10 things worth doing in São Paulo

Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo

For me, São Paulo has always been more than a concrete jungle, the largest city of Brazil and one of the largest in the world, more than crazy traffic jam and the financial and business center of the country. All the times I have been there, I left with the feeling of not having spent enough time and of not being able to see and do everything I wanted.

With the help of many of my friends who live in São Paulo, I had the opportunity to see and experience the city in a different way. With the years, I realized what I most enjoy doing while I’m there, which I can also recommend to you. So here are 10 things I find it worth doing in São Paulo:

Find the green amongst the concrete

Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo
Ibirapuera Park

São Paulo is more green than what people expect, there are over 100 parks in town. In case you want to escape the craziness, head to one of them, you will be impressed. In my recent trip to the city, I chose the famous Ibirapuera for a quick break.

Appreciate the gastronomy

Churros and dulce de leche at Pobre Juan restaurant
Churros and dulce de leche at Pobre Juan restaurant

I like to say that in São Paulo I could stay 10 days having breakfast, lunch, and dinner in different places every day and I would never get tired of it. For the foodies like me, the city is a paradise and you can find anything from everywhere in the world. From the small restaurants to the most famous, renowned and Michelin starred ones, there are endless options.

Go shopping

Of course, shopping in São Paulo is certainly something you will have fun doing. Brazilians love it! That being on the popular, busy and cheap 25 de Março street – probably the most famous street in the country – at the Brás, at Oscar Freire Avenue, or in one of the fancy shopping malls like Cidade Jardim.

Oscar Freire Avenue
Oscar Freire Avenue

Take a walk at Oscar Freire avenue

One of the most famous avenues in São Paulo, Oscar Freire is a pleasant place for shopping, having an ice cream, or taking a lunch break. For me, it’s the Champs Elysées and the Maximilianstr. of São Paulo, downsized.

Go to a football match

Allianz Parque
Allianz Parque

Watching a football match in São Paulo – or in Brazil for that matter – is nothing like in Europe. Do you want to feel what its like being in the middle of people cheering like crazy? Try to go to a match when in town, it’s unbelievable. My German-football- obsessed-husband couldn’t stop talking about it!

Pick one of the many cool bars

Astor Bar
Astor Bar

São Paulo offers an amazing nightlife, and there are so many clubs and bars to choose from that one is not enough. With live music or not, fancy or simple, at the Vila Madalena and Vila Olímpia neighborhoods is all you will find.

Get up high

São Paulo at night

Being in São Paulo is one thing, seeing the city from above is something else to be impressed by. There are many places that offer a spectacular view over town, like the famous Copan, Martinelli and Itália buildings, or even the rooftop of the Hotel Unique.

Watch a play

If you are looking for entertainment, you will certainly find it in São Paulo, and on the top of the list are the various plays happening in the theaters. Actual famous Brazilian actors and actresses are part of the majority of the plays. If you want to risk watching it in Portuguese, go ahead and have fun!

Make a stop (not a quick one) at the Central Market

Strawberry and dart fruit

When even the locals recommend it, do it. After so many times in São Paulo, I finally paid a visit to the famous Mercadão – how the central market is commonly called. It was good, very good.

There you can find exotic fruits from everywhere in the world. I tried a weird but delicious combination: strawberry and date palm, it tastes like strawberry and chocolate, unbelievable! I also had to have the traditional pastel de bacalhau – a oily pastry filled with cod, which I love – and sugar cane juice. A great way to start your day with lots of energy. The thought of it makes me crave.

Go to a Formula 1 Grand Prix

Felipe Massa at the 2006 Grand Prix in São Paulo
Felipe Massa at the 2006 Grand Prix in São Paulo

The Formula Grand Prix of São Paulo is one of the oldest and famous of the Formula 1 calendar. It happens each year in mid November, and in 2006 I had the opportunity to go there for my first GP ever. It was unforgettable. Even after going to other GPs here in Europe and in Asia, the Interlagos one is among my favourites.

Traffic in São Paulo

Yes, São Paulo has much more to offer than people imagine. So next time you hear about the city or have the opportunity to go there, try some of these recommendations. You will see this concrete jungle with other eyes.


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10 things worth doing in São Paulo

About Allane

A Brazilian living in Germany. Married to W. mommy to a baby girl and a Golden Retriever. Traveler, writer, aspiring photographer, diver, wine appreciator, Formula 1 fan, avid reader of historical and young adult fictions books. City girl, nature lover, believer of a better world, one little change at a time.

  • those Churros look delicious! I admit that I had no idea how Sao Paulo looks like (as opposed to Rio de Janeiro), so your post was very helpful for me! I hope I’ll make it to Brazil one day!

    • Happy that I could show São Paulo. I hope you can make it to Brazil in one of your trips, and if you do let me know. I will be happy to give you some tips 🙂

  • Ooh looks like a lot of fun! I had such an amazing time when I went to Brazil in 2003! But too bad I was a grumpy teenager who didn’t appreciate it until it was too late! Franz and I talk about going one day because it was so amazing!

    • Ohhh don’t worry! It happens, I was once also a grumpy teenager and I didnt enjoy my first time in NY 🙁 hahaha
      The good thing is, you can always go back, and I hope you both make it there! I’d be happy to give you lots of tips!

  • Phoebe Thomas

    I’d certainly love to see a football match in Brazil and I’m not even a football fan. Great list of ideas Allane.

