City Orientation Walk, Sao Paulo (Self Guided)

Today's São Paulo is a vibrant city, one of the world's most populated. Brazil's major financial hub, it is also noted for the rich cultural and architectural setting, featuring a tasteful mix of ancient colonial and modernist buildings coexisting in harmony. This walk will see you through São Paulo's historic center from Jardim da Luz down to the Japanese Quarter.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Brazil » Sao Paulo (See other walking tours in Sao Paulo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Author: vickyc
1
Jardim da Luz

1) Jardim da Luz

The Luz neighborhood of Sao Paulo abounds in outdoor green spaces. One of them is Jardim da Luz. Inaugurated as a botanical garden by the Portuguese Crown Royal Order in November 1798, this park was opened to the public in 1825, to become the first public garden in Sao Paulo. For the first few years, it was not very popular. Much of the park's land was eventually given away to various causes - railway construction, the College Prudente de Morais and the School of Arts and Crafts, to name but a few - leaving the garden an area of 113,400 square meters. However, it was not until João Teodoro, president of the province of Sao Paulo, took office in 1872-1875, that the park started to gain popularity. The key innovation he introduced was an astronomical observatory, which brought into the garden many visitors. Later on, in 1899 – 1910, mayor of Sao Paulo, Antonio Prado, further renovated the park, adding pavements, benches and gazebos. Today, Jardim da Luz offers a wide range of tourist attractions, including the underground aquarium, installed in 2000, the Lake Maltese Cross, surrounded by eight wonderful sculptures representing seasons of the year, as well as an open air museum, where one can find out much about the history of the oldest park in the city.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo

2) Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (must see)

Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo is the oldest art gallery in the city and is largely popular with tourists. The building housing the gallery took three years (1897-1900) to construct. Originally, it was meant to accommodate the School of Arts and Crafts, but in 1911 was converted into a state museum. Over the years, the Pinacoteca do Estado has hosted the High School of the State, as well as a number of governmental offices and even military barracks during WWII. In 1951, the exhibition space was very small – only four rooms. Today, the gallery comprises more than 10 rooms, occupying the ground and first floors of the building. The ground floor also contains the Resistance Memorial. The gallery's collections focus on academic art, although several works by modernist artists can also be found. Browsing through the display of over 7000 works, one may come across historic paintings by Almeida Junior, Anita and Alfredo Volpi Malfatti, depicting Brazil in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as sculptures by Vitor Brecheret, and many other interesting pieces of art.

Why You Should Visit:
For a comprehensive and engaging overview of the country's best artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, and for getting a vision of São Paulo and other parts of Brazil in those times.
Not only can you see the way cities were before urban sprawl, but also the way of life then – certainly simpler and seemingly a lot more idyllic!

Tip:
There's a nice cafe with decent food selection, as well as a nice park adjacent, so you can spend 3-5 hrs to give yourself the time to explore it all, and have a lunch/snack/coffee and/or walk break.

Opening Hours:
Mon, Wed-Sun: 10am-5:30pm; free admission on Saturdays
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Church of St. Ifigenia

3) Church of St. Ifigenia (must see)

Located near the Anhangabaú Valley, the current Church of Santa Ifigenia was built on the site of one of the oldest chapels of the city, the Chapel of Our Lady of Conception, built before 1720. This first chapel was renovated in 1794, and by disposition of the prince regent Don João VI, in 1809 the parish of Our Lady of the Conception and Santa Ifigenia appeared.

Between 1930 and 1954, due to the construction of the cathedral of St. Paul, the church of Santa Ifigenia served as cathedral of the city. On April 18, 1958, the church was elevated to the rank of basilica, under the name of Basilica of the Blessed Sacrament, by Pope Pius XII. It was protected by the Municipal Council of Historic, Cultural and Environmental Preservation of the City of Sao Paulo (CONPRESP) in 1992.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the oldest chapels in Sao Paulo, with all ceilings painted, preserved stained glass, and beautiful floor; a little weathered and dark inside but cozy in its simplicity and very picturesque.

