Sao Paulo, Brazil
Attractions in Sao Paulo, Brazil: What to do and where to go
The city of Sao Paulo is so immense that very few people are fortunate enough to have seen it in its entirety. Each district is like a city in and of itself, offering all sorts of attractions and entertainment. The city has around 100 theaters, 70 museums, and dozens of cultural centers and monuments, not to mention some amazing theme parks and recreational areas. The coast lies only 45 miles away, so you can easily set aside a special day for visiting the beautiful beaches of southeastern Brazil. If you're visiting Sao Paulo on a tight schedule, specially designed tours are available, taking you to the most beautiful and important sites around the city.
Carnaval is a celebration held every year throughout Brazil, featuring a colorful parade led by some of the most renowned samba groups in the city. This tradition began as "Carnaval de la Calle" (Street Carnaval), a simple street party involving popular dances and regional games along the city's main avenues. The people would make a long line known as "cordoes" (ropes) while they played instruments and danced as they advanced down the street. Later, "blocos" (block formations) were used, in which dancers put on extravagant themed costumes.
These customs led to the first samba groups, which are now considered an institution that works nonstop every year in preparation for Carnaval. Due to the immense size of this celebration, renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the Sambodromo do Anhembi, giving the different samba groups a place to plan and choreograph their parade performances.
This special project was developed by Sao Paulo's Secretary of Tourism. On the tour, you'll make your way through the city by train, accompanied by bilingual guides. The Turismetro offers six different routes, all departing from the "Se" station. Groups are made up of 25 people, and each tour lasts about three hours.
Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral)
The Catedral Metropolitana is situated in downtown Sao Paulo and is among the top five most important Gothic cathedrals in the world. It was continually renovated since 1591, and the actual design was completed around the middle of the twentieth century. Here, you'll find an ancient crypt along with Sao Paulo's Archdiocese.
MASP Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP Sao Paulo Art Museum)
This museum is situated on the famous Avenida Paulista. The vanguard building houses an immense amount of international artwork. Among the collections on display, you'll find Italian, French, Brazilian, African and Japanese art, along with nearly 900 photographs by various renowned artists. The museum also offers an enormous library that preserves bibliographical material of great historic value, like Leonardo da Vinci's "Trattato della Pittura".
This park was created in 1954 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Sao Paulo. It's by far the most famous and important park in the city. Parque Ibirapuera is home to manmade lakes, bike paths and running trails, all fully lit. In addition to the natural areas, the park has various buildings designed by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer. It's considered the natural heart of the city, and is often visited by local families, especially on weekends. The park frequently holds many public and private events, such as concerts or exhibits.
Altino Arantes Building
The Altino Arantes Building, also called Torre do Banespa, is an eye-catching skyscraper, built as the headquarters of the Banespa Bank in the 1940s. For twenty years, it was the tallest building outside of the United States, only to be later beaten by the Torre Latinoamericano in Mexico City. The roof has an observation deck, where you can see nearly the entire city of Sao Paulo. The Museu Banespa is located on the ground floor, with a collection of more than 1,000 artifacts accumulated by the Banespa Bank throughout its history (newspapers, photographs, antique machines, etc.).
Estacao da Luz (Luz Station)
This train station gets its name from the Bairro da Luz, the neighborhood where it's located. It forms part of the city's rail transportation system and is one of the most important stations. Estacao da Luz houses the Museu da Lingua da Portuguesa (Museum of the Portuguese Language), inaugurated in 2006, containing various collections of Portuguese literature. For decades, the station's tower was the focal point of the downtown landscape. You can buy tickets for the Turismetro tour at this site, which has a noteworthy architectural legacy of more than 70 years.
A helicopter tour of Sao Paulo is a one-of-a-kind opportunity. The city is famous for its enormous fleet of helicopters, and numerous companies offer helitaxis and aerial tours. Experience a bird's-eye view of this dynamic and impressive city!
The city zoo is the ideal option for an enriching and fun tour for kids and adults. The facilities house various regional animal species, along with species from foreign continents, such as tigers, elephants, penguins, rhinoceroses, giraffes, etc. Remember to bring along sunscreen and a bottle of water to cool off.
Hopi Hari is an amusement park located about an hour north of the city. The park is made up like a small country, with its own language, currency and flag. It contains five regions with different themes: Kaminda Mundi (an international pavilion), Aribabida (the "capital" of Hopi Hari), Wild West (exciting attractions), Mistieri (pyramids and tombs) and Infantasia (fairy tales). Spend an unforgettable day in this unique place.
Aquario de Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo's aquarium offers visitors the opportunity to explore the different marine ecosystems found throughout Brazil and the world. In addition to fish and amphibians, the aquarium houses some mammals and birds, along with a dinosaur replica exhibit, a museum and a planetarium.
You can't talk about Sao Paulo without mentioning its passion for "futebol" (soccer). The city is home to many of Brazil's most famous teams, including Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Palmeiras. The stadiums most used for official games are Pacaembu (near downtown) and Morumbi (in the city's southern area).
Parque Estadual do Jaragua (Jaragua State Park)
This city park was declared a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO and is often frequented by nature lovers. It's a wooded reserve covering over 12,000 acres with lakes, hiking paths, an outdoor amphitheater and various wild animals.
Mosteiro de Sao Bento (Saint Benedictine Monastery)
The Mosteiro de Sao Bento is one of the city's most important historic buildings, built in 1598 by Benedictine monks. Today, it houses a library with more than 100,000 titles, some of which are sole copies, for example, a copy of the New Testament dating back to 1496. It's visited by both tourists and locals drawn in by its beautiful architecture.
On the Zoo Safari, you'll come across more than 350 animals of 42 distinct species, living freely on the complex's 18 territories. The three-mile trip will take you on a tour in a private car or van. Deer, llamas, tigers, ostriches, zebras and bison are just a few of the animals that make up the park's population. Dare to live this unique experience in Sao Paulo, Brazil!
Museu Paulista or Museu do Ipiranga
This majestic museum displays stunning Neo-Renaissance architecture, situated on Parque da Independencia (Independence Park). It has an enormous collection focusing on the nineteenth century, made up of weaponry, furniture, religious artifacts, jewelry and paintings of influential people from Sao Paulo. The museum also houses a scale replica of the gardens of Versailles.
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