The voltage is 110V.


São Paulo has one of the highest living costs in Latin America. Even so, costs are usually lower than in Western Europe or North America, and it is possible to enjoy the city's attractions while spending low cash in both accommodation and food. For example, a set-meal, drinks included, in a not-so-bad place is around R$ 12. Ask locals for tips how to make the best out of your money if you're in a tight budget.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under R$20
Mid-range R$2015-60
Splurge Over R$60

São Paulo has a superb diversity of restaurants, and the prices can be relatively low compared to European and American standards. When eating out, a tip of 10 percent on the value of the bill is usually included. Some restaurants don't include service charges (occasion when you may come across the message "Serviço não incluso" at the end of the bill), but unless the staff are upsettingly rude, do pay the standard 10 percent service fee as it is usually part of their wages.

It is not common to leave handbags on the floor; local superstition says your money can go away (specially in open air bars). The waiters may even offer an extra chair for you to leave your belongings whilst you have your meal.

If you want a snack to enjoy with your beer and don't know what to order in a Brazilian bar, look up for Mandioca (Portuguese for manioc or cassava root) on the menu. Most likely they'll have it, deep-fried and sprinkled with salt (great alternative to chips!), or cooked and seasoned with melted butter. Other great snacks are Pastéizinhos (literally "little pastéis, thin, deep-fried, and crunchy salted pastries), or "Bolinhos de carne-seca" (a portion of delicious fried "dry-meat" rolls). If you are up to a more conservative choice, french fries are spelled batata frita in Brazilian Portuguese.


You will have no trouble finding bars in São Paulo, where you can enjoy an ice cold beer, a shot of cachaça or a caipirinha - or anything else for that matter. A chopp (a 300 ml glass of draught beer) will set you back between R$2-10 (in extreme cases), depending on the bar, but anything around R$3,10 is fine.

There are two ways of serving beer in bars: draft or bottled. Draft lager beer is called chope or chopp ('SHOH-pee'), and is commonly served with one inch of foam, but you can always ask for it "sem colarinho" (without foam) if you prefer. In bars, the waiter will usually collect the empty glasses and bottles on a table and replace them with full ones, until you ask him to stop, in a "tap" charging system. In the case of bottled beer, bottles (600 ml) are shared among everyone in the table and poured into small glasses, rather than drank straight from the bottle. Brazilians like their beer nearly ice-cold - hence, to keep the temperature down, the bottles are often kept in an insulated polystyrene container on the table.

Vila Madalena and Itaim have a very high concentration of bars, and are great spots for an all-nighter. For some suggestions of bars, check the district section.


This city has an unbelievably rich and diverse night life, and is able to provide entertainment for all tastes, from traditional samba-rock live music to electro-pop night clubs. It is worth planning at least one night out while you're in town. On the other hand, São Paulo's nightlife can be quite expensive; most clubs charge an entrance fee. Usually, entrance hovers around R$25, but they can be over R$100 in some upscale places.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R$70
Mid-range R$70-300
Splurge Over R$300

The most touristic areas are the Centro Histórico and the districts within the Expanded Center.

  • Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi Hotel, Av das Nacoes Unidas, 12901, 55 11 2845 0000, [37]. Located in the CENU business complex towers and attached to the mall, the Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi has some nice touches, such as a rooftop pool and many restaurants and lounges.  edit
  • Porto Bay L´Hotel Sao Paulo, Alameda Campinhas, 266, Jardim Paulista, 55 11 2183-0500, [38]. Five star boutique hotel affiliated of the Leading Small Hotels of The World.  edit
  • Marriott Executive Apartments Sao Paulo, Rua Professor Filadelfo Azevedo 717, Vila Nova Conceicao, Reservations: 55 11 3058 3000, [39]. Extended stay hotel. 1-2-3 bedroom fully furnished apartments, a full-service on-site Restaurant, meeting space, concierge services and other amenities.  edit
  • Melia Jardim Europa, Rua Joao Cachoeira, 107 Itaim, (55) 11 37029600, [40]. Meliá Jardim Europa is in Itaim Bibi. Modern accommodations.  edit
  •, Rua Indiana, 1165 Brooklin, (55) 11 55333944, [41]. is in Brooklin, one of the exclusive area of Sao Paulo. Modern accommodations with DVD, free Parking, and free internet.  edit
  • Sao Paulo Airport Marriott Hotel, Av Monteiro Lobato S/N, Guarulhos, 55 11 2468 6999, [42]. Each room equipped with phones with voice mail, high speed internet, and multiple data ports.  edit
  • Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel, Alameda Santos 2233, Sao Paulo, Reservations: 55 11 3069 2233, [43]. Located in the exclusive Jardins area, has expansive meeting facilities, a first-class Spa and outstanding restaurants.  edit
  • LimeTime Hostels, Rua Treze de Maio, 1552 (Close to the Brigadeiro Subway Station (Green Line)), 55 11 2935 5463, [44]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. R$35-45.  edit
  • Ô de Casa, Rua Alves Guimarães 321 (Close to Clinicas Metro Station), +55 11 30635216, [45]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. A home like hostel with grass in the backyard and reception by its owners. In Pinheiros area. R$33-45.  edit
  • Ô de Casa Hostel, Rua Alves Guimarães, 321 (Close to Clinicas Metro Station), +55 11 30635216, [46]. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 11:00. A home like hostel with grass in the backyard and its owners at reception. In Pinheiros area. R$33-45.  edit
  • Ô de Casa Hostel, Rua Alves Guimarães, 321 (Close to Clinicas Metro Station), +55 11 30635216, [47]. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. Home style hostel, grass in the backyard and reception by its owners. In Pinheiros area. R$33-45.  edit
  • Espaço Nova Luz, Rua Gen. Osório, 23 República, São Paulo, SP, +5511 99965140. checkin: noon; checkout: noon. Range of cultural, music, sports and travel events. Based in a historic building recently renovated. BRL 25,00.  edit

Emergency phone numbers:

  • Police: 190
  • Fire: 193
  • Ambulance: 192
  • Public telephone booths are found in almost every corner of town. They work with phonecards only, which can be bought at any newspaper stand. Regular phonecards allow you to make local and national calls, but the credits fall at an incredible rate if the call is directed to another city or to mobile phones. There is a special phonecard for international calls, so make sure you ask the clerk for the correct one if that's the case.
  • The international telephone country code for Brazil is +55, and the city code for São Paulo is (11), hence local telephone numbers have the following format: +55(11)0000-0000. If you are making local calls, the +55(11) prefix should be dropped.
  • When making national calls from SP, you have the option to choose your telephone provider: dial 0 followed by (15) Telefónica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the two-digit city code and telephone number.
  • When making international calls from São Paulo to abroad, you also have the option to choose your telephone provider: dial 00 followed by (15) Telefónica, (23) Intelig or (21) Embratel, plus the country code and telephone number.

Internet Cafés

Internet cafés (also called cyber cafés ou lan houses) can be easily found in every neighbourhood.


People from Sao Paulo kiss on the right cheek once when they say hello, goodbye and nice to meet you. Some will kiss twice, once on each cheek, a kiss in the air. Men kiss women on the cheek and women kiss women as well, but two men won't give the kiss out unless they're gay or with intimate long-time friend or family. If you feel the occasion is a bit formal, especially on business occasions or if you don't know the person too well, a hand shake will do the job. However, if a paulistano takes the initiative to kiss, make sure you turn your face to the left side to avoid embarrassment.

  • Paulistanos do appreciate if you are on time. However, given the infamous traffic congestion that prevails in town, a 15-30 min delay in a meeting is usually tolerated, and you shouldn't worry too much if you or someone else turns up a bit late. In general, people don't plan more than two meetings per day, with a possible lunch meeting in between, due to the traffic delay in getting from place to place.
  • Office hours are usually from 9AM-6PM, and banks are open M-F 10AM-4PM. However, don't be surprised if a meeting is scheduled after 6PM, as the business culture in Sao Paulo is a bit workaholic.
  • Small gifts are usually gladly accepted, but exchanging presents is not the general rule.

