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São Paulo has a convenient public transportation system, and many of its tourist-oriented neighborhoods are compact enough for a stroll. However, at night it's safest to take a taxi to and from your destination.

On Foot -- Though São Paulo itself is huge, many of the neighborhoods that make up the city are compact enough to be easily explored on foot. This is especially true of the more pleasant neighborhoods such as Centro, Higienópolis, Jardins, Vila Madalena, and Ibirapuera. During the day the city is quite safe; in the evening the safest neighborhoods are Jardins, Higienópolis, and the residential areas of the city. Best avoided are the quiet side streets of Centro, particularly the empty shopping streets around Praça Sé, Bexiga, and around Luz station.

By Metrô -- The Metrô is the easiest way to get around São Paulo. There are four lines: the North-South line, East-West line, and the line that travels underneath the Avenida Paulista. The fourth line sits isolated in the southwest of the city, and does not connect to the other three. The two main lines converge at Sé station, the busiest station of all. These two lines run daily from 5am until midnight. The line under Avenida Paulista meets the North-South line at Paraiso and Ana Rosa stations and runs daily from 6am to 10pm. It is usually a lot quicker to take the Metrô as close as possible to your destination -- even if it means a bit more of a walk or a short taxi ride -- than taking the bus all the way. Metrô tickets cost R$2.55. For more information contact tel. 011/3291-7800 or see the very useful website: www.metro.sp.gov.br. Note that the Single Fare (Tarifa Unica) program which allows riders to pay one fare and make use of Metrô, bus, and commuter rail is available only to São Paulo residents.

By Bus -- Good as Sao Paulo's Metrô is, there are some places you can only get to by bus. São Paulo buses are plentiful and frequent, but the city's sprawling layout and lack of landmarks can make the system hard to navigate. The routing information on the front and sides of the buses works the same as in Rio. A few useful routes are listed below (more are given with particular attractions and restaurants), but there will be many others running along similar routes. Buses cost R$2.55, and you pay as you board through the front of the bus. Bus drivers generally won't stop unless you wave your hand to flag them down. Some useful routes are:

  • No. 702P, Belém-Pinheiros: From Praça da República along Rua Augusta, then north on Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima into Pinheiros.
  • No. 701U, Jaçanã-Butantã-USP: From Praça República along Avenida Ipiranga, Rua da Consolação, and Avenida Rebouças to Buntantã and the University of São Paulo.
  • No. 5100, 5131: From Brigadeiro Metrô station, along Avenida Brig. Luis Antonio to Ibirapuera Park.
  • No. 5175, 5178: From Ibirapuera Park (opposite main gate) along Avenida Pedro Alvares Cabral to Brigadeiro Metrô station.

The bottom line? If possible, we recommend going by Metrô, combined where necessary with taxis.

By Taxi -- Taxis are a great way to get around São Paulo, and an absolute must late at night. You can hail one anywhere on the street, and taxi stands are usually found on main intersections, next to malls, squares, and parks. To order a taxi at a specific time, call a radio taxi. Rádio Táxi Vermelho e Branco ("Red and White") can be reached at tel. 011/3146-4000 (www.radiotaxivermelhoebranco.com.br). Cost depends on traffic, so the following prices are only guidelines: From Centro to Avenida Paulista, R$20; from Avenida Paulista to Vila Olímpia, R$25 to R$35; from Avenida Paulista to Higienópolis, R$20.

By Car -- Driving in São Paulo is for the daring, the foolish, or the infinitely patient; traffic is always chaotic and frequently snarled and slow, particularly during rainstorms when the streets flood. Oh, and parking is expensive and difficult to find. São Paulo's appalling traffic has given rise to the world's largest fleet of civilian helicopters that ferry commuting executives in from their suburban homes.

Watch Out for Rogue Motorcyclists -- São Paulo has the highest number of motorcycles in the country, most of them used by couriers. Be careful; even when traffic is backed up motorcycles will ride at high speeds weaving in between stopped cars.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.