Things to see in Sao Paulo

Tourist information

São Paulo Turismo
Avenida Olavo Fontoura 1209, Parque Anhembi, São Paulo
Tel: (11) 2226 0400.
Website: www.spturis.com
Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1800.

There are numerous Tourist Information Offices (TIOs) across the city, including one at arrivals in Guarulhos Airport. Check www.cidadesaopaulo.com for locations.

Cathedral Metropolitana de São Paulo

Reproduction Gothic cathedral that is large enough to inspire the fear of God in mortal sinners. Mass is resonant inside an auditorium built for 8,000 worshippers while the decorative interior blends prophets and apostles with native toucans and armadillos. Tours are also available to view its crypt where the remains of Chief Tibiriçá, the first citizen of Piratininga (old São Paulo), lie. The cathedral is best visited on a weekend morning when the surrounding palm-tree fringed plaza throngs with life. Don't miss the nearby Igreja do Carmo, which dates from the 17th century.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 0800-1900, Sat 0800-1700, Sun 0800-1300 and 1400-1600.
Admission Fees: No (except for crypt tour)
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Praça da Sé, Centro, São Paulo, 01016-020, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3107 6832.
Edifício Martinelli

Be wowed by a breathtaking panorama of São Paulo's never ending skyline from the 26th-floor roof terrace of this striking Beaux Arts building. Built in 1929, by the Italian immigrant-turned-shipping magnate Giuseppe Martinelli, this was the city's first skyscraper. Free tours are available to visitors on the half-hour. Unlike some of the other skyscraper observation decks in downtown, this one is also open on weekends.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 0930-1130 and 1400-1600, Sat 0900-1500, Sun 0900-1300.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Rua São Bento 405, Centro, São Paulo, 01011-100, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3104-2477.
Gregorian Chant at Mosteiro de São Bento

Sunday morning mass within the Basílica de Nossa Senhora da Assunção is a lyrical affair amid a fug of incense and Gregorian chanting. This twin-towered church and monastery was designed in the early 20th century and features a large organ with over 6,000 pipes. Get there early on a Sunday at 1000 to bag a pew.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 0600-1800, Sat-Sun 0600-1200 and 1600-1800.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Largo de São Bento, Centro, São Paulo, 01029-010, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3328 8799.
Ibirapuera Park

Joggers, cyclists, trees, and lakes: this sprawling park is São Paulo's answer to London’s Hyde Park. The sound of the city is always in earshot but Ibirapuera is easy on the soul. Pavilions and plazas designed by award-winning Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, play a starring role in São Paulo's renowned Bienal, held on even-numbered years. The park is home to several other museums, including the excellent Museu de Arte Moderna featuring a fine collection of Brazilian modernists and thought-provoking temporary installations.

Opening Times: 0500-2400 daily.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo, 04094-000, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 5574 5505.
Jardim Botânico

For a refreshing escape from the concrete jungle, it's worth making the trip down to these lush botanical gardens. Amid verdant tree-lined paths, you'll find more than 3,000 different plant species including some 350 natives. Orchids, aquatic plants and Atlantic rainforest species are among the thriving bounty. This is also a fine bird watching spot, so bring binoculars as over 100 bird species have been spotted here. The only catch is the location: the botanical gardens are in the southern suburb of Agua Funda, located some 13km (8 miles) south of downtown. Bring a picnic and have a peaceful loll on the grass.

Opening Times: Tue-Sun 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Av Miguel Stéfano 3031, Agua Funda, São Paulo, 04301-902, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 5067-6000.
Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Perched like a red-legged tarantula on fashionable Avenida Paulista, this contemporary structure exhibits old European masters alongside surrealist and abstract Brazilian artworks. Its classical collection is the finest in Latin America. Among a veritable who’s who of old maestros are Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Dali, and Toulouse-Lautrec. The building itself was designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi and is considered a classic of brutalist modern design.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1800, Thurs 1000-2000.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Avenida Paulista 1578, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3251 5644.
Museu do Futebol

Even those disliking the ‘beautiful game’ won’t cry foul at this innovative museum dedicated to football. The museum, embedded within the stunning art deco Pacaembu soccer stadium, greets visitors with a holographic Pele - Brazil’s greatest ever footballer. Visitors are then taken on a journey through interactive displays exhibiting the history of World Cup football alongside poignant memorabilia. The museum even does a fine job of conjuring the excitement of a live match.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Praça Charles Miller, Pacaembu, São Paulo, 01234-010, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3663 3848.
Pinacoteca do Estado

This eye-catching brickwork art-gallery from 1905 presents an imaginative space for viewing art spread over three floors and illuminated by a dazzlingly airy atrium. It houses an excellent collection of Brazilian works, including pieces by Portinari, Oscar Pereira da Silva and Di Cavalcanti. In addition, the museum hosts ever-changing exhibitions plus an impressive haul of Rodin sculptures. Be sure to stroll across the road to the magnificent Estação de Luz rail station and the pretty surrounding park.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Praça da Luz 2, Luz, São Paulo, 01120-010, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3324 1000.
Samba

Shake one’s derriere like a Brazilian? Well, it’s possible to visit the samba schools at anytime of year in the lead-up to carnival to watch rehearsals and join in. There’s a host of samba schools, particularly around Zona Norte, such as the famed Rosas de Ouro (rehearsals on Wednesdays and Fridays). Expect powerful drumming, electrifying beats and ever-flowing caipirinhas. Things are liveliest from December to carnival (February or March).

Opening Times: Wed and Fri 2100-0400.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Address: Rua Coronel Euclides Marchado 1066, Jardim das Graças, São Paulo, 02213-000, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3931 4555.
Snake Farm at the Instituto Butantan

Deadly snakes, spiders, and scorpions from around the world can be seen at the world’s largest producer of snake anti-venom. The parkland setting is a rare oasis of calm while the pick of Butantan’s scientific attractions is the Biology Museum hosting the live collections. Other attractions include the Microbiology Museum, a History Museum that shows the role of the institute in public health over the years and a serpentarium, where venoms are extracted. Historical buildings date back to 1901.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1630.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Avenida Vital Brasil 1500, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 2627 9536.
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