Stay safe

São Paulo, like any big city in South America, has its crime problems. However, with due caution and common sense, the likelihood of being a victim is very small for the average tourist. Visitors need to take some care when wandering about areas outside the main shopping and hotel districts alone at night, as in any other large city. Leave your jewelry and excess cash in the hotel's safe. Wearing extravagant or expensive-looking clothing will make you stand out if you're traveling by foot or public transportation.

A good tip is to take a money belt and a wallet, put some old credit cards and a little money in the wallet, then if you are pickpocketed or mugged you don't lose credit cards or any significant amount of cash. Note that you want some money in the wallet so that the mugger will leave after taking it. Also if you are mugged local advice is to just keep calm and hand over your wallet.

At the airport

Pay close attention during check-in and when claiming baggage. Always remain alert at airport terminals and observe the following tips:

When asking for information or assistance, always look for a duly identified police officer or an employee of the company with which you are traveling. There is a DEATUR police station at all São Paulo airports, staffed by professionals specially trained to provide assistance to travelers. Never handle large quantities of cash in public. If you must use an ATM, make sure no one is watching when you type your security code. If the machine malfunctions, only request assistance from duly identified employees. Never agree to carry packages for people who you don't know. When using taxis or renting cars, choose only registered professionals and companies. When entering the vehicle, ask that all of your belongings be placed in the trunk. If the driver refuses, look for another taxi. When using your mobile phone inside the taxi, keep it away from the window. In slow traffic, do not handle large quantities of cash inside the vehicle.

At restaurants

During meals, your attention is focused on the table, which could compromise your safety. Put into practice the following advice to avoid problems:

  • Choose places recommended by friends or the hotel staff where you are staying. Find out the best way to get there, the best time to go and what type of service the restaurant offers, etc.

In public areas and at large-scale events

Events and public places where there are a lot of people with bags and other belongings are attractive targets for thieves. Take the following precautions to avoid any unpleasant occurrences:

  • Avoid talking to strangers, especially those who are insistent.
  • Always keep an eye on your belongings.
  • Never give out personal information.
  • Do not handle large amounts of cash in public.
  • Carry cameras discreetly.
  • Use only officially registered forms of transportation.

Tourist police stations

Familiarize yourself with the location of the police stations specializing in tourist service and protection. These stations offer information on public safety and are staffed with qualified professionals to meet your needs.

  • Port and Airport Police Division. Special services for tourists and protection for dignitaries. Rua São Bento, 380, 5th floor, Centro. Tel. (11) 3107-5642 and 3107-8332.
  • Headquarters of the Specialized Tourist Police – DEATUR. Av. São Luiz, 91, Centro. Tel. (11) 3214-0209 and 3120-3984.
  • São Paulo Police Station at Congonhas Airport. Avenida Washington Luis, Moema. Tel. (11) 5090-9032, 5090-9043 and 5090 9041.
  • São Paulo Police Station at Cumbica/Guarulhos International Airport. Rua Dr. João Jamil Zarif, Guarulhos. Tel. (11) 6445 3064, 6445-2686, 6445-2162, 6445-3464, 6445-2221.
  • No vaccination is required for São Paulo, unless you are planning to travel to central-western (Mato Grosso) or northern (Amazon) regions of Brazil afterwards, for which you should take a shot against yellow fever, and carry anti-malaria medication (quinine). If you're arriving from Peru, Colombia or Bolivia, the vaccination of yellow fever is required (i.e. you cannot leave these countries without your vaccination card if you're heading to Brazil). Some countries, such as Australia and South Africa, will require evidence of yellow fever vaccination before allowing you to enter their countries if you have been in any part of Brazil within the previous week. Check the requirements of any country you will travel to from Brazil.
  • Tap water in São Paulo is generally safe, at least when straight from the water supply system. However, several buildings can be lacking in the periodic cleaning of their cisterns and water tanks (the locals themselves tend do avoid tap water and drink bottled or filtered water instead).
  • Be careful when plugging in electronic devices, as voltages vary between 127V and 220V across cities in Brazil, always 60Hz. In the city of São Paulo the voltage is usually 127V. Other cities in the state of São Paulo may use 220V plugs (such as Jundiai and Sao Jose dos Campos). It is always prudent to ask before you plug an electronic device outside the city of Sao Paulo.
  • Many electric outlets will accept both the USA / Canada type plugs and the parallel twin round pins used in many countries in Europe (low current "europlug"). It is helpful to carry a world-travel adapter in any case, since other countries in South America vary in electrical plug formats and shapes. Some outlets for computers have the USA two flat pins and one round ground pin.
  • DHL, Rua Bela Cintra, 1165, loja n°6, Jardins, +55(11) 3062-2152, [48]. M-F 9AM-8PM.  edit
  • FedEx, Ave São Luiz, 187, Loja 45, Galeria Metrópole, Centro, 0800-703-3339, [49]. M-F 9AM-1PM and 2PM-6PM.  edit
  • Bike Courier, R. Joaquim Távora, 128, Vila Mariana, +55(11) 5549-6422, [50]. Mon-Fri 8:30AM-6PM.  edit

