Sao Paulo Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Sao Paulo

São Paulo is a bustling metropolis city. It is the most populous city in Brazil and the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world. It is also the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest megapolis in the world. Portuguese Jesuit missionaries founded the city in 1554 on the anniversary of the conversion of St. Paul and named the city after him.

São Paulo became an important Brazilian and international city when the coffee crop started developing at the end of the 19th century. São Paulo has historical buildings, but you'll find that most areas are quite modern.

One of the best ways to experience São Paulo's vibrant culture is by visiting the Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market). The eclectic-style market is an excellent example of São Paulo's unique architecture. Shopping with locals is a fabulous way to discover new treats.

Head to São Paulo's birthplace at the Pátio do Colégio (School Yard). Here, Jesuits joined in celebrating the first mass and founded the city in 1554. To discover the religious history and culture of São Paulo, visit the essential churches. The Mosteiro de São Bento (Sao Bento Monastery) was originally established in 1598 and has a fascinating history. The Sāo Paulo Cathedral is awe-inspiring and can seat 8,000 people.

Don't miss the Liberdade District, home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan. Discover the best in Japanese food, culture, and art. Farol Santander is known as the Empire State Building of São Paulo, and the view from the 33rd floor is endless and dramatic.

Immerse yourself in Brazilian culture and explore the most notable sights of São Paulo by taking this self-guided tour.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Sao Paulo Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Sao Paulo Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Brazil » Sao Paulo (See other walking tours in Sao Paulo)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market)
  • Mosteiro de São Bento (Sao Bento Monastery)
  • Farol Santander
  • Pátio do Colégio (School Yard)
  • Sao Paulo Cathedral
  • Liberdade District
1
Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market)

1) Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market) (must see)

This enormous eclectic-style market first opened in 1933. Since then, it's retained a commitment to provide a central public market offering fruits, vegetables, meats, cereals, and spices. The Mercado Municipal imitates the Berlin Central Market with a covered building and side turrets. The exterior features neoclassical and Gothic influences with grand columns and arches. Glazed windows provide natural light to the interior.

The interior has fabulous stained glass pieces arranged in 32 panels. The stained glass was designed by Russian artist Conrado Sorgenicht Filho, who also designed stained glass panels in 300 Brazilian churches. Instead of religious themes, the stained glass in Mercado Municipal features on-point food production depictions.

On the first floor, visitors will find retailers. Here, you'll find any food item you want and discover new treats and goodies. Look for Brazilian nuts, coffee, fresh fish, oysters, meat, fruits, and vegetables. The second floor has several restaurants. To give you an idea of this market's impressive size, over 1,500 workers work here, and over 350 tons of food are exchanged in the market each day.

Why You Should Visit

The Mercado Municipal is a beautiful building. The stained glass is worth admiring, and watching locals haggle over fruit prices might give you the confidence to step into the game. This is a worthwhile stop for fresh produce and meats or a traditional Brazilian lunch.

Tips

Try the famous mortadella sandwich. The market is bustling at lunchtime, so if you love a hectic, immersive experience, try lunchtime. For a quieter pace, go before or after lunch.
2
Mosteiro de São Bento (Sao Bento Monastery)

2) Mosteiro de São Bento (Sao Bento Monastery) (must see)

The soaring interior nave with ornate details makes this the most beautiful and vivid church in São Paulo. The monastery was originally established in 1598.

In 1640, the Duke of Braganca was crowned King of Portugal. A group in São Paulo rejected the new King and offered the title King of São Paulo to Amateur Bueno. Bueno rejected this title and hid in the Mosteiro de São Bento until the political unrest died down and D. João was recognized as King.

The current neo-Gothic façade was built in 1914. German architect Richard Berndl created the new design. Belgian sculptor Adrien Henri Vital van Emelen created impressive sculptures of the 12 apostles.

The interior craftsmanship is exquisite, and the stained glass is stunning. A Friar crafted clay images on the high altar in the 1600s. The high altar is made from marble imported from Italy. The clock was installed in 1920 and was considered the most accurate timepiece in São Paulo. The impressive organ has over 6,000 tubes and can be heard at mass. Forty-five monks live in the Monastery and spend their lives praying and working.

Don't miss seeing the church in action and listening to its fabulous haunting sound features. Listen to Gregorian chanting during mass weekdays at 6 am, weekends at 10 am. There's also an on-site bakery with delicious treats made on-property by monks using secret recipes. You'll find bread, cakes, biscuits, jam, chocolates, and craft beer.
3
Farol Santander

3) Farol Santander

This iconic building has been called the Empire State Building of São Paulo. Previous names include Edificio Altino Arantes and the Banespa Tower. Regardless of its name, it's one of the most notable landmarks in São Paulo and dominates the skyline.

Farol Santander opened in 1947 and was originally the headquarters of the State Bank of São Paulo. At the time of completion, it was the tallest building in the city and the tallest reinforced concrete building in the world.

Travel to the 33rd floor to reach the observation deck and take in endless views. Visitors will find a skate park on the 21st floor. There's a wonderful exhibition featuring a panorama of São Paulo's skyline created by Vik Muniz from upcycled items. Visitors will also find a three-minute historical film.

