Free Things To Do in São Paulo
- #1View all Photos#1 in São Paulo3 miles to city centerFree, Parks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND3 miles to city centerFree, Parks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
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.
- #4View all Photos#4 in São Paulo0.6 miles to city centerFree, Shopping, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerFree, Shopping, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Most major cities have impressive markets filled with fresh produce, meats and fish, unique crafts and local treats. In São Paulo, that vibrant, aromatic market is the Mercado Municipal, known simply as Mercadão by locals (the "big market"). Originally the city's very first grocery market, Mercadão first opened in 1933 and hosts around 300 stalls selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to spices, cheeses and sweets to meat and seafood. More than 1,500 people work at this market and handle more than 450 tons of food on a daily basis. The building is also decorated with stunning stained-glass windows (72 windows that make up 32 panels) that depict different aspects of food production in the region.
Visitors and locals alike say you must stop by this market when you're in São Paulo. They suggest taking advantage of the free samples available (vendors generously hand them out) and shopping around for the best price. Travelers warn that the market gets exceptionally busy on the weekends, so come prepared for long lines; even better, try to visit on a weekday. A handful of restaurants and bars operate inside the Mercadão as well – visitors say you should try the famous massive (and tasty) mortadella sandwiches at Bar do Mané or Hocca Bar.
- #7View all Photos
Filled with shops, hotels, businesses, cultural institutions and restaurants, Avenida Paulista is one of the city's main thoroughfares. Towering skyscrapers populate this street – many of which boast some interesting architecture. Strolling down this avenue is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of São Paulo, and it makes for a convenient jumping off point to see some of the city's other top sights, including the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Shopping Cidade São Paulo and Parque Trianon.
Past travelers said walking this wide avenue allows you to get a feel for what life is like in the city. Many suggested planning your visit for a Sunday, when the street is closed to vehicular traffic and features vendors, live music and plenty of people-watching. Recent visitors also said you should spend some time in the adjacent Parque Trianon, which offers walking paths and impressed travelers with its density of trees and foliage in the city center.
- View all Photos3 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND3 miles to city centerMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
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