Top 7 Reasons to Visit Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2023

Sao Paulo, the biggest city that exists in Brazil, is probably one of the most underrated cities in the world. Anytime you plan on visiting Brazil, passing through Sao Paulo is inevitable. Sao Paulo has one of the most massive airports in the world, sadly most tourists tend to see it through the windows of Guarulhos Airport or the window of a cab. The Guarulhos Airport is Brazil’s biggest airport, which means flights from all over the world land here as you enter Brazil.

Tourists mistake this city for being ‘lifeless’ and ‘black and white’, but in reality, it is the exact opposite of these assumptions. Sao Paulo city is an incredibly colorful, vibrate, alive, and culturally rich city you can find across the globe. Every corner of this city speaks for itself, from being a business jungle to soccer-crazy fans and insane street artists, you name it, and it’s all there.

Here is a fun fact, apart from being the 11th biggest city in the world and the only biggest city in South America, it has a population of around 12 million people coming from various races from around the world. Sao Paulo is definitely a city you would fall in love with at first sight. As soon as you hop off the plane and check in to your hotel in Sao Paulo, you wouldn’t want to waste a minute relaxing and miss out on all the goodness this city holds.

If you still think, ‘Is Sao Paulo worth visiting?’, then this blog is the right one for you. You will have all your questions answered here. Stay Tuned!

The Soccer Culture is insane

Soccer Ball
Soccer Ball by Souza Sergio on Unsplash

Soccer/Football is known as ‘futebol’ in Brazil. It is the most loved sport in Brazil. Whenever someone mentions Brazil, the first thing that people connect it to is football. You can judge the importance of football in the Brazilian community by the fact that their national flag includes a logo of football in it!

When visiting Sao Paulo, you will be amazed by this very same thing. Brazilians’ love for football will keep you in awe. Sao Paulo itself has 3 big football clubs of its own. It is one of the best places to travel if one wishes to truly experience the nation’s deep football culture and history.

One of the best and interesting places to visit during your tour of football culture in Sao Paulo’s famous ‘Museu do Futebol’ which means football museum. This is the most well-designed football museum in all of Brazil. It is located inside the old Pacaembu Stadium. This museum contains a rich history of football in an interactive manner as most of the museum’s experience is visual and sensorial via multimedia exhibits.

This museum has 15 rooms that host interactive exhibits that help to explain the importance of this sport among Brazilians as well as in their culture. Even before entering the museum, the Pacaembu Stadium itself is a worthy place to visit. This stadium was built back in 1940 and is known to be one of the oldest stadiums in Brazil. It is preserved as part of the football heritage and well maintained. To this day, football matches take place in this stadium. The Pacaembu Stadium even held the 1950 World Cup.

Although the Museum is filled with countless exhibits that will catch the attraction of many, yet one of the most interesting ones include the ‘Sala das Copas do Mundo’ which is a huge multimedia setup containing individual sections that are dedicated to each world cup starting from 1930 to 2014. Each of these multimedia displays show various information, videos, photos, and facts relating to the tournaments along with some of its background details on what was happening in the world during that time. All of this is displayed through TV screens mounted and arranged on large pillars.

Although most of the museum’s experiences are visual and sensory, many of the exhibits are in Portuguese with few translated into the English language. However, English tour guides are available upon request.

Colorful Nights of Sao Paulo

Night Life
Night Life by Antonio Mendes on Unsplash

Who knew that this incredible cosmopolitan city knows how to have fun. The richness of the mixture of cultures is tough to beat anywhere in the world, every time you plan a trip there, you would never end up doing the same thing twice, every week holds something new. Various events occur each week that epitomize different styles, themes, decorations, and fun all night long. No matter what your budget is, the nights here give you every kind of cheap thrills you would ask.

How about spending your night at the top of Maksoud Plaza where you can enjoy breathtaking views which is an absolute favorite amongst all travelers. Experience the airport like the environment of the PanAm Café on the 22nd-floor of this building. The airplane turbines and LED lights on the public runway give the right night vibes you are looking for.

