This is our very first post, so we thought the best way to start this out is answering the most asked question from first-timer travelers in São Paulo: What is there to see in São Paulo?
We know we need to impress, and even though São Paulo is pretty complex and most of its charm comes from the fact that your experience will be as close to the real thing as possible – because it’s not a city made for mass tourism – there are some things you really can’t miss if you want to go back home telling people you’ve actually visited São Paulo.
So this is our list for first timers.
Avenida Paulista was once the financial heart of São Paulo, and even if those days are long gone, it still quite busy with its honking cars, traffic jams and towering skyscrapers. The pace is fast, and once you’re there you will soon find yourself walking faster to try to keep up the street’s rhythm.
But Sundays at Avenida Paulista are nice and easy. The entire avenue is closed for cars, and is converted into a long city park where musicians, food carts and all the locals gather for a Sunday feast at São Paulo’s most iconic thoroughfare.
And when we say all the locals, it’s not really everybody, but do expect A LOT of people. São Paulo is no small town, and when we all love a place like Avenida Paulista, it’s going to be crowded. Still, Paulista on Sundays actually feels like life being lived at a slower pace. It feels human and personal – you even get to bump into old friends – in a city that is considered somewhat cold and anonymous by our fellow Brazilians.
And while we promise another exclusive post about Avenida Paulista, let’s move on to our second tip.
You probably asked yourself what’s that huge green area in any São Paulo central map. Yes, it’s Ibirapuera Park, and we definitely think you should visit it. While São Paulo doesn’t really have many parks scattered around the city grid, this one is big and it’s our go-to place when we’re in need of a little green in our lives.
Every day is a good day to visit this jewel, and weekends are the busiest ones. Skaters, couples, dogs, families, children, joggers and people from all walks of life hang out there to breath some fresh air.
The Park is also home to a fair number of museums (they all close on Mondays) – and one planetarium – some famous monuments you’ve seen before on postcards, beautiful lakes, and its famous and important landscape, mostly designed by Brazil’s most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer.
That’s why it’s on our must-do list. Paulistanos hang out and have picnics there – and so should you.
Every city tells a story and ours is better understood in our city center. São Paulo started there, and a couple of centuries ago it was all there was to it.
And if today there are only a few exemplars of the old days, downtown São Paulo is still one of the most important areas of the city, where most of the iconic buildings are located, and where you truly get a sense of what it feels like to be in South America’s biggest city. The center is all about grandness and chaos. Beautiful, sober 19th-century buildings contrasting with multicolored shop stalls, all mixed with the shouts and the people who come and go and live and build this city every day.
Our city center is a wonder, and it’s also as chaotic as it can get – that’s what makes it wonderful, really.
A walk around the city center may not be easy – there will be no signs, no one will speak English, it will be crowded, no one really knows what the attractions are – and it may require some well-trained eyes. We do recommend it to those who like to wander and get lost throughout the streets. But we also strongly recommend the Free Walking Tour for a better understanding of the sites and their history.
Pick the way that best suits you, but don’t ever consider leaving São Paulo without seeing its city center.
There is a reason why Ô de Casa Hostel is located in Vila Madalena. Here we start digging into the region we call home.
Technically, Vila Madalena is a smaller area within the larger Pinheiros neighborhood, one of São Paulo’s largest districts. Practically the entire area is where young people have been hanging out for decades. Booming and trendy areas migrate and change constantly, but one thing is certain – we will always be close to what’s hip and trendy.
In addition to the smorgasbord of swell attractions in the area – such as the Batman Graffiti Alley (Beco do Batman), Tomie Ohtake Institute, Batata Square (Largo da Batata), Benedito Calixto Square, Pinheiros Market, Sesc Pinheiros and Aspicuelta Streets, Vila Madalena is a great place to watch life go by from a bar table. This is where locals go on happy hours, a ritual that takes place on a daily basis between the time you leave the office and the time you go back home.
On weekends, produce markets take the streets followed by some music & festivals & graffiti & (again!) more Paulistanos going for a stroll.
If that doesn’t attract you enough, come and pay us a visit at our bar, and we will convince you!
São Paulo does seem huge from up in the air or when seen on a map, and indeed it is. It can take a lifetime of explorations and it probably won’t be enough. But since everything needs to be approached from the beginning, we made this list for you to start your love affair with the city we call home. It may even take different times for different travelling purposes. You can explore this in a looooong, crazy day, but you can also take it in slowly. We are sure you will be surprised by the city that keeps on enchanting us every day.
R. Inácio Pereira da Rocha, 385
Vila Madalena / São Paulo – SP – Brasil.
+55 11 3063-5216