"São Paulo" Top 5 Page for this destination São Paulo by MM212

São Paulo Travel Guide: 866 reviews and 1,769 photos

A place of great contrast, Brazil's financial powerhouse and South America's largest city, São Paulo is an overwhelming city. The mere mention of its name stirs up strong preconceived notions: unsafe, crime ridden, and polluted, all of which could easily deter a visitor. Add to this an ocean of concrete terror and an often dismally grey weather during its summer months and the city is sure to be omitted from any tourist itinerary in Brazil. Yet, those who of us who insist on visiting São Paulo will find many enchanting and rewarding surprises.

As the centre of finance and business in the largest country in South America, São Paulo has wealth beyond any city on the continent. This tremendous fortune has been directed towards making parts of the city as attractive as any capital in the developed world and providing amenities to match. It has also created a market for luxury, from exquisite restaurants, exciting nightlife and excellent shopping, to sleek art galleries, rich museums and world-class music venues, that could be the envy of many Western cities. On the other hand, with close to 20 million inhabitants, São Paulo suffers from the ailments of third world cities, from extreme poverty and crime, to neglect and sprawling concrete overdevelopment. Crime, however, seems to be concentrated in the favelas in the city's periphery where much of the less fortunate population lives. The city centre can also be unsafe, particularly after dark, but it is far from being a war zone. In fact, during the day, tourists walk around with little concern, but nevertheless, one must always be prudent and keep a watchful eye. At the same time, the wealthy areas of Jardins and Ibirapuera are as safe (and clean) as any city in the Western World. These contrasts between wealth and poverty are hard to miss as one travels from downtown São Paulo to the the pristine district of Jardins and its surroundings.

Although São Paulo is graced by many stunning parks and centuries old colonial buildings, as well as creative modern architecture, it is city to be savoured indoors more than outdoors. Whether one enjoys visiting art museums or sampling delicious cuisine, dancing at night or attending concerts, São Paulo's indoor spaces will not disappoint. Once one gets past the intimidating image the city first portrays, São Paulo quickly becomes a fascinating place. And if one is fortunate enough to meet the local paulistanos, one would find them to be industrious, civilized and hard working people, who have still retained the joyful, friendly and fun loving attitude for which Brazilians are best known.

South America Itinerary Dec 2008/Jan 2009:

Buenos Aires - Rio de Janeiro - São Paulo

  • Last visit to São Paulo: Jan 2009
  • Intro Updated Sep 12, 2011
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Reviews (66)

Comments (4)

  • Segolily's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    I hope to see a bit of Sao Paulo one day, though I'll probably take more time for Rio.

  • junecorlett's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    Fasana looks like a really good hotel, nice tips here.

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Hello! Very interesting new page here, who would have thought that Sao Paulo had such fascinating buildings? Thanks for sharing! Greetings from a German in Dubai, travelling to Scotland :-) Jess

  • call_me_rhia's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2009 at 4:21 AM

    interesting architecture... will have to return to this page...


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