The largest city in South America, São Paulo sits on the Piratininga plateau and is surrounded by rivers that fan out into the interior.Among the world’s most populous cities, with numerous cultural institutions and a rich architectural tradition.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit São Paulo is from March to May or October to November (the fall and spring shoulder seasons) when the temperatures are comfortable, the city sees less precipitation (and less haze) and premier events are in full swing.
Top Places to Visit in Sau Polo
- Museu de Arte
The São Paulo Museum of Art, known locally as MASP, only opened in 1968 but has the most representative and comprehensive collection of western art in Latin America. You’ll see works by Impressionists and modern masters – Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, Manet, Debret, Picasso, Miró, along with 73 works of bronze sculpture by Degas alone. Although it reaches back to the Renaissance artists, this is one of the first art museums on the continent to focus on artists of the mid-20th century and later, as well as on contemporary artists in Brazil, including Portinari and Di Cavalcanti. Its outstanding collections put it in the league with the Tate Modern, MoMA, and the Centre Pompidou.
2. Ibirapuera Park
Ibirapuera Park was laid out by landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, with buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The immense green space with its monuments, museums, playgrounds, gardens, trails, lakes, and performance spaces is a leisure paradise for the people of São Paulo, as well as a showcase of modern architecture and culture. Commemorating the pioneers from São Paulo who opened up Brazil’s interior, the Bandeiras Monument is a magnificent work by Brazilian sculptor Victor Brecheret, with imposing heroic figures. An obelisk commemorates those who died in 1932 in the struggle for a new constitution.
3. Contemporary Art Museum
Inside Parque Ibirapuera, the Pavilhão da Bienal de Artes, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and completed in 1957, houses the excellent Museum of Contemporary Art along with special exhibitions and shows. The museum’s more than 8,000 pieces represent a wide range of art schools, from Picasso, Modigliani, and Léger to leading Brazilian painters Tarsila do Amaral, Anita Malfatti, Portinari, and Di Cavalcanti. Among Latin America’s largest collections of 20th-century Western art, the museum also displays works by Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, and Joan Miró.
4. Sé Cathedral
The neo-Gothic cathedral was built on the site of an earlier cathedral and took from 1913 to 1967 to complete. Its building was interrupted by two world wars, which made it difficult to get the mosaics and other decorative elements from Italy. It was consecrated in 1954, on the 400th anniversary of the foundation of São Paulo. On the façade are statues of Old Testament prophets and Christ’s disciples. Although the rest of the church is neo-Gothic, it is capped by a Renaissance-style dome. The interior has several interesting features, including the 10,000-pipe organ and stained glass windows picturing the history of Catholicism in Brazil.
5. Art Gallery of the State of São Paulo
This museum is the oldest in São Paulo, opened in 1905 to showcase the works of Brazilian artists. Its 10,000 works of art include drawings, paintings, and sculpture from the 1800s through the present. Housed in the restored Liceu de Artes e Ofícios building, the architecture itself is a reason to visit. Part of the collection is housed in the museum’s second location at Pina Estação where visitors will find a memorial to the São Paulo Resistance, an extensive library of historic documents related to Brazil’s political struggles, and many more examples of Brazilian art.