Tip:
Plan your visit on weekdays during business hours as it is a desert area at night.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Santa Ifigênia Viaduct

4) Santa Ifigênia Viaduct (must see)

Viaduto Santa Ifigênia was opened in 1913 and links Largo de Sao Bento with Santa Ifigenia. Although never proven, it was once rumored to have been built by the famous Gustav Eiffel, creator of the Eiffel Tower. The viaduct was restored in 1978 and in 1982 was painted with the colors of the rainbow.

Why You Should Visit:
There's a beautiful view from here, so you should take the opportunity to snap a photo, as long as you pay close attention to your belongings.

Tip:
Next to the viaduct, you'll find a massive area of electronics & gadget shops, very cheap to buy anything you need for computers, cameras and the like (but be smart with what you're buying).
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
São Bento Monastery

5) São Bento Monastery (must see)

When visiting Sao Paulo, one must make an effort to visit the São Bento Monastery. This monastery features delicious pastries personally baked by the monks. In addition, they offer musical concerts and events, workshops, and perform Gregorian chants at mass daily. The architect was Richard Blend. The interior of the place of worship was designed by D. Adelbert Gresnicht. It is the oldest institution in Sao Paulo.

Although the exterior of the building is fairly simple, the interior of the church is beautifully decorated with woodwork, sculptures, and paintings. A clear German influence can be seen inside the building. There are no words that can accurately describe just how stunning the cathedral is. One must visit in person to truly understand.

A brunch is held on last Sunday of each month. It is at this feast where the delicious pastries and breads are served, along with a tasty meal. The pastries are very popular with the public. Patrons have the option, while dining, to purchase works of art.

The monastery is conveniently located on 25 de Marco Street, a very popular shopping area and is close to the São Bento subway station. Visitors will also enjoy the monastery shop, where more pastries can be bought, the nearby Bar Salve Jorge, and the Café Girondino.

Why You Should Visit:
The floor, the ceiling, the walls, the altar and the domes will keep calling you to have a second and third and tenth look at their beautiful art.
The services, the office in Gregorian chant sung by the monks, are very beautiful, several times a day. There's even Latin mass on Sundays, with organ and Gregorian chant.

Tip:
Don't miss the bakery full of ancient monks recipes such as the wine cake and their handmade bread, nor the gift shop as they have real treasures there!
Additionally, there's a huge bell on top of the church, which is accessible, and a mysterious underground tunnel (ask the priests).
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Metropolitan Cathedral

6) Metropolitan Cathedral (must see)

The Metropolitan Cathedral, often called the Catedral da Se, is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sao Paulo. The building features a Neo-Gothic style and stained glass windows. Its construction began in 1913 and ended four decades later. Despite having a Renaissance-styled dome, the Cathedral is considered by some to be the 4th largest neo-gothic cathedral in the world.

It has one of the largest organs in South America and several artistic renditions of the Virgin Mary. Many bishops and archbishops are buried in the tombs. Two of the most important crypts are the vault of Father Diogo Antônio Feijó and the Chieftan Tibirica. Tibirica helped to welcome the first Jesuits to the Piratininga Plateau and to found the villa of Sao Paulo. Father Feijó was head of state during the infancy of Emperor Pedro.

The current structure is the third version of the cathedral. The first church was in service from 1598 to 1616 until it was demolished for a new building. The second building was in use from 1764 to 1911, and the third place of worship was constructed in 1913. It is 111 meters long and has a seating capacity of 8,000. After a long period of decay, the Cathedral underwent a complete renovation between 2000 and 2002. Apart from repairing the building, many pinnacles over the nave and towers were completed. The original 1912 construction plans were found inside the building, allowing for a faithful restoration.

Why You Should Visit:
Just to observe the details of the huge doors and niches with sculptures is worth a stop; however, on the inside, the mix of modern and ancient has been achieved remarkably well and the tour to the crypts is unique.