  • Brazil is probably the one place where I wouldnt be able to resist the nightlife, which I usually avoid.

    • hahaha I think so too! The nightlife in São Paulo is basically a must 🙂

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    I’m glad that you shared this post on Sao Paolo as I reckon people tend to equate Rio with Brazil huh? #MondayEscapes

  • That purple tree looks so pretty 🙂
    Mmm, I wouldn’t mind some of those Churros now!

  • Sooo nice to know someone else likes São Paulo as I do 😀
    The Grand Prix in São Paulo is still one of the best I have been to. I hope to get the chance to go again. 😀

  • Me too Constance!! I love markets anywhere, I was still missing this one in São Paulo and this last time I had to go, and it was one of the best. You can leave the place full! 😀

  • São Paulo is awesome, but it is a city not everyone likes, even in Brazil. I always saw it with other eyes 😀 have you ever been there?

  • There are divine, really! Whenever you go to Madrid stop by and try them 😀

  • hahah thank you dear! Glad you liked it 😀

  • Thank you!! I hope someday you get to visit this huge city and watch a football game there 😀

  • They were delicious!! Now I need to find date palm in Germany haha 😀

  • hahaha 🙂

  • Ohh no, really?? I hope you sometime you finally make this trip to Brazil and Argentina! Fingers crossed you will!

  • Ohh really? I didn’t know that, how interesting! And I can’t wait to go to the Philippines <3
    I hope you make it to Brazil, I'm sure you will love it 😀
    I don't really have a football team in Brazil, but I was inclined to Palmeiras when I was a kid. 😀

  • Happy you enjoyed the post Karen!
    I hope you do visit Brazil someday, there is so much to see in the country!
    And yes, those churros were amazing 😀

  • I hope you do make it there <3

  • hahaha 😀

  • Ohh don’t worry, my husband was overwhelmed with the city. I think he has never been to such a big town before! I hope if you go back someday, you get to enjoy the city differently, it is a different town, what always helped me was having local friends 🙂

  • hahaha yes, one must do relaxing activities, because São Paulo is already chaotic enough 😀

  • Hi Jess!
    I hope someday you visit Brazil, because yes, there is so much to see and do there. From big cities to beaches, islands, mountains, jungles, to waterfalls, you pick 😀

  • Yes, most connecting flights in Brazil directs you to São Paulo, as it has the largest airport in the country.
    You are right, fashion plays a very important role in São Paulo, it’s our fashion capital 😀

  • I think this photo describes São Paulo! I hope you get to visit it someday, but remember: it’s a huge city! 😀

  • Thank you guys!
    São Paulo is a great city for the foodies, I looove it… there is so much to try and so many restaurants to go 😀

  • You are right, Rio is always on the spotlight, but there is sooo much to see in Brazil. It’s time to share the other parts too 😀

  • Glad I brought you something new 🙂
    The Brazilian GP is awesome, I hope you can go there someday. It is one of my favourites so far 🙂

  • Ohhh really? That’s great to know!! If you need any tips do let me know, I will be happy to help you out 🙂
    Yesss, the churros were amazing, this restaurant is pretty good!

  • hahahaa yaay someone likes Formula 1 too 🙂
    You can try to divide the time between the parks and the Formula 1 GP 😀

  • That’s nice to know! Happy that your friends like São Paulo too… it’s a very busy town with lots to offer, especially food hahaha I’m sure the food part you will love, no doubt 🙂

  • Happy that I could show you a different city in Brazil 🙂 Rio is awesome too, but there is so much more in Brazil to see 😀

  • hahahaha love this comment!! You are so sweet.
    They were reaaaaally good, I could have ordered another one of these though 😀

  • Thank you Tracey! I hope one day you guys make it to Brazil 😀 if not to São Paulo then to the amazing beaches 😀

  • hahaha true, São Paulo is huge!!
    And Brazil is also huge, so there is a looot to visit! Where are you planning to go in South America?

  • There is indeed a looot to do in São Paulo! The Central Market is awesome, very busy but very cool! 😀

  • hahaha these churros were amazing!! Glad you liked the picture 😀

  • Normally a itinerary for business people haha 😀 if you are ever around for some reason, I hope these tips will be useful 😀

  • I try to see the positive things of my country, but I also see the ugly and sometimes is sad 🙁
    The World Cup showed the ugly and also the beauty of the country, but it’s true that I heard very bad things while here in Germany.
    I football match in Brazil is something unique 😀

  • There is a world of things to discover in São Paulo, it’s so big that it feels like many cities in one! 😀

  • Thank you Stephanie 😀

  • One can definitely have fun in São Paulo, even though there aren’t beaches 😀

  • Both are very different from the other, but I love the two of them 😀

  • I hope you make it there sometime! There is so much to do and see 😀
    Ohh yes, the best thing about this strawberry and date fruit combination is that it has less calories 😀

  • Mabel Kwong

    Churros again! It seems to be a very popular food in Europe 😀 Such a good shot of the strawberry and chocolate. I love that, and I am sure it was hard to stop at eating one. Such a new view from on top of the buildings and the hotels. Sounds like an action packed first formula 1 one for you. It reminds me. I have yet to go to watch an F1! 😀

    • haha yes, in Brazil they are also very popular 🙂
      The view is amazing isn’t it? It’s crazy how huge São Paulo is. And well, you need to watch Formula 1 someday, it’s right on your backyard 🙂