The Banespa Museum is located inside Farol Santander. Here, visitors will enjoy over 900 objects, photographs, and carpets. There are several cafés and restaurants in the building. Try lunch in the rooftop restaurant.
4
Pátio do Colégio (School Yard)

4) Pátio do Colégio (School Yard)

Pátio do Colégio refers to the yard in front of this historic Jesuit church. The Pátio do Colégio marks the site where São Paulo was founded in 1554. The Jesuit school was a simple hut covered with palm leaves when priests celebrated the inaugural mass in 1554.

The associated buildings have been re-built and re-constructed many times over the history of the Jesuit mission. In 1953, the church was rebuilt to reflect colonial architecture and Mannerist style from the 17th century.

Today, the site contains Anchieta Museum. The museum contains more than 600 items describing the Jesuit mission in Brazil. Visitors will find paintings, sculptures, and altarpieces. There's also a scale model of the Pátio do Colégio which shows what the area looked like in 1554.

There's a café on-site with a pleasant garden attached. This is a lovely place to rest and contemplate. In the yard, visitors will notice the impressive Immortal Glory to the Founders of São Paulo monument.
5
Sao Paulo Cathedral

5) Sao Paulo Cathedral (must see)

This impressive cathedral is also known as the See Cathedral. Construction began in 1913 and was completed in 1954. Various iterations of churches and cathedrals have stood on this site since 1589.

The Sao Paulo Cathedral features a Renaissance-style dome and a Neo-Gothic facade. The 92-meter tall towers were completed in 1967. The cathedral can seat 8,000 people. The inner capitals are embellished with sculpted Brazilian crops such as coffee branches and pineapples.

In addition to the tombs of archbishops and bishops of Sao Paulo, the remains of Tibiricá are entombed in the crypt. Tibiricá was a cheiftian of the Guaianás tribe. He welcomed the first Jesuits in the 1500s and made the founding of Sao Paulo possible. The enormous crypt is decorated with marble sculptures representing the story of Job and St Jerome.

The 1954 organ is one of the largest in Latin America. It has 12,000 pipes and displays Gothic-style hand-carved reliefs. The carillon is the heaviest and largest in Central and South America and has 61 bells.

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
6
Liberdade District

6) Liberdade District (must see)

The Liberdade (freedom) name arises from the 1888 abolition of slavery in Brazil. Before abolition, slaves and convicts were executed in the public square now known as Praca da Liberdade.

In the early 1900s, the area became popular with Japanese immigrants. Today, over one million Japanese and Brazillian-Japanese people call this area home. Liberdade is the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. In 1974, a nine-meter torii was erected. This gorgeous traditional Japanese arch marks the entrance to Liberdade.

Liberdade is a popular place for tourists and locals to immerse themselves in Asian culture. Japanese comics (manga) are sold here. Fans often participate in cosplay, dressing up as their favorite anime characters. You can also find Japanese candy and gifts. Restaurants serving sushi and sashimi abounds. Don't miss having fun at a karaoke bar.

Rua Galvão Bueno is one of the main streets in Liberdade. Here, you'll find antique shops, booksellers, grocers, and an anime and manga mall. Rua Galvão Bueno features a pedestrian bridge over Viaduto do Glicério. This bridge is a great place to take photos of São Paulo.
The Museum of Japanese Immigration describes the history of Japanese culture in Brazil.

On the weekends, enjoy the Liberdade street market, which offers traditional Japanese food, household items, and souvenirs.

Why You Should Visit

Liberdade is the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. Immerse yourself in Japanese culture and food.

Tips

Visit on the weekend to take part in the street market. Check out the food stalls and try Japanese favorites such as ramen noodles, yakisoba (fried noodles), and gyoza (dumplings).

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.
Ibirapuera Park Walking Tour

Ibirapuera Park Walking Tour

Located in the very heart of Sao Paulo, Ibirapuera Park is the city's most famous attraction. The park was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer together with landscapist Roberto Burle Marx. It opened to the public on the 21st August, 1954. With a total space of 2 million square meters, the park features a beautiful landscape, filled with lakes, fountains, monuments, theaters, playgrounds,...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Paulista Avenue Walking Tour

Paulista Avenue Walking Tour

One of the main arteries of Sao Paulo, Paulista Avenue is a famous location and a symbol of the city's economic and political power. On both sides the avenue is lined with impressive high-rising architecture, extensive shopping areas, and cultural institutions.

The history of skyscrapers in Sao Paulo started in the late 1930s with the first multi-story edifice constructed at the corner of...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Japantown Walking Tour

Japantown Walking Tour

Home to the world's largest ethnic Japanese community outside Japan, the Sao Paulo district of Liberdade entices tourists with its Asian-inspired influences present everywhere: restaurants, shops, decor, markets, etc.

Up until the late 19th century, the area was known as Campo da Forca (Field of the Gallows) as the one reserved for the execution of slaves and convicts – for whom the only...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles