- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Sao Paulo Guide (PDF)
São Paulo is a cosmopolitan city and a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. Brazilians are known to be friendly and welcoming to foreigners, making the lifestyle in São Paulo one of the most exciting in the country. Expats moving to São Paulo are sure to enjoy a rich cultural experience in this diverse city.
Shopping in São Paulo
From international designer labels to local, traditional items, there are plenty of shopping options across São Paulo.
For an upscale shopping experience, expats can visit Iguatemi Shopping or Shopping Cidade São Paulo in trendy Avenida Paulista. Rua Oscar Freire is one of the most popular shopping districts in São Paulo. Shopping Pátio Higienópolis, a mall in the Higienópolis neighbourhood, is another option for those looking for luxurious products.
Avenida Paulista is also home to many shops and restaurants. For American-type malls, expats can try Cidade Jardim, Shopping Eldorado and Centro Comercial Aricanduva. These are all home to the typical array of shops, restaurants, food courts and cinemas one would expect from any mall.
Eating out in São Paulo
As a multicultural city, it's no surprise that São Paulo has a diverse and exciting dining scene. Expats will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in São Paulo.
There is a multitude of local restaurants offering traditional Brazilian cuisine, including meat and seafood specialities. At these local eateries, expats will be able to sample local dishes such as feijoada, made from pork and black beans, and the popular barbecued meat churrasco. For those wanting a taste of home, there are also many internationally recognised brands of takeaway and chain restaurants.
Nightlife and entertainment in São Paulo
São Paulo has a vibrant nightlife with plenty of stylish bars and clubs, from smaller intimate venues to the massive megaclubs dotted around the city. There are also many options to enjoy traditional samba and see live bands.
Centro and Bela Vista in the city centre and Rua Augusta are popular nightspots with a plethora of clubs, restaurants and bars to choose from. Those looking for something a bit more Bohemian should head to Vila Madalena, which is home to several local bars and clubs and is also an excellent place to see live samba bands.
Sports and outdoor activities in São Paulo
Football culture is massive in Brazil, and São Paulo is no exception. Whether it's attending a live game at one of the city's four large stadiums or watching in a pub or someone's home, Brazilians are passionate about supporting their teams.
There is a range of outdoor entertainment options for families to enjoy in São Paulo. São Paulo Zoo and Zoo Safári are two such options, where hundreds of indigenous animals can be seen in their natural habitat. There are also a fair few parks dotted across the city for families to enjoy a day out.
Although São Paulo is not located directly on the coast, beach lovers need not despair – beautiful beaches are only a few hours' drive away and offer a great opportunity for those looking to escape the rat race for a day or weekend getaway.
See and do in São Paulo
São Paulo offers expats and locals alike a plethora of things to see and do. Thanks to São Paulo's large size expats will always have the opportunity to discover something new. Below is a selection of our favourite attractions.
Ibirapuera Park is one of the best urban parks in Latin America. The park boasts 13 playgrounds, cycling trails and picnic spots, making it the perfect place for a family day. The art lovers in the family will also have easy access to the Afro-Brazilian Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the OCA Museum.
Gourmands moving to São Paulo shouldn't miss the Mercadão market. This municipal market plays host to vendors and artisans from all over the city, selling a multitude of cuisines and spices for expats to try.
São Paulo's first art gallery, Pinacoteca, houses a 9,000-strong art collection with works from some of the best local and international artists. Art and architecture lovers will enjoy marvelling at the gallery's beautiful buildings and garden as well as the striking pieces.
Memorial da America Latina
Brazil's ode to Latin America, Memorial da America Latina, is home to more than 4,000 artefacts and artworks from around the region. The six buildings contain documents, sculptures and handicrafts that aim to enhance Brazil's cultural, social and political ties to Latin America.
Built in 1903, Theratro Municipal is a perfect blend of the contemporary and old, as the building has gone through several restorations while retaining its original Latin American feel. Local music and dance schools get the opportunity to showcase their talent here.
What's on in São Paulo
São Paulo is the cultural capital of Brazil, and the city's action-packed events calendar is reflective of this. It's also a city with a rich sporting heritage and is home to several of Brazil's best-known football teams. The Brazilian Grand Prix is also hosted here.
Aside from the major yearly festivals the city is known for, it also frequently hosts concerts by the world's best musicians, film festivals and art exhibitions. Below are some of the most popular annual events in São Paulo.
Millions flock to São Paulo every year to watch and participate in a spectacle that has become integral to Brazil's cultural identity. Options for celebrations are plenty, from troupes of samba dancers parading through the streets, competing for the prestigious championship trophy, to massive street parties known as blocas.
São Paulo Fashion Week (April/August)
Taking place bi-annually, São Paulo Fashion Week has continued to grow since its inception in 1995. Featuring local and international models and designers, Brazilian haute couture gets its moment on the catwalk in front of world-famous fashionistas.
São Paulo Gay Pride Parade (May/June)
The Guinness Book of World Records recognises this event as one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world. More than 5 million people flock to the streets to take part in this festive spectacle of colour. The event is well-supported by the local government and is an international tourist attraction in its own right.
São Paulo Grand Prix (November)
Although the date can shift from year to year, the city's enthusiasm for São Paulo Grand Prix does not. The event is home to driving legends like Emerson Fittipaldi and Felipe Massa and demands the F1 world's attention. The city occasionally hosts the last race of the season, which adds to the event's magic and magnitude.
Saint Silvester Road Race (December)
Held on 31 December every year, Saint Silvester Road Race hosts runners from all over the world who come to run through the city's streets in this traditional road race. Thousands of participants partake in one of Brazil's oldest street races each year. Though the track's distance is shorter than a traditional marathon, the heat, along with the hilly terrain, make this a challenging run.
New Year's Eve (December)
Much like the Carnival, Rio de Janeiro might get the credit for hosting the best new year's celebrations in Brazil. However, São Paulo has a good time of its own to offer. Normally celebrated on Paulista Avenue, around 2 million of the city's residents dance the year away under fireworks at a concert featuring DJs and musicians.
►Read Getting Around in São Paulo to learn more about travelling in the city
"Although huge, noisy and very busy, São Paulo has its charm. I enjoy the endless options of pastimes, culture and restaurants." Read more of Dona's expat interview about São Paulo.
Are you an expat living in Sao Paulo?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sao Paulo. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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