Catedral da Sé de São Paulo (São Paulo Cathedral)#5 in Best Things To Do in São Paulo
This neo-Gothic cathedral may catch your eye with its enormous spires and you'll hear it referred to by many (similar) names, including Catedral da Sé, Catedral Metropolitana and Catedral da Sé de São Paulo. The church is smack dab in the center of the city, near the main square of Praça da Sé. Inside, the venue can hold up to 8,000 people, which means it's the largest church in the city, and visitors can enjoy the intricate details that represent Brazil – from coffee beans to flora to animals – carved into the structure. The church also boasts a beautiful marble interior and colorful stained-glass windows (be sure to snap some photos). As the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Paulo's cathedral, it holds Mass daily; visitors can also tour the tombs within the church (for a fee).
Recent travelers said they enjoyed their visit to this cathedral, which garnered superlatives like "beautiful," "lovely" and "impressive" from patrons. Many said you should plan to visit on a Sunday morning for Mass, as it's an incredible celebration. Several visitors warn, however, that the area surrounding the cathedral is a little dicey, noting you'll likely encounter homeless people and aggressive panhandlers; keep your eyes on your belongings and walk with purpose toward the cathedral.
You can reach the cathedral on foot or via metro (Sé is the closest station). Catedral da Sé is open daily Monday to Friday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours (in English and Portuguese) are available in the afternoon on weekdays and most of the day on Sundays; admission costs 5 reals (less than $1.50). Access (without a tour) is free.
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#1 Parque do Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Park)
If you get tired of the concrete jungle, make your way to the Parque do Ibirapuera, which offers a spacious, green respite from São Paulo's towering skyscrapers. The land was selected to be a public park in the 1950s to celebrate the city's 400th anniversary and spans around 400 acres; many people liken it to New York's Central Park and London's Hyde Park because of its size and the amount of visitors it sees. Walking and biking paths snake through the lawns, and you can rent a bicycle from a number of vendors nearby. Music fills the air on Sunday mornings, when visitors can enjoy free concerts in the park's Praça da Paz. Many cultural institutions can be found in the park as well, including the Museu Afro Brasil, Museu de Arte Contemporânea and Museu de Arte Moderna.
Travelers frequently describe Ibirapuera Park as an "oasis" and say it is a relaxing place to spend the day walking through the park, utilizing the running trails or going for a bike ride. Some warn it can get particularly crowded on weekends and when it's sunny.
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