sao paulo neighborhood

Ibirapuera Park is the metropolis’ green lung. (Photo: Paola Quintana Vera)

Tips + Trends

These 5 São Paulo Neighborhoods Will Give You a True Sense of the City

Founded as a Jesuit mission 465 years ago, São Paulo is now Latin America’s most important city in economic, cultural and demographic terms.

Being a city of such impressive dimensions, how can this urban spot be covered in just a few days? Drawing a route through its most interesting and iconic neighborhoods.

If you visit São Paulo, these are the places you shouldn’t miss.

Vila Madalena

In the 1970s, countless artists and students began to move to this area that, to this day, remains São Paulo’s bohemian neighborhood. Its streets fill up with life at the end of the afternoon on account of its many bars, where locals and foreigners come together to drink a beer or caipirinha —the Brazilian cocktail par excellence—, made up of lime, sugar and cachaça, the country’s iconic distilled spirit.

You can find the Beco do Batman in this area, an alley lined with graffiti that is renewed from time to time and constitutes one of the city’s main tourist attractions.

sao paulo neighborhoods
The Beco do Batman is an alley covered with graffiti. (Photo: Paola Quintana Vera)


Home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, this centrally located neighborhood, also home to Chinese, Thai and Korean immigrants, hosts important festivities throughout the year.

Chinese New Year is celebrated in January or February; in April, the Festival of the Flowers takes place; in July, the Festival of the Stars; and on December 31, the Moti Tsuki Matsuri, a festival in honor of the cake of prosperity which is prepared, as is to be expected, with rice.

In addition, there are plenty of stores selling Asian products and sushi restaurants. To some, São Paulo’s nigiris are even better than those found in Tokyo.

Cerqueira César

The highlands of São Paulo, known as Jardins, are home to this neighborhood that houses, among others, one of the most luxurious streets in the world. Rua Oscar Freire hosts internationally renowned brands and many acclaimed restaurants. You can find an Havaianas store there, the flip-flop sandals that have become a Brazilian icon worldwide.

In Cerqueira César you can also find the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), which houses the largest collection of Western art in Latin America, the famous DOM —considered the best restaurant in Brazil—, and the Renaissance São Paulo Hotel, one of the most exclusive in the metropolitan area.


This is the most gay-friendly neighborhood in the city. It’s home to Rua Frei Caneca, the street known as Gay Caneca. The LGBTQ community’s favorite bars, restaurants, shops and saunas are found in this area. It borders Avenida Paulista to the southwest, the cultural and economic center of São Paulo.

Architecture lovers will appreciate gems like the Paroquia Nossa Senhora da Consolaçao, which will especially delight those into neo-Romanesque style.


Located near the center of São Paulo you can find the neighborhood that houses the Parque do Ibirapuera, known as the metropolis’ green lung. Often compared to Central Park in New York, this grassland occupies a space of almost 160 hectares and has three interconnected lakes. It’s home to wonderful buildings conceived by the mastermind of Oscar Niemeyer, one of the most recognized architects of the twentieth century.

The São Paulo Biennial, the second most important contemporary art fair in the world, is held there.

With its 944 miles, São Paulo is an urban sprawl worth getting to know.