Before I go on, I have a little confession to make. I didn’t like São Paulo (blushed emoji). I did like parts of it but as a traveling destination, it’s not my cup of tea.
Why? It’s hard to say… I know a lot of people that have been there and absolutely loved it. From my personal experience, coming to the concrete jungles of São Paulo after a month in the magical Florianopolis was a bit shocking. Going from living a minutes’ walk from the fresh air of the beach and never locking the door to locking my hotel room with both locks as the hotel recommended was a bit overwhelming.
São Paulo is definitely a little rough around the edges but also has its own special magic. As a solo traveler, especially female, I would be extra cautious and probably think twice about where I go and when. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the city, I’m just saying be smart about it.
Nonetheless, this city is also the home to some of the most colorful, happy people I’ve ever met and has an unbelievable street art scene. So if life takes you to São Paulo or you decided to explore this metropolis here are 3 awesome free (and safe) places to visit in São Paulo:
Avenida Paulista (or Paulista Avenue for you) is the city’s largest boulevard and one of the main financial and cultural centers of the capital, attracting thousands of visitors and tourists a day. Here you’ll find a great mixture of historic and modern buildings, great shopping opportunities, museums, restaurants, bars and so much more.
Luckily, I was there on a Sunday. On Sundays, This busy and noisy street is transformed into an open promenade. This charming avenue turns into a massive recreational area filled with artistic displays, musical performances, street food, and lots of people having a good time.
Little did I know that since 2015, every Sunday, Paulista Avenue has been closed to traffic and open to pedestrians. The street fills with food carts, little booths with arts & crafts, families, joggers, cyclists, and random people dancing in the street. The atmosphere is unbelievable. So much music and joy all around – it will make you forget you’re in the midst of rugged, grey São Paulo and will transcend you to a wonderful world full of colors and samba.
If you’d like to see some more pictures and videos of my time in Brazil you are more than welcome to watch the special highlight on my Instagram account
There are many museums, sights, and historical buildings around the Republic Square. I would definitely NOT recommend coming here at night as Brazil’s social challenges are very evident here. During the day, there are some urban and architectural sights you can easily enjoy.
The Cathedral is the largest Catholic Church in the city and the 4th largest gothic cathedral in the world – 111 meters long, 46 meters wide, with the two flanking towers reaching a height of 92 meters. The Cathedral is a Latin cross church with a five-aisled nave and a dome that reaches 30 meters over the crossing. Although the building, in general, is Neo-Gothic, the dome is inspired by the Renaissance dome of the Cathedral of Florence.
Much of the decor inside of the building has sculpted and carved tributes to Brazil, such as pineapples, coffee beans, and armadillos. Though the entire cathedral is impressive, the twelve thousand pipe, five keyboard organ is especially grand and is one of the largest in all of Latin America.
The church is located in the Praça da Sé, or “Cathedral Square” where you can find tourists, protestors, and local youth hanging around in all hours of the day.
This neighborhood is THE place to be when in São Paulo. This super cool hood is full of street art, boutiques, shops, art galleries, restaurants, and cafés.
The streets here are just oozing bohemian chic so you’ll want to eat at every café and buy at every shop. This hip place is like a posh oasis in the midst of grey, hectic São Paulo (and prices are accordingly haha).
One of the must-see attractions when you visit here, is the ‘Beco do Batman’, a small alleyway filled with graffiti and street art. The place, that gets its name from one of the first drawings on its walls, attracts thousands of tourists a year admiring the amazing artwork all over and taking loads of pictures.
In fact, you can stroll through the whole neighborhood in just a couple of hours but really take the time to explore all that it has to offer, day and night.
After having your picture taking with the colorful graffiti in the back, stop for a stylish lunch in CAZU Gastrobar. Good food and vibes promised.
Hope you’ll make the most of your stay in São Paulo!
Have you been to São Paulo already? Would love to know how was your experience there?