An interesting and unusual list of things to do in Sao Paulo

downtown edition
São Paulo is a big city. I mean, it is the largest and the most important city in the whole southern hemisphere. And when things are so big, they then to be a bit chaotic and overwhelming for travelers. That’s why I’m making a list of things to do in Sao Paulo.

Who are you and why should I pay attention to your list of things to do in São Paulo?

First of all, let me introduce myself for the new readers of Fotostrasse. I’m Marcela Faé, and I was born and raised in this beautiful and messy concrete jungle of a city. And since I’m a local and a travel blogger, I guess there’s no better way to discover the cool things to do in São Paulo. I’m also the main photographer here so expect a list of exceptional and outstanding places that your lenses will love.

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Walk tour of Sao Paulo‘s downtown main spots

The downtown of my city is by far my favorite part of this 23 million people madness. Old buildings, social contrasts, history, street art and good food. Those are just some of the highlights of what you will experience in downtown São Paulo.
I’ll list here some of my favorite spots for you to check it out, but please feel free to discover some more of your own and share it with me over our Facebook group. I love to see how travelers experience and feel my city.

Theatro Municipal de São Paulo

Our first stop is one of the most beautiful buildings in São Paulo, the Municipal Theater of Sao Paulo.
You need to take the subway to the Anhangabau Station (red line) and walk a few meters.
Inside you’ll have three choices, 1 for people who cannot plan themselves and 2 for organized people. For those who can plan ahead, I strongly suggest you to either watch a concert or a play there. The second option for you guys is to take a guided tour of the inside of this amazing theater.
For the ones like me, who love to live on the edge and let life makes the decisions, another way to contemplate the architectural beauty of it, is by simply visiting the cafe inside. Not so complete, not cultural at all but I promise that the coffee they serve is good (and overpriced, of course).
Please make sure you can take pictures inside while you’re on the guided tour or the cafe. I’ve been there a few times and some of the times were not allowed whilst others were more than ok.

Galeria do Rock

One of the things most of my friends are mega curious about is this famous Galeria do Rock. This name that literally means Rock’s Gallery gives you an idea of what to expect.
It is a five story high old building filled with shops and business related to rock’n’roll and other genres. From tattoos to records, shoes, and clothes, this building is a must go for rock lovers.
The design of the building is to die for. It doesn’t matter if you’re aiming your lenses to the outside or the inside views, from up to down or down to up, this place is super photogenic.
Make sure you go to a higher floor and try to snap a shot of the Paisandu’s little church from the Galeria do Rock’s balcony. The feeling of São Paulo being a small village is priceless.

Mosteiro de São Bento (Sao Bento’s Monastery)

This place is one of the most important churches in the city. Check the opening hours and make sure to bring your camera for the spectacular view from above. From the viewpoint of Mosteiro de São Bento, you can see some of the most impressive views of São Paulo. A most go place for photographers (of course!)


Edificio Martinelli

And since this part of my post about amazing things to do in São Paulo is about the downtown Sao Paulo and photo opportunities, I present you, Edificio Martinelli.

Located right next to “our empire state building” (a.k.a. Prédio do Banespa), this place has one of the most amazing rooftops ever.

The building has a very curious story behind.

Edificio Martinelli was planned to be the highest and tallest and most majestic building in Sao Paulo. In an era where the city had no such a thing. I mean, back in the days, it was rare the cases where buildings were higher than five floors, you know? And the Italian immigrant Giuseppe Martinelli planned a building that would pass the mark of 100 meters. Crazy!
The building’s history is not only made of glory. Dark times surrounded this great construction to the point that people almost approved its demolition. Now this place is completely restored, and you can visit for free during opening hours.
Another curious fact is a bit more to the murderous side of it.

Martinelli (the building, not the Italian dude) was the scenario of many crimes during the 60s in São Paulo. One example is the unsolved crime of a boy named Davidson that was raped, killed and throned in the elevator shaft. The killer was never found and never punished. Still a mystery.

But above it all, this place is super nice. It is one of the best places to spend a lazy afternoon differently since there’s no time limit on how long you can stay there. And you can see the whole city (almost!). Amazing view, relaxing times, if you are visiting during summer, you can thank me later for the fresh wind on your hair… If you go, please tag your photo with #Fotostrasse so I can have a look, ok?

Pateo do Colégio

This is where all began. São Paulo’s birthplace. Where the priest named José de Anchieta founded the place.

Inside you can find a super nice cafe and restaurant with loads of green and an ambiance that is completely the opposite of the chaos outside. And also the museum where you can learn all you want and need about my city – and see some human bones! Yes, for some reason that I can’t explain, the museum holds the femur of this priest. Don’t even ask, ok?

Around the Patio do Colegio you can find super nice buildings to take photos and maybe, get inside. Some notorious examples are Tribunal de Justiça (Court of Justice) and the next item on this list of things to do in Sao Paulo.

Catedral Metropolitana da Sé (Sé’s Cathedral)

The biggest neo-gothic cathedral in Brazil. This amazing place is where our ground zero is located and because of that, couldn’t be left out of this post about things to do in Sao Paulo.

Besides being super pretty from outside, this place is outstanding from the inside. The crypt downstairs is a must go, and you can have guided tours in English too. Worth it.

Edificio Copan

Copan is on this list for many reasons. First and most important is because every single time I go to Brazil, people write me messages asking about Oscar Niemeyer. And Copan is one of his notorious pieces in my city. You may recognize it from postcards as the weirdly shaped building.

Real people live in this building, and that’s why visitors have a small time frame to see the view from above. I suggest you arrive early and always double check everything to see the time and days that you can go up. Copan is right next to Edificio Italia, the second tallest skyscraper in the city. This building loses only for 5 meters from the #1 position, Mirante does Vale.

Check this photo here on the side, it is the view you will have from the top of Copan.

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Before I leave this post dedicated to downtown Sao Paulo, I want to ask you please always to do the walking tours with a group of friends and possibly with a local. Never alone. Keep your values with you at all times and take your equipment out only for the shoot, after that put it back inside your bag.
São Paulo is too big to be safe life Berlin is, you know? But if you pay attention and if you don’t behave like a tourist, you will survive for sure.

If you like this post, please make sure you let me know. If I get a good amount of shares and love from you guys, I will make more posts about my city. I also want to invite you to become part of Fotostrasse’s family, all you need to do is subscribe to the newsletter. I promise that I have spam as much (or even more) than you and I would never do such a thing. I just want an easy channel to give you discounts on airline tickets, hotels and exclusive content about photography in general. Plus, you’ll be the first to know if you’re in town for some of our meet ups.

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