Bright lights, big city
Known to the Brazilians as Sampa, this city offers something for every taste. If you like to eat, you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants like Alex Attala’s D.O.M. as well as cheap, buzzing eateries serving regional delicacies. If your mission is to shop, there are top-end luxury boutiques in Jardins along with a Sunday flea market in Bixiga. And if you want to party, there are plenty of nightclubs, as well as bars playing live samba.
For over a century, São Paulo has spearheaded Brazil’s vibrant art scene. MASP gallery on Avenida Paulista showcases modern art, and at the Pinacoteca in Praça da Luz the focus is on Brazilian work. If you head to Vila Madalena, a popular haunt of the trendy, you can also find street art embellishing building facades.
When to go
February in Brazil means one thing – Carnival – and Sampa is no exception. Taking place from the 9th – 14th of February in 2018, Sampa’s carnival is characterised by extravagant samba parades and packed street parties. You should book a few months in advance to get the best deals on São Paulo flights during this peak season.
Carnival is at the tail end of summer, which can be quite humid, with regular afternoon showers. Many Paulistas escape to the nearby beaches at weekends during this period. Far more pleasant is the autumnal shoulder season between March and May. São Paulo is known as the ‘land of drizzle’ for a reason, and you can expect light rain at this time of year too.
October to November is another great time to travel, with balmy spring temperatures. Visit at this time to catch the city’s Fashion Week and Grand Prix.
Airports and airlines
Guarulhos International Airport
The second busiest airport in Latin America, Guarulhos International Airport is located 16 miles from downtown São Paulo in the town of Guarulhos. It has three terminals in total, but Terminal 3 handles the vast majority of intercontinental flights. Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Iberia, KLM, United as well as a number of other airlines, offer return flights to Guarulhos International Airport from the UK, and direct flights leave from London Heathrow. View flights to Guarulhos International Airport.
Getting around the airport
Guarulhos has a complimentary shuttle service between terminals running every 15 minutes, leaving from in front of departures at Terminal 1 (Blue), Terminal 2 (Orange) and Terminal 3 (Red). Journey times range between 7 and 16 minutes so make sure you leave plenty of time. If you’re really cutting it tight, it might even be faster to walk between Terminal 2 and 3.
Getting to the city from the airport
The city center is a breeze to get to from Guarulhos, with a choice of private and public transport. There are taxi ranks outside all terminal buildings, and various car hire companies to choose from. The Airport Bus Service from Guarulhos
Don't forget before you fly
UK nationals do not need a visa to travel to Brazil, and can stay up to 90 days, which can be extended to 180 days by making a request to the Federal Police. In Guarulhos International Airport, there is a branch of the Federal Police in Terminal 3 which will be able to issue a visa extension.