São Paulo’s vibrant neighborhoods

São Paulo is one of the biggest cities in the world. With so many neighborhoods and so many options, you easily don’t know where to go. Here’s a quick guide to the most vibrant areas in São Paulo.

▸ Vila Madalena 

By far my favorite neighborhood of São Paulo: Vila Madalena. This trendy neighborhood has something for everybody: boutiques, (street) art and lots of bars with live music. Vila Madalena has a very bohemian vibe, which orginated in the ’70s when the neighborhood was invaded by studens of USP, resulting in the opening of many bars, restaurants and shops. During the ’90s, Vila Madelena had a boom in real estate and turned into a more sophisticated neighborhood visited by all kinds of people.

  • For the greatest street art head to the open air gallery Beco do Batman (Batman alley).
  • In need of some food? At Alto da Harmonia delicous food is served with a great view.
  • Or more in need of drinks and bar food? Check out the bars at Rua Aspicuelta. You won’t be let down!;)
Vila Madalena
Beco do Batman



▸ Jardins

Jardins and its adjacent neighborhoods are great places to stay when traveling to São Paulo. This safe area has lots of restaurants and hotels, is nearby Paulista Avenida, Parque Ibirapuera and the main tourist attractions. It’s just the perfect place to stay when going on a trip to São Paulo!

  • The best shopping street in town? Rua Oscar Freire! Don’t forget to visit the Havaianas story, it’s a true heaven for flipflop-lovers! Got hungry? Head to Santo Grão for delicious coffee, food and a great atmosphere!
  • Visit Avenida Paulista on a sunday when cars are not allowed and Paulistanos (São Paulo residents) enjoy their day walking, cycling or skating the cities main street.
  • Only a short walk from Jardins is the Ibirapuera Park: the Central Park of South America;)


High-rise buildings in Jardins



Avenida Paulista


▸ Centro

Centro is definitely the most cultural neighborhood of São Paulo, but also a more dangerous one. This neighborhood is home to beautiful historic buildings like the Catedral da Sé, but also to many homeless people (it was for a reason, that my Colombian friend started to walk faster through this area). When visiting this beautiful but different neighborhood of São Paulo, I would recommend to leave valuable belongings such as jewelry and expensive cameras at home.

  • A worth-visit in Centro is the Mercado Municipal: an indoor market with fruits, meat, spices and many more!
  • You either love it or hate it: discount shopping at Rua 25 de Março. Imagine huge crowds and extremely low prices (did I already mention the massive crowds?). Well, one thing is for sure: it’s definitely an experience!


Catedral da Sé


▸ Liberdade

The biggest Japanese community outside of Japan resides in São Paulo. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the Japanese Paulistanos have their own neighborhood: Liberdade. While sushi is available in large numbers throughout the city, this neighborhood is definitely worth a visit. Japanese supermarkets, boutiques, street lights and even Japanese signs on the traffic lights: it almost feels like you’re in Japan!

  • Tip: visit Liberdade during the weekend when its street market takes place, offering traditional Japanese food and various goods. It’s one of those São Paulo-experiences not to miss!


Liberdade street market


Did you ever visit São Paulo? What’s your favorite neighborhood? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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