São Paulo can be a very overwhelming place for a backpacker since it is the largest city in South America and the 9th largest city in the world. I met some people when I was volunteering at a hostel in Rome and instantly bonded with them. Lucky for me, they live in São Paulo.
I spent my first few nights in a hostel but was kidnapped by one of my friends for a walking tour of the city. He had some other friends in town and thought it would be a fun day. We walked everywhere so that I could try to get a sense of what there was to actually see and do in this massive place. We opted for matching sunglasses to make out group cohesive. It was a long day but absolutely worth it.
It was a few days after New Years Eve so the city was still very sleepy. However, it was a perfect way to see what there was for me to do in São Paulo.
I moved into my friend’s apartment for a few days and then switched to the other one for a few days. We cooked. We went out to eat. We went for drinks. We went out dancing. I did whatever they did on a normal night. I even helped one of them move. If that isn’t acting like a local then I don’t know what is.
Paulista Avenue is a famous street to walk down in São Paulo. I jumped on the metro and headed to Paulista and more specifically, the São Paulo Museum of Art. The São Paulo Museum of Art is well known for its headquarters, a 1968 concrete and glass structure designed by Lina Bo Bardi, whose main body is supported by two lateral beams over a 74 metres (243 ft) freestanding space, considered a landmark of the city and a main symbol of modern Brazilian architecture.
Of course, a large city is always going to have graffiti and São Paulo was no exception.
It’s likely that as you are traveling through Brazil, you will end with a plane change or a layover in São Paulo. I would say it is a city worth stopping in for a day or two if you have the time.