Because of more popularised destinations such as Rio and even perhaps the likes of the capital, Brasilia, Sao Paulo perhaps doesn’t readily come to mind as someplace you’d plan a visit to. After all, it is indeed just a city like New York or any other big city anywhere else in the world…Or is it?
No it isn’t!
You should definitely plan part of your stay to play out in Sao Paulo if you’re going to visit South America and Brazil in particular as this city has so much to offer. Since this is indeed an English medium blog I would assume that you speak English and that your primary communication language is indeed English, so you’ll have a first-hand account of someone who visited a Portuguese speaking destination by way of Sao Paulo as your chosen destination to visit.
I won’t lie to you – unlike the likes of Rio, very little English is spoken in Sao Paulo. Even quite a lot of the youngsters don’t really know how to speak English, or they actually do but they’re a bit subconscious of the way they speak it and so they rather pass off as if they can’t speak it at all. Many of the youngsters do in fact speak English quite well, but to their surprise they just didn’t have anyone to “practice” speaking it with until you came along as a tourist and they understood your touristy questions perfectly while they were able to respond and help you out just as well.
By youngsters of course I’m generally referring to the millennial group and those born earlier.
So basically what I’m saying is you’ll have a bit of a challenge communicating, but you can definitely find your way around. If you really have to, head to the tourist centre in downtown Sao Paulo…
Stay in a hostel as there is a great hostel culture in the city that goes on forever, even amongst the locals. You’ll meet a lot of fellow backpackers from all over the world and you’ll get the full 4-1-1 on where to go, what to see and who to go with.
I don’t know if it’s still on those particular days, but there’s a free food tour every Tuesday and Friday, which you just show up to and enjoy a history and cultural lesson at the same time. You’ll meet even more people this way and there are lots of walking tours as well.
Visit Praca Republica and just talk to people – this way you’ll find out about all that the city has to offer.
Liberdade makes for an interesting little setting as well, hosting the biggest Japanese community outside of Japan in the world.
Enjoy the food at one of many restaurants and indulge in the Paulista’s love for pizza as well. You must taste Brazilian coffee and you’ll probably also enjoy the street performances all along Paulista Avenue and in downtown Sao Paulo (Centro).
If you’re a singleton then you’ll have a whole lot more fun in the biggest concrete jungle in the Southern Hemisphere, but otherwise all which Sao Paulo has to offer is waiting for you to experience yourself. Oh, visit the Museum of football as well…