Take a walk on Bourbon street famous for the blues and traditional jazz. The bar looks more like a giant piano and serves some of the most delicious appetizers you can think of. If you are from New Orleans, the environment of this place will make you feel more at home.

If you are looking for some sound and relaxing night out, Paulista Avenue offers some of the best city views that you do not want to miss. You can enjoy art exhibitions, performances, and shows that are fit for all ages. The food there may be on the cheaper side but no compromise on the quality as we speak.

A good laugh can never hurt anybody if you strongly believe in that then why not laugh out loud at the stand-up comedy club. Comedian Comedy could is a home to some of the best stand-up comedians you will ever find. The rib-cracking jokes will leave you ROFL. Don’t worry, there are snacks and drinks to help you digest all those jokes.

To experience the glam night you always dreamt of, this is the place where you should be!

Serene Beaches

Beach by Renato Trentin on Unsplash

If you live for having salt in your hair and toes covered in sand, then here is some good news for you! Sao Paulo has one of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches in Brazil. If you like to append some quality time with your friends and/or loved ones on a calm beach and enjoy the nearby activities then Sao Paulo has that catered for you already. While most of the tourists plan to visit Rio’s beaches which tend to be more crowded and noisy, Sao Paulo has a less crowded and more serene environment on its nearby beaches.

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One of the good options to visit is the Guaruja beach in Sao Paulo. There are many properties and beach houses that the natives of Sao Paulo municipality own which become fully occupied by the tourists in the months of January, February, and December. It is a beautiful place to be in. The Guaruja city itself has over 22 miles of continuous beach with appealing white sand. It is even famous for being called as the Pearl of the Atlantic due to its beauty.

Since the Guaruja city is fit for tourism, you will find multiple neat and clean beaches that connect to the urban roadsides for ease of access. A selected few beaches like the Praia Branca, Sao Pedro, and Iporanga are present inside of private property which restricts its access to a handful of people. There are cafes, restaurants and multiple shops around this small city in Sao Paulo to keep the tourists entertained after they have spent their time swimming and enjoying the breathtaking views of the sea.

Some of the notable beaches in Guaruja include:

  1. Enseada Beach:

This is the longest beach in Guaruja with a lot of waves and clear waters. It’s right and middle sides are one of the popular areas for surfing whereas towards the left side the water is calmer and best for water-based sports. Proper beach shower areas, sanitary and life-saving post are present there to facilitate the tourists.

2. Iporanga Beach

This is a relatively compact-sized beach of about 800 meters in length. It is about 25KM from the city center and is surrounded by a lush green forest and a marvelous waterfall which forms a natural pool. This beach is located in a private village near-native glade. The white sand particles and clear water are beautiful to watch, however, access to this beach is very limited which gives the people ample time to enjoy the natural nature.

There are no fees for entry and the number of car parking is limited to 38 cars. This means that the tourists can enjoy and appreciate its beauty without disrupting the natural beauty.

Fusion Cuisines

Waffles by Guilherme Cunha on Unsplash

When it comes to food, you can’t simply miss trying the vast variety of it if you plan to visit Sao Paulo. There are thousands of restaurants, cafes, hawkers and bakeries providing something for everyone be it sweet or savory. Sao Paulo is known for its food in Brazil. Due to the presence of various ethnicities, one can find a wide variety of dishes to try. Not only can you find local favorite dishes, but a fusion of traditional and contemporary Brazilian dishes. If you crave something international, Sao Paulo has it all ranging from Japanese restaurants to Italian bistros to French cafes.

Coxinha (Pronounced as co-sheen-ya) is a tasty Brazilian delicacy available in Sao Paulo. It is a dough-based savory snack that is filled with chicken which is further coated in breadcrumbs to give it the shape of drumsticks. These drumsticks are deep-fried into a crispy golden treat before being served. This is a must-have treat if you are planning on visiting Sao Paulo. You can find this snack easily in any diner, bakery, or cafe in a variety of fillings for both meat and vegetable lovers.

