São Paulo / Destinations

Exploring São Paulo Like A Local

Mariana Suchodolski

Published on
Exploring São Paulo Like A Local

Chances are you’ve heard of São Paulo (or Sampa as the locals call it) — the world’s 4th largest city by population. 

The financial hub with over 21 million people is seldom explored by international tourists but it has much to offer foodies, shopaholics, and art-lovers alike. 

A layover to get to somewhere else in South America, or a business trip might bring you to this metropole and in case it does, we’ve got you covered with some local tips. 

Eats:

Santo Grão is a delicious casual cafe. You can stop here for some specialty coffee or for some grub. The Itaim Bibi location offers a nice outdoor seating area amid large trees and shrubbery.

Coffee barista at Santo Grão

Photo by @santograo

For many Brazilians it’s a tradition to eat pizza for dinner on Sundays with the family. You’ll find several pizza joints around the city with all kinds of toppings and crust types. You’ll even find dessert pizzas. Braz Elettrica Pizzaria is our favorite and we’re happy to devour it sans family.

Holding Braz Pizza in São Paulo

Photo by @anaapaulaz

Did you know Brazil has the biggest community of Japanese outside of Japan? That explains the popularity of sushi restaurants. We suggest trying Kappa for some all-you-can-eat sushi. Pack your appetite! 

Kappa Salmon Sushi Combo

Photo by @gastronomiaemcasal

Shops:

Rua 25 de Março is a staple shopping street in the center of São Paulo. It attracts large crowds from all over Brazil because many of the stores sell items in bulk and offer discounted prices. Whatever you need, that’s where you’ll find it. 

Video by @engmontelares

Liberdade is a São Paulo’s version of Japantown. The streets are covered with lanterns and shops selling Japanese goods such as manga, arts & crafts materials, kimonos, Buddhist items, and baked goodies. On weekends you can also peruse through the street market in the area and watch out for cool events.   

Liberdade neighborhood in São Paulo

Photo by @samlourencao

Window shop at Oscar Freire to see the newest fashion trends. This street is filled with luxury brands and Brazilian boutique stores. Melissa store might inspire your inner fashionista to get some colorful new kicks and their flagship store feels more like a gallery than a shop. 

Mother and daughter at Melissa concept store

Photo by @dimoramoraes

Arts:

Pinacoteca is the oldest art museum in São Paulo and one of the most important museums in Brazil. Built to house an art school in 1900, but founded in 1905 as a museum, Pinacoteca now holds exhibitions on 19th-century to contemporary Brazilian visual artists. Pro tip: Free on Saturdays.

Pinacoteca art installation in progress

Photo by @pinacotecasp

MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo) was designed by the renowned Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, and is home to the largest collection of European Art in Latin America. However, you’ll find much more here from objects to artworks from the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Pro tip: Free on Tuesdays.

Art exhibition at MASP

Photo by @masp

Red Bull Station if the spot to visit if you’re looking for more of a young and alternative art scene. This creative hub is where art, music, tech, and community come together. Visit for exhibitions, concerts or workshops and have a snack at the organic cafe.

Concert at Red Bull Station

Photo by @prodbydefre

Strolls:

Minhocão is known as a huge highway in the historic center of São Paulo. Every Sunday it’s closed to car traffic so that pedestrians and cyclists can make it their playground. If you like the concept, take advantage of it on Sundays at Paulista highway as well.

Video by @maniigu_

Parque Ibirapuera is a nice spot to visit on a sunny day but head there early before the crowds take over on weekends. The park provides ample space for running, biking, and skateboarding, and you’ll even find a few museums hidden amongst the trees. 

Tree in Ibirapuera Park

Photo by @sidpim

Vila Madalena is a neighborhood that comes alive at night. You’ll find several bars filled with Brazilians drinking chope and eating petiscos (draft beer and apps) and some live music. These night owls even occupy the streets standing around while chatting the night away. During the day you’ll find plenty of shops and street art to keep you busy.

Video by @negofeijaoo

Mariana Suchodolski
Writer
Lisbon, Portugal
you may also like