The biggest South American city, São Paulo is also Brazil's main financial center. This article will tell you what to see if you are visiting the city for business.
São Paulo's growth was impulsed by the development of the coffee production and the industrialization process in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bringing immigrants from all over the world to work on the coffee cultivation.
All these immigration waves resulted on a diversity of customs, beliefs, culinary and most of all, a diversity of people, that together composed the cosmopolitanism so characteristic of the city.
Nowadays São Paulo is known for its economic importance and it is unique among Brazilian cities for its large number of foreign companies. This aspect contributed to a significant number of businessmen who come from all over the world every year. Many of these businessmen stay in the city without leaving their hotel to explore the surroundings.
Having that in mind, we produced an article that aims to present the city of São Paulo and its many attractions, focusing on convenience, flexibility and safety.
São Paulo for beginners...
If this is your first business trip to São Paulo, then you should definitely visit the following attractions:
Home of important architectural landmarks and cultural centers such as FIESP and Itau, Paulista Avenue combines charm and modernity. Important cultural points, such as MASP, Casa das Rosas, Conjunto Nacional and Cultura bookshop, and many cinemas, theaters and cafés give you a walk full of entertainment options.
The Municipal Market
A must go place for visitors, the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo (Municipal Market of São Paulo) is one of the most traditional gourmet points of the city. You can not say you visited São Paulo if you did not try the famous "pastel de bacalhau" or the bologna sandwich.
Mercadão, as it is affectionately known by the visitors, is where you can find a wide variety of foods - from fresh vegetables and fruits to meat, poultry and seafood of all kinds, pasta, sweets and top of the line spices from different parts of the world. Not to mention its Gourmet Lounge, which offers the opportunity to try tasty dishes there, while enjoying the architectural beauty of Mercadão.
Home to the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, Liberdade is notorious for its Asian culinary and some Japanese traditional architecture.
The main city park is fun to visit late afternoons or early mornings. Locals go there to jog and walk around the lake. Free concerts are common on the weekends. Inside the park there are three of the most important Brazilian museums: MAM, Bienal and Oca, all designed by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. The gardens by Burle Marx are also worth a visit.
São Paulo's architecture has remarkable landmarks, such as:
- Monasteiro de São Bento: A fully painted church, where you can listen to Gregorian chants
- Theatro Municipal: It is regarded as one of the landmarks of the city, significant both for its architectural value as well as for its historical importance, having been the venue for the Week of Modern Art, in 1922
- Copan Building: A Brazilian modern architecture symbol, it was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, the modernist leader, in 1954, for the 400 anniversary of São Paulo
- Sala São Paulo Opera House: Housed at Julio Prestes Cultural Center, a building that has been totally restored and renovated by the São Paulo State Government, as part of the downtown revitalization in the city, Sala São Paulo is a venue for symphonic and chamber presentations and has been designed according to the art standards, compared to the Boston Symphonic Hall, Musikeverein in Vienna and the Concertbebow in Amsterdam
- The Catholic Cathedral of Sé: The largest church in São Paulo, the Catlholic Cathedral of Sé is a landmark and is considered by some as the 4th largest Neo-Gothic cathedral in the world
- Praça da República: Based on the European urbanization model, the plaza is considered a bond between "Old Town" and "New Town". It is famous for its craft fair, where it is possible to find several souvenirs and gifts that carry the face and the culture of Brazil.
- Banespa Building: An important skycraper, inspired on the Empire State Building
- Luz Station: Modeled after Victorian-era railway stations in England, Luz station originally linked the São Paulo region with the coast. The edifice was designed by the British architect, Charles Henry Driver and currently houses a railway, a subway station and a museum dedicated to the Portuguese language (Museu da Língua Portuguesa).
São Paulo for the initiated
If this is not your first time in São Paulo and you have already went out for the traditional sightseeing, then you should visit more alternative attractions, such as:
Besides the horse races, the Jockey Club has also staged several fashion events, as well as fairs and parties. With the inauguration of Charlô restaurant, Jockey Club is now one of the most trendy places in São Paulo.
Known for its bustling nightlife and its history as a center of São Paulo bohemian culture and art, Vila Madalena is filled with dozens of art galleries and studios, an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars and also boasts a series of impressive graffiti-covered streets and alleys.
Brazil's official stock and bonds exchange, Bovespa is the largest stock exchange in Latin America where about BRL 6 billion (USD 3.5 billion) are traded every day.
The Soccer Museum
Housed at municipal stadium Paulo Machado de Carvalho, the Soccer Museum is a theme museum dedicated to soccer, the most important sport in Brazil.
Places to see São Paulo
São Paulo has an incredible skyline that can be contemplated from the rooftop of some buildings, such as:
The hotel has a rooftop bar from where it is possible to have a nice view from São Paulo, with DJ music from Monday to Saturday. For hotel guests the rooftop is open from 10 AM to last guest; for outside guests it is open from 6 PM to 0:30 AM
On weekdays, from 9 AM to 5 PM, you can go to the rooftop and have an incredible view from downtown São Paulo.
Another skycraper from where you can have a great view from São Paulo. It is open everyday, from 12 PM to 8 PM.
Maria Luisa and Oscar Americano Foundation
Located at Morumbi neighborhood, the place used to be the home of Luisa and Oscar Americano, one of the wealthiest families in town and it was now turned into a museum with a beautiful green area where music presentations are held.
With less then two hours away from the city, you find...
Cantareira State Park
Known as one of the largest urban forests in the world, Cantareira State Park covers part of the Cantareira mountain range and offers many hiking trails of different length. From a large granitic rock (Pedra Grande) there is a wonderful view of São Paulo's sykline.
São Paulo South Coast
With a little bit more than one hour drive you get to the south coast, where you can relax and enjoy several beaches spread throughout the coast, get in touch with nature and also try some typical food.
Embu das Artes
A charming place, known for its Arts and Handicraft fair on the weekends and its good restaurants.
Infrastructure and Services
Where the city never stops, 24-hour services are more than pharmacies and key makers. From supermarkets and flower shops to gym and pastry shops. It is possible to get almost everything you might need in the middle of the night.
Bars and Restaurants
Overall, bars and restaurants are open until late at night, but São Paulo also has a significant range of 24 hour bars and restaurants throughout the city.
São Paulo's subway is clean, fast and safe. It is a convenient option for those who want to avoid traffic, that can be very heavy during peak hours. Many attractions such as Praça da República, Paulista Avenue and The Catholic Cathedral of Sé, to name a few, are very close to a subway station.
Taxis are easily found in São Paulo. Fare to be paid is in red on the panel. There are four categories of taxis: Common, radio taxi, special and luxury. A fix fare of BRL 3.50 plus the value varying according to distance in kilometers and time of the day:
- Flag 1 (Monday to Saturday - 06:00 AM to 08:00 PM) - BRL 2.10/km
- Flag 2 - BRL 2.73/km
Main world car rentals have their office in São Paulo. Ask for representatives in your city. Driving a car may be a good option, as buses stop running at 01:00 in the night and subways stop at midnight. If you decide to rent a car, pay attention to traffic restriction and parking areas.
This article was written along with Luis Paulo Simardi, from Around SP, a tourism company focused on convenient, safe and flexible tours. For more information, visit http://www.aroundsp.com.