São Paulo

Founded in 1554 by Jesuit missionaries, São Paulo has seen successive waves of immigrants (Italians, Japanese, Germans), followed by an influx of Brazilians from around the country, and its patchwork of neighborhoods reflect the cultures of the various immigrants who settled them. At 10.2-million people, the city also ranks among the world’s top five urban centers.

São Paulo Neighborhoods

Downtown (Centro)

The historic downtown features the Pateo do Colegio (where the Jesuits set up shop), Sé Cathedral, and two skyscrapers (Banespa and Terraço Itália) where visitors can view the city from above.


Brazil sports the highest number of individuals of Japanese descent outside of Japan. Many made their homes in Liberdade, which features top notch sushi bars, karaoke clubs, and shops.

Bela Vista (Bixiga)

The most accessible of São Paulo’s many Italian neighborhoods is located between downtown and Paulista Avenue. Picturesque cantinas and pizzerias are everywhere here.


Straddling bustling Paulista Avenue (the city’s main drag), the Jardins is São Paulo’s most fashionable shopping district. Upscale boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and art galleries can all be found here.

Vila Madalena

Chock full of bars, clubs, and restaurants, this bohemian neighborhood is the epicenter of São Paulo’s vibrant nightlife.


Next door to Vila Madalena, this area is known for live music after dark and, come Saturday, its popular street fair in the Benedito Calixto square.


This old German neighborhood, now filled with office buildings and hotels, is São Paulo’s fastest growing business district. German restaurants and bars reflect the area’s original heritage.

Ibirapuera Park

São Paulo’s answer to Central Park provides space for the usual array of joggers, cyclists, skaters, and weekend athletes.

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