São Paulo is a huge city and can seem daunting for the first-time visitor, but our transportation tips on getting around make it so much easier.
Arriving from the airport
Most international flights, and the cheapest internal flights, land at Guarulhos Airport, 25km northeast of the city center (T: 011 2445-2945; www.gru.com.br).
There are plenty of banks and money changers in the arrivals hall, open daily 8am-10pm, and cafés, restaurants and gift shops on the second floor and arrivals lobby, plus a post office. Tourist information, including city and regional city maps and copies of the entertainment section from the Folha de São Paulo newspaper with current listings, is available from Secretaria de Esportes e Turismo (SET).
Airport taxis charge US$65 to the centre and operate on a ticket system: go to the second booth on leaving the terminal and book a co-op taxi at the Taxi Comum counter; these are the best value. Guarucoop (T: 011-6440 7070, 24 hrs, www.aeroportoguarulhos.net) is a leading, safe radio taxi company operating from the airport. The following Emtu buses run every 30-45 minutes from Guarulhos between 5.45am and 10.15pm: # 257 and 299 – Guarulhos to Metrô Tatuape (for the red line and connections to the center), US$2; # 258 for Congonhas airport via Avenida 23 de Maio and Avenida Rubem Berta, US$15; # 259 for the Praça da República via Luz and Avenida Tiradentes, US$15; # 316 for the principal hotels around Paulista and Jardins via Avenida Paulista, Rua Haddock Lobo and Rua Augusta, US$15; # 437 for Itaím and Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima in the new business district, via Avenida Nove de Julho and Avenida Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek; and # 72 for the Barra Funda Rodoviária and metrô station via the Rodoviária Tiete.
Getting Around São Paulo
Buses in São Paulo are operated by SP Trans , who have an excellent bus route planner on their website. It also enables you to plan using a combination of bus, metrô and urban light railway (trem). There is a flat fee of US$1.20 for any bus ride – payable to a conductor sitting behind a turnstile in the bus. The conductors are helpful in indicating where to hop on and off. Buses are marked with street names indicating their routes, but these routes can be confusing for visitors and services slow due to frequent traffic jams. However, buses are safe, clean and only crowded at peak hours (7am-9am and 5pm-6.30pm). Maps of the bus and metrô system are available at depots, eg Anhangabaú.
Metrô and the CPTM Urban light railway are the best and cheapest way to get around São Paulo (daily 5am-midnight, www.metro.sp.gov.br, with a clear journey planner and information in Portuguese and English. The system is clean, safe, cheap and efficient. It is integrated with the overground CPTM light railway. São Paulo’s was the first metrô in Brazil, beginning operations in 1975. It now has five main lines.
The urban light railway CPTM (Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos) www.cptm.sp.gov.br, is an which serves to extend the metrô along the margins of the Tietê and Pinheiros rivers and to the outer city suburbs. There are six lines, which are colour-coded like the metrô.
Taxis in São Paulo are white with a green light on the roof. They display their tariffs in the window (starting at US$5) and have meters. Ordinary taxis are hailed on the street or more safely at taxi stations (postos), which are never more than five minutes’ walk away anywhere in the city. Hotels, restaurants and some venues will call a taxi on request – either from a posto or a taxi driver himself. Radio taxis are more expensive but less hassle.