Mortadella sandwich is another favorite among the locals. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a juicy sandwich filled with nearly half a pound of mortadella meat and cheese along with mayo and mustard? It’s a delicious meal for meat lovers! It can be found in the famous Mercado Municipal Market in various forms.

If you are a seafood lover then say no more! Sao Paulo has one of the best Cod Fish pastels (known as ‘bacalhau’) you can have. It is made up of deep-fried mashed potatoes, Salted codfish, parsley, onions, and eggs. Tasca do Porto is a Portuguese restaurant in the Santos area where they serve this delicious treat.

If you want to try something traditional then you can find the Pao de queijo which are the bread rolls made with cheese and tapioca flour giving them a soft center. One can easily find this cheesy snack at the Haddock Lobo situated in upscale Sao Paulo.

In case you have a sweet tooth and crave some desserts, Frida and Mina is a shop that serves one of the best tasting ice cream gelatos made with the finest and organic ingredients. They have their own handmade biscuit cones which are a treat themselves! On the other hand, if you crave something hot during the winter season then don’t miss out on the delicious cup of coffee along with the signature mouth-watering chocolate chip cookie with gooey filling served at 13th King of the Fork (KOF).

Brigadeiro is another one of the most famous traditional desserts among Brazilians. It is basically a small chocolate truffle made with condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter which is simmered over the heat and then rolled into the form of mini balls. The center of this truffle filled with gooey and bursting flavor which will make you crave more of it! This melt-in-your-mouth creamy truffle is not to be missed and is one of the must-haves in Sao Paulo. Modern-day truffles have emerged as well like the filling of strawberries and other fruits into the center.

Rich History and Culture

Historical Site
Historical Site by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The city of Sao Paulo over the years has matured itself by being powerful economically and politically, and at the same time is culturally diverse. Being a business hub, it has always been on the cutting edge of literature and art as it continues to be home to famous writers and artists. Not just that but various popular musicians kicked started their career from here.

The locals of Sao Paulo are proud to have a multicultural background, and you can find that in the way they have beautifully preserved their historical sites and valuable pieces in the museums. You will find cultures from Japan, Africa, Arab, Italy, The Jewish Clan, and Germany. If you dig deeper into the history of Sao Paulo, you will be amazed at what all you can find.

Now to witness this history, you can stop by the museums located at various locations in the city. If we count, there are so what 70 different museums in Sao Paulo, it is always hard to pick which one to visit first. This goes to all the soccer(football) fanatics, why not visit Museu do Futebol, a museum dedicated just for football lovers.

If you are feeling a little artsy, you will find dozens of art museum loaded with artworks of famous artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, Debret, and many more. But if you are more into science,  Catavento Museum is the go-to place for you. You will learn everything there is know about space in the space section, you even get to touch a real meteoroid. What to know how the human body functions? It’s all there! The museum is divided into four different sections:

  • Life – from the first living being to human life
  • Universe – from outer space to Earth
  • Society – controversial issues of human society
  • Ingenuity – man’s creations
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Even these cemeteries are a work of art. Consolação is the oldest cemetery of the 19th and 20th centuries. The artists sculpted various sculptures of Christian influence to make the cemetery less scary and more artistically appealing. The first sculpture work of them all is the “É o Sepultamento” which means “The Burial”. This sculpture has won an award in 1923 by the Salon d’Automne.

The immigrants who brought life to this multicultural city are no more, but their decedents have continued to cherish and preserve their history as it deserves to be.

Outstanding, Underrated Architecture

Architecture by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

We have often hear people calling Sao Paulo an ‘ugly city’ or a ‘concrete jungle’, little do the people know that these rumors hold no weight to it. You want to know why? The part of being a concrete jungle is somewhat true but calling it ugly is wrong at so many levels. There is so much to look at and marvel over the buildings. The architecture in Sao Paulo portrays the diversity in this city that is made up of unusual proximity. You will notice that there is a mixture of modernist architecture, vintage buildings, mirrored skyscrapers, and horizontal housing. All this is easily distinguishable from the ones seen in the rest of the world due to their historical background, architectonic solutions, or social functions.

