My husband and I want to plan a trip to Sao Paulo and take our kids with us (ages 5-12). Is this a good idea? Would this be a good destination for a family vacation and if so, what are things to do that a family can enjoy?
História Brooke! I was born and raised in Sao Paulo. It does have a lot of activities for families. We have really good museums (Museum of Art of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil - São Paulo, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo). There are also nice parks (ibirapuera park has a planetary, a Japanese tradition house, a modern art museum). The city has a modern part but the historical downtown is beautiful (just pay attention to your belongings and you'll be ok). You can go up the two highest buildings (Banespa, Edifício Martinelli), and visit the municipal theater. You can also have lunch or dinner at rooftop restaurants to admire the view (Terraço Itália, Skye). There is a famous aquarium that kids usually like. You can also see a soccer game. An hour from the city there are beach towns. From now on the weather is pretty good, so you can enjoy the scenery. If you go towards the countryside, there's an amusement park called Hopi Hari. São Paulo is an amazing place to eat. You'll love all the different restaurants. Hope you come and enjoy your trip. I promise it's a very different city from others we usually visit.
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I've seen a couple negative comments on here so far about Sao Paulo, and I think that's really unfortunate. I spent a full year there as a student and I could not recommend it more. It's a beautiful city with a fascinating history, and if you're into architecture it's absolutely incredible.
No, it's not a beach paradise, but there's far more to Brazil than just beaches. It's the largest city in the western hemisphere and it is a cultural mecca. Any kind of museum, cultural experience, music, dancing, food you could possibly want is there. You can easily get in some quality beach time by spending a couple days on the coast (Paratyis a great destination for that, less crowded than the typical tourist beach haunts).
I'd highly recommend visiting the São Paulo Cathedral, the Municipal Theatre of São Paulo, and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. The neighborhood of Vila Madalena is great for bars, restaurants, and "hippie" craft fairs, and Liberdade neighborhood is worth the visit as well - you'll really see the Japanese immigrant influence there. Definitely also visit the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo for a mortadella sandwich and to check out a million kinds of brazilian regional cuisine without having to leave the building.
If you don't speak Portuguese, I'd suggest learning a few key phrases, but you'll also find that people there are incredibly friendly and will make every effort to understand and help you. If you speak Spanish, many Brazilians will easily understand you (though you may not understand them). If you speak only English, get ready for lots of friendly people to practice their language skills with you. :)
One final note about the comments of some of the Negative Nancies here: never in one year of living in Brazil, taking public transportation every single day, and being out later than I had any right to be, did I feel unsafe or was I threatened in any way. Yes, it happens, but not nearly as much as some of these comments would lead you to believe. Be courteous, be aware, be sensible, and pay attention to where you are (not all neighborhoods are ideal destinations for tourists), and you will be fine.
I hope you get the opportunity to visit Sao Paulo, because it was the best experience of my life and I know that you and your family would have a wonderful time there.
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I would not suggest Sao Paulo as an ideal holiday destination. Depending on your personal interests, Sao Paulo can be quite amazing, but this is no London or Paris. More like a Frankfurt or Milan, but much, much bigger.
Furthermore, in general, I would say that big cities are not ideal family destinations. And, if you don't speak Portuguese, you're only adding to your challenges.
Besides the things mentioned by the people below, on Sundays, it's fun (if the weather is nice) to stroll down Paulista Ave which is closed to traffic on Sundays. Lots of families and people of all types hang out there on Sundays. You will hear lots of music of different styles and there are lots of places to visit - stores and malls, the House of the Roses, Siqueira Campos(Trianon) Park and an art museum, among other things. There are plenty of food trucks where you can buy food that kids will like. Lots of people ride bicycles - they have their own lane in the middle of the avenue!
Yes, sure! there are some parks in the city, expecially the Parque do Ibirapuera, who's the biggest one and best, cause it has a lot of options for all ages, since zoo to bicicle.
Sao Paulo is the biggest city of South America. 13 milion people living here. This city is the financial center of South America, industry region. Brazil has long distance between poors and richs. I think that for your kids isn´t good, but near to Sao Paulo has many wonderful beaches, about 80 miles. Safety places e very good for a holiday in DECEMBER , JANUARY , AND FEBRUARY. March rain in Brazil.
Hey Brooke, how much time do you have available? Brazil is a great and beautiful country, but the cities rank pretty low on the places to see here. 2 or maximum 3 full days of Sao Paulo is probably interesting and well worth it. Museums and restaurants are world class. The Skye bar at the Hotel Unique is always a highlight. If you have more time than 3 days available, you should head to the beaches.
I hate to be negative but I do not think Sao Paulo is a good destination for adults much less children. It is huge, crowded, and polluted. Unless you are spending a lot of time in Brazil, I would skip Sao Paulo and focus on Rio de Janeiro; but even there be careful and stay in the tourist areas. Brazilian cities are not places to explore - it is definitely not Europe. If you are interested in Portuguese culture go directly to Portugal, its inexpensive and safe. If Afro Brazilian culture is your interest go to Bahia.