Provides courier service within Sao Paulo by using professional cyclists. An eco-friendly alternative to car and motorbike deliveries, preventing an increase in air pollution and in your carbon footprint.

  • Australia Consulate General, Alameda Ministro Rocha Azevedo, 456, 2F, 01410-000, (11) 2112-6200 (, fax: 11) 2112-6220), [51]. 9AM-11AM.  edit
  • Argentina Consulate General, Ave Paulista, 2313 - sobreloja, +55(11) 3897-9522 (, fax: +55(11) 3285-0748). 9AM-5PM.  edit
  • Canadian Consulate General, Ave Nações Unida, 12.901, 16F, +55(11) 5509-4321 (, fax: +55(11) 5509-4260), [52]. M-Th 8AM-5PM, F 8AM-1:30PM.  edit
  • China Consulate General, Rua Estados Unidos, 1071, Jardim América, 01427-001, (011) 3082-9877 (fax: (011) 3062-4396), [53]. 9AM-1PM.  edit
  • Colombia Consulate General, Rua Tenente Negrao, 140-9° andar. Cj.92 Sao Paulo, CNPJ 04.919.564/0001-83, (011) 3078-0322 - 3078-0262 (, fax: (011) 3078-0298). 9AM-noon 2PM-5PM.  edit
  • Czech Republic Consulate General, Ave Morumbi, 635, Jardim Guedala, 05607-000, +55-11-3031-1729 (, fax: +55-11-3031 1822), [54].  edit
  • France Consulate General, Ave Paulista, 1842, Torre Norte, 14F, 01310-923, (55) 11 3371 5400 (fax: (55) 11 3371 5410), [55]. 8:30AM-noon.  edit
  • Germany Consulate General, Ave Brigadeiro Faria Lima, 2092, 12F, 01451-905, (11) 3097 6644 (, fax: (11) 3815 7538), [56]. 8AM-11:30AM.  edit
  • Japan Consulate General, Ave Paulista, 854, 3F, 01310-913, (11) 3254-0100 (, fax: (11) 3254-0110), [57].  edit
  • Korea Consulate General, Ave Paulista, 37, 9F, 01311-902, (11) 3141-1278 (fax: (11) 3141-1279). 9AM-5PM.  edit
  • Lebanon Consulate General, Ave Paulista, 688, 16F, Bela Vista, 01310-100, (011) 3262-0604 (). 9AM-1PM.  edit
  • New Zealand Consulate General, Al. Campinas 579, 15F, (11) 3148-0616 (, fax: (11) 3148-2521), [58]. 9AM-1PM.  edit
  • Norway Royal Consulate, Rua General Almério de Moura, 780, Morumbi, 05690-080, (11) 3759-2379 (, fax: (11) 3758-5986). 8AM-6PM.  edit
  • Russia Consulate General, Rua Groenlândia, 808, Jardim América, +55(11) 3062-6268 (, fax: +55(11) 3064-1591).  edit
  • Spain Consulate General, Av. Bernardino de Campos, 98 - 1o andar, +55(11) 3059-1800 (, fax: +55(11) 3889-8412). 8:30AM-1:30PM.  edit
  • Sweden Consulate General, Rua Arandu, 205, Conj 1009, 04562-030, Brooklin Novo, +55 11 5506 9994 (, fax: +55 11 5507 4371), [59].  edit
  • United Kingdom Consulate General, Rua Ferreira de Araújo, 741, 2F, +55 11 3094 2700 (, fax: +55 11 3094 2717), [60].  edit
  • United States Consulate General, Rua Henri Dunant, 500, Chácara Santo Antônio, 04709-110, (55-11) 5186-7000 (fax: (55-11) 5186-7199), [61].  edit

