The enormous and vibrant city of Sao Paulo is both the largest city in the whole of Brazil and the fifth biggest city across the world. With many different nationalities and ethnic groups calling Sao Paulo home it is a fascinatingly diverse city, with plenty of diversity in the cuisine to match!
It is an affluent city overall, although the stark contrasts between the rich and the poor are very clear to see. There are gleaming modern buildings and shanty favelas within close proximity. There are so many things to do in and around the city that you can spend weeks there and still feel that there is so much more to discover.
Sao Paulo is not a cheap city to visit; indeed, it is known for being one of the places where backpackers are likely to blow their budget completely out of the water. Be prepared for high costs! That said, there are a few tips for enjoying Sao Paulo on a budget and, whilst costs will not be low, they will certainly be lower than they could have been!
Follow these tips to save a bit of money, do more, and maintain some semblance of a budget in Brazil’s lively Sao Paulo:
Don’t Splash the Cash on Sleeping
It can be tough finding a budget bed in Sao Paulo, but there are some hostels and guest houses that offer pretty decent value for money, Make sure that you shop around a little before committing to anything to make sure that you really are getting the best bargain for your buck. Scope out a few places that are a little way out of the city too – those that are right in the centre are going to be more expensive. If you’re only planning to say for a couple of days, the central location will probably be worth the extra cost. But if you want to spend longer in Sao Paulo then it will probably be more economical to bed down somewhere cheaper outside of the city centre and use public transportation to get around and do everything that you want to do.
Mealtimes can be a pricey affair in Sao Paulo, so make sure that you compare the prices in a few spots before ordering! Avoid places that are mainly geared towards tourists and try and find the places where the locals love to eat – not only will they be more reasonably priced but the food will also be more authentic and, probably, tastier too!
The main meal of the day is lunch. A top tip is to look out for places that are heaving with locals on their lunch break – and follow them! There are many places that charge by the weight of food that you consume, thus allowing you to try a variety of different things for a decent price. Keep an eye open for places that offer lunch time specials too. By eating more at lunch time and keeping dinner light, you will find that you are able to save a bit on eating costs.
Don’t Forget the Markets
Whether you want to grab a snack, stock up on a few bits for breakfast or possibly even to prepare a light evening meal back at the place you are staying, or are looking for fab yet inexpensive souvenirs, the markets really can be your best bet. Avoid pricey department stores and souvenir shops and check out the many bargains available at the markets. As well as being terrific for buying stuff they are also a fantastic place to browse and have some fun with a spot of people watching! Some favourites include the large Mercado Municipal and Feira da Liberdale.
Catch a Free Concert at the Park
On Saturdays and Sundays there are free open air traditional performances at the large and pretty Ibirapuera Park. This is also a nice place to simply take a stroll in the green and leafy environment – it is certainly a change with the concrete jungle of the rest of the city! It’s a nice place to enjoy a cheap picnic too.
Check Out the Street Art
Looking at the bold and colourful street art is lots of fun … and, it is also free! Enjoy some outdoor artwork at Beco do Batman and be amazed by the skill that has gone into creating the graffiti designs.
Plan Your Visits for Free Days
A lot of the city’s museums and other attractions have days when there is no admission fee, whilst others have periods of reduced entrance prices. Check ahead and plan your trips for the cheapest times – why pay more than you have to?! For example, the Sao Paulo Museum of Art is free to go inside on Tuesdays.
There are a few ways to cut the costs and enjoy Sao Paulo on a budget; all it takes is a little bit of planning!