São Paulo, a.k.a the world's fourth-largest city, will become more accessible next year, and a buzzing, sprawling metropolis, visiting it should be on your list of things to do in Brazil. This is all well and good until it comes to finding a hotel. Luckily, we've come to the rescue with our guide on where to stay in São Paulo, whether you're keen to seek out the city's hippest neighbourhoods or its lesser-known gems.
You’ll find Higienópolis a few kilometres north of Avenue Paulista, São Paulo’s main avenue. It’s within easy walking distance of the city centre and has had its own metro station (Higienópolis-Mackenzie) since 2018.
Welcome to a lavish journey that marries adventure with style, featuring stays in carefully chosen four-star hotels. This reinvigorating tailor-made trip to Blissful Brazil will have you sightseeing in São Paulo, gazing at the spectacular Foz do Iguaçu falls and relaxing on Rio's finest beaches before you know it.
This up-and-coming area is known for its independent boutiques, bars, and street art-splattered walls, making it a great choice for travellers seeking a lively and vibrant atmosphere. One of its biggest draws is the Beco do Batman (Batman Alley), a short street with high walls covered in some of São Paulo’s best street art.
We’re also fans of the weekend market, where you can pick up everything from antiques to art. Although Vila Madalena is a great base for explorations of São Paulo – you’ll have some of its best restaurants and shops on your doorstep. It’s got fewer hotels than other neighbourhoods, but its popularity has seen several hotels open in recent years.
It’s a great base where to stay in São Paulo for first-timers – the avenue has several metro stations, and some of the city’s most colourful neighbourhoods, including Liberdade, where you’ll find the world’s biggest Japantown (outside of Japan), are within easy walking distance.
Sadly this square, dominated by the neo-gothic São Paulo cathedral, has become somewhat of a magnet for pick-pockets, so keep a close eye on your belongings. Centro’s other big draw is the huge Mercado Municipal de São Paulo, crammed with restaurants, bars and market stalls selling every type of food and drink under the sun.
It’s popular with travellers keen to retreat to luxurious digs after a frenetic day pounding São Paulo’s streets, and many of its hotels, including the Four Seasons, have the added advantage of stunning views over the Pinheiros River.
These exclusive residential neighbourhoods have long since taken over from the city centre as the site of most of São Paulo’s best restaurants and shopping streets. Many residents never stray from their luxurious ghettos – protected from Third World realities by complex alarm systems, guards and fierce dogs.
The most popular attractions in the area include the São Paulo Art Museum (MASP), Ibirapuera Park and the São Paulo Cultural Centre.
This normally quiet neighbourhood springs to life in the evening when people throng the central Rua 13 de Maio, and the streets running off it, which are lined with cantinas, pizzerias, bars and small theatres. During the day on Sunday, there’s a lively flea market, Mercado de Antiguidades e Artesanato do Bixiga, at Praça Dom Orione.
Built out of British iron, Italian marble, Latvian pine, Portuguese tiles and Belgian stained glass, these mansions were soon abandoned as the city centre took on the brash and commercial character of its present-day form. The Praça da República itself – once home to a bullring – has a green area with a small lake where turtles sunbathe and rows of fortune tellers throw shells and cards to part the gullible from their reaís.
Brazil, among other things, is great as a beach holiday destination. Read our guide to the best beaches in Brazil.
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Top image: Estaiada Bridge in São Paulo © Thiago Leite/Shutterstock