Get out

The city of São Paulo is only one hour driving from the Paulista Coast, which is a typical Brazilian region full of splendid beaches and great seafood. The young and the old of São Paulo alike head there on the weekends to enjoy the sand, sun and fun. You can take a bus to your chosen destination at the Terminal Rodoviario Tiete Bus Station, Metrô Portuguesa-Tietê station (blue line). Note the telephone code changes from 11 to 12 (northern coast - São Sebastião and remaining cities to the north) or 13 (Bertioga and remaining cities to the south) as you travel from Greater São Paulo to the Paulista Coast. All coded from 14 to 19 are upstate São Paulo. The rich agricultural state offers winter destinations, upscale retreats and large Rodeos.

  • Ilhabela - As the name suggests, it is a beautiful island with lavish vegetations. Home away from home for rich sailers.
  • Santos (1h journey by car) - Estuary city near São Paulo, home to Pelé's famous football team Santos F.C. and Brazil's most important seaport.
  • Guaruja (1h journey by car) - Many paulistanos have their beach houses in this town, which becomes packed with tourists during the summer months of December, January and February.
  • Bertioga (2h journey by car via Moji das Cruzes; slightly longer via Santos and the ferry): just NE of Santos and Guaruja, this beach town hosts a variety of annual festas which include the Japanese (October), Italians (November), and indigenous Brazilian Indians (nearest weekend to 19 April). These are set up at the park and beach next to Fort São João at the mouth of the river. Don't miss the waterfall on the way down the mountain (via Moji das Cruzes), as there's no access on the return trip.
  • São Sebastião - Second in preference for summer houses, the beaches of São Sebastião are a mixture of rustic paradisiac nature with first class night life. Stay in a room facing the greenish ocean of the state's north shore and forget the city.
  • Ubatuba (3h journey by car) - Beautiful beaches are the main attraction of this place. Hotels sometimes provide leisure activities such as scuba diving, mountain biking and trekking. The city is known for providing a good surfing environment.
  • Campos do Jordao (2h journey by car) -Charming little town in the mountains, at 1,600 m high. Well-off paulistanos buy their winter house in Campos do Jordao, due in part to the famous winter classic music festival in July, when the high season takes place in town. Many upscale club and bar owners go up the mountain and promote events and parties at this time of the year.
  • Embu das Artes - Town just Southwest of Sao Paulo, known for its talented local artists. If you are looking for authentic Brazilian art, handicrafts, furniture, or just want to browse around some really cool shops, this is the place to go.
  • Louveira (40 minutes journey by car) - It's a famous city for its viniculture tradition. Every year the Festa da Uva (The Grape Party) takes place.
  • Brotas is a city famous for its adventure leisure activities, rafting being the most famous one. It's 257 km away from Sao Paulo, or a 3-hour drive.
  • Barretos - Up at the northeast tip of the state is where Brazil's largest rodeo party takes place, bringing together the best in Brazilian and world country music to a week festival.
  • Indaiatuba (1h and 30 minutes journey) - Millionaires addicted to the Polo lifestyle have always loved this town and its Helvétia neighborhood. Today, the region that began as a small swiss colony holds the highest density of private Polo fields in the world.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also Sao Paulo



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Proper noun

São Paulo


São Paulo

  1. State in southeastern Brazil.
  2. The largest city in Brazil, and the capital of the state of São Paulo.


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w:São Paulo

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