A bustling city centre built around a majestic-looking old town, the city of Sao Paulo definitely brings together the past and present like no other.
The Brazilian city has drawn visitors to its architectural marvels dating back to the Colonial era for long now, but the growth and urban development that Sao Paulo has undergone these past few years has also been nothing short of exemplary.
Today, you can spend your time marvelling at the old-world buildings and be indulging in modern entertainment options the next minute and that's what makes the city a great vacation prospect.
The Sao Paulo Metro has made travel around the city hassle free and it leaves no nook and cranny unaccessible.
In an already expansive city, the increased number of options in terms of neighborhoods to choose for your stay can be a bit overwhelming. And that's where we step in; here, we have listed some of the best neighborhoods of Sao Paulo and what they might have in store for you traveller!
The 'point zero' of the city, the marble monument of Marco Zero de Sao Paulo sits at a prime location in the central Sé neighborhood.
The plaza and its accompanying green space itself make for a great starting point for your city tours as major draws including the gothic 20th century landmark of São Paulo Cathedral and the Jesuit Mission chapel of Pateo do Collegio (which is also located at the site where the city was founded) lie at a stone's throw.
The cityscape around the neighborhood is also a sight to behold. You can roam about the streets marvelling at the facades of such majestic buildings as the Solar da Marquesa de Santos and the Museu do Tribunal de Justiça do Estado de São Paulo. While you're at it, keep an eye out for the cafes and bistros that line the neighborhood thoroughfares.
Sé is by far one of the most easily accessible parts of the city as its central location allows easy routes to all other parts. It has its own dedicated station, which can be reached via Lines 1 and 3 of the Sao Paulo metro. Hotels are in plenty and among some of the finest that the city has to offer.
And despite its central location, Sé is not the true beating heart of Sao Paulo. That distinction lies with Centro Histórico, the city's other old-world neighborhood. Centro has a wide-ranging appeal as it is home to some of the city's major entertainment venues as well as a cityscape that remains true to the historic core.
For starters, you can choose to spend your time shopping around such venues as the Shopping Light and Newmall, known for having a good mix of indie boutiques and international brands or Galeria Boulevard do Centro and Pátio Metrô São Bento, which offer more outdoorsy options. The Galeria do Rock and PlayArte Maraba celebrate the city's love of music and film and are also among the must-visits.
Talking of which, among the big cultural draws in Centro are the iconic 20th century gothic-meets-renaissance Cathedral of São Paulo, the opera and concert venue of Municipal Theatre of São Paulo and the stunning 1912-built Monastery of St. Benedict.
Most of these venues are fairly close to each other, but you can always take quick stops at the neighborhood's many parks and gardens.
The historic appeal of Centro has made it a popular choice for travellers for long now. The neighborhood can get a bit crowded, but has plenty of upscale accommodation options to keep you interested. It can be reached by all major city roads and has a couple of metro stations in its vicinity: at Sao Bento and Luz.
Situated a little west of Centro Histórico, the neighborhood of República is another Downtown destination. It is centered around the name Praça da República, a modern city park surrounded by an eclectic cityscape comprising both old-world mansions and high-rise buildings.
The park is also known for its lush setting and an accompanying lake that make for an ideal picnic spot as well as for hosting farmer's markets and a city-wide popular handicraft fairs.
Going back to the neighborhood's eclectic appeal, República offers a lot of free-spirited entertainment venues as well - beyond just the cityscape.
Nightlife options, trendy bars, graffiti-laden streets and art galleries all contribute to the neighborhood's alternative vibe; establishments in the vicinity of Largo do Arouche (a notable city street), in particular, are worth checking out!
Repùblica has an eponymous metro station that sits fairly close to the central park; Lines 3 and 4 of the Sao Paulo Metro run through it. The neighborhood has some of the best midrange accommodations that the city has to offer, while also providing a fair number of brand names to choose from. In short, this is one part of the city where you are unlikely to run out of options.
One of the city's most popular cultural enclaves of sorts, Bela Vista is all things Italian. The neighborhood is situated a little south of the traditional Downtown, this is the place where you'll discover a more laid-back side of Sao Paulo. Set up by Italian immigrants, Bela Vista is distinctly European in its appeal and has grown into a bit of a gastronomical hub, with several trattorias, coffee shops and other casual restaurants dotting most of the streets.
