View of Octavio Frias de Oliveira Bridge in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Itineraries for Your Trip to Sao Paulo

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1 Day in São Paulo for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

South America’s largest city is a sea of skyscrapers as far as the eye can see. This city of 20 million people, called Sampa for short, has a little bit of everything—galleries and art-house cinemas, raucous nightlife, and a great culinary scene. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in São Paulo.


The sheer size of São Paulo can make it feel overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. Get oriented with a sightseeing tour of the city guided by a local. A half day gives you enough time to explore the Paulista and Ibirapuera neighborhoods, as well as see the sights of downtown São Paulo, including the Municipal Theater, Pátio do Colégio, and Sé Cathedral. If you’d prefer a more active sightseeing experience, opt for a cycling tour of downtown to get an overview of its museums, parks, and architecture.


After working up an appetite with your morning sightseeing, treat your tastebuds to the flavors of Brazil this afternoon as you explore the city’s vibrant Municipal Market with a local guide. Learn about what makes Brazilian food so distinct as you wander past fresh produce, and stop to taste some local favorites, such as a mortadella sandwich. For a more immersive food experience, choose a Brazilian cooking class instead. You’ll learn to make typical Brazilian dishes that you can re-create in your own kitchen back home. The best part is, you get to eat what you make, so come hungry.


There’s a party in São Paulo pretty much 24/7. This evening, head out on the town to experience the city’s world-class nightlife for yourself. Go on a barhopping tour through the bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena to sip rooftop cocktails and rub elbows with the locals, or get dressed up for a night of dancing at some of the city’s best bars and clubs in Vila Olímpia. Go with a guide to find the hot spots, and enjoy convenient and safe transportation back to your hotel at the end of the night.

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