Sao Paulo is a sprawling metropolis that is used to seeing more business travelers than tourists. With wide avenues, tall skyscrapers, and over 20 million people, I consider it Latin America’s “New York.” My first time in Sao Paulo was in September 2015. Since I do business in Brazil, I have been there and back more than 30 times. I can offer these tips below:
1. Live As Close to Avenida Paulista as Possible.
Pharmacies, shopping centers, and grocery stores line Avenida Paulista, so everything is within walking distance. A lot of the major universities and business schools are also right next to Avenida Paulista, so you will have no trouble finding English speakers.
2. The City is Safe.
You are more likely to get mugged in Chicago or Atlanta than in Sao Paulo. Compared to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo is much safer. During the day, the entire city is safe. However, there are still neighborhoods you want to avoid at night:
(1) The southern part of Liberdade
(2) Parque de la Luz
(3) Rua Augusta
(4) Catedral da Sé
(5) Praça da República
3. Get Around in an Uber.
Your best option is an Uber. In Sao Paulo, I have never had to wait more than a few minutes for an Uber. It is also very cheap – I paid $9.00 USD for a 40 minute ride from the airport to the city center. You can also Uber Pool.
4. Go to Museums on Tuesdays.
Entrance into many of the city’s museums (including the Sao Paulo Museum of Art) is free on Tuesdays. Every other day, museums cost R$ 30 and are much busier (especially weekends).
5. Football matches.
When you visit Sao Paulo, go to a football (soccer) match. The environment is reminiscent of a World Series game or Stanley Cup Finals. There are four teams. Two are located within the city limits and are also the biggest: Corinthians and SPFC.
Check online for their schedules. Go an hour before the match starts to get tickets at the gate. Use Google translator as a helper.
6. Visit Liberdade.
It is home to the largest ethnic Japanese community outside of Japan and one of the largest Chinese communities in Latin America. Have your Uber drop you off at Rua Sao Paulo. The south of Liberdade is pretty unsafe.
You will find a mix of Brazilian, Japanese, and Chinese cuisine. In addition, you will find a lot of ethnic Asian people speaking perfect Portuguese (which to me is always a sight).
7. The Sertanejo Night Life.
If you are planning on exploring the night life in Sao Paulo, I would definitely explore one of the city’s sertanejo night clubs. Sertanejo is Brazil’s form of country music (more Florida Georgia Line than George Strait). I personally recommend Woods UP or Villa Country.
8. Feijoada Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Feijoada is a stew of beans with beef and pork served with rice and vegetables. It is absolutely delicious, but is only served on Wednesdays and Saturdays because it takes a few hours to make. You can find it at pretty much any café.