And for the time that you're spending away from the European delights, the neighborhood offers plenty of exciting opportunities. Paulista Avenue, one of the biggest business centers in Sao Paulo runs through most of the neighbourhood and is known to be a hub for modern entertainment options including some of the city's biggest shopping avenues.
The Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, known for its world-renowned collection of Latin American art, also lies on Paulista Avenue and is one of the major cultural draws of Bela Vista.
Bela Vista is one of the quieter neighborhoods on the list and your best bet for a nice accommodation would be a cozy homestay, many of which showcase irresistible European flair. The neighborhood is fairly close to Estacao Anhangabau station on Line 3 of the Sao Paulo Metro, but you can always take Paulista Avenue, which will lead you right in.
Liberdade, or Japantown as it is better known as in the local circles, is the other cultural enclave on our list of top neighborhoods. Guarded by a majestic tori arch, Liberdade has a unique village vibe of its own; the streets here are likely to transfer you into a completely different locale with their quintessentially Japanese decorations including red and white paper lanterns, the quaint zen gardens and stunning Buddhist temples.
And to add to all of that, Liberdade is one of the best places in Sao Paulo for trying out Asian cuisine. Starting from sushi bars to diners with karaoke to Chinese and Korean noodle shops, you will be given to choose from a seemingly endless list of must-try eateries. A tour of the city streets to narrow down your options would then be the smart thing to do!
Liberdade also has a few great specialty stores if you're looking to dive deeper into the culinary of the neighborhood.
Nearby, the Praca de Liberdade hosts a popular Sunday street market that draws in vendors selling wide-ranging products starting from fresh farmer's produce to a variety of locally-manufactured crafts.
Situated just south of Sé, Liberdade is another great choice for travellers looking to stay in close vicinity to the city centre. The neighborhood is easy to access as it has dedicated metro stations (Japon Liberdade, Sao Joaquin and Vergueiro) on Line 1 of the Sao Paulo Metro.
Consolacao and Vila Madalena
Popular for its 24 hour lifestyle, the neighborhood of Consolacao is the place to be for all night owls. Clubs, trendy bars, comedy clubs and live music venues dot many of the neighborhood's major thoroughfares and draw in the city's younger crowds in huge numbers.
From here, you can always head eastward to Vila Madalena, a compact neighborhood that borrows a lot of the alternative and free-spirited vibe from its Consolacao.
Vila Madalena does, however, has a distinctive boho vibe of its own. Graffiti, beautifully painted wall murals and street art - especially around the R. Medeiros de Albuquerque - make Vila Madalena one of the most walkable of all Sao Paulo neighborhoods.
Streets around Vila Madalena are also home to several small homegrown businesses including boutique, craft stores and art studios. Most of these businesses draw in huge Gen Z crowds, who also throng the eclectic mix of cafes and inexpensive eateries that are the norm around the neighborhood.
In short, walking tours of the streets here are an experience that should definitely be on the top of your to-do lists.
Line 2 of the metro network has an eponymously named station within the bounds of Consolacao; the same metro line also stretches eastward and offers easy access to Vila Madalena, with stations at Sumare and Vila Madalena itself.
The neighborhoods have plenty of hostels and inexpensive accommodation options to choose from, making it ideal for backpackers.
And for the last neighborhood on the list we bring to you the outdoorsy Higienopolis. Families and sporting fans start their tours from the central Football Museum, which houses photographs, memorabilia, interactive exhibits outlining the history of the sport.
The grounds surrounding the landmark are popular for their sporting fields and takeaway restaurants, making for a complete day trip in itself.
The lush outdoors of Higienopolis extended beyond the museum complex, as the neighborhood also has some of the biggest city parks in all of Sao Paulo.
The expansive Parque Buenos Aires was a former public square, but later made into a park with walking trails and children's playgrounds.
Even the leafy streets around Higienopolis offer plenty of opportunities for pedestrians. You can choose to take quiet afternoon strolls or go go restaurant hopping; chic cafes with terraces and outdoor sitting and small boutique only help in furthering Higienopolis' charming vibe.
The quarters in and around Higienopolis are known for having some of the city's best Airbnbs and homestays, so make sure you explore all your options before making a decision. Access to the neighborhood is also fairly straightforward as, much like most other neighborhoods on the list, it also has an eponymous metro station on Line 4.
That's our complete list of neighbourhoods from Sao Paulo traveller. Take your pick and get packing for your next vacation; exciting prospects await!