what to do in sao paulo

The distinct shape of Edifício Copan was conceived by the architect Oscar Niemeyer. (Photo: Alamy)

Tips + Trends

Take You Higher: Experience São Paulo From Above

With 6,000 buildings and counting dotting its skyline, São Paulo is one of the world’s fastest growing cities. This makes for an impressive urban landscape.

Admiring it from above is an experience like no other, whether you gaze down from one of its many viewpoints, from a helicopter or even sitting on a crane. If vertigo is not a problem and you’re attracted to the idea of seeing the largest and most populated metropolis in South America from above, these tips are for you.

Terraço Itália

On the 41st floor of the Itália Building, the second tallest building in the capital, this restaurant offers panoramic views of the city. The Italian chef Pasquale Mancini is in charge of the menu, which changes every season.

Lunch is served from 12 p.m. and candlelit dinners, enlivened by piano music, from 7 p.m. Day or night, you can choose a la carte or opt for the tasting menu. There is a buffet on Sundays.

what to do in sao paulo
This restaurant offers panoramic views of the city. (Photos: Terraço Itália)

Terraço Italia‘s dining rooms are surrounded by a terrace that allows you to take photos of São Paulo from different angles. We recommend you make a booking, especially for lunch, since it’s a very busy place.

Edifício Copan

Its curvaceous forms, conceived by the famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, make this monumental construction the most iconic of São Paulo. 1,160 apartments, 72 shops and restaurants, 20 elevators and even an evangelical church explain why it has its own zip code.

The structure itself is striking and the adventure is enhanced by climbing to the 32nd floor to admire the skyline of the city. These visits are free and open to the public from Monday to Friday, twice a day (10:30 and 15:30 hours), prior reservation required. They last 10 minutes and are led by a guide who you may tip. Book your spot calling this number: 55 (11) 3259-5917.

Bar Obelisco

On the rooftop of the building that houses the Museum of Contemporary Art, another work by Niemeyer, you can find the Vista restaurant and the Bar Obelisco. From its incomparable viewpoint, you can see Ibirapuera Park, the green lung of the city.

Watching how the sun sets with a cocktail in hand will leave a lasting impression. An exotic and delicious option in the menu is the meu cajú amigo, made with vodka, compote and cashew juice, a fruit that hails from the northeast of Brazil. The bar is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 6 pm and, late in the evening, there are shows ranging from Brazilian music and jazz, to DJ sets.

Helicopter Ride

São Paulo can boast of being the city with the most helicopters in the world, but not for good reasons. The problems of mobility on land are so serious that the rich and powerful prefer to be transported by air. But you do not need to be a senior executive to appreciate the city from an aircraft.

Different companies offer helicopter rides that can last from 20 minutes to one hour. Some have packages that include dinner in luxury restaurants, photo sessions, a glass of champagne and other amenities to spice up the event.

what to do in sao paulo
You don’t need to be a senior executive to appreciate the city from an aircraft. (Photo: Getty Images)

Dinner in the Sky

Twenty-two people enjoying a tasting menu designed by an acclaimed chef, suspended on a crane 164 feet above ground? This peculiar restaurant, born in Belgium and with presence in 45 countries, has a short season every year in Brazil’s financial capital.

what to do in sao paulo
Enjoy a tasting menu designed by an acclaimed chef from a crane suspended on the air. (Photo: Paola Quintana Vera)

The experience lasts one hour or one hour and a half, depending on whether you opt for lunch or dinner. The crane rotates slowly so that diners can enjoy all the available views. Prices range from 400 to 600 reais (100 to 150 USD) and tickets are sold out months in advance.

From the ground or from above, that concrete giant called São Paulo can show its kindest face to anyone who looks for it.