Getting around Sao Paulo

Public transport

The underground Metrô (tel: (0800) 770 7722 in Brazil only; is modern and the quickest way to get from A to B. For sightseeing, the most useful of the four Metrô lines are the blue and green lines. It operares daily from 440am until about midnight. On Saturdays, it extends operations to 1am. These two lines integrate with the three key long-distance bus stations and connect to overground suburban rail services run by CPTM.

Tickets can be bought singularly or in batches: unitario for single journeys or more expensive combined tickets that includes bus travel. Longer-stay visitors should purchase the bilhete único, which is a rechargeable smartcard ticket giving access to discounted journeys on all public transport.

With over 1,300 routes, the bus network operated by Transporte Público de São Paulo (tel: 156 in Brazil only; takes a bit of getting used to. Bus stops infrequently display the routings although routes are marked on the buses. Travellers can pay either an onboard conductor or buy tickets from kiosks.


São Paulo has over 30,000 taxis. There are four types: common, radio taxi, special and luxury. Taxis hailed on the street or at white taxi ranks are slightly cheaper. Meters start with a fixed standing fee that increases per kilometer with higher nightly rates between 2000-0600. Rádio Táxi Vermelho e Branco (tel: (11) 3146 4000), Super Taxi (tel: (11) 3859 1100) and Cooper Taxi (tel: (11) 2095 6000) are recommended.


Endless traffic jams, confusing one-way systems, and constant lane switching renders driving tough. Parking in central São Paulo is privately run and expensive: look for assisted estacionamento (parking) manned by parking attendants. Parking cars on street is allowed in signed areas. Some areas require a ‘zona azul’ card, sold per page or per book at lottery shops and newsstands. Each page may be used for one hour only. City authorities (tel: (11) 3396 8000; have implemented a rotation system to reduce traffic by prohibiting private vehicles from driving during rush hour once weekly (0700-1000 and 1700-2000).

Car hire

Recommended car hire companies in downtown locations include: Avis (tel: (11) 3259 6868;, Hertz (tel: (11) 3258 9384; and Sixt (tel: (11) 3669 5000;

Bicycle hire

A growing number of metro stations offer bicycle hire. ID and two passport-sized photographs are required to sign up at stations or by visiting Institute Vital Parade, Alameda Barao de Limeira, 985, 5th floor (tel: (11) 3661 0332). A registration fee is payable by credit card and bicycle loan is free for the first hour and thereafter charged per hour. Participating stations include: Sé, Vila Madalena, Paraíso, and Liberdade. Private cycle hire can also be found in Ibirapuera Park.

Edited by Tina Banerjee
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