Sao Paulo is strong in gastronomy -- you will find food from every culture and some of the best pizzas in the world. I would recommend visiting the old centre on foot by day, and going to a few restaurants and bars at night. If you want to try something typical and you're not a vegetarian, try a good Churrascaria or a restaurant specialized in food from Minas Gerais (look for "restaurante mineiro" or "comida mineira"). If you're looking for a nice experience in a beautiful neighbourhood at night, I suggest Moema for restaurants, and Vila Madalena or Vila Olímpia for bars and nightclubs.
If you're into art, have a look at the museums and theatres (MAM, MASP, Teatro Municipal). If you like nature and parks, "Parque do Ibirapuera" is nice (but very crowded on sundays, avoid). The closest natural area around the city is "Pico do Jaraguá", where you will find a few activities.
If you're not going to any other beach in Brazil, then you may want to go to the litoral north of São Paulo (in the north are the best beaches). It's only 2-3 hours by car or bus. But if you're visiting Rio de Janeiro or other touristic beaches you won't find these very appealing.
EDIT: Oh and I highly recommend 'Terraço Itália'. In the top of the building you'll find a piano bar and a restaurant (go for the bar if you you're not willing to spend much). It's the best view of the city at night, good music and a pleasant experience.
Have fun! almost 10 years ago
It depends a lot on what sort of things you like and how much are you willing to spend. São Paulo is a huge, sprawling city, with traffic jams everywhere and good and bad neighborhoods mixed up. There is also some crime and, in January, it rains a lot, every day! Your first impression will surelly be the worst possible. It is not a friendly city at first sight. However, after a few days, you will start to love the city for its awesome nightlife - clubs, bars, discos, restaurants... Especialy if you hang on with local firends or acquaintances, who can take you to the right places. There are also some good museums, like MASP (art), MAM (art), Pinacoteca (art), Museu do Ipiranga (Brazilian History) and Museu do Futebol (soccer), and places worth visiting, such as the roof top bar at Edificio Itália (also called "Terraço Itália", great view of the city). Make sure to try one of the good restaurants at Rua Avanhandava - a tiny street with great diining and nice atmosphere. Regarding nightlife, there is plenty choices - from live music (rock, pop, jazz, latino, Brazilian...) to discos (electronic, 70's and 80's, alternative, gay, black etc.). The problem is that, unlike in other major urban areas of the world, most attractions in São Paulo are scattered all over the city, and not in one particular neighborhood. Prepare to spend a lot in taxis - they are the best way here for a foreigner: honest, clean, though a little expensive. Don't use buses. Metro (subway) is safe and good, however crowded and with a limited reach in sucha big city. Don't even think of renting a car. You will get crazy while trying to drive here! That's it for now. I hope it was of some help...
almost 10 years ago
ALSO.. Some other attractions you could like:
♦ Ibirapuera Park - it's our version of New York's Central Park, perhaps not that well conserved, but worth visiting, as you have three museums and nice monuments within the green areas.
♦ Sao Paulo Zoo Safari - this is an outstanding zoo, where animals are let free (no cages at all!) and you visit with your car (in your case, a friend's or even a taxi). However, it is located in the outskirts of the city, surrounded by very poor neighborhoods - don't go there by your own; get a tour ou go with local friends
And if you want to go to the seaside, you will find beaches within 90 kilometers from the city (São Vicente and Santos). However, I don't reccomend these ones, as they are not beautiful or even clean. You'd better travel 3 hours (about 250 km) to Ilhabela, a nice island, with very good hotels (from cheap to very expensive) and a cool colonial atmosphere. almost 10 years ago
I agree with others. If I were you, I certainly would invest a weekend at North Litoral in Sao Paulo. Lots of options, from calm to very intense nightlife, nice beaches, beautiful faces. Tip: if you decide to travel from SP to north litoral, do travel before rush hour especially on Friday afternoon, and come back by Monday morning.
If you prefer countryside and adventure sports, try Brotas, 3h from SP. Waterfalls, trekking, etc. almost 10 years ago