I flew from Medellin > Lima > Rio > Sao Paulo – I was absolutely shattered by the time I got to São Paulo and had a very long nap when I arrived at my boutique hostel.
There are two airports in Sao Paulo – one close to the City Centre and the other is an hour drive away so make sure you check your airports as it makes a massive difference in cost on getting to your accommodation.
After reading many reviews online, I decided to stay in Vila Madalena as it’s the safest place in Sao Paulo. This area caters to travellers and even locals go out in this area as it’s safe.
I stayed at a small, sleek and modern boutique hostel where everything was new and branded (the mattress was heaven), there were separate shower room for the ladies and the people were so lovely that I even went out with them and cooked for them.There is a small bar out front which gets busy for afterwork drinks but if you’re up for a wild night then you are within walking distance to other places to go crazy. I’m the type of person that loves a good party but when the party’s over – I need my sleep.
This place provides the best for both worlds and I even came back to stay again (usually I like to change hostels but I loved the vibe in this place that I came back). My plan was to go to Iguazu Falls, come back to Sao Paulo and then head north so I was able to leave my big rucksack here and just had a carry on backpack – since I was coming back to stay here again, they let me leave it here. This hostel made me feel safe and it was here that I met a hilarious Irish friend who I ended up travelling with AND we are still very good friends to this day :).
However, if you are looking for a much lively, larger and party place – O de Casa is definitely the hostel to stay. Or if you are staying at another hostel and want to go out for pre drinks – this is the place to get your drinks in. I went to this place a number of times when I stayed in Sao Paulo before I hit a club and a lot of locals come here to drink too.
I made friends with some locals and they gave me tips on the area but also said that if you are partying in another area (like the city centre), you need to leave early (before 11pm) as apparently, it gets super dangerous and even driving through isn’t advised.
- Batman’s Alley – small graffiti alley with some good photo opportunities. During the weekend, it gets super busy but if you go during the week – it’s quiet so you won’t need to queue up for that pose.
- Food – sushi is big here as it has a large Japanese population here but there’s a famous pork place that all the food critics and bloggers talk about called A Casa do Porco. It’s worth checking out.
- Liberdad Japao – This is a Metro Stop and a place!
This is Japanese Town (equivalent to ChinaTown in the UK) where they stock lots of Asian foods (I have missed Asian food so much that I actually went here to buy food and cooked for people in my hostel), there are a few indoor markets where they are across a number of floors and you could buy random things like anime toys, home infusers, suitcases, Asian trinkets and fake goods (the fakes are good copies but they cost extortion compared to what you would pay in Asia so I wouldn’t recommend buying here unless you really wanted something).
On a Sunday, there is a crafts market literally outside the station where you can buy trinkets, healing stones, jewellery, food etc. I did a food shop here and then cooked for the people in my hostel.
- Ave Paulista – long massive road and they close this on a Sunday where there’s a few parades throughout the day, market stalls are open and it’s generally quite a good atmosphere. Or if you need to shop to buy any clothes, cosmetics or a sim card – there are plenty of shopping malls for you to get what you need.
- Parque Ibirapuera – This is one of Latin America’s largest parks and is described as “a green oasis at the heart of a concrete jungle”.
- Museums – There are a number of museums to visit in Sao Paulo so if you have time, it’s worth popping in:
Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo
Instituto Moreira Sales
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
Other things to do:
- Tall Tower – this has been labelled the highest residential building in South America (residential being the key word). I don’t remember the name of this place but they open at specific times of the day AND it’s free. The building looks like it could have been social housing when it was built and there are shops at the bottom of the building. You will need to queue and ‘sign in’ then there will be building security who will escort you to the elevator and take some stairs up – there will be people directing you and you literally can’t get lost. From here, you will see views of Sao Paulo and I actually saw this on a grey day that didn’t look so pretty but if you see it on a good day, please send me photos!
- Sao Paulo’s Cathedral – located on a square where conveniently, there is a Metro Stop however, I’ve been to many Cathedrals and Churches in the past and I don’t feel there’s anything special about this one so if you are short on time, I would give this a miss.
- Cemetery – I enjoy going to cemeteries as they are completely different in the UK. In the places I’ve been to in South America, they are much more elaborate, styles are different and people see cemeteries as a place to socialise and be close with the dead.
- Rock Shopping Centre – this is an alternative fashion place. The closest place I would say is similar is Afflecks Palace in Manchester but bigger. Here you can get tattoos, piercings, Vans, gothic gear, skateboards and on the top floor there is a T-shirt printing production so if you have time, you might be able to get your design printed on a T-shirt for quite a low price compared to the UK.
Let me know if you have been to these places or if you are planning a visit!