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.

Edifício Altino Arantes (Banespão)

Be wowed by a breathtaking 360º panorama of São Paulo's never ending skyline from the observation deck of this 160m (524ft) skyscraper. Inspired by New York’s Empire State Building, it was inaugurated in 1949 and for two decades was the world’s tallest concrete structure. Visitors must present photo-ID to enter because the building remains a working bank.

Opening Times: Mon-Fri 1000-1500.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Rua João Brícola 24, São Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3249 7466.
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).

Disabled Access: No
Unesco: No
Telephone: (11) 3931 0608.
Museu do Futebol

Even those disliking the ‘beautiful game’ won’t cry foul at this innovative museum dedicated to soccer. 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.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1000-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Praça Charles Miller, São Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3663 3848.
Museu Paulista (Museu do Ipiranga)

The Gardens of Versailles inspired the formal landscaped grounds of this palatial museum located in Ipiranga. It was constructed in the 1890s to mark Brazilian independence from Portugal; declared nearby in 1822 by Emperor Dom Pedro I. His tomb lies within pretty grounds of azaleas and roses. Among the artwork is the renowned painting Independência ou Morte.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 0900-1700.
Admission Fees: Yes.
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Parque Independência, São Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 2065 8000.
Pinacoteca do Estado

An eye-catching brickwork art-gallery from 1905 presenting an imaginative space for viewing art spread over three floors and illuminated by a dazzlingly airy atrium. It 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, São Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3324 1000.
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 its crypt where the remains of Chief Tibiriçá, the first citizen of Piratininga (old São Paulo), lie. Worth visiting on a weekend morning when the surrounding palm-tree fringed plaza throngs with life.

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, São Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3107 6832.
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, São Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3328 8799.
Ibirapuera Park

Joggers, cyclists, trees, and lakes: this sprawling park is São Paulo's answer to New York's Central Park. The sound of the city is always in earshot but Ibirapuera is easy on the soul. Complementing pavilions and plazas designed by award-winning Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, are several museums, including the excellent Museu de Arte Moderna featuring constantly changing installations.

Opening Times: Daily.
Admission Fees: No
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 5573 4180.
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.

Opening Times: Tues-Sun 1100-1800.
Admission Fees: Yes
Disabled Access: Yes
Unesco: No
Address: Avenida Paulista 1578, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Telephone: (11) 3251 5644.
Snake Farm at the Instituto Butantãn

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. 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) 3726 7222.
Edited by Tina Banerjee
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