São Paulo is not often on the radar for visitors to Brazil. But it is one of the largest, most innovative, dynamic and diverse cities in the world and if you love the urban environment you shouldn't ignore it. Founded in the 16th century, this capital of commerce has mushroomed relentlessly and now has a population of over 12 million. But it is not a homogenous metropolis: a city fashioned by immigrants, it is composed of a jigsaw of contrasting neighbourhoods, each with a distinctive cultural or economic identity. Liberdade is the largest Japanese community outside their home country. Bela Vista is a jumble of small lanes lined by homes founded by Italians. Jardins is the posh bit, with leafy residential streets, chic restaurants, designer boutiques and upmarket hotels. The compact historic centre – as recently as the 19th century a rustic core - is dwarfed by modern skyscrapers but defined by the extensive Praça de Sé with its grand, bulky cathedral. The city’s foremost artery, the Avenida Paulista, once beloved of coffee barons with the finest promenade, hosts excellent museums as does the Luz district further away from the centre.
This is the cultural heart of Brazil, overwhelming, yes; but pick out the areas you are interested in and it is well worth a visit. Concerts halls, art galleries, and open spaces – there is a multitude of parks – proliferate. Sport has a high profile too - there’s a Formula One Grand Prix circuit and world class football teams. Paulistas are known for their work ethic and always seem to be on the move: you'll find them friendly and helpful.
Where to go when - our guide to Sao Paulo
The weather in Sao Paulo is wide and varied
São Paulo is one of the largest, most innovative, dynamic and diverse cities in the world. Its summers are warm, muggy, wet, and mostly cloudy, while winters are short, cool, and partly cloudy. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 12°C to 28°C. The best times of year to visit São Paulo for warm-weather activities are from early April to early July and from late July to mid September.View our Sao Paulo weather guide
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Heloise Buxton - Travel Expert
Heloise started her Latin American journey as an exchange student in Santiago, Chile. With extended summer holidays this was the perfect opportunity to backpack through Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil.
Sally Dodge - Travel Expert
A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert
Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.