What to do in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Theaters and concert halls
Theatro Municipal de São Paulo.
The two most important concert and opera houses of the city are Theatro Municipal and Sala São Paulo. São Paulo has a great number of theaters, most of which feature plays in Portuguese. The British Cultural Centre, Goethe Institute, Instituto Cervantes and Alliance Française occasionally have plays in English, German, Spanish and French.
Ciclofaixa de Lazer
Now it is possible to safely cycle in the city during Sundays and holidays, using the Ciclofaixa de Lazer. It is a 255.2km route that passes mainly through middle and high class residential areas in the West and South Central parts of São Paulo and bike friendly parks such as Parque Villa-Lobos and Parque do Ibirapuera.
Every Sunday, until about 4pm, Avenida Paulista is closed to cars, and people come out in droves to enjoy biking, rollerblading, walking, etc. There’s a lot of live music on the street, from the usual street performers to a higher caliber band playing on a big stage. It’s one of the best free things to do in the city.
Fun for the family
Both adults and kids are ensured to have fun by seeing the animals in the São Paulo Zoo, Zoo Safari (with animals roaming freely) and in the São Paulo Aquarium. São Paulo also has educative spaces aimed both at adults and children, including Catavento Cultural and Espaço Ciência). Finally, Mundo da Xuxa is a theme park only for the small ones.
- Parque Villa-Lobos (Villa-Lobos Park) is one of the most pleasant urban parks in the world. It’s similar to Central Park In New York City. Perhaps not worth a visit just for sightseeing, but it’s an excellent escape from the bustling city. On weekends, it can become quite busy. It’s far superior to most parks because:
- It’s huge
- It’s surrounded by hills which block almost all sights and sounds of the city.
- Selling stuff is prohibited. This is a small but constant improvement over say, most beaches in the country, where you can feel like you’re in a mobile shopping mall.
And you can:
- Play one of dozens of possible sports. You could probably just ask to join some people who are playing.
- Lay on the grass under a palm tree.
- Go to one of the world’s few completely free gyms.
- Go biking, rollerblading, etc.
- Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park) is also a massive, bustling park. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Paraíso, Vila Nova Conceição, and Moema. There are plenty of sports facilities, such as basketball courts, a soccer field, and running and cycling tracks. Skateboarders and hip-hop break dancers hang out around the covered pavilion known as Marquise do Ibirapuera. On weekdays, people from all over the city come here to run in the early hours or walk their dogs. On weekends, the park is at its busiest, with families gathering under the trees, people exercising, and kids rollerskating.
Afro-Brazilian Museum: there are plenty of artworks covering Afro-Brazilian culture
Planetarium: Recently refurbished and equipped with a Gauss lens projector, this place is worth a visit if you want to learn about stars and planets in the Southern Hemisphere. There are exhibits many times a day, check at the entrance of the Planetarium for an updated schedule.
Oca: this is a cultural space where temporary exhibitions of art and culture take place. It has been built in the shape of an oca, which is the original Native Brazilian housing.
MAM: this is the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo. There are artworks of many contemporary artists such as a giant spider by Louise Bourgeois, from the same series of spiders such as the one seen at the Mori building in Tokyo or at the Tate Museum in London.
Japanese Pavilion: a peaceful Japanese garden and pond with pine tree bonsai and koi carps.
According to the São Paulo Convention & Visitors Bureau, São Paulo hosts 90,000 events a year, from meetings and conferences to sports and cultural events. Information in English and Spanish about the events happening in the city can be found on. Events tied to a particular region are listed in the individual district sections. The following events are considered important to the city as a whole:
The São Paulo Carnival.
São Paulo Carnival, Avenida Olavo Fontoura, 1209, Santana. If you’re in São Paulo during the annual Carnival, a national bank holiday between the end of February and March. This is where the typical Carnival parade takes place, with dancers dressed up in costumes and musicians play samba songs on the top of fancy cars. If you can afford it, get tickets closest to the “pista” (standing area, close to the parade itself). This will give you a premium view of the parade, and the possibility of comfortably sitting down on benches. Waiters pass to and fro selling chocolate, chips, beer, soft drinks and booze. Another option is to visit one of the various samba schools in town, where you can see the rehearsal concerts of musicians and dancers. You can even have the opportunity to join the parade at the time of Carnival holidays by acquiring the costume from a samba school and getting in touch with the people organizing the event in one of the schools. However, São Paulo is not a traditional Carnaval destination for Brazillians, like Rio. The city will usually be less crowded on Carnaval then usual, as Paulistanos leave for the Paulista Coast or other states.
Gay Pride Parade, Avenida Paulista. Every year, during Corpus Christi holidays (usually between May and June), around 3 million people take part in the largest Gay Pride parade in the world. It takes place on a Sunday, and Avenida Paulista is the spot to head to. Floats bustling with electronic music parade from MASP to República, while every type imaginable marches along. The drinks are plenty and the rave parties feel keeps the paraders dancing way pass sunset.
Virada Cultural, (Downtown). Virada Cultural is a round-the-clock cultural marathon that takes place in various parts of the Historic Center (Downtown), happening yearly around April-May. It is a free event that gathers an audience of several millions of people circulating during a 24-hour, non-stop cultural party. Exceptionally, the metro and train work uninterruptedly during the event. During the 2012 edition, there were about 1,300 shows and 15 km of streets were occupied. Free.
São Paulo Indy 300, (Northwest). is an event in the IRL IndyCar Series, which opened the 2010 IndyCar Series season. The circuit is located in the Santana district, birthplace of legendary Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna and Brazilian auto racing pioneer Chico Landi. The main straightaway of the track is along the Sambadrome of Anhembi and utilizes portions of the Marginal Tietê service drive. The Anhembi Convention Center will be used for support facilities and spectator attractions. Unlike many other circuits, the pit lane is not located around the start-finish line; it is instead positioned after turn four.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Autódromo José Carlos Pace (Far South). A Formula One championship race which occurs at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos. The Interlagos circuit has created some of the most exciting and memorable races in recent Formula One history, and is regarded as one of the most challenging and exciting circuits on the F1 calendar. Along with Spa-Francorchamps, it is rare in that the circuit in its modern form is one of the few with a lengthy history in the sport not considered to have lost much of its mystique or challenge in its adaptation for the modern, much more safety-conscious era of 21st century Formula One.