The historical centers, even after going through decades of decay, have all been revitalized and preserved for people now to learn about the ancient history through these buildings. It is uncanny how well the buildings from the previous decades are still standing solid on the ground, and boy aren’t we all lucky enough to witness it.

Take a look at the Municipal theater, it was inaugurated back in 1911. The theater held one of the most loved classical music shows of all time. The theater was designed by two Italian architects Claudio and Domiziano Rossi. The design of the building was inspired by the l’Opéra de Paris of Charles Garnier. Even though the roots of this building lie in Europe, you will still be able to look at the Brazilian touch given to the building in the interiors. This building took around 10 years to complete due to financial difficulties.

When it comes to buildings, not mentioning the work of the famous Oscar Niemeyer would be unethical. Oscar is an internationally famous architect. His creative use of Modernism in buildings is just divine. If you plan a trip to Sao Paulo, you will be lucky enough to go gaga over the designs of his buildings there. His great work includes the Edifício Copan building which is one of the most emblematic buildings in Sao Paulo. Its sinuous shape represents Brazilian Modernist Architecture. The ‘S’ shaped building is a symbol for an allusion to sensuality or various forms of nature such as waves and dunes.

You will take your words back when you place your first glance at this city.

The Wild Exotic Side of Sao Paulo

Wild Life
Wild Life by Jamie Dantas on Unsplash

So we mentioned all the buildings, but does Sao Paulo has a green side to it? You will be shocked to know that the concrete jungle some of the most beautiful parks and exotic zoos you can imagine. The Ibirapuera Central park for example is the heart of Sao Paulo. It is awarded as the ‘world’s best urban park’ by The Guardian. The park spreads over a vast land with lakes and museums inside of it. It gives more tranquility to all the chaos. You could even be lucky enough to catch a slot snuggling on one of the trees. Some of the biggest events of Sao Paulo happen in Ibirapuera Park.

Now when we say exotic, it means we are pointing towards the exotic furry friends in Sao Paulo’s Zoológico. The zoo is home to so many animals including endangered species. The zoo looks more like a mini jungle where the animals are free to roam around in their natural habitat while keeping them away from the humans at the same time. A safari ride in the zoo is exactly what you need to learn about all the animals that live here. As you explore, you might even notice how Brazil, particularly the people of Sao Paulo love taking extra care of the animals especially the ones that are on the verge of extinction. This side of Sao Paulo is a lesser-known oasis, and you will agree to it when you see it.

Bonus: Sao Paulo is a Hospitable City

A local in Sao Paulo
A local in Sao Paulo by Getúlio Moraes on Unsplash

Yes, you heard it right! Despite being a city with a fusion of various cultures, the people of Sao Paulo are so welcoming. You will never feel like you are miles away from your home. If you are a first-timer and do not know which way to go, the locals there would be happy to help and will guide you along the way. Don’t worry about safety, you are in safe hands when in Sao Paulo. Just plan your trip and enjoy it like you never did.

How many days do you need in Sao Paulo?

To explore Sao Paulo, you need no more than 4 days to absorb every corner of the city. This time frame is enough for you to visit every historical heritage, colorful streets, and the green side of Sao Paulo City. You can even drop by to say ‘hi’ to some exotic friends at the zoo.

Why is Sao Paulo so popular?

Sao Paulo is popular for its rich culture and heritage. The fusion of various cultures like African, Arab, Japanese, and Italian is what keeps the city alive in terms of history, people, and cuisines. It is like walking into a mini-world all under one roof, which in this case is a city.

What is Sao Paulo famous for?

The nightlife for which Sao Paulo is famous for is certainly to die for. There are so many different clubs you can hang in depending upon your taste. There is a club just for stand-up comedians in case you want to spend your nights laughing or maybe show off your skills as a comedian. If you are on a honeymoon trip with your partner, impress your loved one with your samba dance moves in the outdoor samba dance clubs. There is so much you can do to keep yourself alive and wide awake all night.


James Ardimento has spent the last 12 years journeying around the globe ! With its precious experiences and tips he gained around Asia, South America, Europe and the US he is a precious asset for this blog and for its readers