Nightlife in São Paulo: A Traveler's Guide

Join locals for some of the world's best nightlife, from live music venues to sleek cocktail bars and some special São Paulo style.

It might not have a beach but that's no excuse not to party—Paulistanos (as residents of Sao Paulo are known) more than compensate with meeting for drinks and dancing. The city is prides itself on having great nightlife. In fact we’d even say that São Paulo is one of the world’s best cities for nightlife, with the locals’ joie de vivre, and that it’s also an important business hub. There is live music most nights of the week. Large concert venues, such as the Pacaembu Stadium, host major international bands, plus countless small bars, cultural centres and nightclubs with live local music. But each district has its own style – here's an overview of some of them.

Rooftop bar at Edificio de Italia, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Bars in São Paulo don’t really get going until midnight, so it’s worth having an afternoon siesta to ensure you keep up with the locals. Minimum drinking age in Brazil is 18, with no set closing times.

The city has a bar at every turn, from simple corner bars serving cold beers to an unpretentious blue-collar crowd, to smarter botecos where penguin-suited waiters whirl around the tables brandishing frothy glasses of draught lager. And then of course there are São Paulo's self-consciously chic cocktail bars, where Paulistano high society flashes its Vartanian jewels and flexes its gym-toned pecs beneath its Osklen. Almost all serve food and many have live music. Beer and snacks are also available at the bar in any padaria (bakery).

Barra Funda

This dark, edgy neighbourhood northwest of Luz is dotted with dance clubs and venues playing host to a bewildering variety of acts. They have little in common beyond existing beyond the mainstream. Rather than walking around here after dark, it’s advisable take the metrô and a cab. It’s well known for Bar do Alemão, a cosy little brick-walled bar and restaurant with live samba. Also popular is Clash Club, decorated with raw brick and lit with cellular lights and 3D projections.

Avenida Paulista and Consolação

Until a few years ago the dark streets of Consolação were home to little more than sleazy strip club bars, but now it harbours a thriving alternative weekend scene, with new clubs opening regularly. Try the established venue Astronete; the clubs in this area draw a mixed crowd from mock Brit popsters to emo 20-somethings and resolute rockers.

Jardins

The presence of the luxury Fasano Hotel sets the tone of this area’s nightlife. Expect to see young, wealthy media types and the Cuban cigar type, with a sprinkling of the tanned and toned, in figure-enhancing designer labels. The slick bars often have soft, live jazz, or cool bossa nova sounds. Head to Dry Bar, a low-lit, dark lounge bar and late-night club, been a favourite with Jardins’ rich and very fashionable young things for years now, who throng here in the late evening to drink from a menu of more than a dozen dry martinis. Or dress up to get into Skye, the rooftop bar at Unique Hotel—another fashionable spot with a definite 
door policy.

Vila Madalena and Pinheiros

Lying just northeast of Jardins, bohemian Vila Madalena and adjacent Pinheiros is just a cab ride. These suburbs are the favourite haunts of São Paulo 20-somethings, more hippy chic than Itaim, less stuffy than Jardins. This is the best part of town for live Brazilian music and uniquely Brazilian close dances such as forró, as opposed to the international club sounds might find it other neighborhoods. It can feel grungy and informal but this area is buzzing with nightlife. The liveliest streets are Aspicuelta and Girassol.

Itaím, Vila Olímpia and Moema

The Itaim area, just south of Ibirapuera and north of the new centre, is about US$12.50 by taxi from Jardins and US$15 from the centre, but well worth the expense of getting here. It is packed with street-corner bars, which are great for a browse. The bars here, although informal, have a style of their own, with lively and varied crowds and decent service. The busiest streets for nightlife are Rua Atilio Inocenti and Avenida Hélio Pellegrino; both are worth wandering in the evening for drinks.

High Culture

Concert hall Sala Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
If you want something more substantial than bars and clubs, make the most of São Paulo's theatres and concert halls. Venues such as Sala São Paulo, a concert hall in a converted train station, hold regular classical concerts.

 

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