Sao Paulo A Nice Surprise


Sao Paulo, Brazil

We had always planned to visit Sao Paulo while we were in Brazil, but we weren’t looking forward to it that much because we had heard a lot of negative things about it. Its really dangerous, there is nothing to do, it always rain etc etc. Well I can tell you now that from our experiences none of that is true!

Getting To Sao Paulo

The bus from Rio was supposed to take about 6 hours, but instead took around 7. The journey was actually really interesting, much more enjoyable than a flight of the same length.  It was a was a real eye opener as well. The favelas stretch out for miles around the cities, and I can imagine this is where the worst gang problems occur.

The bus itself was great! We went with the company called 1001 and were really impressed. The bus was nicely air conditioned and the seats were very comfortable with loads of leg room, and we were also given a small lunch pack which was a nice bonus.

The Hostel

Sao Paulo Global Hostel

The hostel is covered in crazy artwork

We had booked our hostel in advance. Hostel World wasn’t letting us book our first or second choices for some reason, so we ended up making a reservation at Sao Paulo Global Hostel. It is awesome! We arrived about 8pm and we were greeted by very friendly and enthusiastic staff, who quickly gave us a tour of the place and showed us to our rooms.

An hour later we were being offered free cocktails because they were “experimenting” with new combinations! The best by far sounds very odd, but was amazing. A mix of condensed milk, vodka and coke. A pretty good welcome, I think you agree!

Discovering Sao Paulo

Like I said before, we weren’t expecting much, so we scanned the map provided by the hostel for places that looked interesting and set out on foot. The first thing we noticed was that in general we felt safer walking around Sao Paulo than we did Rio. Maybe this was because we were in a good area, Paraiso, I don’t know, but the main difference between Sao Paulo and Rio was that in Rio things could very quickly change from being perfectly safe, to a bit dodgy within a couple of streets of each other, where as this didn’t seem to be the case in Sao Paulo, or at least not in the main parts of the city.

Futuristic Brazil

Sao Paulo Buildings

You'll see plenty trees reflected in the glass

The first place we had pin marked to visit was Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo’s major park and probably its most popular tourist attraction. It wasn’t too far away so we decided to walk, and I’m glad we did. The walk to park took us past some great buildings. The mix of modern glass fronted buildings and tree lined roads makes for a striking combination.

Parque Cultural Paulista

The Parque Cultural Paulista

While strolling along we also stumbled across the Parque Cultural Paulista which is a small park situated in the midst of the futuristic tower blocks. Its worth a visit ad will only take up about 10 minutes of your time but the intriguing architecture and gardens make it worthwhile.

Pasties Aren’t Just Cornish

I appologise to anyone in advance who doesn’t have a clue what that heading was about, but those from the UK will understand. Just as we were getting close to the park, we were distracted by a small food market. You know, fruit, veg that sort of thing. In the market there were a number of stalls selling a snack called a Pastel, which I think roughly translates to a Pastie.

Brazilian Pastel

Probably very unhealthy, but so tasty!

They were 3 Brazilian Real each, and consist of a filling wrapped in a thin pastry and fried. They are cooked right infront of you and you recieve them scoldingly hot! Im not joking. We decided to get one of each filling and share. Pizza, Cheese and Meat. The meat was the best by far, with the pizza filling coming in second. A great snack for lunch as long as you are prepared to wait for it to cool down!

Ibirapuera Park

Sao Paulo Park

Great views across the lake in the park

Sao Paulo’s equivelant of New York’s Central Park. It is huge! You could quite easily spend a whole day there. The park is filled with museums, sculptures and statues and also is home to two very large lakes, both of which looked like a very inticing escape from the heat!

The park in general is really nice. Like Central Park this seems to be the palce to go for exercise. Locals run, skate and ride bikes around the parks many paths and it is very busy.

Sao Bento Food Market

Sao Bento Market

This indoor market is huge!

After the park we headed towards Sao Bento tube station. The tube is 2.65 Brazilian Real for a single making it cheaper than Rio, but it is just as efficient and easy to navigate. We did notice that the subway was far more busy than in Rio, and you usually have quite a queue to get a ticket.

When you get off tube at Sao Bento the streets are packed and lined with street traders trying to sell you the latest in quality fakes. An unfortunate American guy called Chris who was also staying in our hostel bought a Kingston 128gb usb stick for 30 Brazilian Real. When plugged into the laptop it read “Zero space used, Zero space available”!

