$100 Weekend in São Paulo

By 23:47 ,

This article has been updated on my website, My Destination São Paulo: Weekend in SP on a Budget

One of my favorite travel blogs is Seth Kugel's "The Frugal Traveler," a NY Times blog. Mostly because I can be pretty cheap, especially when travelling. I'm one of those people who wants to live the local scene, and I don't want to be ripped off by touristy travel 'deals'. I study maps so I don't waste time, and I try to meet up with locals wherever I go. Seth seems to follow the same schemes I do, so he's definitely a go-to for me when it comes to travel destinations.

A couple of weeks ago, he wrote about a $100 Weekend in Rio, which, like São Paulo, is next to impossible for many. They're two of the most expensive cities in the world, especially for tourists and ex-pats. Rio for it's tourist appeal, and São Paulo for it's top executive/rich business person appeal.

So what if you're "stuck" in São Paulo for a weekend and are low on cash but amped on energy?

Here's my "local guide" (after 3 years, I consider myself a local!) to $100 Friday night-Sunday night in São Paulo City. Like Seth's budget, this doesn't include lodging! Since my energy level was off the past few weeks, I've combined various places I actually went to and fun things I actually did here in SP a fun packed weekend!

Current conversion rate: 1 USD = R$1,62, giving me R$162,30 to spend.

We're assuming two things - 1. You're staying near the Av. Paulista area (although I live in Vila Madalena, I think it's just easier to assume this), & 2. You don't have a car & like to walk as much as I do.

Friday night

Pop into a metro station and grab a Bilhete Único, the metro pass here, for R$20. That should last you the number of rides you'll need on busses & metros. Remembering if you take the metro + bus, you get a discount and can ride as many busses as you want for the price of 1 for 2 hours using the pass.

For dinner, walk to o Pedaço da Pizza, on Rua Augusta. There you can taste São Paulo's "famous" pizza and get it by the slice, which is really hard to do around here! Each slice will run you about R$4 and a soda or beer, around R$3. So in my case - 2 slices (they're big!) & 1 Guaraná cost me R$12.

After dinner, take a bus ride to Vila Madalena ($3). There are tons of bars and clubs in the area, but to optimize the experience, and find a spot where tourists & Brazilians find harmony, head to Casa Club, where the cover charge is R$5 for a great live band playing Brazilian pop/pop rock, and the occasional Marvin Gaye and Sublime, and the 600 ml bottles of beer are R$7. Cover + Original beer = R$12.

Take the bus back to Av. Paulista & rest up for Saturday!

Friday total: R$44 Remaining: R$118,29 (Remaining on bus pass R$14)


Get up early and head to the nearest bakery for a pingado (large cup of coffee & milk) & a pão na chapa (bread and butter on the... grill?). R$4

Take the metro to Luz on the blue line. Right outside the station, to your right, there's a museum, and in front of it, another one!! The one that's attached to the station is Museu da Língua Portuguesa. Yup, that's right, Portuguese Language Museum. And it's really cool. I've been there about 4 times and still can't get enough of their multi-media presentation. Right in front of the museum is the Pinacoteca do Estado, one of my favorite art museums in the world. The building's architecture is gorgeous and they always have fabulous exhibits. Plans to spend a few hours in each. Price tag on a Saturday for each museum: FREE.

Cross the Avenue to the left of Pinacoteca, and take a 15 minute walk or so to Mercadão, which is the big municipal market right down town for a late lunch. The famous sanduíche de mortadella (R$8) is a must-have, but overall, plan on spending about R$15 eating here since you'll want to try some of the fruit and such as well.

Take a 10 minute walk to Mosteiro de São Bento, my favorite church in São Paulo. Gawk at the dome ceiling, and hope to cath the priests in the midst of a Gregorian chant (but if you would like to see a mass with this, go back on Sunday at 10 AM). Oh, and take a seat. You're probably tired.

Grab a salgado around there (R$5) at a padaria just to matar a fome, but be careful not to fall into 25 de Março, the street that has crazy bargain shoppers!

Another 7 minutes walking, and you're at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. Right now, there's an Escher exhibit going on which is free, and I also saw a great play there on a Saturday night a couple weeks ago which was with a famous Globo actor, for R$14. Try to check out a play if there are tickets!

Assuming the play was at 7:30 PM and you're famished at this point... head back to Av. Paulista via metro, and treat yourself to all the soup and bread you can eat at Bella Paulista. With drinks and all plan on about R$30 here.

Go home, you're frickin' tired!!

Total Saturday: R$68 Remaining: R$50,29 (Remaining on bus pass, R$8,20)


Sunday, take a bus ride to Moema, near Ibirapuera Park and treat yourself to a healthy all you can eat brunch at Pé no Parque. R$25

Afterwards, walk it all off in the park, taking a walk around the lake, checking out what's going on in the Bienal building or the Afro-Brazilian Museum (usually some great free exhibits!), both inside the park. Take a nap on the grass or check out any other sort of event going on in the park - which is very likely on a Sunday!!

Once you're over your lazy stupor, take a bus ride to Pinheiros to Ó do Borogodó, one of my favorite samba & chorinho spots in the city. R$15 cover, R$10 for a beer & caldinho de feijão.

Total Sunday: R$50 Remaining: R$0,29 (Remaining on bus pass, R$2,2o)

Whew! That was close!!

I added a few places that have cover charges and what-not, and also some "classier" places so you're not going crazy budget & health-wise, but there are all sorts of sites that you can find with free and cheap things to do all over the city, and for all tastes. The ones I usually turn to though, are probably Catraca Livre & Uia Diário. Also, don't forget daily deal sites!!! They've been crucial lately.

*Lodging tip - Couchsurfing is pretty big in São Paulo, and from what I've
heard from people I've hosted, paulistanos are pretty responsive and welcoming! Good neighborhoods to stay in for the above activities - Jardins, Bela Vista, Vila Madalena/Pinheiros, Itaim Bibi, Higienópolis/Santa Cecília.

So what'd you guys think? Would you like to see this sort of guide more on Americanizada?!

You can do whatever you want, but when in São Paulo, whatever you do, have a blast (and CALL ME!)!


ps - pictures coming. i'm too tired to post right now...

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