Tip:
Tourists beware: the plaza where the Cathedral is located is home to drug addicts, grifters and beggars, so it is advised to visit only during the day and use a low-key approach. The contrast between the sacred and the profane is an eye opener and an interesting portrait of this city of huge contrasts.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
Japanese Quarter

7) Japanese Quarter

For those who love all things Japanese, the Japanese Quarter in the Liberdade District is the place to go when in Sao Paulo. The area is similar to the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. Although originally a local meeting place for the community, this area has grown into a venue that is popular with tourists and residents alike.

The Japanese have been a part of Brazilian culture since the early 1900s when they arrived to work on the numerous coffee plantations. The quarter reflects their influence and contribution to Brazilian society. Visitors will enjoy the authentic Japanese comics, food, and costume plays.

Three major cultural events are the Liberdade Fair, the Chinese New Year, and the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri festival in July. The Liberdade Fair features crafts, local goods, and Japanese cuisine. The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri festival celebrates a love legend and features beautiful Tanabata (paper and bamboo) decorations.

The quarter experienced a decline in the 1940s when all things Japanese were suppressed by the government. In addition, all Japanese residents had to leave the area and could not return until World War II ended. During the 1960s and the 1970s, the area came to life again, in part because of the installation of the subway system. The Chinese and Korean people now make their home in the quarter along with the Japanese. The nearby Sao Paulo Metro provides transportation.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Create Your Own Walk in Sao Paulo

Create Your Own Walk in Sao Paulo

Creating your own self-guided walk in Sao Paulo is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
West Zone Nightlife 2

West Zone Nightlife 2

Sao Paulo is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, renowned for its famous landmarks and rich culture. It is often compared to New York because its people "never sleep". If you are a fan of hot nights, clubs and music, or simply want to have fun, Sao Paulo offers a great selection of places to go: restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs, and more. Take the following...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
West Zone Nightlife 1

West Zone Nightlife 1

Sao Paulo is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, renowned for its famous landmarks and rich culture. It is often compared to New York because its people "never sleep". If you are a fan of hot nights, clubs and music, or simply want to have fun, Sao Paulo offers a great selection of places to go: restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs, and more. Take the following...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Walking Tour: Churches and Cathedrals, Sao Paolo

Walking Tour: Churches and Cathedrals, Sao Paolo

Sao Paulo is an important religious center in Brazil. There are many beautiful churches and cathedrals built in a traditional, old colonial style. Most of them are Catholic-affiliated, but you will also find a few Orthodox. The following self-guided walking tour will lead you through these sacred places.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 km
Self-Guided Tour: Art Galleries of Sao Paulo

Self-Guided Tour: Art Galleries of Sao Paulo

Brazilians are known as lovers of art and Sao Paulo is the perfect place to find tons of famous works. Sao Paulo Galleries display works from different art movements, both local and international. You will find everything from Impressionism to Baroque to Realism in this enormous city.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.1 km
Luz Seightseeing Tour in Sao Paulo

Luz Seightseeing Tour in Sao Paulo

Luz is the oldest neighborhood in Sao Paulo and a melting pot for many nationalities. Situated northward from Praça República, it is home to stately Victorian Luz Station and beautiful Luz Park. You may also find here the Museum of Sacred Arts, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Julio Prestes Station, Museu da Lingua Portuguesa, and Sala São Paulo - one of the best equipped concert halls in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 km
Walking Tour: Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo

Walking Tour: Avenida Paulista, Sao Paulo

Paulista Avenue is a famous spot in Sao Paulo, as it is the center of finances and culture. On both sides of the avenue you will find impressive skyscrapers, shops, and museums, including the famous Art Museum of Sao Paulo. This self-guided tour will lead you to Paulista Avenue's most popular attractions:

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Sao Paulo for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Sao Paulo has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Sao Paulo, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.