The food market was much better. It is situated in an impressive building complete with impressive stained glass windows on every isle. The stalls are varied and good value. We picked up some fresh bread, salami and Brazilian cheese for lunch the next day, but could have quite easily walked away with more if it wasn’t for our meagre budget.

Overall we have been pleasently surprised by Sao Paulo and have really enjoyed our time here. It helped that we have had a great hostel but even still the city is amazing too. I forgot to mention, almost every street is lined with bars and resturants so you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to nighlife!

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  • It’s often the cities or places that don’t have the best reputation, or that everyone says there’s “nothing to do there,” that I like the best. It’s these cities and places where you can observe and experience a country from more of a local perspective. Another bonus about “boring” cities is that there are way less traditional “tourist attractions,” meaning less normal tourists. Glad you were able to have a great time in Sao Paolo and thanks for sharing some thoughts!

    Even though it would be disappointing to buy a fake memory stick, that’s pretty funny!

    • Yeah you are probably right! Sao Paulo hasn’t seemed as touristy as Rio.

      Your right, the usb things is hilarious, that really is a case of its too good to be true! I don’t even think 128gb memory sticks exist!

    • Pierre Larose

      Completely agree with you there

  • Jacqui

    Not too sure about the cocktail with condensed milk!! Sounds like you are having a great town & meeting great new friends along the way. Good to hear you are trying local foods & discovering similarities.
    Love the photos too.xx

    • Neither was I when I was first told what it is, but it was actually so nice, almost just like a milk shake. X

  • Steve

    Looks a great place. Love the hostel too. Sounds as though you are getting more confident with tubes and getting around now. (Not getting lost as well). Thanks for a really interesting post. Can’t wait to hear more.
    Love Dad xxx

    • Hehe the tubes have always been easy, its walking around when we get lost! X

  • Places with bad reps don’t always deserve them..

    • Yep you’re right. Sao Paulo is a prime example!

  • I love that art work on the hostel.Obvioulsy you are really getting into the swing of things in Brazil.

    • There was cool art like that all over the place! We stumbled upon a really good hostel. Yeah we have got our bearings now, off to Foz Do Iguacu next!

  • I always find it interesting when people say “there’s nothing to do there” in a city as huge as Sao Paulo. The thing we love about all massive cities is just wandering around. Sounds like you had a great time there. Looks lovely!

    • Yep we just wondered round and found loads of interesting things to do. In a city that big the chances of there beeing nothing to do or see are pretty slim hehe

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  • This city sounds worth a visit. It’s always scary to go somewhere with dangerous reviews but a lot of times it is worth it.

    • Yes it definitely is. I am glad we didn’t listen otherwsie we would have missed out on a lot!

  • Good to hear you are trying local foods & discovering similarities.
    Love the photos too.xx

    • Thanks! We plan on trying a lot more local food as well, there isn’t much I wouldn’t try!

  • you had me at “experimental” welcome drink. cheers! 😀

    • Experimental it was, but it was so good. Going to try and reproduce it when I get home, and Im not usually one for cocktails!

  • Usually when people tell me a place is going to be bad in some way I always seem to find some hidden treasure. It looks like you did the same. Nicely done! Those pastels look yummy. Why do I always read posts about food when I am hungry?

    • Yeah we really had heard things about Sao Paulo, even when we arrived we had emails from people saying be careful we have heard it is realy dodgey! Those pastels are yummy, we will be looking out for more of those along the way for sure!

      • Yea I guess I try not to listen to those people who “heard” things about places. From what I have experienced the telephone game doesn’t really lend itself to travel advice.

        • Too right, I think its important to trust your own instincts

  • So glad to hear you’re enjoying your time in Sao Paolo, it’s always nice when a place pleasantly surprises you. The pastels look very tasty!

    • Thanks Laurel! Yeah we spoke to two Canandians today who also said they though Sao Paulo was really nice and they thought it felt safer than Rio too! Just shows!

  • Michel

    If you visit Sao Paulo from Rio just for a few days, it may be interesting. If you live there, it’s another story. I’ve lived in the city for 15 years. I think it’s just a big city with almost nothing pleasant nor interesting, compared to many other betters places I’ve known in the world.

  • I agreed that Sao Paulo is not as popular as Rio as per tourists point of view. There are many of eye-catching attractions in Rio and the Christ the redeemer is world famous, located in Rio. Anyway, good to read this whole content.

  • Alison CHQ

    Future residents of Treasure at Tampines . We were talking about this earlier on. Share this with your family & friends! 🙂