Getting to and around Sao Paulo

Getting there

São Paulo is the cheapest and the principal entry point to Brazil and is one of the key entry points to South America. All international flights (except a handful to Bolivia) and many of the cheapest internal flights arrive at
Guarulhos airport
, officially known as
. You can get an taxi from the airport to the centre, these operate on a ticket system: go to the second booth on leaving the terminal and book a co-op taxi at the
Taxi Comum
counter; these are the best value.
buses run every to Praça da República, Paulista, the bus station and Congonhas airport, buy a ticket at the booth in domestic arrivals.
The domestic airport,
, is used for the Rio-São Paulo shuttle and some other domestic services including Salvador, Belo Horizonte and Vitória.


Most buses arrive at the
. You can sleep in the bus station after 2200 when the
guards have gone; there are showers. There is a metrô with connections throughout the city,and buses to the centre (less safe).  Buses from the São Paulo state coast and Paraná arrive at
Barra Funda
,, while buses from Minas Gerais arrive at Bresser. Buses from Santos and the coast arrive a
. All are connected to the centre by metrô.


Railways are being privatized and many long-distance passenger services have been withdrawn. São Paulo has four stations but the only one useful for tourists is
Estação da Luz
, which receives trains from the northwest and southeast of São Paulo state and connects with the tourist train from Paranapiacaba to Rio Grande de Serra.

Getting around


Bus routes can be confusing for visitors and slow due to frequent traffic jams. However, buses are safe, clean and only crowded at peak hours. Maps of the bus and metrô system are available at depots, eg Anhangabaú. All the
(bus stations) are on the metrô, but if travelling with luggage, take a taxi.


The best and cheapest way to get around São Paulo is on the excellent metrô system , which is clean, safe, cheap and efficient; though rather limited in its coverage. The first metrô in Brazil, it began operating in 1975 and has two main lines intersecting at Praça da Sé:
from Tucuruvi to Jabaquara; and
from Corinthians Itaquera to Barra Funda. A third runs
from Vila Madalena to Imigrantes via Avenida Paulista. Stations are well policed and safe. You can get a combined bus and metrô ticket; useful for getting to Congonhas airport.


Taxis display their tariffs in the window and have meters. Ordinary taxis are hailed on the street or at taxi stations such as Praça da República. Radio taxis are more expensive but less hassle.


At the heart of the city, the
Centro Histórico
is a place to visit but not to stay. Most of the historical buildings and former beauty are long gone, but its pedestrianized streets are fascinating and gritty, with lively markets and a cluster of interesting sights lost in the concrete and cobbles. For a birds' eye view of the city, head to the lookout platform at the top of the Banespa Tower at dusk. The commercial district, containing banks, offices and shops, is known as the
, bounded by Ruas Direita, 15 de Novembro, São Bento and Praça Antônio Prado, but it is rapidly spreading towards the Praça da República.

Immediately southwest of the Centro Histórico is the city's grandest and most photo- graphed skyscraper-lined street,
Avenida Paulista
. The Museo de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), the best art gallery in the southern hemisphere, is here. North of Avenida Paulista is the neighbourhood of
, centred on tawdry Rua Augusta but undergoing a Renaissance at the cutting edge of the city's underground live music and nightlife scene. South of Avenida Paulista is the neighbourhood of
. This is the city's most affluent inner neighbourhood with elegant little streets hiding Latin America's best restaurants and designer clothing boutiques. There are plenty of luxurious
hotels and some budget options.

Next to Jardins, 5 km south of the centre, the
Parque do Ibirapuera
is the inner city's largest green space, with running tracks, a lake and live concerts. Like Brasília, it is a repository of historically important Oscar Niemeyer buildings, many of which are home to interesting museums. The adjoining neighbourhoods of
Vila Mariana
have a few hotel options and great live music at SESC Vila Mariana.

Situated between Ibirapuera and the river,
Vila Olímpia
are among the nightlife centres of São Paulo with a wealth of streetside bars, ultra-chic designer restaurants and European-style dance clubs. Hotels tend to be expensive as these areas border the new business centre on Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima and Avenida Luís Carlos Berrini, in the suburb of
Pinheiros and Vila Madalena
are less chic, but equally lively at night and with the funkiest shops.

Best time to visit

São Paulo sits on a plateau at around 800 m and the weather is temperamental, influenced by the city's altitude and by the sea, whose cold or warm air is pushed up by the coastal mountains. Rainfall is ample and temperatures fluctuate greatly. Summer temperatures vary between 20° and 30°C, occasionally peaking into the high 30s or even 40s. Winter temperatures fluctuate between 15° and 25°C, occasionally dropping to below 10° when a cold front comes up from the Atlantic. The winter months (April-October) are also the driest, with minimal precipitation in June and July. Christmas and New Year are wet. When there are thermal inversions, air pollution can be troublesome.

Tourist information

There are tourist information booths with English-speaking staff in international and domestic arrivals (ground floor) at
Cumbica airport
(Guarulhos). There are also tourist information booths in the
bus station
and in the following locations throughout the city:
Praça da Luz
Av São João
Avenida Paulista
; and
Avenida Brig Faria Lima
. An excellent map is available free at these offices.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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