Sao Paulo is not only the largest city in Brazil, but is one of the seven largest cities in the entire world by population. It has more than 11 million people in the city proper and nearly double that in the larger metropolitan area. This means that you’ll find plenty to do here from exploring historic architecture to enjoying contemporary culinary treats.
Like many large cities, Sao Paulo is divided up into districts and some of them are a particular draw for tourists. Mooca is this city’s version of a Little Italy. Liberdade is the Asian district. Brooklin is the financial district and Praca de Se is the large city center square. There are more than 12,000 restaurants in Sao Paulo, including lots of ethnic cuisine in each neighborhood, so there are lots of places for you to eat your heart out!
If you want to check some of the most famous landmarks off of your list then start with the famous Catedral da Se, which is the largest church in the city and one of its notable attractions. Other important buildings are the Banespa Building skyscraper, modeled after the Empire State Building, and the Edificio Italia skyscraper, which offers great views from an observation deck. You’ll also want to visit the famous Sao Paulo Municipal Theatre, an opera house where you can still see performances today.
For more contemporary attractions, start at the Sao Paulo Aquarium, the largest aquarium in all of Latin America. Then head over to the zoo, which is the largest zoo in Brazil. There are also dozens of beautiful parks throughout the city, including some that preserve the Atlantic forest, so plan to enjoy a lot of nature even in this terrific urban space.
When you get ready to head indoors, museums are a top best. For a rich understanding of the area’s history, check out the Massive Latin America Memorial and the monumental Paulista Museum, each of which recognize different aspects of the area’s culture from the past. Visit Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo if you’d like to see European art in South America or Oca do Ibirapuera for native Brazilian art.
Fun Fact: Sao Paulo is also called “Sampa” for short. The people who live in the city proper are known as Paulistanos, while the people from the surrounding metropolitan area are known simply as Paulistas.
Sao Paulo’s stadium is called Arena Corinthians, although many are calling it simply Arena de São Paulo for World Cup. The stadium’s construction pushed really close to the deadline to be ready before the games begin. It hosts the opening match of the World Cup with Brazil facing Croatia.
The history of this stadium has been marked with problems. The initial plans for a new stadium date back to 1978. A series of financial issues postponed that development. Funding was finally approved for building to begin in 2010, specifically in order to host the World Cup. The construction of the new stadium has cost about $430 million.
If all goes as planned, Arena Corinthians will open with 68,000 seats, making it one of the largest stadiums to host World Cup 2014. Almost 20,000 of those seats are actually temporary seats that will be removed after the World Cup. The stadium will be retrofitted after the games are done and is expected to actually be truly complete in 2015. It will also be one of the arenas for the 2016 Summer Olympics.