This massive megalopolis of more than 20 million people makes São Paulo one of the largest cities by population in the world. São Paulo (also known as Sampa by its residents) is characterized by its trademark wide avenues and uniquely designed skyscrapers, which showcase its modern appearance. Whether you’re interested in exploring museums and parks or discovering the culinary scene, this cosmopolitan city has something for everyone.
So what’s the first thing to do? Take in São Paulo’s stunning cityscape from the top of the Edifício Itália, which provides a breathtaking panoramic view of this bustling city. Nearby, you can browse the gourmet foods and grab a bite to eat at Mercado Municipal de São Paulo. Also in this neighborhood, the neo-Gothic Catedral da Sé de São Paulomay catch your eye with its enormous spires or the gorgeous Theatro Municipal de São Paulo
Next, make your way to Avenida Paulista for a stroll – it’s one of the city’s premier streets, filled with shops, hotels and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, home to collections from artists like Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso and Degas. When you tire of the concrete jungle, head to the Parque do Ibirapuera, which offers a relaxing escape from São Paulo’s hectic streets and sky-high buildings.
The best time to visit São Paulo is from March to May or October to November (the fall and spring shoulder seasons) when the temperatures are comfortable, the city sees less precipitation (and less haze) and premier events are in full swing. Because it’s located in the Southern Hemisphere, the city sees opposite seasons from those in the Northern Hemisphere (like the United States). Summer in São Paulo (December to February) is hot and wet, with highs hovering around the 80s, while winter (from June to September) sees comfortable temperatures and little precipitation, making it the high season. Overall, the weather year-round in São Paulo is pleasant, with temperatures rarely dipping below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best way to get around São Paulo is on foot or via metro. If you plan out your itinerary in advance and group visiting popular attractions, you should be able to traverse between them on your own two feet. The metro is also a fast, clean, relatively safe and efficient option, and connects travelers to many of the city’s beloved sights. At night, taxis or Ubers are the best way to get around and likely the best way to get from São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) into the city center, which is about 15 miles southwest (but always factor extra time for the city’s notorious traffic). Congonhas Airport (CGH) also services the city with domestic flights; it’s located around 5 miles south of the downtown area and will likely be the airport you use to travel to and from Rio de Janeiro (the majority of its flights are to Rio).